Blog for Mental Health 2013 Project

Writingthebody has asked me to join the Blog for Mental Health 2013 Project. First and foremost, I´d like to thank him – I´m touched and honoured that he thought of me. Nonetheless, I´m not sure I actually want to make a pledge. To begin with, I´m not entirely sure what I´m committing myself to. I interpreted the text so that there are two main goals: 1) Writing about mental health issues not just for myself, but also for others. 2) Trying to educate the public on mental health in order to erase stigma.

As far as the first goal is concerned, I assume that as long as I have readers I´m giving them something even if these are merely my own personal ramblings. I think my blog might actually lose some of its value – if not for others, then for me – if I tried to make it less personal and more objective and science oriented. It is a – sometimes fairly dreary – playground where I test my theories about myself and mental health related issues. It is called Possible Truths because I don´t have any definite truths to tell yet. For precisely that reason I´m not sure if I´m in any position to educate the public on anything.

Then the stigma thing – my problem here is that there are two kinds of stigma. There´s the stigma surrounding certain mental illnesses, like the idea that people with schizophrenia are dangerous. I´m all for removing that kind of stigma, although I´m not sure in what way I can do that. If writing publicly about the absurdity in my head contributes to that, I´ll gladly continue to do so. I have to admit, though, I sometimes shudder at the sloppy use I make of psychiatric terminology on my blog. I sort of need to do so because my fears  and my self-loathing speak in those terms, but I guess that doesn´t really help erasing stigma, so my blog might simply not be the best place for advocating acceptance. The stigmatizing use of psychiatric terms is so deeply ingrained into my head that I´d be a bit of a hypocrite, in fact, if I presented myself as accepting.

Side note: I think the non-clinical use of psychiatric terms is not necessarily directed against mental health patients, but against just about everyone we disapprove of. Girls who cheat on their boyfriends are suspected of having Histrionic PD by said boyfriends, emotional and aggressive girls are said to have Borderline, all managers are sociopaths, all nerds have Asperger´s, and absolutely everyone is a narcissist. Diagnosing your opponent is a very popular slight. And afterwards you can even accuse HIM of being the one who stigmatizes the mentally ill. Because if he interprets your diagnosis as an insult, it only shows he has a problem with mental health patients. Clever and destructive, both to your opponent and to actual mental health patients.

This is pretty close already to what I call the second kind of stigma: Pathologizing behaviors. I do some things many people see as a sign of mental illness. My sexuality is probably the aspect of me most vulnerable to pathologizing. I think if my blog was dedicating to fighting any kind of stigma, it would be dedicated to fighting the stigma of being called ill while feeling healthy.

Anyway, though, my blog is already dedicated to something else entirely, namely to being a place of experimental honesty. Being honest means to say what you believe to be true. My beliefs are so conflicting and elusive that I can only TRY to do justice to them. I naturally do take sides. I need to believe certain things if I want to be able of doing anything other than sit on my bed and hate myself. Sometimes I feel capable of looking into the abyss of doubts over which those frail, necessary beliefs float, sometimes I´m busy fighting back the stare of the abyss. The first state of mind I´d now call relative sanity. The second one – some years ago I believed it was the path towards healing. Maybe it´s telling that I distinguish healing and sanity. The latter has a positive connotation for me, the former doesn´t.

I´m not sure if I can combine this experimental honesty and the resulting inconsistency with an agenda of any kind, however worthwhile. Long story cut short, this blog is simply not the right place for me to promote anything. Nonetheless, thank you again for approaching me with this, it has given me a lot of food for thought!







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