The Malevolent Presence That Is Mental Disorders

Based on last week’s “Illness Identity?” post and the research that lead to discovering that term and notion, I have been trying not to view mental disorder as some insurmountable demon haunting me in my daily life. The theory the professionals have cooked up (this week’s trending Kardashian, I suppose) is that by viewing our disorders negatively it gives them more power over us and we surrender more of our identity to them. While intellectally I can grasp this concept, living with mental chaos isn’t as cut and dried as they’d make it out to be.

It may not be the spooky paranormal demonsand malevolent presences of horror movies, but I’ve seen mental disorders take lives. Of course, it is always deemed ‘suicide’ but the driving force to it is almost always the malevolence of the disorders and the toll they take over time. Once your will to fight has been tapped out, exiting stage is often the only peace people can find. I am not a proponent of self harm of any sort, but I don’t condemn and I do understand how it goes that far. Too many friends have been lost to mental demons, by their own hand isn’t the relevant part.

The relevant part is being haunted by your own mind. We all know our minds, and disorders, aren’t seperate entities, it’s a package deal. Part of what makes some of us creative, intelligent, empathetic, interesting- can stem from our battles with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, OCD, and a plethora of other psychiatric demons. These are also the very things that impact our identities in devastating ways, ruining our ability to work, to parent, to maintain relationships. Even basic hygiene becomes a dragon to slay. For anyone, especially those in the mental health field, to consider this without appropriate severity is cruel and disrespectful.

Recognizing a disorder doesn’t mean you define yourself by it. Refusing to be shamed into silence isn’t a sign of weakness or waving the white flag and letting the disorder become your identity. Acknowledging the daily malevolent presence of whatever hinders your life is not some sort of negative. One of the biggest signs of courage by my estimation is when we have the self awareness and bravery to step up, say this is a problem, and seek help. That is no small feat. And being open about your conditions, well, with the stigma attached, that itself is like scaling a mountain.

So right or wrong…I stare down the monsters under my bed, the voices inside my head. I face the malevolent presences. I exorcise my demons by any means necessary. I don’t flinch, don’t blink. They do not define me but they certainly impact me. I won’t diminish this by pretending they’re minor or don’t exist. I am also not giving the disorders more power over me by refusing to cede to denial.

I’ve read a lot of blogs on wordpress that deal with mental disorders. Everyone has their own way of coping, of viewing their struggles. One writer views her disorders as a battle with her brain whom she calls Brian and is convinced he is out to destroy her. One friend views it as a specter. Another chooses to view minor symptoms more positively, as a constant companion, a merging of identities that grants strength.

For me, defiance and rebellion fuel me. So when I view my disorders as dragons to be slayed, demons to be exorcised, a bully to stand up to-this is my positive. This is how I cope, and I don’t really think it’s up to the professionals to say it’s wrong without proof it is somehow negatively impacting our determination to feel better.

If you read things like that and it helps you gain perspective, more power to you.

But if you are like me and have your own coping mechanism that works for you…don’t fall victim to trends, even in psychiatry and psychology. We are the ones who live it, who live with it, and we are experts when it comes to our own mental chaos. Battle it your way.

Now I am off to banish some brain gobblins in hopes I may at some point scale the mountain that is called bathing.

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