Let me start with one example: you may not like a lot of what goes on in a person who is depressed. They are not easy to deal with.
Are they not? That depends!
If you focus on their depression, you aren’t getting out of it. Just like THEY can’t get out of it by just wishing it away.
How about focusing on the rest? A depressed person can still offer a lot. Don’t focus on his or her depression, focus on what other exchanges you can have with that person.
If you like to walk the hills and your friend is disabled and can’t walk, do you ditch that friend and go? Or do you sit and talk to him or her, or play a board game instead?
That is the same with us, us strange lot, us who are different in the head. I am still the person I was when you knew me and I wasn’t so obsessed with my mental state. Ok fair enough I was always obsessed with my mental state, one way or the other. But I was also FUN! I still can be. I still AM! And not just on Tuesdays. What has changed is that if I don’t feel like being fun that day, I may just cancel. I won’t feel guilty about it anymore, but I will be dreading your anger, your disappointment. That is all that has changed. That’s it.
Ah yes, there are other aspects.
My particular shade of differences means that I can be very intense, and I can blurt out stuff that may make you uncomfortable. That is only if our relationship is close enough, so fear not, acquaintance. But friend, yes, it does mean that I might say stuff that I regret, because it hurts you or upsets you. But as I look back and think very carefully about what I said to you, I realise that more often than not what had been said was TRUE. You may not like it, but it is. So my disorder translates from being too intense and blurting out shit that people don’t like, to you having a problem with the truth. To you being spoilt by a society where all should be hushed and kept under control and hidden and unacknowledged. Damn. Can’t really do that with me for long, can you?
So, there go my old friends. People I loved desperately. People that I thought should be pleased that despite my laying bare their deepest darkest thoughts and truths in a fit of anger, I still loved them. But no, they would rather bury the truths, and live on, and be productive members of society. Fair enough. We’ve all got to live one way or another.
But then stop calling ME disturbed.
I welcome and understand the need to signify and make it clear to the rest of the world that what we have, us people with chemical, neurological or biological imbalances in the brain, is beyond our control and so it shouldn’t be held against us.
Like an illness, like a genetic difference such as down syndrome or even different eye, skin or hair colour.
That I get and that is very important.
There are aspects of my particular shade of differences that make it impossible for me to work in society. I understand that now. I can’t even attend a course. I might be able to volunteer somewhere with the proviso that I could decide to quit that very day, if I realise something bad is going to happen. Now THAT I would gladly get rid of. That I would take meds for.
Some aspects of having a different mind are very very hard or impossible to reconcile with our society. So we always have the option: get a niche place in society where we can be, even with that different mind. A place where you won’t be judged and someone will help you be that person but will also love the person you become when that is over. In many cases, this is too difficult, too exhausting, practically impossible. Those cases we need help with.
But if you look back to those other people, what you get is: understand what I am, and then live with the fact that I am a person, with no less and no more rights than you.
No less and no more.
Some aspects are ok! Let them be. Let me be. So what if I’m a little more intense than you like? I have the right to be. Don’t tell me I am too intense as though I were a criminal for being so. YOU’re too bloody superficial! YOU have no spine! So there! Where does that leave us?
It leaves us that there are different minds, I don’t like the implication of mental illness or disorders because it implies a sense of you are right and I am wrong. I am not wrong. I am merely different. The more we understand, the more we can work towards a society that is inclusive of all, and not necessarily cancel out and push down and suffocate all those who are different. We may be fewer than the majority, but we are not worth less.
I was just thinking of a friend of mine recently, and she happened to pop up in my messages the past few days. I love her to bits and she suffers from depression and agoraphobia and other stuff I don’t even know for sure. I just know that we all love her and she is always welcome. She gave us a book one day, as she was leaving after she’d been with us for a few months:
It is a wonderful and slightly surreal book. But it made me so sad. She goes through SO much trouble just to get to your house, feeling like she is out of place and in the way on top of everything else must feel awful.
When you’re different, carefully assess which aspects of you you can live with given enough support and understanding, and which aspect you must absolutely eliminate. I think you’ll find that in the end, the latter are only a few.
Don’t see all your differences as symptoms or unbalances. They may be, but so is everything else, a symptom or an imbalance of something. Just focus on working round the bad ones, but cherish the good ones, in yourself, as well as in others. It’s pretty cool t be different, believe it and you’ll see it.
Other posts that just happened to come to my attention, related in principle to this: