Monday, August 25, 2014

Mental Illness is Freeing - Guest Post

A gift that many people who have mental illness have been given is that of artistic expression. Through whatever medium that gift has been given, we are able to express ourselves, and within that expressiveness comes a freedom from the craziness that can surround mental illness. It is an expression of sanity and soundness of mind.

Within the scope of mental illness come many emotions, diagnoses, and stigmas. Much of the time, we are not treated as we should be, as people...and as people worthy of dignity and respect. Not only do we have past abusers, and many of us present abusers, the mental health system--the very system that we are looking to help us--fails us miserably. And for many, we want to run...runaway from it all--just to escape from all the craziness with which the whole mental illness thing brings with it and surrounds us.

I don't have all my mental health issues worked out or worked through, yet I have realized that the working out and working through of these issues is up to me and not up to others. Whether I receive the help I seek from mental health professionals or not, I am able and not disabled from helping myself. And as I am someone who feels that the mental health system, especially that of government services, is a failing system of healthcare, I have had to look to not only to God as a source of recovery, but to myself.

And as neuroscience develops, it is proving that the brain has the ability to heal itself and to change its neuropaths. But much of this depends on us. It is said, "Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result." If this is true, then much does depend on us for our own recovery. I put blame for my illness on many people and circumstances. Though many people and circumstances did cause stressors that triggered the symptoms of my mental illness, I have learned that it was not these people and things I was running away from, but myself. And as I have taken responsibility, though still symptomatic at times, I feel empowered to have some control over my symptoms.

It was my general practitioner and not a psychiatrist who recently told me, "Your job is not to become psychotic." I agree. And I have given myself permission to be a person with a mental illness, to publicly be known as someone with a mental illness, and to take care of myself as someone with a mental illness. In these expressions, for me, has come a freedom that I have not known before, as secrets have been kept and illness closeted. But now I am out, and out there with those of you who have also put yourselves out there. We are the brave, and in our bravado, I believe, we are also free!

By Deborah Thorwart

nexusplexus / 123RF Stock Photo

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