what is mental illness to you?

how's that for a question?

it was asked recently on a bipolar site i like.
it struck me, because i'd never been asked
before. it struck me that i'd never
even asked myself.

here are some of the responses from people
with a mental illness...

What is mental illness to you?

- it is just a way of life.

- Trapped and cannot escape

- I feel things more intensely and sometimes
    I feel trapped as if I were paralyzed.

- I feel that I am a warped person, misshapen,
    like something left out in the rain...

- I feel it is hard to know where `the illness' begins
      and where normal finishes !!!

- I get frustrated about how I feel, how I deal,
   and people's lack of understanding. I feel guilty
   because I am not as mentally ill as some people
   I know. and I feel guilty for having to make
   my husband deal with me at my worst.

What is it to me? - me. I know nothing else.
I sometimes look at "normal" people and
wonder how they get through the day -
it must be boring and a burden.

- I feel alone, no one really understands...

- I don't feel that being bipolar has conferred
     any advantages to me, I feel like it has robbed
      me of my potential.

- But, I know that here are the parts that Bipolar
   touches & turns brighter: My laugh, my positive
   outlook, my optimism... And here are the parts
   that Bipolar then in turn snuffs out: My laugh,
   my positive outlook, my optimism, my creativity,
   my friendliness...

- Bipolar to me means having people look at my moods
  under a microscope. Can't laugh too loud, cry too often,
  get angry at ALL!

  Exercise a little too much?
   Must be mania...
  Decide to spend the day on the couch?
   Must be a depression. My actions are no longer
   seen as just a part of everyday life
   and I hate that part.

- I guess what mental illness is to me is something
  unfair and terrible that is thrust on people who
  don't deserve it.

- I don't know what is me or the illness,
  so I don't know who I am.

- Mental illness to me is being trapped in a body
  with a malfunctioning brain. I feel like this illness
  has taken so much away from me and I often
  wonder what my life would be like if I didn't have it.

- My Bi-Polar to me is a different challenge,
  a different way, a different point of view...
  (different = after meds lol)

and my response...

mental illness to me is one more label in a lifetime
of labels. it's on the list with "too sensitive", "gifted", "immature", "a daydreamer", "bad attitude", "lazy", "unrealistic", "visionary" and so many others.

i don't know what it's like to be "normal".
my experience of life (apparently) is grounded
in "illness", but what the hell is that supposed to mean?

these photographs are mental illness to me. too.

i take them for all kinds of reasons. one of them is to try and convey what the world looks like and what the world feels like when you move through it with a mental illness.

this is what i see. this is what i can't help but notice
out walking with the dog, or going to the store for more
smokes.this is what you drive by...

i take pictures like i take meds like i take too long to do things like i try to think of others like i write too late at night. i just do.

What is mental illness to you?


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