‘Mental Illness is a Myth’

What is mental illness?

Mental illness is a myth. Psychiatrists are not concerned with mental illness and their treatments. In actual practice, they deal with personal, social and ethical problems of living (Szasz, 1972).

This is a question that has crossed my mind on many occasions.
‘What is this?’
‘What is happening?’

Thomas Szasz, a sociologist makes a radical proposition that mental illness is just a way of categorising people based on their behaviours – should their behaviours be ones that society disapprove of.

I have taken this to mean that, should you as an individual, not follow the norms of society and behave in a way that society deems  ‘normal’, you will then be categorised as having one illness or another.

The article I am reading goes on to explain this in a way that seems to hit the nail right on the head!

If you talk to God, you are praying; if God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.

If the dead talk to you, you are a spiritualist but if you talk to the dead, you are a schizophrenic.

There is obviously controversy regarding this topic and this particular opinion. Edwin Lemert was very keen to stress that certain labels such as paranoia are constructed out of social processes and relationships, rather than being based on a medical basis. This then ties in with self fulfilling prophecies…

‘Fred is uneasy around people, which in turn makes people uneasy around Fred. After starting a new office job, Fred is invited to the staff Christmas party which he declines feeling as though the night would be an ordeal. Staff feel relieved and do not invite Fred to future social gatherings, assuming that Fred will not want to go. Fred is aware of this night out and feels excluded. Fred then reacts to this by isolating himself more and more and avoiding going into the staff room completely. This then leads to staff talking about Fred covertly, to prevent any further reactions from Fred, however, Fred is aware that people are talking about him. Fred then feel paranoid whenever he is at work.’

Lemert (1972) would argue that this is not paranoia born out of mental illness but based out of reality as Fred is being talked about. If Fred then leaves his job due to this paranoia and starts a new job, his experience will follow him and may then result in a vicious cycle. Fred may go into a new job and not have the confidence to start anew, thus he will be repeating past experiences.

 

Is mental illness based on medical opinion or social norms?

 

Cunningham, J & Cunningham, S (2013). Sociology and Social Work, Null Learning Matters (pp 20 – 22) 

Dream Trip

‘By the time I’m 30, I’ll be recovered enough to go to New York.’ 

I lost years of my life to mental illness, with the hope of one day being able to recover – the one consistent thought being ‘by the time I’m 30…’ By the time I’m 30, I’ll have recovered, faced my fear of flying and be taking a trip to New York City.

The trip of a lifetime, that is going to be filled with so many emotions and so much hope. 

I have the motivation and determination to fund this trip myself, however, there are many barriers in front of me. 

Every little helps.

 

Money has never been something that came to me, it is not something I have ever had a lot of access to and I have always been against the idea of doing this – but here we are. I am not expectant this will help or happen, however, with my finances as they are, my reliance is on my overdraft.

Desperate times call for desperate measures…

GoFundMe

Rain

I love the rain. The sound of it hitting the street below and splashing as cars pass by. It’s inspirational in its own right. There’s something very calming and therapeutic about rain. Like a million tears running down windows, witnessed by many a lost soul. It changes things, the smell in the air, the mood of a teenager sat watching it pour down the windows, the excitement of a child who gets to go jump in the puddles, it sums up the feelings, when there are no words to explain them.

She walks in the rain, it pelts at her skin, blends in with her tears and soothes her. She has no knowledge of how far she has come or how long she has been gone. Head down, the streets all blend into one. Car horns sound around her and she jumps as the sound invades her mind. From the moment she turned that corner, she was alone, only aware of her thoughts. The reason for leaving has gone now, it’s back there where she left it. The path she’s taking is a familiar one, she has walked it time and again. The brain is not capable of thinking more than one thought at a time, although she does not believe the truth of that statement when the thoughts running in and out of her make no sense or reason. She never feels alone here, there are always eyes upon her. She’s aware of them, always aware but never acknowledges them. She feels content in the rain, she can feel it now, beating down on her face, cleansing away the sins of her past. She’s gone past the place of comfort, the loving arms who’ll hold her. Turning and continuing on, to the place that will haunt her. It hasn’t changed through the years, the images are all the same. This is the place, sheltered by the trees, droplets seep through the leaves. Slowly, but surely, her conscious comes back to her. She has not known how long she’s been gone, nor how far she had walked.

 

 

 

I wrote this when I was (approximately) 12 years old. I just found it by happy accident and wanted to share it. I had thought it had been forever lost to me. 

Saying Yes

This month, I started out with the idea of taking up jogging – a positive step towards physical fitness.

So, on the 1st of June, I jogged and then thus ended my jogging experience. Once was enough. It was not enjoyable and was slightly painful to my already sensitive joints.

So I was going to have a month free of the pressure to do something new, however, I have actually still completed some goals.

I have said yes to many things. I have worked hard to earn some much-needed money and I have socialised more than I can ever remember socialising. I have said ‘yes’ to last minute plans, I have travelled more than I have ever dared, gone on day trips to a place that I have been wanting to go to for over a decade and created strong bonds with people I have only recently met. Finally understanding what people mean when they speak about ‘clicking’ with people and feeling as though you have known them years when in reality it has only been a few short months.

June has seen me returning home to my mum for a while, I turned another year older, my mum got the all-clear after completing treatment for pre-cancerous cells, my aunt still remains in remission and I have passed my first year of University.

With thanks to the people around me, I have managed to remain in my hometown with minimal depressive thoughts.

Saying yes has been scarily exciting and the month is not over yet!

Today I Was A Soldier

I have returned ‘home’ – to my mother’s house.

To start this time off well, to hit the ground running – I set off to Church this morning.

I thought a calming and comforting environment would be nice, maybe one or two familiar faces that I would not be opposed to seeing.

I found myself surrounded by people who knew me, knew my grandparents and who greeted me with large smiles.

I had not expected to be approached by the vicar and asked to play a role, “would you like to be a soldier?” I had not expected to say yes, to be thankful and grateful for being asked. A reading took place, everyone had a role to play, a few lines to read.

Speaking out loud is not my cup of tea. For a while as a teenager, I was mute. Speaking out loud in public situations is sometimes still difficult. But I did it and I did it loudly.

The morning was spent being much more sociable than I had expected it to be, a whole morning of;

“Hello, Chloe.”
“How are you, Chloe?”
“Nice to see you, Chloe!”
“How are you enjoying University?”

I almost made someone cry. She had not heard I had moved, that I had got into University. Her joy was shown in the many hugs she could not stop giving me, in the misty eyes looking into mine and in her words, “everything comes around eventually, Chloe. Hearing this has just made my day!”

I did not know what I was expecting, but the unexpected was perhaps the best thing that could have happened. I feel as though I have a little more breath in my lungs and as though a part of me has fallen back into place.

I feel so proud for speaking aloud and being able to hold a conversation with people. Something that I would not have managed quite so effortlessly just a few short months ago.

 

 

Guilt

For the past 3 weeks, every week, I have been doing my 2 days (15 hours) in Uni and my 2 days (16 hours) of volunteering with Wednesday’s and Saturday’s set aside for Uni reading and writing essays.

Today, after very little sleep I woke up exhausted and decided I would take today off from my volunteering. I have to do 100 hours by the start of May as part of my course (not funded) and I already have just under 50 hours complete.

However…

Now there is guilt.

I keep thinking of ‘mental health days’ and looking after one’s self.

But. We live in a society that deems mental illness to be a weakness and while I do not think of this as being the case with others… I apparently have a whole different set of rules for myself.

One day for the good of my health should not bring guilt.

And yet, here we are.