Mental Labels: We Must Stand Alone
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I think about words often now because I have been labeled so much over these two years that I have begun to believe that most of the labels that have been assigned to me are not true. What am I talking about? I am talking about labels that people use for people with mental health conditions. When people think about being alone I am pretty sure people get this picture of someone heading towards darkening depression. It is that or an extreme relationship with ones 'self'.
I remember the first three or so months that I was home from Colorado and my family wouldn't see me as the person that they knew as being Susanna. It came into the open and everyone realized that my health had been truly going down hill since I was five years old. We had the signs, doctors warned us, but the symptoms that they told me to look out for did not show up in me until it was too late. I don't think many know what it is like to almost feel vanished from your family for a certain amount of time or how about hate mail and just plain out ignored from friends when you message them or ask why they are not replying to any of your phone calls to hangout?
There was one time I called this girl that said I could call her at any time at the night when I needed help, and one night I called her crying in my bathroom at 3AM ready to commit suicide and she answered and then told me to go back to bed and that sleep would change my mind.
A support system is extremely important for recovery, and as everyday passed it was as though I was standing at the end of the world about to fall into the fire of hell beneath me. I would go to therapy completely confused at why I was having so much trouble accepting something that was obvious was a correct diagnosis. My life was going in and out of the hospital, therapy, group therapy, and treatments that made me feel even more sick.
The reality was that at heart I was an empathetic, sympathetic, caring, hardworking, loving individual but my mental illness included untrustworthiness, lying, believing I was in another reality, and some other unknowns. I felt alone as soon as I understood I was mentally ill. There was no question in my mind that I was not mentally ill and that was the problem. The reality was that I didn't know myself almost at all.
The Positive Part of My Post
When we are diagnosed with a mental health condition we change the perception of ourselves. This is always a negative perception. We believe that life is not worth it. We believe that we do not belong among everyone else on planet earth, and we isolate ourselves as suddenly - out of nowhere - we experience the fear of living. For me I had divided my life into fantasy and reality, aware of both states of 'living' at that time. Sometimes we can have a hard time separating and integrating the person that we were in the past and who we believed we were before the diagnosis.
I have found that I needed to stand 'alone' more than once during my recovery because by standing alone I was forced to find myself through everything that I ran into. We are dealing with our brain so medication can help, but when it comes down to it, we have to pick ourselves up and use this new brain that is not entirely erased of your old self. We are a species that thrives by standing alone, and standing alone does not have to mean literally alone. Standing alone may mean accepting your illness and standing with a group of individuals that is stigmatized by the rest of society.
If we all were the same we would not be humans. There are people out there that define what an acceptable human being should look like and it is those people that have a mental illness. Not us. To be different is what we want in life, and everyone who has a mental illness is a little extra different than the normal person on earth. We should be proud because we are unique.
- Susan Page