I Care, That’s Why I Don’t Stay Silent

People are often told to speak up if they are having struggles or problems.  But what is the point of opening up to others if you are met with the whole others have it worse trope.  But, for me, what is even worse than being told others have it worse, or I’m lucky, or that I should quit complaining, is being met with complete silence and indifference.  Being met with silence is by far the worst for me.  I’ve experienced it many times in my life, even from my own family.

I don’t know how to read someone going silent on me when I tell them something.  Do you think I am a liar?  Are you too heartless to say even “I’m sorry you’re hurting”?  Are you too dumb to know how to react?  Do you just not care?  Do you think I am stupid? Or do you not know how to communicate?  Or are you just being rude?  Do you think I’m overblowing the problem?  All of this is going through my head all at the same time when I confess my problems to people and I’m met with a stone wall of silence.  I already suffer in silence for a lot of the struggles with my mental illness.  Have since my teenage years.  When I open up to you, I often do so because I crave feedback.

I know I appear weak in many people’s eyes just for talking about my problems.  But, I have probably appeared weak, odd, eccentric and weird to everyone I have ever met since childhood.  “I am the weirdo” to quote Fairuza Balk from “The Craft.”  Some probably thought I was weird for having emotions other than anger or lust as a man.  Many have thought it weird that I take pride in being well read and active in seeking knowledge.  I never understood why it was cool to be stupid and immature.

Others think I’m weird for caring about others and humanity as a whole.  I cringe every time I see one of these “the importance of not giving a ####” articles, videos, and books.  Apparently it hasn’t occurred to most people that the reason they live mediocre lives, are stuck in dead end jobs, with dead end relationships, have mediocre leaders in government, have mediocre bosses, live paycheck to paycheck, and never getting better is because they don’t care enough, certainly they don’t care enough to attempt to change things.

I’ve tried many times to change myself for the better.  Sure I have failed at most of those attempts, but at least I have gleaned some bits of wisdom and some interesting experiences from those endeavors.  I may still be mentally ill, but I can manage it pretty well, better than the majority of people.  I may not be in good physical health, but at least I’m still fighting to keep some maintenance and stability.  I will probably never be rich, unless by some act of God this blog and my writings get picked up by some group who wants to pay me for work I’ve done, sometimes at great personal expense, for years.  I refuse to give up.  I refuse to stop caring about humanity, nature, my friends, my family, my neighbors, etc.  Asking me to stop caring is the same as asking a fish to stop swimming.  Caring about others and trying to provide insight and assistance through my own personal experiences living as a man with mental illness is what I do.  It’s who I am.  It’s my Definite Chief Aim, according to Napoleon Hill.  Or my Massively Transformative Purpose, according to Peter Diamandis.

Even if by some miracle of medical science I do get cured of mental illness, or at least get the symptoms knocked down enough they no longer affect my lifestyle, I’m still going to find ways to use my mind, my knowledge, and my compassion for others to make life more bearable and meaningful to others.

Why I Blog The Way I Do and Reflections on Blogging, Part One

I recently published my 50th blog entry on this site, alifeofmentalillness.wordpress.com.  It has been a series of interesting, and eye-opening experiences over the last eighteen months.  When I started this, I had no clue it would turn into anything semi-regular.  I guess I didn’t know I’d still be posting after one and a half years.  With that said, the fifty entries I have posted seem to have had a decent reception from the readers.  I hope that the next eighteen months will allow for more posts and more insights into the lives of mentally ill people trying to make a life in ‘a chronically sane world.’

I suppose now would be as good a time as any as to why I post the blog entries I do and use the style of writing I do.  I suppose just as important is why I don’t post the things I don’t. I’ll attempt to go into some details on both.

Why do I blog the way I do?  Many of my blog entries are essentially telling about the aspects, hangups, draw backs, victories, defeats, joys, and pains that I have personally experienced in my life as a mentally ill individual.  This blog doesn’t go too deep into the psychiatric and physiological research and terms simply because I didn’t study psychiatric medicine or physiology in college.  I had a hard enough time with organic chemistry and calculus while I was working through this illness when I was a pre-med major in my second year of college that I dropped calculus and failed organic chemistry.

This alone, at least in an academic sense, would lead some to imply I have no real background in psychiatric medicine or the physiology of the human brain or know about the effects and side effects of psychiatric medications.  For one, I have been an out patient of psychiatric medicine for over fourteen years.  Though I have never been a doctor giving the treatment to psych patients, do not believe for one minute that I don’t know more about psychiatric treatments than those who, in their misguidance, believe that mental illness is not real and thus the pain and anguish associated with the afflicted is not real.  I wish to God I was making up everything I perceived during the course of my mental illness.  To think that those of us with these problems are acting out because we want attention and sympathy is not only sadly naive, it is completely cruel and absolutely inhumane.  If I wanted attention, there are far easier and more effective ways to receive it than fake a malady that most neurotypicals can’t even relate to.

I suppose some would argue because I don’t present scientific facts, figures or use many complex sounding terms that most people can’t relate to, I am making invalid statements about mental illness and my experiences.  To suggest that because someone doesn’t present statistics, that person is not accurate is not in itself true.  First, if numbers are what a person wants, there are plenty of internet sites that provide the cold, hard, faceless facts. This site doesn’t provide just faceless and coldly sterile facts and information.  Anyone with access to any internet search engine can find far more facts, figures, statistics, and descriptions about mental health issues than they could easily sift through.  I am not a scientist by nature or training.  Science wasn’t even my favorite subject in school.  I am not condemning science at all by not providing ‘just the facts.’

If anything, this blog attempts to put at least faces, names, places, and circumstances on the facts and figures that scientists have already discovered.  I suppose I am one who adds the personal element to the mental illness discussion.  Once a face and name is placed on the particular ailments and numbers of an illness, that is when things really start resonating with people.  We hear every day in the news about natural disasters hitting far away places or people losing their jobs when factories close.  Those stories tell the facts, yes, but they often fail at rousing the compassion and actions of others because rarely are names of the afflicted or their life stories shared.  Sadly, we tend to become numb to hearing about these disasters and tragedies of the human existence and come to believe that the hardships and sufferings of other humans do not matter.

Yes, it is true, I as an individual may not have power to do much about floods in Bangladesh, typhoons in Japan, chronic poverty in Haiti, war in Syria and Ukraine, ebola in Liberia, the effects of human made climate change, or the closing of factories and chronic droughts in my own nation.  But I can at very least care about others enough in my small hometown to aide those I come across on a daily basis.  And I certainly can write about the hardships of having a mental illness in such a manner to offer compassion and support to those with mental illness, their loved ones, as well as articulate what is like to have a mental illness to others for those who are unable to articulate for themselves.

Being a voice for mental ill individuals who are unable to articulate for themselves, even if I am unable to speak exactly for every one of us, is the primary purpose of this blog.  I do this to offer support, compassion, and explain to others that the anguishes and pains are extremely real.  I don’t use this blog to be spiteful to others who don’t agree with my ideas. I don’t use this blog to badger and bully others into my line of thinking.  I have no moral grounds to force anyone to believe and think as I do.  All I can do is tell my story, tell the stories of others, and offer aide and support to the hurting and overwhelmed.  Hopefully through the telling of these stories and offering support to other mentally ill persons and their loved ones, compassion for the mentally ill can be achieved.  Even if it is convincing people one at a time.

This ends Part One of this posting.