Friday, April 20, 2012

The Validity of Mental Illness

I know there are many people who think that those who suffer from depression, anxiety, eating disorders et cetera are merely weak minded and need to simply try a little harder so as to avoid making life difficult for others around them.  I must admit that to some extent I used to believe that mind over matter was the answer to all the mental issues we face.  I always believed that we had all the strength needed to overcome our mental weaknesses.  God decided to render me experience and give me a wider perspective.

As some know, I have compound post traumatic stress reaction.  It sounds like I just need to get over whatever happened to me, right?  I have heard many people boast that they are strong enough that nothing affects them and that this is all in my head.  Let me explain what it was like when I contracted this condition and we might open a door to better understanding.

I have always had an excessively strong mind.  I was the most quick witted in many college classes and frequently stood up in heated debates, quickly and thoroughly crumbling my opponents' foundations.  But then the trauma came and life turned upside down.

The effects began with nightmares and flashbacks.  I shook them off thinking that I could ignore them.  Dizziness and mental exhaustion set in.  I scoffed, cast it aside, and continued the very heavy responsibilities in my life.  Then one day everything snapped.  I was alone in my home when suddenly flashbacks and head splitting hallucinations broke upon me in one mighty crash.  I fell backward onto the couch, head in my hands and involuntarily cried out to heaven "What is happening to me?"  Black and white images started flipping wildly around in my head and I could literally feel my mind being squeezed into a vice.  A calming answer from heaven came "Calm down.  You are going to be okay.  You have post traumatic stress." 

Today I don't speak much in public unless I have to do so.  There are many things that I cannot do that would seem natural and easy to others.   But I think most anyone reading my blog can judge for themselves whether or not mental illness equates a weak mind and needy spirit.  I think not.

2 comments:

  1. I am really glad you posted this. I am not the same person I was 10 years ago. I wonder now how I made it through college. I believe mental illness is just one more trial to face. I must admit that the Gospel creates coping mechanisms that wouldn't be taught in any cognitive therapy session. I am very grateful for the knowledge I have on both sides of the stick.
    I again applaud you for your honesty , and realism. If more people were not ashamed, the associated stigma's would just vanish.

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  2. I am not the same person I was 10 years ago either. There was a time I went to church every time the doors opened, "preached" a message at a retirement home every Sunday for a couple of years. Now I can't remember the last time I was in church. On Christmas day of 08 I hit rock bottom and wanted to end it all and nearly succeeded. I recovered to some extent but am on meds every day to keep going. Mental illness is real and I thank you for your blog Michelle. Have an awesome weekend.

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