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Once More Into The Breach, Fellow Travellers

Written by Natasha Klassen

My Mental Trampoline


More and more I bump into people in the general public who quickly blurt out their “unique” mental health diagnoses as if it is a shiny badge of honour. A stark contrast to the reality of public life as a mental health sufferer ten years ago. As painful as those times were, living under rigid stigmas and stereotypes, I am not sure that we have come to a better place. There is a sense of overcorrection and need to normalize instability that is having a devastating effect on our society.

As I stand there and smile, I watch these peoples’ faces as they catalog their triggers and bemoan the absurd anxiety plagued beliefs they profess like an acolyte of some bizarre mental health cult. Their faces take on a religious fervour like you see in images of the biblical Saints. Sometimes they forego their names all together in preference to telling me about their place on the spectrum as a form of introduction.

They no longer have a name, just a disorder or collection of them. I keep expecting them to stop mid-sentence and ask me if I know of their Lord and Saviour Cthulhu. As they continue in their litany of issues and traumas it seems that the lines quickly begin to blur between their understanding of the different disorders. One runs into the other, or they seem to assimilate like a cube of Insanity Borg.

I understand co-morbidity exists and that some manifestations of disorders can be almost identical to others, however mental health is not about collecting ticks, triggers, and traumas like they are Pokémon. You should not seek to “catch ‘em all” and the whole point of mental health therapy is to get to a state in which you succeed in living such a functional existence they begin to subside in the regularity of their manifestations. The search for functionality should be your life’s opus, I prefer not to use the word normalcy here. The rejection of normalcy by society has made it a bad word.

Your goal should be to create an understanding of your own personal journey with mental health so that you can live a life that is no longer intrinsically impacted by your disorder. You are not your disorder; you are a human being who manages to succeed despite their disorder.

The mental health Albatross that these poor souls wear about their necks takes on what seems to be a multiple personality disorder and is quite borderline in its desire to mimic every disorder in the DSM. I hear that famous line from “The Princess Bride” in the back of my mind – “I do not think that word means what you think it means”.

I realize that there will be quite a few people who have made it this far in my post who are now offended. Well, to them I say “This is not the mental health blog you are looking for” as I wave my hand slowly before my computer screen in a stoic manner. I want them to know that I wish them well in their life journey and hope they find a blog that is more “enabling”.

Sadly, I am not one to facilitate an environment in which those affected by mental health issues can wallow in their carefully crafted quagmire with no worries of being impacted by reality based functional thought. Gone are the days when I succumbed to the desire to be the next mental health guru with a God Complex. This blog is for those who are a bit more “Old School” and looking for rational and practical avenues with which to deal with their mental health struggles.

If you are in the business of mental health, the people you strive to lift up and inspire to adopt more positive ways of coping are not your fans or followers. Your readers are people in need of hearing the truth regardless of how difficult it is for them to internalize because that is what they need to heal. You should endeavour to give your readers an example in yourself, and of others who are functioning well, to show them how to understand these painful truths in a healthy manner so that they no longer must endure unnecessary anguish.

You must offer support in a way that does not chase them from the path of healing. However, the art of teaching sufferers to lie to themselves by encouraging thought processes that feed an inner reality that does not match the outside world is teaching the absence of hope. Without truth, reality, and the tolerance of these two concepts, you are re-enforcing the idea that the world must conform to their delusion, their illness. The inner nightmare of mental illness is not universal, it is unrelentingly exclusive to the sufferer. This is not leading by example, this is luring into a dark alley of dangerous attitudes for nefarious purposes.

People outside of the sufferer's thoughts and feelings will not be able to conceive the complexity of the disjunctive beliefs that hold their isolated and internal reality together. If the mental health sufferer is never able to see themselves in the world outside of themselves, there is nothing but the prison of the world within their mind left. There is no hope, just an endless inability to connect, an endless disappointment. 

To guide sufferers into the practice of “feeling” better with no palpable truth or healing is empty promises. You are a liar; you are not a friend. The opposite. And one wonders for what purpose do you engage with these people? To Further your own delusion by feeding off theirs?

Your readers are fellow travellers in a world of mental instability, fellow pilgrims on a road pitted with trials and tribulations. A motley group of refugees fleeing a dark inner place striving to find a land outside of the misery. All seeking a reality shared by many that gives comfort in the knowledge that it is the same to everyone that experiences it. Everyone understands what is real. No imaginary monsters, no supernatural threats, just real tangible challenges that together can be met.

Together you reach every station of the cross you each bear and struggle to aid each other with the arduous load. Each of you equally burdened, equally challenged with your own unique and individual millstones that have been placed upon you until you find a place to lay them down.

Some of us may never reach that resting place, but we must keep pace and stay the course together. Alone we are lost, together we can share the miles, the lessons, the wisdom, and the journey. The place you stop is a much more fulfilling destination if you have arrived with company. You can stand on the precipice of a grand vista, behold the beauty of the world you have arrived in with the joy of many kindred hearts, and know that your fellow travellers have taken every step that you have.

Together you share the bounty of this brave and new world.

There are things only fellow travellers understand, the strange and alien lands that you passed through, the sights and struggles that are unfathomable to those who did not walk beside you. There will be wonders that sprung from epiphany, beauty that were carved from rawness the Human Condition, and moments too rare to place words to. With fellow travellers all you need to do is glance into their eyes and you will see all those wonders reflecting back at you.

This is how I view this blog, a pilgrimage with fellow travellers to find a spot upon the map of the collective Human Soul that brings us to the coordinates of Functionality and peace. A place where all may find succour and where each of us can build a home in their souls. Together we will create a community in which everyone has a healthy place to reside.

Getting better is a difficult and arduous journey, not for the weak of heart. I do not write this blog to gain followers, I write it to share with others what got me through the Dark Night and to give hard won hope to those who may need to know it still exists.

Pardon my French, but I am not interested in being knee deep in a wasted mind or the quicksand of instability. And the prevalent attitude in contemporary therapy of “Kindness of Care” is a path paved in not only “good intentions”, but also a lot of crap that is taking many poor souls to a lonely and unpleasant destination.

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