A few thoughts on the process and effects of writing my first series, “What mental illness feels like.”
As I shared in the conclusion of my overview of my series on mental illness, this was a learning exercise for me. This topic had been on my mind for a couple months. Part of the reason was to better understand my own experiences. In that sense, it was a resounding success.
Another big part of me hopes that this series can be helpful to someone. As I wrote a couple weeks ago, I have come to realize that I belong to a special society of sufferers, and our membership numbers at least in the millions. There are so many people who are struggling to cope with crushing despair at learning they have a mental illness. Amidst that despair is also hope. We can learn to live well, even with mental illness as our companion.
Part of the power of fright is the risk of the unknown. When a topic becomes off-limits to discuss or even consider, it gains influence and momentum in our lives. We need to tear open the shutters and let in some daylight to see what we are actually facing. Mental illness festers and strengthens in darkness. When we reveal it for what it really is, we come to see that, yes, it is scary, but it is also faceable. Just as the prophet-poet Isaiah said of the devil,
All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof?
As we become more comfortable talking about uncomfortable things, those topics can metamorphose. We will probably continue to handle them gently, but we can handle them. One of the first skills that mental illness often steals is that of self-compassion. And so we need to borrow and learn compassion from others.
I loved the experience of exploring a topic in great depth over a series of posts, and look forward to the opportunity to do it again. In the meantime, I plan to continue posting regularly about mental health (💮), as well as other thoughts and feelings I have. I would be thrilled to hear from you with suggestions for future series, or thoughts on what has been helpful for you, or just about anything else. You can reach me on Micro.blog as @bennorris, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.