A falling tree makes no sound

Posted: October 12, 2015 in Musings
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I started writing in my other blog this morning, the one that I allow my friends and family to read, the one where I write about my family and what is going on, or little things I observe in a day such as the beautiful fall colors, things like that. No one in my family knows about my Trich blog. This one is just for the fellow trichsters out there. When I began writing this morning I really had no idea which way it would go. All I knew is that I wanted to write. I get this itch in my arms and fingers when I want to write, and the only way to “cure” it is to, well, write. It ended up being a piece on the struggles of having a mental disorder in a society where that is incredibly stigmatized, and how that really, really needs to stop so that progress can be made. I did not intend to write about that this morning, it just sort of spilled out.  I doubt I will share this on my personal blog, it will be met with too much . . . judgement. I don’t have the most understanding family. So I thought I would put it here because I know you’ll “get it.”

• • •

Some times, a lot of times, actually, I really, really want to write, to create something inspiring with language, to take letters and form words, sentences, thoughts, etc. It is one of the most therapeutic things I’ve ever known.

And yet, most of the time when this urge strikes me I really don’t know what to write. It’s not that I don’t have a topic, quite the opposite, actually. I have too many topics and have a hard time picking just one or two to conquer in that particular piece. I have so much to say, but, as with everything else in my life, doubts quickly begin to surface.

For one, so many of the things I wish to write about are things you could not understand. Not in the sense that you are not intelligent to “get it,” but in the sense that you have not lived some of the things I have lived, just as I have not lived some of the things you have lived, so if I were to write about those things I would be essentially be talking to myself.

Also, I have some very strong opinions about a few things, and I really don’t want to offend anybody. More than once I have wanted to write about religion, but we all know that anything written about religion is immediately attacked and/or praised, which leads to nothing more than people arguing back and forth about something that ultimately no one understands. Sounds productive, doesn’t it?

The most vexing thing, for me, is wanting to write about some of the mental issues I deal with. I want to write about what it feels like to not be in control of your own mind, to want to hurt yourself physically so that the internal pain, the mental, emotional pain will be replaced by something real. I want to write about what it is like for no one to understand your condition, not even the professionals, and to have to try medication after medication after medication, being a guinea pig, until finding just the right combination.

I want to write about how, in a way, being in a different state of mind than most has helped me see the world differently, how seeing the darkest side of things has also helped to be able to see the most beautiful, the smallest, seemingly insignificant things, to see how beautiful the world can be. I guarantee you I don’t see this world quite the same as anyone else. And that is the only good thing about myself I will say.

Ya know what happens when a person tries to talk about their mental struggles, their rare condition? They are told to “get over it,” “toughen up,” “stop whining,” “you’re making it up,” “you just want attention,” “just be happy,” “just stop doing it,” “you’re crazy,” and so on and so forth.

In our society, mental illness is seen as a weakness, it is the fault of the person afflicted, they have some how made bad choices that have led to this condition. We believe that people who are bi-polar, clinically depressed etc. can just flip a switch and make it shut off, and that they simply choose not too because they are either too lazy or don’t want to because they like the attention.

There is a difference between wanting attention and wanting understanding. A HUGE difference. That is the power of words, the different connotations they can have and the way they can change meaning and influence perspectives.

When I was about 12 or so, I tried going to church. Technically I am Mormon, baptized and everything, so I was encouraged to start going by some of my friends’ parents. I thought, “Don’t knock it until you try it,” and I went a few times. On about the third time I went one of the girls in my group, not primary, but the group that the pre-teen girls go into after the sacrament meeting, told me that I was not welcome there because I was not an “active” member.

In the Mormon church, you are considered an active member if you attend church services every Sunday, pay your tithing, etc. And if you’re not active, well, you may as well be a devil worshipper.

So I thought to myself, “how is one to become active if they don’t start going in the first place?” I mean, really? Is that ironic or what?

To me, there are similarities between this and the whole issue with discussing mental issues. If people don’t talk about it, don’t address it, it will never get better. It is like the chicken and the egg argument . . . it has to start some where. If we stop believing that the people who have it are “psycho,” “crazy,” “weak,” and just maybe, maybe, listen, just stop judging for a few minutes and just listen. . . People who deal with depression, some sort of mental disorder, etc. just want someone to listen because no one ever has. It’s very lonely and isolating. Then someone chooses to act out against society in a violent manner because that gets people’s attention. Some one is finally listening.

I am not condoning that at all, I know people will think that if they read this, but if you do you’ve missed the whole point of what I just said. Very, very very few people with mental issues act out that way. It just seems like there are more because of the way the media covers and portrays it. That does nothing but add to the negative stigma. Ninety-nine percent of people with mental illnesses would never hurt anybody, except maybe themselves.

I am just saying that desperate people do desperate things. It’s not about gun control or what music they listened too, it’s about people not getting the help they need because no one will listen without judgement. The labels such as “weak,” “psycho,” etc. won’t be dropped.

The bravest people I know or have heard of are the ones who can get up in front of a crowd and say “I have anorexia,” “I have Body Dysmorphic Disorder” or “I have dermatillomania.” This program does not recognize the word “dermatillomania,” though it is more common than you might think and yet it is picked up by spell check. Going out on that metaphoric limb and exposing yourself like that takes guts, I don’t care what any one says.

We need to get to a point as a society where people who think those with mental issues are less human than the “normal” people are a minority. I think that the more people who “come out” in a sense (please know that I am not saying “coming out” as gay, lesbian, etc. is the same as admitting you have a mental illness, just that both are extremely difficult to do), and talk about their personal experiences with their illness or disorder, the more people will hear about it, the more research can be done, and more people who are afflicted with these things can begin to feel comfortable with themselves, can start to get help, can start the process of no longer believing they are a monster, a freak, broken . . . there is strength in numbers.

There are two parts to this — the chicken and the egg — someone has to be brave enough to talk about it and someone has to be brave enough to listen. The tree that falls in the forest does not make a sound if there is no one to hear it. . . hearing requires a recipient.

To the very few of you who have been recipients of my “falling tree,” who’ve listened without judgement, I value you more than you know.

Don’t ever assume I am not trying to get better, don’t assume that anybody isn’t. Sometimes a person’s actions contradict the path they are taking. Talking about it is a gigantic first step. What you see as whining is actually the person saying, I am dealing with this and I am ready to admit it, to finally look it in the eye. I am not going to let it hide any more. Hiding it only gives it strength.

Make sense? Probably not. That is why so much of my writing will never see the light of day. Enjoy yours.

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