On Mental Health · Short Reads

“Hello, I have a mental illness..” (1)

We walk into a situation. Any situation. A room at a party; an adjacent seat at a dinner table; a group training exercise.

I turn to you and say, “Hello, I have mental illness.”

How would you respond?

If I were as open with this fact as you might be if you had had a particularly bad migraine, or case of food poisoning, or common cold, how would you respond to me?

I wonder whether you would sympathise, and ask me how I was; or whether instead you would clam up, stutter a little, and look up and down and around and anywhere else rather than straight into my eyes.

I wonder how hard you would try and meet me in the middle; or whether this would be beyond you.

Do you know that I am always aware of your discomfort?

I am always aware of your unease regarding the nature of my mind. I adjust myself accordingly and smile a lot, make self deprecating jokes, overly enthusiastic replies and noises; all things designed to fill the space between your uncertainty, and my malevolent “condition.”

I work continuously and consistently to decrease your unease, to minimise your discomfort, to mitigate your lack of empathetic ability and scope..

Because I’m sure that you do try- you try as hard as you can, or as hard as you want to, or whatever. Or maybe you don’t because I always make myself so easy to be around; I make myself as non-threatening, non imposing as possible. So as not to rock the boat, so as not to cause strife or heart ache, so as not to cause unease or displeasure.

But in the process I’ve been rocked, I’ve taken on all of your issues, and all of your discomfort, and all of your uncertainty, guilt, pain, anger, regret, and bunched it all up inside of me because I knew that you never deserved it, you never asked for it or directly created the conditions which nurtured it.

I did. I know that- I created the situation, I created the condition.

So I have accepted the repercussions.

But I wonder if you can ever comprehend how much it hurts, when that look comes into your eyes, when you are confronted by my madness, by my abnormality, by my strangeness; and you look at me like I’m some strange many-legged bug you’ve found crawling across your kitchen floor.

Something you have to engage with; something your have to pick up and hold very gingerly between thumb and forefinger, and dispose of somewhere far away in the dirt and the grass.

The look in your eyes in that moment always says everything I know and don’t want to. Everything which makes the vice grip tighter, and the abyss scream back at me all the more furiously.

But.. that’s just the way it is right? Just the way the chips fell. I accept this; everyday i accept this and try to make the best of it.

“Hello, I have a mental illness..

..I hope i don’t make you feel too uncomfortable..”


5 thoughts on ““Hello, I have a mental illness..” (1)

  1. Okay, so today my cat was chased by an untamed dog. I’ve helped round up the thing in the past, but today it decided that cats were more fun than running around in the road, thus causing an obstruction to the traffic.

    This is directly related to your post because the kind of person who is proud of being a dog owner, and knows they are the boss because the dog’s on a lead.

    Well, at least when it is actually on the lead and not off it and tearing after my four footed friend.

    The problem is this: he says, “hello, I’m a Dutchman” which in real terms is tantamount to saying “hello, I have a mental illness.” Which brings me to my point: when someone is aware of their shortcomings, it is extremely easy to first know this and secondly offer a smidgin of help. You are, you know you’ve got a mental illness and you’ve been through the mill. The Dutch are ignorant of their shortcomings and lack the capacity to witness the fact.

    Thus I will always have to be careful of my cats because Dutch dogs will never be trained because the Dutch don’t need to. Indeed, as suggested the other day, I should build a big fence to keep them in… thus saving them any further trouble.

    Now you know why I respect you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think i’m following you? It is better to be aware of your own shortcomimgs and quirks, so that they dnt fly out of your unawares and upset the people around you. Is better to work on your failings yourself, so that other people dnt have to pick up the pieces? I’m sorry i’m a little bit hung over today and think it’s taking a bit longer for the cat and dog analogies to sink in… 😉 xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The point was that the Dutch are simply unaware. They don’t know, therefore it’s my problem. If someone’s mentally ill, they don’t need to care because the health care system will provide for them, end of story.

        Their inability to work with themselves is a greater mental illness than you’ve ever had.

        Because when they have to meet the challenges that you do in your daily life, they will be pushed over that invisible boundary of sanity, and it will be irrevocable. Because they never cared, and never will.

        When you do meet people who have the tiniest amount of self-awareness, you have met someone special. It matters not a jot if they are sleeping in a shop entrance or running a bank (albeit that the latter is a lot less likely!) these people have the chance for a future. Your job is the perfect setting for someone like you to make a very real recovery, and in doing so, make a very real contribution to humanity’s future.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve just been writing a chapter on the meds- and i say that whilst i accept that meds do give your mind the right quality of dullness required to recover.. the meds don’t do it on their own. YOU have to work at recovery, you have to put in the blood sweat and tears.. the meds alone won’t do it.


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