This might not be my most coherent essay.
It’s more some random thoughts that all got mashed together.
So, the first item is a discussion that I had with friends over on Facebook about Kanye.
Let me give you a recap:
Friend 2: He is. So, why doesn’t he do something about it?
Friend 3: He has the resources and money to get help. I would kill for that situation.
Friend 2: Honey, do we need to talk?
Friend 3: Oh, no, I wasn’t being literal. Geez. I’m taking my meds.
Friend 1: Yes, it would be nice if Kanye got help, but you can’t force people to seek help.
Friend 2: But, there is a distinct difference between supporting someone and enabling them.
Friend 1: Why do you say he is being enabled?
Friend 3: It’s pretty obvious he isn’t being helped by the people around him.
So here we get to the next item. Personal responsibility and mental health.
This is an idea that I bump into pretty regularly.
A common scenario is when someone behaves horribly and then says ‘oh, I was off my meds’ or ‘I didn’t know I was so messed up. I’m in therapy now.’ Essentially, when mental health is used as an excuse to justify bad behavior.
I won’t argue that sometimes we have bad days. I have a stack of ‘oh, wow, that wasn’t good’ moments in my past. Thankfully there was no internet in my youth. I’m sure we all have moments that we can look back on and see how our mental illness influenced a situation.
So, I employ the ‘innocent’ man rule. I assume everyone is NOT casually using ‘mental health’ as an excuse. That is until I have evidence to the contrary. Because I would rather support/ attempt to support anyone who was having a mental health issue, even if that means there are some posers in the group.
Another point in this knot of thoughts is:
What responsibility do we have to the mental health community to seek treatment?
Bear with me.
I don’t think it can be argued that in the past mental health was very misunderstood. And, that the mental health institutions of the day were pretty horrific. The mental health system was also abused as a place to confine those who opposed the social order. And we, the mental health community, still bear the brunt of a mountain of stigma.
So, what do I owe to other people, not just myself, to understand my issues, my triggers, my tools for handling flashbacks?
I think I do owe something to the mental health community as a whole to demonstrate that even though my brain is wired differently, I can still operate within society. Even though I carry the label of ‘Neuroatypical’ (I hope I got that right.) I see it as a way – a responsibility – to help break the stigma that surrounds mental health issues.
This brings me to the third point. When I first began therapy all I knew was that I was depressed out of my skull. I also had a sense of being permanently stuck. I think I described it as ‘paddling in eternal concentric circles.’
Sometime in my first few sessions, my therapist hit me with an idea that I found mind-blowing.
She told me, don’t laugh, that I was responsible for my own happiness.
I’ll admit I feel a little silly looking at that now, because, honestly isn’t that something everyone knows?
And yet, the idea was new to me. I was always the dutiful one. The good one. The reliable one. The invisible one. The one that never caused trouble. The one that never needed, anything.
I was maybe 20 at this time, and I was just putting my foot on the mental health path. At that time the knowledge of #CPTSD had not trickled down to where I was.
I spent another 30+ years trying to root out the problem, to understand myself. In those 30 years, I accumulated a lot of wreckage in my wake. The ability to understand myself and to look back over my past is both gratifying and horrifying. But, in both the good and the bad I can see how my mental problems influenced me, or trapped me.
To tie all this up with a neat little bow, I’ll circle back to Kanye.
Sometimes our mental health, or ill-health, is all we know. It is our ‘normal’. I understand that he is bipolar, and I will readily admit that I have no experience with being bipolar. But, I do understand what an untreated mental health issue can do to your life, your relationships, your goals. For that reason, I hope he can make the commitment for himself to pursue some help before the wreckage he leaves behind spans decades.