Thinking for myself about mental illness
I just watched a video of Jacob Barnett, a young boy who was diagnosed with Autism and put into the regular system of care. His parents were told he would never speak and never tie his own shoes. Incredibly, he is now is recognized as a mathematical genius, and yes he can speak, the video I watch of his was his TED talk. When he was very young and seemingly disconnected and withdrawn he was indeed thinking based on his own way of perceiving the world.
One of the things he emphasized in his inspiring talk was that “in order to succeed you must look at everything with you own unique perspective”. This statement really resonates with me on many levels when I extrapolate it to my passion for mental health.
My passion is not mental illness, but mental health. I feel within myself I have my own unique perspective on mental health and why sometimes things go wrong in that area. I can say this because things have gone wrong for me several times, namely what is referred to as “psychosis”. This word is often a scary word for everyone. whether they’ve experienced it or not.
In my perspective, instead of learning about what’s wrong with me because I’ve had 3 experiences of “psychosis”, I prefer to think about what this experience is telling me about my innermost self as well as the inner world of us as a collective humanity. I could say it’s like the collective unconsciousness that Carl Jung talked about.
I like to question and ponder and think deeply about my inner experience even though some of it is “good” and other parts are “bad”. To me, psychosis is another form of information. Just because I don’t understand where that information is coming from, doesn’t mean that I reject it completely.
Most of it isn’t valid in terms of my daily functioning. I don’t ponder how it relates to the way I brush my teeth or how to walk. It gives me something to wonder about. It makes me realize I really don’t know much about anything. I don’t feel my brain is broken but that it’s open to information that may have some function but breaks my ability to function day to day. The extra information is projected over the backdrop of day to day reality and for me it eventually gets scary and I have to be reconnected or brought back.
When I come back I have more information then I had before. Information that relates more to Universal values and what we create in human relationships without knowing it. “Psychosis” informs me of how to operate from my heart, and what reality has turned into based on operating from the limited linear programmed process of the conditioned mind.
What I want to know is how I can live this out. How can I be that person “psychosis” tells me to be, or reminds me to be or else. Or else what? That’s yet to be determined. I do know that I’m not sure how much longer I can have any part of my perception directed towards the validation of mental illness.
To me, mental illness is in the air, it’s in the collective society that has been created generation after generation. Some of us get sensitive and pick up on it and it renders us useless in the eyes of “progress” and “gross domestic product”. It’s considered mental illness to no longer be able to pretend that being a cog in the heartless machine is okay. My “mental illness” is carried in my heart and retracts from this insanity. This is nobodies fault. We’ve all inherited this. We are all in this together.
I have this vision, this dream, that all of us labelled as “mentally ill” will one day harvest our gifts, just at Jacob was able too. Maybe we see things differently? I know I do.
I refuse to just be afraid. I want to harvest the golden nuggets from my experiences of “psychosis”. There is no need to fight anything. I invite you to think of this differently. See things differently. I dream of a day when we don’t have to numb ourselves. We are all here to shine.