illness? normal? i just want to feel good.

“isn’t even negative thinking a mental illness? so we all have some form of mental illness.” that was michelle’s comment on the vote for mental health posting.

mental illness. what is that? let’s say illness is a deviation from normal functioning and well-being.

so then the question is – what is normal?

“normal” is entirely a cultural construct, something that a specific sociocultural circle makes up or tacitly agrees upon. some of these circles are very wide – they may span as huge a cultural group as “western society”, and some of them are quite small – jehova’s witness, for example.

what that tells me is that i can agree to the norms of the sociocultural circle that most defines me; or i can find a sociocultural circle whose definition of “normal” i like better – or i can go ahead and construct my own definition of normal.

or, you know what, you can just say, i don’t need “normal”.

i jus’ wanna feel goood. who cares whether it’s normal.

so what’s that like? well, that’s when i come back to michelle’s words.

negative thinking? sometimes it feels good, most of the time not. it always gives me a mental hangover. so – it may or may not be a mental illness but i know for sure it doesn’t feel good, so i make the decision to do my best to stay away from it. (except for those times that it really works for me – i talked about that in this post).

negative thinking – and correct me if i’m wrong here, michelle – includes mental activities such as harbouring resentments, beating myself up over things i have or haven’t done, running around judging everyone and everything that crosses my path, telling myself i’m stupid/slow/selfish/fill-in-the-blanks, imagining that everyone’s out to get me, seeing the world as a dangerous place …

yuk. just writing this list makes me sick to my stomach.

oh, i see!

if this stuff makes me sick to my stomach, maybe these ARE forms of mental illness!

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

6 thoughts on “illness? normal? i just want to feel good.

  1. Bonnie Wing

    Interesting to think that we can be guided into these “different” areas of normalcy by family, friends, classmates, co-workers, church groups, and those in positions of authority. Some of these we follow there, some we misinterpret so we find our way there on our own, some we are trying to escape from so we run there blindly.

    We can also be born into these alternate ‘normal’ areas… something wrong with our genes, or our nutrition. Or forced into these areas by our environment eg the weather and SAD, eg living in a prison or a dorm environment.

    We are born with a sense of survival, so that will further push us to conform to these alternate normals.

    And yet it is all by choice, we all make that decision to be guided or to run, or to conform, or to ‘find others who are different in the same way” and therefore who can support our normalcy.

    Alternately, we can choose to stand up for ourselves, choose to rejoice in ourselves no matter what others may think, choose to suffer or even die rather than do something we know or believe is wrong. And there is that word ‘believe’, that takes us full circle into that first paragraph again, where we are guided by others, and so on because of what we believe. So where does it all end. That is the scary part to me.

    I have developed my own sense of normal and not many others fit into my ideas, so in my eyes there are not many normal people. Aha! You see, I’m okay after all! And I think that is the key, to feel that we are okay, in whatever state of ‘normal’ we are.

    How do I survive my occasional bouts of negative emotion? I try to place myself into the big picture. Like the robin getting eaten by the cat, or the Eskimo freezing to death on the ice floe, it’s just nature, just the way things are, and for me that is an affirmation that I have my own little vignette to live out, and if I can’t change the negativity then it must be a part of my vignette and I can choose to participate – or not.

  2. isabella mori

    thank you for your insightful words, bonnie!

    i was particularly impressed by how you meld acceptance and empoerment in the very last part, “if i can’t change the negativity then it must be a part of my vignette and i can choose to participate – or not.”

    you refer to your life as “vignette” – i feel very similarly. our individual lives are these little windows into what you call “the big picture”, a little like a holographic image that contains the whole story, yet at the same time utterly unique.

    (hm, now how do these two ideas of “unique” and “normal” relate to each other?)

  3. Bonnie Wing

    Good question… I’m not an authority, only an amateur psychologist, but I certainly have my opinions! If one considers a ‘vignette’ to be the description of our lives individually, I think ‘normal’ could be whatever state we transform ourselves into in order to be accepted by other individuals, groups, etc. ‘Unique,’ on the other hand, is what every person is before they transform themselves to the norm of their choice. We each are unique… and just like snowflakes, each different and yet all the same. What a pity we generally would not accept a theory that everyone’s uniqueness puts them into a group where being unique is the norm. If we could accept that, we wouldn’t have to ‘change’ ourselves, we could just let ourselves ‘evolve’ as we learn, instead of suppressing ourselves so that we can continue to fit into the norm.

  4. healthybpm

    The ‘norm’ differs so much from person to person and culture to culture and even on a gender level, that sometimes you feel lost in this world of politically correct opinions. Thank you for your interesting insights.

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