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12-1-15--These past few weeks I've come to a realization about who I am, which is this

:
I've never had a sound mind my entire life. I've had flashes of intelligence
and creativity but that's all they were- flashes. I've never had a period of
sustained mental stability. And it hit me like a ton of bricks that I"m gonna be
mentally unstable the rest of my life, just like my mom before me and my
grandma and grandpa before her.
The big difference, and the only difference between me and them is that I've
broken through the fog of my mental illness and have finally been able to see
what the rest of the world sees when it sees me, which is someone with
serious mental illness.
Mom and grandpa never understood what was wrong with them and were
never even aware of it because like most people with severe mental illness,
their mental dysfunction made them unaware of their mental dysfunction.
That was also the case with me, until now. The reason is because when you
go through life desperately trying to be normal subconsciously, and when day
to day life is an epic struggle just to survive and get through each day, it
takes all of your mental focus and energy to do that, which means you're
prevented from seeing who you really are because you have no time and no
mental resources available at any point in any day to have the mental clarity
necessary to see the version of yourself that everyone around you sees.
People like us are also drained by our interactions with people, and it's a
constant struggle to maintain any relationships with, and to just try to be
accepted and fit in with everyone we come in contact with on a daily basis.
This also distracts us from our own inner issues and turmoil and further acts
as a mental barrier that shields us from our true self.
But now that I have nothing but time to think and reflect, and am completely
alone, without those distractions, and even though my brain is more
damaged than ever, I finally have the mental resources necessary to see
myself for who I really am. Now that all my physical needs are provided for,
and I don't have to work and struggle to just get through each day, I have
time and mental space to see things about myself, others, and life in general
that I never had the chance to see before.
The scales have fallen off of my eyes, and I finally saw the image of who I
really am in the mirror. It's been a life-changing and earth-shattering
experience because the man staring back at me in the mirror is completely
different from the man I always envisioned myself to be and thought I was.
I don't even vaguely resemble the image of the man my mind has created for
me over the years, and that realization has been both disturbing and
depressing.
What do you do when the identity you thought you had your entire life, for 30

years, is turned completely upside down and shattered? How can one react
to the fact that the person you always thought you were or wanted to be is
nothing like the person you actually are?
I imagine this must be what it's like when a gay man first realizes he's gay, at
least in some cases that are less obvious. I've read about how some gay men
didn't know they were gay until their late teens. There were hints and clues
all along, but they were subtle, not obvious, and their need to be accepted
and fit in with the crowd caused them to ignore those clues. But at some
point an event happened or somebody came into their life to open their eyes
and show them who they really were, and it turned their life upside down.
Just below the surface, their true identity was lurking, just waiting to be
revealed, and when it was, they didn't know what to do, because their entire
life was predicated and built around the illusion that they were at least
somewhat normal, just a little different than the average guy, but not
radically or fundamentally different.
It's the same thing with me. It actually feels like someone stole my identity,
and in fact someone did- me. I did it unintentionally of course, and without
knowing it, but that's what I did by allowing my ego to build up this illusion of
the man I thought I was, because that's the man I wanted the world to see so
I could be accepted and loved by someone. Maybe if I had a stable family
and parents who loved me, I never would've done all that because
subconsciously I wouldn't have had that void and the need to be affirmed
that was created by not having parents who cared for me. But I'll never know
the answer to that question, so there's no point in going down that path.
So I have to figure out how to live the rest of my life with this new identity,
my real identity, in all its ugliness and with all its flaws, because it's who God
created me to be. How do I face and accept the lifetime of mental illness
that awaits me when I always assumed I could somehow overcome it and be
different than my mom and grandpa? I don't have the answer to that
question, so I guess all I can do is leave it in God's hands, cause He does
have the answers, even if they're answers I don't expect, can't imagine, or
don't wanna hear.
I'm finding out that a lot of life, especially for people like me, is about facing
the music and singing, even when it's a song we don't wanna sing.
At this point there's not much I'm sure of in life, but one thing I'm certain of is
that we have to completely remove the stigma surrounding mental illness in
this country, and around the world. That stigma is a big reason why I
subconsciously created the false identity and protective shield around myselfin order to try and fit in with the rest of society so I could be considered
"normal" like everyone else.
But here's the big secret- there's no such thing as normal. The very idea of
normal is merely a social construct we create as societies just so things are

ordered and we have a vision we all can reach for collectively. It's created by
peer pressure and societal pressure through the media, sports, and
entertainment arenas.
The core of the stigma surrounding mental illness is that for many of us we
just have an "attitude problem" or are weak willed. We just aren't doing
what's necessary to "get better" or taking the steps to help ourselves. Maybe
some of us are lazy or just like being victims, or we're just not willing to fight
to overcome our mental illness.
These concepts are dangerous
and couldn't be more wrong. Why? Because they imply that mental illness is
something that we can control, which makes the lasting mental illnesses
illegitimate in their eyes and in our own eyes because many of us start
believing the lies we're told, as I've described above.
In fact the
truth about people with mental illness is just the opposite. Those of us who
are still alive and fighting, who haven't given up or given into despair, we're
still here because we haven't committed suicide, even though many of us
have been tempted to do so at times because the pain, stress, sorrow,
depression, and fear has been so intense that we've reached the point where
we didn't think we could go on or take it anymore, or that there was any hope
or any other option.
But we didn't take the easy way out, we resisted the
temptation and kept fighting. That means we're strong-willed, in fact it
means we're stronger than most "mentally stable" or healthy people because
most, if not all of them couldn't endure for a day or a week the kind of agony
and suffering we endure on a daily basis for months, years, and in some
cases, an entire lifetime.
Think about it. We
don't treat people with heart disease, arthritis, cancer, autoimmune disease,
or other physical diseases as lesser beings or as if they just need to change
their attitude or outlook on life and they'd get better. The only reason we do
this for people with mental illness is because our disease affects our mind,
which in turn affects our behavior, so at times it can seem like we have a
choice in the matter. But we usually don't. Why? Because in many cases
mental illness is actually a physical illness, just like any other physical
disease, except this one affects the mind, so it can create the illusion that our
own thoughts and mindset created the disease, when in fact it's the other
way around, the disease created our abnormal thoughts and mindset.
When the brain is damaged it tries to protect itself just like every other
organ in the body does. That's what mental illness is, a self-defense
mechanism, our body's attempt to prevent further damage and to prevent us
from killing ourselves.
To be clear, there are cases where a
person's mental illness is mostly or even all due to some deep-seated
psychological issue they had since they were young, whether it be verbal or
physical abuse or neglect by parents, some irrational fear, a tragedy they
experienced, or other psycholocical trauma. But a much larger percentage
of the cases of mental illness result from a prior physical disease that simply
spread to the brain and began to damage it. There are countless potential
causes of this, such as poor diet, sleep deprivation, excess environmental
toxins, chronic physical and/or psychological stress, etc. All these things
lead to a leaky gut, chronically high cortisol, chronically high levels of infl in
the body, nutrient deficiencies, hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances,

and other problems that damage the body and brain, which manifests itself in
different ways in different people since we were all born with different bodies
and brains and respond differently to stressors and damage.
So as
a society we need to start treating mental illness as the physical disease it
often is, and I believe if we do that, it'll make it a lot easier for people such as
myself to begin to see ourselves for who we really are and then accept that
true identity, because there's nothing wrong with being different, no matter
how far from the "norm" we stray.

We have to stop viewing and talking about people with mental illness as if
they're lesser beings or that it's a problem for us as a society that there's
something wrong with them. Guess what, there is something wrong with us,
and that's ok. The sooner the rest of society, the so-called "healthy and
normal" people accept that reality, the easier it'll be for those of us with
mental illness to accept it about ourselves.
It's so much easier to
accept who you are when the rest of the world isn't telling you or even
implying to you that you shouldn't be that person, or putting pressure on you
to be someone you aren't.
Let's
face it, the world would be a pretty boring place if every single person on
Earth was mentally stable and had no mental issues. Sure, those of us with
mental illness might be hard to deal with and even harder to live with, but we
also bring a certain level of creativity and unpredictability to life that other
people don't.
So people in the media and in the professional
mental health system need to start reframing mental illness and potraying it
through a positive light. We're not broken, or lesser people, we're just
different. We're part of the fabric of diversity that God created, just like he
created physical and cultural diversity, he created psychological and mental
diversity among us humans as well. This is something that should be
celebrated, not something that we should try to get rid of or look down upon.
If we all had a similar mental makeup, the world would be intolerably boring,
and God knew this, that's why He created some of us with mental illness.
Too often, as a society, we try to sanitize ourselves, to hide the
aspects of our humanity that are ugly or disturbing to look at. But this
doesn't solve any problems, it just pushes them under the surface and
creates a pressure on them that often explodes after it builds up for a long
period of time. We've seen this many times with school shooters who fell
through the cracks of society and who were shunned by everyone they came
in contact with.
We have to start having the courage to face
the darker realities that life presents us with. We live in a fallen world due to
original sin, and because of that there will always be broken people, and
people in need of help. Instead of stigmatizing these people we should help
them, so they in turn can help others who are in the same condition they
were in.
People with mental illness have a lot to offer the world, and we present the
rest of society with opportunities to help, and to reflect on their own blessings
and weaknesses. We often act as a mirror that mentally healthy people can

use to view themselves in. Without us, there'd be no conception of what
"normal" looks like, cause there'd be no conception of what "abnormal" looks
like.
Also, many of the most brilliant people throughout history have had mental
illness. High IQ and mental illness are often two sides of the same coin, so if
you try to take away the person's mental illness, you might take away the
source of their intelligence and creativity.

----Here's the one idea I need to hold onto and remember at all times to
counter my constantly racing negative thoughts and irrational fears:
My task in this life and goal is this: to walk on this path and carry this cross
with God, and to hold His hand every day and every step of the way. It
doesn't matter what my mental condition is, what my living conditions are or
if they change, what Jon's mental condition is, what my relationships with Jon
and Mom are like, or if my disease gets better or worse. None of that matters
because I can't control any of it, and it all will or won't happen for a reason.
I can't and shouldn't be afraid of the future and of all these things I can't
control. Even if I have to walk on this journey alone for the rest of my life, if
God is with me, then I can do it cause He'll give me the strength and the
courage to do it.
I can't get caught up in worrying about getting older or how I'm doing
compared to other people my age, or how I'm deteriorating, or how my
environment or relationships might change. As it states often in Jesus
Calling, all I have to do is focus on Him and take one day at a time. I just
have to keep walking and waiting for Him to act in my life, and to show me
the way forward. It's ok that everything is dark now and that I don't see the
path ahead of me now, I was never meant to see it, it would be too daunting
if it was revealed all at once.
Don't make plans, don't have any expectations, good or bad. God created
time in the form of discrete units called days because He knew that as
humans that's the exact amount of time we would need to handle all the
daily trials and tribulations we might face before we get a chance to rest at
night.
So don't look ahead to the following day or even the following weeks or
months, cause God hasn't given you the strength to get through them, not
until you reach them, then He'll give you what you need, one day at a time.
The bottom line is that right now all God's asking me to do is survive, cause
clearly He's taken away my abilities to do anything else. This is a period of
waiting in my life, probably brought about by God to help me grow as a

person and in my relationship with Him. I can either complain about it and be
paralyzed by fear and bitterness or anger, or I can use it to reflect and grow
spiritually and emotionally. So I have to be patient and wait, knowing that
everything that's meant to happen happens in due time, just not when we
want it to.