The link above is an article that I’ve seen floating around in various groups on Facebook...
Some people think it’s a wonderful article. They think that mental illness is, in fact, a beautiful thing, and by giving people proper medication to treat their symptoms and let them function in society is a travesty. This article opens up a topic that isn’t often spoken about: inclusivity for those suffering from mental illness. And that’s great. But this article, as a whole, is very dangerous.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like talking about mental illness. I love writing about it. And I love reading about it. But I don’t love reading radical articles that express a thought which is contradictory to everything which keeps myself and so many others alive and functioning.
Define ‘functioning’. I believe that functioning in this world includes the ability to get up every morning. In the life of an untreated, mentally ill person (or a person who has just begun treatment and hasn’t found the proper medication yet), this can be impossible. Some days can be easier than others, but I believe that every day should find a person able to get out of bed, whether they want to or not. I believe that art can be made under the most extreme circumstances- including under the influence of medication. I believe that food was made to be eaten, and I believe that functioning people are able to eat. And I believe that most of us are not functioning as well as we should in an ideal world, on a mental, physical, spiritual, social, or emotional level.
And that’s perfectly okay.
If we were here to be perfectly okay and perfectly happy and perfectly healthy, life would not have flavor. We are here to make sure that we try to be healthy, and deal with the fact that we won’t always be. We’re here to struggle. But we aren’t on this planet to give in and say that we are just the way we are and there is nothing better. There is something better. There is something so much better.
Before I was diagnosed with Bipolar II and the rest of my comorbidities, I was living in a dreamlike fairy world. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t feel like I needed to. I spent my life reading and writing and drawing. I published a novel when I was seventeen. I could see other people’s auras. I told my friend that she had a huge black spot over her liver about six months before she was diagnosed with stage four liver cancer. I lived the life I thought I was supposed to be living. Except I couldn’t go to school, couldn’t keep a friendship to save my life, and was regularly attempting suicide and self-harming.
And then came rape and other traumas, which triggered my first manic episode. After maxing out my credit card and shoplifting like security guards and morality weren’t things, I checked into a state psych ward. (Because health insurance wasn’t a thing either.) And there they told me that I had bipolar II, and they were going to put me on some medications called depakote and effexor, and while I wouldn’t be sad anymore, I also won’t be able to run around the world, sparkling.
So I took the meds. And my fairy life went away.
And it was so goddamn worth it.
Don’t get me wrong. I hated depakote. I thought effexor was going to kill me. Turns out they weren’t the right medications for me, and now that my support team found the right medication at the right dose. And I can BREATHE. I can get up in the morning and go to school and do my homework and keep down a job and maintain a relationship and best of all, not feel like I’m going to kill myself on a daily basis.
I go to an art school. Every person I meet suffers tremendously, and they use their art as a form of self-medication. I’ll never forget the sophomore who killed himself last year. He was a film major and we had a whole bunch of mutual friends. They all told me that he was so sad, but his work was brilliant. And then… he died. He was gone. There was no more brilliant work. There was no more sadness. And I just wanted to know, was it worth it? Was it worth not going to a psychiatrist, not asking for help, not fighting for life - and for what? A few years of brilliant work, and then nothing?
Stay on your meds. Take your meds. Maybe mental illness can save the world. But martyrdom is never worth that.
You can read more about Shay Maor at shaydorian.wordpress.com
You can read follow Shay on Twitter at @gothicfishie