2.20.2017

MENTAL ILLNESS 101

This is something I've been meaning to write about for a long time.

Talking about mental illness is never easy. People either think you're seeking attention, having a pity party, or trying to be edgy, depending on your illness. No sick person wants to see that look in someone they care about's eyes when it turns from caring about us to pitying us. You think we won't notice it but we do, and it stings forever.

Now, I can't speak to every single illness because I don't have every single illness but I am a "special case" in that I have a few co-morbid disorders. Ones that tend to make people think I'm some sort of terrible person. I have Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD from here on), Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and Mania. So I am, quite literally, an antisocial maniac. It took years of going through doctors, therapists, and a round of neuroimaging to reach these diagnoses. Imagine living your whole life up to a point not knowing what's wrong with you.

ASPD is the prevailing illness, on paper that means I have shallow affect, a lack of empathy, a lack of remorse, a proneness to boredom, and a constant irritability, to name a few things. Does this make me inherently bad? No. Does this mean I don't know right from wrong and my actions are excusable? Absolutely not. It means, assuming I want friends and to not be in jail, that I have to work twice as hard to just be decent than someone else does to be a saint.

People view ASPD as an illness that has a worse effect on those around the person than the person themselves and honestly, they can all eat a dick. Do you know what it's like to watch relationships crumble in front of your face because you can't care? I don't mean you don't want to or you're actually using this person for ulterior motives. Imagine wanting so badly to love and be in love, but feeling absolutely nothing inside. To create only shallow connections because you have no real personality. To have that thrown in your face every time you argue with someone because they think you aren't trying hard enough to understand them when they refuse to understand you at all. People wonder why so many of us don't ever try to get better, don't try to cope with the symptoms, and why we embrace them at the end. It's because we put more effort into feigned emotion and relationship upkeep than everyone else and just get tired.

Here's what you should take from this: when it comes to mental illness it is easier to write people off in some way that flattens them into a character than it is to deal with it as it comes and make genuine efforts to understand and support them. Make the effort. Let your friends explain their illness to you, don't just go off what you've picked up from Dr. Phil and Tumblr. Be there for them. However, that isn't a job for everyone. If your friend has a mental illness and you can't help them because you aren't the type who understands things like this, just leave them alone about it. You more than likely do nothing but patronize them anyway.