How You Relate To Mental Illness

When I was younger, angry, and far more depressed; I used to scoff at the notion of the impact of the language I used internally. It seemed entirely stupid that negative talk in my head would have any kind of impact on my thinking in general. I have no idea why I thought this. I’ve been writing for fun and myself for about 20+ years. I know the power of words and language. Yet somehow, I came to the conclusion that this didn’t apply to me. I largely lump it into the huge pile of stupid shit I’ve thought and/or done for no reason other than “it made sense/seemed like a good idea at the time”.

Today is quite different. After spending most of my life confused and unsure of myself; I finally came to terms with who I am after my diagnosis. I will still talk negatively and make fun of myself as a means to break through the walls of others. I can’t verbally tell jokes or longer stories worth a shit; but most people will find it funny that I got my ass kicked by a 10 year old little girl once. And on two of my passive suicide attempts, I got so fucked up on pills that I passed out outside. Which wouldn’t have been a problem if not for the fact that I used to live directly across the street from a crack den- and I’m assuming it was some crackhead that stole the clothes I was wearing on both occasions.

Dark? Morbid? Strange? Yeah. Welcome to my life; and the lives of many other Bipolar people. But it’s alright. Today, it’s something for me to look back on and laugh at. I feel like not taking myself that seriously is perfect for opening doors into my warped life without coming off as being preachy or getting into a pissing contest over who had the most fucked up life.

There is some language I will never use in regards to myself or being Bipolar. Primarily the word “victim”. I’m not a victim of Bipolar Disorder and mental illness because I have a choice. I can choose to let the Disorder destroy me or I can choose to fight it, tooth and nail, every step of the way. I choose not to associate myself with this word because I feel it denigrates people that actually have been victimized. I am friends with people with far more serious mental illnesses than I who had them inflicted on them by people that should have loved and cared for them. These people were victimized and need an extraordinary amount of patience and kindness to be mostly functional.

But me? My shit is relatively minor in comparison. I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t exist or that I haven’t had some of my own difficult times. I’m not going to allow myself to fall apart and wallow in self-pity for an extended period of time. I’m far too stubborn to ever let that happen again. Not knowing all the things that I know now.

Granted, this won’t be applicable to everyone, but you should evaluate your relationship with your mental illness or the person you have in your life who has one. How do you approach it? Is it a death sentence of everything you hold dear? Or is it a challenge to be overcome? Do you realize that many mentally ill people are able to overcome and manage their illness(es)? I’ve met many people that don’t think so.

The choice is yours to be a survivor or a victim of mental illness. Yeah, life is probably going to suck from time to time. Most likely you’ll still end up doing insane things that cost you a lot. But you can change how you look at the circumstances. Sweep up the pieces, accept that there are casualties in the war for sanity, and keep putting one foot in front of the other until you reach your destination.

Self-talk has a much greater impact on your perception of yourself than you realize. You’ve been through a lot. Cut yourself some slack on your perceived “failures” and keep striving for success. You’ll get there eventually.

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2 Responses to How You Relate To Mental Illness

  1. Amanda Nejbauer says:

    I love you, Dennis. Keep up with what you are doing because to people like me, who feel they don’t have a voice, it makes a difference. I watched the Military Senate trials today for over 8 hours. And I still feel like nothing was accomplished.

  2. Grimm says:

    I love you too, Mandy. I will continue to do what I can. And don’t stress too much. Politics is typically a slow process. The fact that it’s now being openly heard is going to provide meaningful ammunition to activist groups who have the manpower and resources to hopefully leverage a change in the way the military handles sexual harassment/assault.

    It’s one skirmish in a larger conflict- as is most things in politics.

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