Is It Mental Illness Or Normal?

One of the great problems of people struggling with Depression or being Bipolar is how difficult it is for normals to relate. We are then typically graced with the following points:

“Everyone has problems!”
“I get sad too.”
“What do you have to feel depressed about?”

And on and on and on and on. This document is meant to open a door of understanding to the people that can grasp it. If you are having a hard time making someone realize you’re having a severe problem, print out a copy and make them read it.

The Difference

There is one primary indicator that differentiates something as serious as mental illness from normal emotions. Normal emotions may cause some difficulties in your life, but they do not continuously impact your life in such a way as to cause permanent disruptions.

Having a good friend die is a hard experience. The normal person will be sad, likely for quite a long time. They may have to duck into the bathroom to weep or do little things to keep moving forward. But largely, they are able to function. A person suffering from depression may very well curl up in a ball in their bed and only be able to stare at the wall for several hours a day. They forego bathing, eating, going to work because none of it matters- their friend is dead. Depression and Bipolar Disorder are incredibly far past the normal emotional spectrum.

Mental Illness Is Physical

A majority of mental illnesses have their foundation in chemical imbalances or traumatic events that affected the individual. In most cases, mental illness is caused by physical problems with the mind. A depressed person can no more will themselves happy than you can will cancer tumors away. Still hard to wrap your mind around? Consider this.

Think back to the last time you got really sick, maybe a bad influenza. Consider how you felt mentally during that time period. Were you happy, upbeat, and chipper? Probably not. You were probably dragging around, mentally weary, looking forward to climbing into bed to sleep it off. The influenza virus is a physical entity that had a direct correlation on your mental state. So why is it so difficult to understand that defects in chemical production or other circumstances could cause larger problems for a person?

That exhausted, weary mental state- it’s about the closest thing a normal person can experience that is similar to depression. Except it doesn’t last a couple of days and clears up. It lasts for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You know that tomorrow is going to be just as fucking terrible as last week, and the week before, and the week before, and the week before. Except as a depressive you don’t have the sniffles or respiratory issues that come with the influenza. You just have the dark mentality and get to listen to other people tell you that you have no reason to feel depressed.

How many years do you think it would take, knowing that you felt that way and would continue to feel that way every time you woke up, before suicide started to look like a viable option? The human mind is not built to feel nothing for those long stretches of time. It takes it’s toll.

The human mind is a grand, complex piece of organic machinery that provides direction for the whole. Can you think of any complex piece of machinery that isn’t periodically defective or breaks down? The brain is no different.