“The challenge we all face is how to integrate after loss or conflict and return to a greater wholeness of self. This is accomplished through social supports, coping, and other resources. This we call the process of emotional healing…” – from People Can Recover From Mental Illness, an article by Daniel Fisher, M.D., Ph.D. and Laurie Ahern
When it comes to mental illness what can I say that has not already been said? Not that it matters. Maybe it does. I don’t know. All I know is that I have it and so do others – others like me, who are stigmatized by the ignorance of those who don’t have it; by those who have it but don’t know it; by those who have it but act like they don’t.
How can one understand an experience if they can’t experience it first hand? I don’t believe they can. Intellectually they may be able to comprehend the phenomenon, but bodily, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, they cannot.
In my experience, except for three people in my life (one being my therapist), others do not even want to understand. It is so far beyond their comprehension that they don’t even ask questions, research, or read about mental illness. Only one other in addition to the above three shows sincere concern for my symptoms and experiences with mental illness. I am grateful that I at least have four people who care. I probably have more but they either don’t know how to show it or don’t know enough to know they should show it.
I don’t think the stigma of mental illness will ever go away outside of those who actually have it. If people could only open their minds and their hearts to see beyond the craziness, the depression, the manic behaviors, the anger, the insecurities, the social anxiety, and the dissociation – all of which most people have to some degree or another, though they’d never admit it – then maybe they would see a soul; souls who just like them are doing the best they can within the physical limitations of their bodies and minds. Maybe then they would learn how to validate rather than ignore or worse, shun or even worse, judge. Maybe then they could become allies to our healing journeys rather than obstacles.