Here's the Thing

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Disproportionate Woes

Thanks to the generosity of my Mother, I went shopping in WHSmith today, in the hope of spending a £10 gift card she had given to me. Why people think WHSmith is a place for gifts escapes me, but at least it is not quite as bad as an Argos voucher - By which I mean, you can at least go into the store and browse for things and spend said money on impulse.

I came out of the shop with more than £10 worth of books and an 4GB SD card (hp) for whatever it is one of those can be used for in my little eepc.

Whilst browsing the somewhat depressing selection of books my local WHSmith holds, I came to the conclusion that in every single one of the 'woes of my life' book, the person in question had been abused and horrifically treated and this is attributed as the cause for whatever mental illness and/or spate of self-harm they have had. It occurred to me that there are far too few books out there about people who have or do suffer from some type of mental illness, or who have been swallowed whole by the addiction of self-harm without having been abused, abandoned or somehow hit over the head with a mallet or the worst of societies parenting.

I have a mental illness (woohoo... ?) and yet I have at no point in my life been abused. I have had good parenting, nothing major or tragic has happened in my life and I am pretty sure I have never been hit over the head with a mallet of any kind. So, one can see where the problem lies. I am often faced with the stereotype that because I do not come from a broken family, because I have not been abused, because I am intelligent and able to 'function' (by which they mean, I go to work) I somehow do not qualify for the term 'mentally ill'. Better yet, I have been accused of being a hypochondriac, an attention seeker and worse yet, I have been told that I have taken on board the very things the people in all these 'woe is me' books do and think and somehow merged my personality thoughts and actions to fit, as some kind of attempt to seek attention and affection.

Ummm... No. The problem is, there is a HUGE stereotype and stigma created and it goes so far and so deep that I have met Psychiatrists that live by the notion that there must be something in my past, or my environment that makes me the way I am, else I simply can not be the way I am.

Bollocks to that, I say. I have lived my life and no amount of digging will reveal anything untoward at all. My problem is purely chemical. My brain has a chemical imbalance - that, is the sense in which I say I have a mental illness. At least a part of my problem is dealt with by medicine. Everything else is dealing with the way this has distorted my thinking (for example, I am due to attend an 'anxiety course', by which one learns mechanisms to deal with anxiety, not by which one is given lots of anxiety and expected to somehow magically come out unscathed). It has nothing to do with 'coming to terms with my past'.

If anything, this is probably part of why every time I go to a counsellor or psychotherapist they come back with the fact that it is 'not suited to me'. Of course it isn't. There is nothing to dig up. Of course I am not going to suddenly peel back like and Onion and reveal some hidden gem we can work through. There is no gem. Well, that, and I am ruddy difficult to get talking in the first place. Sure, I can type about myself here, but if you sat with me and expected me to talk about myself you would quickly find that I would have to know and trust you a LOT before the walls were moved and I would reveal anything.

Maybe one day I will consider myself to have enough life experience to even this disproportionate balance. I am not at that point yet. I am only 27 - There is apparently a lot more life to live, however much I may kick and scream about it.

And as a completely aside note - my legs are complaining from yesterday's bout of exercise so I guess it must have done some good. Key now is to try to make some kind of habit of it.


  1. I once found a WHSmith that had a shelf with a sign above it saying "Tragic Life Stories". I couldn't believe it! You're right though - not enough is written about mental illness of other kinds. Great post!

  2. Thank you for commenting :)

    I don't remember what the local WHSmith called the section of books, but it doesn't surprise me... do wonder if anyone ever tried to put Hamlet in there at any point?

    Wonder what they would have to call it if the balance was re-addressed, given the current political-correctness climate....