I’ve said something in the past which I want to repeat here. We are all mentally ill.

That is, according to the psychiatric field. If you listen to the psychiatric field, or at least the way it is portrayed, every human being walking the face of the planet has some form of mental “disorder” which we can be diagnosed with.

Of course, that’s not true. The truth is that the mental health field only considers something a disorder when it impacts your ability to function at a normal level. The truth is public perception, driven by media portrayal and exaggeration. Honestly, the most mentally deranged people in our society work for the media and corporate management. They will push any agenda at all, no exceptions, for profit.

Personally, I have a long string of “disorders” which could be applied to me. Bipolar disorder is one. I genuinely do have this but did not know it until I was in my 30’s, in nursing school. It was later confirmed unofficially by a psychiatrist I went to for voluntary stress management. He asked if I wanted to be treated for it. I said I was already in my 30’s and had not been treated for it up to then, so no. We agreed and it was never entered in my medical file because of the problems such a label can cause. Fact is, many overachieving people who are quite accomplished have been bipolar. One Surgeon general. Many artists like Neil Diamond and Billy Joel. Billy Joel wrote a song about it, “I Go To Extremes”. Listen to the lyrics and you’ll understand. I had someone say, “You just like the manic state.” I looked at them and said, “Yes, I do. I get a lot done when I’m manic. It helped me through nursing school.”

I’ve been called OCD. Then again, name a good nurse who does not have OCD to some level. I know I have ADD but I compensate by maintaining multiple interests at all times. It does suck when I get bored. I have made people quite fearful if I was bored because they had no idea what came next. Especially when I had access to explosives in the military. Nobody got hurt, so I have no regrets.

Only a few months ago I realized I have PTSD. Growing up in a rough neighborhood near a military base during Vietnam, having been beaten, stabbed, shot at, gone through two live shooter events, three bomb scares and being in the Army in Germany the day The Wall came down and they refused to tell us why we were issued live rounds and guarding one of the largest ammo points on the planet all have a cumulative effect over time. Imagine that. Oddly, I remain calm in a crisis. I just avoid loud environments and disorganized crowds. Oh, and never put your hand in my face, you may lose it.

Sometimes it’s not a weakness but a strength. I know many people with PTSD, usually from domestic abuse. They tend to have strong responses to certain triggers but nearly every one I’ve ever known internalized their reactions unless things escalate beyond a certain point. It is abusers who are most likely to escalate situations. Those with PTSD tend to be more rational and attempt to deescalate tensions, talk rather than argue, reason rather than fight.

I know many with bipolar disorder. They are generally highly functioning once they learn to balance.

Those with ADD are usually people most capable of multitasking without becoming overwhelmed.

Is it really a “disorder”? So, I fail to see how these things amount to disorders. They are all different normal human conditions, either by biology or conditioned response. Of course, one can take drugs for these things. Most of the time drugs are not really necessary. Like I said, I was in my 30’s when I learned of my ADD, 40’s when I was called OCD and reasoned out the PTSD at 56 years old. Oh, well. I consider them all means to understanding myself better. I’ve never considered myself “normal”. I look around at what is considered “normal” and will always reject that label.

Change your view. The real fact of the matter is that what may be considered a “disorder” is often not. It all depends on how you, yourself view a condition, whether you learn to balance and compensate for it. Be open with friends and family members. Are they supportive or judgmental? If they are judgmental, it may not be you who has a problem at all. I will be honest and say some people will use their own labels as a crutch for aberrant behavior or substance abuse. Though substance abuse is an issue and illness all on it’s own. It is rare that a psychological condition resolves one of personal responsibility, aside from schizophrenia.

Of special note. Some people use labels as a means to justify emotionally abusive behavior toward others. They try and use labels to make themselves feel superior. In reality, what they reveal is their own apathy and insecurity. Strong people do not have the need to demean others

Stop labeling. One of the biggest problems with any such “disorder” is that too many people define a person by the label. Sometimes they define others by a label, or they may define themselves by a label. I’m not “a bipolar”, I am a person with bipolar “disorder”. Likewise, a person with an anxiety disorder is not necessarily an anxious person, they are a person that has a problem with anxiety. In all cases, what comes first is that each of us is a person. We are human. We have problems, we have flaws, we have individual personalities.

Societal evolution. Over the last few decades, society has undergone an evolution. Where any form of mental problem was once a stigma, many forms of mental or emotional issues have become mainstream. In some circumstances and cohorts, a person may well be considered an outsider if they do not have certain “disorders”. Depression and anxiety disorders have become overly mainstream among young people today. Medications have become trendy. Celebrities use discussing their own “disorders” not as a means of spreading awareness but as a means of gaining more popularity.

Striving for balance. This is the biggest challenge. We all must strive to reach a balance. To accept various aspects of the human condition as exactly that, while reaching for understanding when a condition may reach a critical juncture. Which means we cannot rely on a pill bottle for all the answers. We cannot define ourselves or others by only one aspect of an individual’s personality.

Teams play to each member’s ability. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Not all baseball players are great pitchers, not all pitchers are great hitters. Teams arrange their playbooks according to the strengths and weaknesses of the players. In healthy relationships we tend to seek and accept partners with qualities which compliment our own. If both partners had the same strengths and weaknesses, the relationship becomes unbalanced. Of course, if partners or team members judge and attack one another, then the relationship and performance suffer and may lead to failure.

Medications are not enough. Psychoactive medications have become things used all too often as chronic, lifelong prescriptions leading to dependency. Those medications really should not be used in this way in many cases. Some, yes but not as much as they are. Psychoactive medications are meant to be used in conjunction with therapy. The ultimate goal for most people should be to gradually decrease or even eliminate the need for medication by increasing the coping skills and ability to adapt by the patient.

Self acceptance. The absolute best thing a person can do to maintain emotional health is to learn self acceptance. Though this does need to be in a way that does not cause harm to themselves or others. Abusers can accept themselves, that does not mean they are mentally healthy. Stop seeing yourself as flawed, stop thinking you or others have to be perfect. The day you meet someone who is perfect, let me know.

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Issues unite, names divide

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