I was going to write about some things everyday people can do to help someone who is struggling or going through some hard times(you’re astronauts, but this is part of your training). However, I feel like writing about something else right now. Expect that post sometime soon, could be tomorrow or a week from now, who knows! Whenever that passion floats back into my gravity, you’ll know. I wrote this post on Friday, and have been avoiding editing it until now.. so I hope your future self enjoys this piece of historic thought!
Today I’ve realized that I might not be looking at a drug intervention for my mental illness. I struggle with putting this into words because I’m afraid some people might think that I want this illness. This fear is based on people seeing it as a form of attention-seeking behavior.
You must understand that, like my sexuality, this is not something I’ve chosen. It would be much easier to be healthy. This illness is not a “Oh woe is me” type of thing like people like to think it is. It isn’t something that can be cured by faking it until you make it, or just being positive.
I felt that with a drug intervention my illness would be considered real, tangible, and enough. So, now, with no drug intervention in sight, I’m faced with the dilemma on whether my mental illness is real enough. I started to go to therapy again because I was hoping that I would be validated. That my daily struggle would be acknowledged and somehow solved by someone listening to me and saying, “Hmmm.. it sounds like you have a deficiency in dopamine receptors in this particular pathway in your brain, we can try fixing it using this”. The truth is, I don’t know if anyone in the professional psychotherapy world would even endeavor to explore that. We don’t know enough about the intersection of thoughts and the brain. I’m not even sure how people get a drug intervention.
Honestly, I’m trying to keep an open mind with the upcoming therapy. I’m trying to see my mental illness as being valid without the use of physical medicine.
When it comes down to it, physical therapy is a lot like behavioral therapy. It’s just one is considered more real than the other. Just because someone isn’t taking pills, or has a cast, doesn’t mean they aren’t in pain or struggling with an illness. It’s interesting to me how even invisible illnesses can be separated into boxes of acknowledgement. For example, someone who has cancer but hasn’t lost all of their hair could come out and say they have cancer, and they just started treatment. Granted, some people could still be skeptical, but most people would acknowledge that cancer is a serious illness and they wish them well. They don’t tell them to get over it, or just be positive (at least from what I can tell as someone who hasn’t been diagnosed with cancer). When it comes to mental illness, people tend to be more skeptical, less accommodating, and less supportive.
So, while I wait for a diagnosis, I try to remind myself that what I feel is real. I can write a whole new blog post about the philosophy of experience and what’s real or not. And, I probably will, once I think that you astronauts are ready for it. But for now, try to support your loved ones with mental illness, and if they tell you about it, believe them. If they have kept it from you, it isn’t necessarily that it is you, but they might be protecting themselves from skepticism they’ve received. I think acknowledging that what someone feels is valid is important. I think that acknowledgement and validation ultimately saves lives.