I have developed a bit of a disdain for the overuse of the term “mental illness.” I truly believe it has become overused for what are normal personality traits and differences. In a country as free as the United States of America is supposed to be, we have a group of medical professionals and pharmaceutical executives intent on turning our society into a group of mind-numb, brain-dead automatons. I won’t even be discussing brain disorders, like CTE, in which the pathological neurologic symptoms are mistaken for “mental illness.” Yet, even with that said, I am not saying mental illness doesn’t exist, of course it does, but as often occurs, it has become trendy to claim mental illness as the cause of every bad action, poor feeling, lousy decision, or even simple personality quirks.
Here is a little secret — it is okay to have an emotional response to a life changing situation. Right now, we are in the midst of something none of us could have fully imagined and yes, it is taking a toll on all of us. And, our reactions need not be the same as someone or everyone else’s. It is okay to be you!
When did it become such a driving need to label every single emotional response, or lack thereof?
If someone suffers a great loss, we label them as suffering from “depression,” instead of the normal reaction of being depressed.
If someone has “enormous self-confidence,” they are labeled with “narcissistic personality disorder.”
If someone has desires and inclinations to “consensual sex” with numerous partners, they are labeled as “sex addicts.”
People are all different. There is no genuine template for “normal” behavior, only observations that are deemed to skew from some arbitrary standard which is based more upon consensus than fact. And honestly, if no harm is being done to others, whose business is it what we do? When did being a unique individual suddenly become an illness?
I am often asked if I am writing about people who suffer from mental illness.
As I am writing these individuals, I don’t give them an innate conflict or condition. They become injured and damaged, repetitively, by life. Eventually, they may become broken. Their life stories are amplifications of what many in the real world must endure and suffer.
Yet, to the original question, “Do they suffer from mental illness?” For those who have read, or will read my stories, you may find my answer difficult to believe.
That answer is no.
My characters, as they are written, do not suffer from mental illness, however, they do suffer from certain personality traits which are heightened due to mental injury. Two words, both beginning with an I, in the literary word they would even make up a row of alliteration, yet, two words, that not simply imply, but indicate, important distinctions.
When I write a character, I am exploring their complete and complex backstory and history. I am, at times painfully, taking the reader into the repetitive injurious actions that have resulted in a damaged individual. Their response(s) is/are spurred on by coping skills which are not fully, or properly, developed and/or drastically overwhelmed. The symptoms are recognized, yet, the actual injuries are not completely addressed. The root cause of their mental injury is often overlooked. Whether because of ignorance, incompetence, inaction or denial — the precipitating cause, and in turn the resultant injury, is ignored or missed.
Our current situation has emotionally injured me. The stress and responsibilities have, and continue to, take their toll. I pray deep in my hearts for all of us. If we need help, we should definitely seek it out; I know I for one, as an essential worker, am going to need some type of emotional counseling in the near future. I am not going to hesitate to get the help I require.
**I am in no way claiming that the above is the only, or even correct, point of view. It is however, the point of view from which my characters’ lives have been impacted and how they have developed. It is through that prism which I explore The Damaged and Broken. **
I am NOT a medical doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist. What I have written is based upon experiences and observations and are simply my opinions and insights as the author of The Damaged and Broken Collection.