14 Sep

I have already mentioned chronic disease and would like to say a few words about mental illness. I have recently discovered the Icarus Project, which is a brilliant website for those who aren’t afraid of “navigating the space between brilliance and madness”. They have many inspirational booklets available for download, including a guide on how to become med-free if you so wish. I really appreciate this couterpoint to medical culture, which invariably pathologizes mental illnesses and attempts to suppress them, often with minimal success and major side effects. Even psychotherapy, which is sometimes available without the support of drugs, tends to normalize the patient by first determining how and why they fail to fit in their environment and then encouraging them to adapt to social life in order to be integrated. In my experience, depression has been a painful but powerful sweeping force pushing me towards deep change. It takes time to become functional again, and even happy, but once you do you see things more clearly. And even when in the throes of panic attacks, paranoid spells, sleepless nights, or depressed states, there is something to the shift in perception, the blurred vision, which I find valuable. Should it be deemed “wrong” and dismissed, or carefully investigated, like some weird but compelling, uncharted territory? Human experience is something to be lived, not suppressed. I don’t want to become a well-adapted robot, I want to take my feelings, emotions, sensations and perceptions seriously, even when they appear scary. Isn’t there more to life than being a socially adequate person? Integrity comes at the cost of taming one’s shadows as well as one’s brilliance.


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