Sunday, February 7, 2010

Who do we indetify with?

Maybe this comes on the heals of the Superbowl. Many Americans identify themselves as football fans. I know some of my reader are not from the United States, but every country has some sort of sport that they feel connected to! Many of my readers are religious and we identify ourselves as Christian. Another group of my readers are very talented and identify themselves are artists. Anyway, I think society has us put ourselves in little groups.

What I want to know is there such a group as mentally ill people? One of my favorite therapists, who is remember now through a memorial fund she set up for the board I am on, said, "Remember you all are not mentally ill people. You are people who happen to have a mental illness!" It's so easy, though, to go to group therapy, go to sheltered work, and then go home to an apartment program for the mentally ill. I have lived that life from 2005 to 2006 and I just wanted to scream.

People sometimes wonder why people with mental illness aren't accepted in society. However, sometimes we don't accept society. When your that sick, it's hard to vulnerable, and it's easier with people that understand. They understand that sometimes you get so stressed you hallucinate, cry, and withdraw. It's easier to tell a friend that knows how hard is to get out of bed that morning that you couldn't met her for coffee because that day you choose not too. It's easier to explain to someone who knows why big concert are kind of scary to someone that feels the same way.

Today I went to the mall with one of my good friends and every time we got up from sitting down she had to check things three or four times to make sure she didn't leave anything. I didn't care, in fact, I helped her by checking for her because she would believe me over her own eyes. She also understood why I had to leave after two hours because I needed to take a nap. However, it's also nice to join the rest of the world sometimes. Sometimes it's nice not to think about "how does this make you feel," and "what would be the DBT skill."

So my question to you is. Do you think there is a culture of mentally ill people or maybe it just takes time and we cross between two worlds?


  1. For me it's really difficult. I have to live in a world where mental illness doesn't exist if I want to be a part of anything. I have to wear a mask to survive. I dearly wish I had someone who truly knew what mental illness was all about and I could be supported and support in return.

  2. There is so much I want to say in response to this that it's all jumbled up in my head. I am a person with mental and physical illnesses. Both are fairly invisible now. That is, people may see symptoms, but it's not like I'm missing a leg or have blood gushing out my ears or anything. Both these illnesses have to do with my brain. So why is one a mental illness and one a physical illness? Both diagnoses are labels I'd rather not have because people interpret them as meaning I am a weak link or a bad risk. And in some ways, on some days that is right.
    It's hard for me to remember to be grateful for both of these details of me. But since they are bits of me (not all of me) I must remember to be grateful for them.
    I have really avoided joining a group for people with either of my diagnoses. I don't want to identify as a sick person.
    And yes, I get sick and tired of not being understood, of being considered weak, clumsy, lazy, etc. And I get sick and tired of being sick and tired. I really do. Some days I want to throw things. Ok, so some days I throw things (usually pencils) and I've learned where and with whom it's safe to bitch.
    But I don't understand anyone else completely either, so I try to remember that no one is going to completely understand me.
    But I don't want to always hang around with people who are a lot like me. That would be boring. I want to use my details (obstacles, weaknesses) to help me understand and be patient with others and myself, but I don't think the people I hang with need to have the same details as I.
    Is there a culture of people with mental illness? Oh, probably. And it's nice to share time and support with people who understand where we're coming from. But if we isolate, no one will get the chance to know us as. . . well whole people and misunderstanding will continue.
    I wouldn't join a sorority that only admitted brown haired White middle class professional women. How boring would that be?
    We all belong to lots of different cultures. America is built on that. It wasn't so long ago that people kept cancer hushed. Didn't want anyone to know about it. We've pretty much gotten over that shame now. It never did make any sense. We got over it by talking about it. People who are fighting cancer now get all sort of support. They go to work when they can and no one punishes them if they have to miss days due to symptoms or side effects of treatment.
    Mental illnesses will get there, too, if we give everyone a chance to know us and we can stay patient enough with ourselves and other to help them learn.
    Whew! I got going there and I don't even think I answered the question.
    Thanks for the post.

  3. This is an interesting question, I truly believe you make a great point when you say that sometimes we (mentally ill people) don't accept society. In many ways it's easier to opt out of "everyday" society and exist in a mentally ill world/bubble. I'm trying to cross over now, and be a whole person not just my illness. It's hard but I can do it!!

  4. Laura,
    I am sorry that you have no one to indetify with. I did make this blog about not being all the time with mentally ill people, but two out of the three of my very best friends have mental illnesses. It's so very nice to spend time with mentally ill people. My point was not to do it all the time. However, I feel really bad for you that you have no one. Do you belong to any support groups? That's where I met most of my mentally ill friends. Well, they aren't MENTALLY ILL FRIENDS, they are FRIENDS WHO HAPPEN TO HAVE MENTAL ILLNESS. I just wrote it that way because it was shorter. Anyway, Laura, I will pray that you find one friend who happens to have a mental illness because it truly is nice.

    Don't worry about getting going. I totally want people to have strong feelings when they read my post. I kind of get what you're saying. You're saying we have to get out in the world and talk about mental illness. That's how I started my blog. My friend Amber, "Gaining Insight" asked me to be in her movie about the stigma of mental illness. Then she just happen to mention starting my own blog. But anyway, that's not the point, the point is Amber made this movie showing normal people who happen to have a mental illnesses. If that was five years ago I would have been embrassed. Now I so totally want to shout out to the world. Yo, I have happen to have a mental illness and I can do just about anything you can do. So good point Fay. I think you're right about it being like cancer patients. We come a long way with that so we can do this too.

    I know that you were just diagnosed not to long ago with your mental illness so it makes sense you were in the bubble. I was in "the bubble" for a while too. I know you can cross over. You're a strong woman. Look your living on your own again! I know you have a roommate, but your not with your family anymore. You're strong enough to move forward. You will feel really good the first time you hang out with a friend that is "normal" and realize that you're normal too!

    Thanks everyone, I am glad this post got people thinking,