One of my friends posted a link to this article on her Facebook wall:
It’s an article about Millennials and this new “style” called soft-grunge, which at its core makes intense emotion, depression, and mental illness appear beautiful. The article argues that this beautification of mental illness by young adults who may not have or understand mental illness leads to “erasure” of the experiences of those who really are suffering, thus worsening the stigma of mental illness.
The part of the article I really connected with, however, had little to do with the “soft grunge” stream of thought. What hit me was about halfway down, where the author writes, “If you can selectively channel an emotion at will, it’s not mental illness.”
For me, that really resonates as an accurate way to describe mental illness, even though it defines mental illness by way of saying what it is not.
Mental illness is not having control over your emotions.
I have always struggled with defining mental illness– how do I know something is wrong with me? How do I know that I’m different? How do I justify, unfortunately even to myself, that I have a problem? That I am sick enough, and thus worthy of, my meds and all that expensive psychotherapy? It seems like a silly thing, a side point, but I am constantly trying to reassure myself that I need all of it.
I started my meds because I no longer felt safe with myself. I was too suicidal, and I couldn’t control my feelings. Using the article’s definition, I was suffering from mental illness because I didn’t have control over my thoughts or emotions. I was scared to be left alone with myself.
Yes, I think that is “sick enough.”
Why do I need to keep reassuring myself of that?