30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge- Day 4

Day 4: What are the pros and cons of having a mental illness(es) or your specific illness(es)?

The PRO(s) of having a mental illness?!

I have always believed in the theory that everything happens for a reason. I do believe in God and I know that if I have faith that I can make something good out of something unfortunate. But I cannot say that I see the benefit of this at the moment. I am still new to this realization and there is some relief in knowing that the way that I have felt is not ‘normal’. Humanity as a whole isn’t meant to know this kind of suffering. The human condition is full of suffering, this I understand; but to feel so hopeless and dark for no other reason than because your brain isn’t able to properly release the correct amount of dopamine and serotonin…aren’t our bodies supposed to adapt to changes in our environment? The biologic ability to evolve might have accounted for the ever increasing stressful nature of our day-to-day, right? So why do I need to see a therapist and carry medication to keep myself from feeling as if I am having a heart attack when I get overly stressed out in crowds, around loud children, or when I cannot control my surroundings?

There has yet to be found definitive ‘scientific proof’ that certain mental illnesses are caused by biological factors. There is no blood test that a doctor can give you that will prove a person has depression versus bipolar disorder; anxiety or OCD (or both); psychosis or schizophrenia. These diagnoses depend entirely on observation and symptoms expressed. Feelings. This easily brings me to the ‘cons’.

The CON(s) of having mental illness:

Many in this section are pretty obvious. It wasn’t until I was 37 that I was diagnosed. So I have lived without treatment of these conditions for many years. I have gone day to day feeling pain, confusion, an inability to enjoy my children and my family, and I have no way of knowing what ways my life may have been different if I was aware of any of this before. I do know that my children and I would have had to go through one less traumatic day last November.

I am not one that blindly takes information and accepts all that I am told as fact. Particularly when it comes to my health and as I mentioned before, mental health is not an exact science so I have spent much of the last year learning as much as I can about these illnesses and the medications to make them better. I have found peer reviewed studies and educational podcasts; speeches from lawyers who fight for patient’s rights against mental health facilities and doctors who try to win custody of very sick patients so they can be treated before they do irreversible harm to themselves or someone else.

There are anti-medication advocates, anti psychiatry activists, and even those that feel people make up their mental illnesses for some sort of personal gain (only goodness knows what kind of gain a person gets from something like this). Some illnesses (like my PTSD) are caused by trauma but the fact that I was already predisposed to anxiety and depression made me more likely to be affected like I was by this trauma. I am also more likely to succumb to dementia when I get older. The more I learn about mental illness, the less hope I feel about my future. I will not be cured. Ever. I can get better and I can learn to manage symptoms better. I am managing to avoid situations that trigger me and I assure I get plenty of rest, eat well and I don’t drink much wine anymore.

The biggest con is that I could have passed these illnesses on to my children. I hate the fact that they may feel some of what I have experienced some day. I recall being pregnant with them each and hoping they would get my ability for forgiveness, my small nose and my love for literature. One thing that never occurred to me to hope for was that they would manage to avoid the gene that will cause them to hate themselves. This horrible gene will not care about the literature (which ironically prefers Plath and Hemmingway), and cute little nose. The gene will enable them to forgive everyone but themselves.

I can’t really say that I find much benefit in any of my illnesses at all.

via 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge- Master List.


About Christine O.

I had been a young, single Mom to two girls for ten years; until March 9, 2014 when I married my soul-mate Jason. I’m a former 20 year+ full time executive in a demanding field turned business owner (this year); marathon runner, daughter to the perfect parents, oldest sister of a highly successful ‘normal’ younger brother and ‘functional’ single-mother (of 3) sister, coach, boss, best friend, member of the church choir, volunteer for the local NAMI, AFSP, and CASA organizations, and have over time become well acclimated to the world of mental illness after a life changing event or two. I have also become known in my community as the one who takes on the High School year after year in attempts to have a Suicide Prevention Program in place (as in Texas statute). My goal in writing, blogging and learning as much as I can about such subjects is to defeat stigma associated with brain disease, preventing suicide in the future, and saving my family.
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6 Responses to 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge- Day 4

  1. Matthew Chiglinsky says:

    I know why pros. It’s because the person you got this 30-day list from is so sick (according to his/her blog) that he/she apparently can’t hold a job and has to depend on his/her family to survive. So, I guess the pro for him/her is not having to have the responsibilities of a normal adult. Wouldn’t it be easy if the world would just treat you like a child your whole life? (Of course, it might also take away your freedom to make your own decisions.)

    You’ll never be cured? Who told you that, a doctor? So, I guess that means you’ll be paying him/her money for the rest of your life? What a steady and reliable source of income you must be for him/her.

    Don’t worry so much about your kids. I once wondered whether people with a certain mental condition should ever have kids. When I did some light research on it, the rebuttal I found was that the condition could also contribute to a child’s creative ability. Negative traits are only negative when they exist without positive balancing factors. For instance, my mother is very compassionate but also lacks impulse control. This enables her to help other people, but it also allows her to be taken advantage of because she let’s it go too far. I have some of her compassion, but I have a lot more self-control, and I am much better as saying “No.” to people who would go too far.

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  4. Matt Fried says:

    “The more I learn about mental illness, the less hope I feel about my future.”

    This struck me.

    There can be pros to having a mental illness.

    Normally speaking, the cons will far outweigh the pros. But the fact remains that there are sometimes pros.

    Of course each situation is different. This is a topic I will be posting about in more detail soon. Too long to write about here. It’s very delicate and I am cautious about encouraging anybody to think their illness (overall) is a good thing.

    Great post Christine.

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