I was scrolling through Facebook and came across an article that said “Everything you Will Miss if you Commit Suicide” then it followed with the caption of “suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you are no different. But we need to talk about it.” This caught my attention for 2 reasons, (1) because it is true and (2) because my brother died by suicide in 2009, so I instantly see posts like that. They just jump out at me. So why does my title say “mental illness is a myth?” I say that for a number of reasons. Number one though is because I don’t believe that it is an “illness” so to speak. What if it is just how you are wired? I mean essentially it is. You are born a certain way, with a certain personality, with a certain way of thinking and sometimes your internal wiring is different than the average person. So, why should we call someone that is wired differently, mentally ill? Why should that term be used? Doesn’t it just further stigmatize the idea that the person has something “wrong with them”? That they are some how damaged? What if the way they are is essentially the way they were meant to be. That God intended them to be different for a reason? I know, really nice idea right, but what’s my point? My point is, that maybe if we didn’t label everyone who was different as “Mentally Ill” we might have less suicides.
Think about it. If you feel different your whole life, if you are told you are different your whole life, if you are labeled with this affliction or that affliction your whole life, how are you supposed to feel anything but damaged? In addition to that, if you are diagnosed with this syndrome or that disorder, it becomes a part of your permanent medical file, it literally follows you your entire life. Sometimes it hinders the things that people will let you accomplish in life. So what if we said “mental illness” isn’t a thing. What if we just accepted that everyone is different and some people are a bit more different than others but they are still children of a loving Heavenly Father who loves them just as much as he loves you and I. What if instead of labeling people, we just loved them? What if instead of having government agencies and societal constructs that set these people up as failures, we let everyone be who they are without judgement? Without labels?
Here is what I know (I don’t have a psychology degree or anything) but here is what I know for myself. I know that labels break people. I know that once you stick that label on someone, it’s over. They are now not human anymore, they are a label. People begin to talk about you, while you are in the same room as them, as if you aren’t there. You become this thing. This problem that people have to deal with. You start to feel like you are a burden to those around you. Then maybe you think, what if I just wasn’t here anymore? This is what I think, I think it is really easy to get from a label to a place of “people are better off without me here”. I recognize that I have even done this to people in my life who have been diagnosed with a “mental illness”. It is easy to see the problem and not the person. So, yes, I have wrongly done that, without realizing it. Now that I realize that this thinking, to me, is inherently wrong, I think it might be better to dispense with the titles.
When you think about it, don’t we all have some sort of baggage we bring with us? Aren’t we all at some point or another “mentally ill” if you want to use that term? I’ve gone through depression in my life. I’ve been at very low points in my life. So why am I not “mentally ill”? Simply because a doctor hasn’t diagnosed me as such. But what if we just stopped looking at people as problems? People who see things differently aren’t problems, they are people, they are human, they likely feel very deeply about a lot of things. They likely know they are different and punish themselves for it. I’d like to stop perpetuating the cycle that people are problems. I’d like to recognize the true greatness in all people. That greatness that is God given, not man given. God loves all his children, he doesn’t see there problems as problems. He doesn’t see there quirks as issues. He sees all of us as we are, loves us where we are at. He doesn’t think there is something wrong with you. We need to be kinder. We need to insist that in schools and anywhere else that we interact with people that labels aren’t used. Maybe we say mental illness is a myth. This person is struggling with something and we just need to love them. We don’t need to label them, or break there spirits or talk about them as if they are a disorder and not a person. We need to see them as the awesome people they are, nothing else.
I feel like if we do this, that maybe people who are struggling with whatever issue it is, will feel more comfortable coming to you and saying I feel this way, can you help me? The reason people don’t speak out about the problems they are having or feelings they are feeling is because of those labels. If I say something, they will tell me I am “Mentally Ill” and then that will be my life forever. Think about how daunting that is for a minute? To be labeled forever because you asked for help? Really? Is this the best we can do? I don’t know about any of you, but, for me, my new philosophy is that mental illness is a myth and everyone has a struggle that they are dealing with, and it’s okay because we all have struggles and we can all help each other. We should all help each other because God loves us unconditionally, regardless of our problems. He loves us. We need to do better. We need to stop judging. We need to recognize that people are not”ill” for being who they are.
To be honest, I was planning to blog about some very spiritual experiences I’ve had the last week, but this topic just jumped out at me and I felt I needed to address it because I feel like life is too short to let promptings like this go by. It is something I feel strongly about. I feel like this life is hard enough without labels. So why not? Mental illness is a myth!