For many people, the words ‘mentally ill’ conjure up some pretty scary images. Stuff like… that scary-looking guy on the street corner, mumbling to himself. Or a person screaming and pulling at their hair and throwing things around their home. Or perhaps people tied down to a bed in a mental facility… or someone with matted hair and unkempt, dirty clothing, wandering aimlessly through life, barely there, not really experiencing anything; or someone on various pharmaceutical drugs for ‘bipolar disorder’, ‘social anxiety’ and a host of other problems diagnosed by their doctor, who really have no idea what is really wrong with them.
The truth is, there are many other forms of mental illness. Some of them are hidden so far down, so deep, that even the person who have them has no idea. They spend their lives doing various things to keep the thoughts and feelings at bay; they become obsessive-compulsive; they become eating-disordered; they become addicted to alcohol, drugs or other substances. They become extremely efficient in an effort to keep those growing feelings of anxiety, failure, depression and/or misery as far away as possible.
Almost everyone has some form of neurosis or other. Many people laugh about it, joke about their so-called ‘weaknesses’. But deep down, they wish they would go away.
Then there is the other type of mentally ill person… the type that this post is actually dedicated to. These people come across as so bubbly, friendly and ‘normal’ in person. They are sweet, kind, down to earth, startlingly aware and efficient. For example, if you see them in your local grocery store, they may strike up a random pleasant (and even funny) conversation with you. The conversation may be very witty and cause you to laugh and feel at ease. You may think to yourself, ‘My, this person is really friendly and helpful’, then go about your day with a smile on your face. Because the ‘mentally ill’ person knows exactly how to set others at ease. They want so desperately to be normal and feel normal that they go out of their way to please and help others. They know exactly what other people want and/or expect. Or, they just simply love others so much (even if they can’t love themselves), and therefore, they go out of their way to put a smile on other peoples’ faces.
These people know how to lie to therapists, to psychiatrists, to everyone, including themselves. Or maybe they aren’t really lying – maybe they have no idea as to the true extent of their illness. These people are so smart that their therapists and psychiatrists pronounce them well.
Many of these types love animals dearly and rely on their pets for unconditional love. Or, they rely on a healer, or teacher, or some other outside figure to help them. They hope with all their hearts that one day, they will be OK, and that the other person can fix them. Perhaps this person has tried numerous times to get better, but to no avail.
Many of this type also treat people with kindness, love and respect – for a time – until they start falling apart. Then the carefully protected seams start to unravel; the carefully wrapped paper starts loosening and falling off; they realize that they really are in the dark, they are really in trouble. The darkness begins really closing in. But don’t mistake it – even in their darkest hour – they are still able to be friendly, loving, kind and personable if needed.
But underneath it all, there is a squirming, uncomfortable, miserable existence that this type of person is experiencing. If they are working with a healer, teacher, counselor, etc, that person will get the brunt of their frustration, anger and depression.
The reason I am writing this post is because I know this type of mentally ill person very well.
How far are you willing to go in order to appear normal and happy, when inside, you are hurting badly? Yes, you could be nice to the florist, the delivery man, etc, but inside, how are you really feeling? Are you pretending to cover something up? Do you genuinely want people to be happy and loving? (I understand this and also want this!) But inside, is there still a riot going on?