Can one exaggerate the dangers of “mental health”?

Well, here I am again, writing a blog post on my phone, because I didn’t feel like toting my mini* laptop around.

It was really rather pleasant not to have to carry it at all yesterday.  Even after I picked up a seltzer and some minor dinner items at a convenience store between two buses on the way back to the house last night, the load was minor.  Despite my light burden, however, I didn’t walk from the train station, as should be obvious from the fact that I mentioned two buses; it was simply too late in the evening.  As it was, I didn’t get back to the house until just before nine.

It’s a glitzy, glamorous life I lead, I know, but don’t envy it.  You don’t see the struggles I face when out of the limelight.

Actually, I guess you do “see” a lot about them if you read my blog regularly.  You don’t see all of them, of course.  Even I am not quite so indiscreet as all that.  But you certainly know about some of my difficulties with depression.

With that in mind, I must (and do) apologize to StephenB for my extra-gloomy reply to his comment yesterday.  I think he was trying to perk me up with a little good-natured humor, playing on my words in a way that skillfully echoed how I played on them, but I just doubled down on the doom and gloom.  That’s one of my greatest skills.  It might be innate enough for me to consider it a talent, or even a fundamental attribute of my being.  Maybe it’s just my nature, my design (or design flaw) always to feel self-hateful.  I don’t know.

I do wonder what it would feel like to love myself.  Much is made in literature and spiritual inquiry and religious teaching about the danger of self-love**.  Certainly, in public discourse we see frequent reminders of the perils of narcissism.  The generally believed notion seems to be that everyone loves his or her own person more than they do anyone else.

But the Judeo-Christian admonition to love one’s neighbor as oneself is very bad advice for me.  I’ve always tended to feel more positive and generous in spirit toward other people than toward myself.  Cat forbid I should view other people as dimly and darkly as I view myself.

I’m reminded of a line from a Monty Python sketch in which some TV criminologist, played (if memory serves) by Graham Chapman, says, “After all, a murderer is only an extroverted suicide.”  It would be very bad, or at least not very positive, for my “neighbors” if I started to “love” them as I do myself.  I have become more prone to misanthropy over the years, and even edge toward pro-mortalism, but I recognize this as probably irrational and born of my mental illness, as it were.

Incidentally, I’m puzzled by a recent apparent shift toward referring not to mental illness but rather to using “mental health” when one is actually referring to what would previously have been called “mental illness”.  We live in a world in which people say things along the lines of “we have a growing problem of mental health” or “if you’re troubled with mental health…”*** or similar phrases.  I wish I could think of a specific example.  But it’s weird because mental health is not a problem, it’s the lack thereof.

Tiptoeing around words to avoid upsetting people by naming the fact that an illness is an illness and a problem does not seem like a healthy thing to do, as far as I can see.  If you’re afraid of words, how are going to deal with actual illness, actual pain, actual, physical danger?  Not too well, I would guess.

Speaking of actual pain, I’m at least somewhat pleased to note that my thumb pain doesn’t seem to have been too badly exacerbated by writing my post on my phone yesterday.  This obviously influenced my decision to do it again today.  I may come to regret this choice, but my future selves often get pissed at my past selves.  My past selves don’t really have to trouble with that fact, though, because they aren’t around to have to face the consequences of their actions.


I guess I’ll just have to wait to find out if I have troubles from doing this.  Some form of trouble will always come, of course; that’s the nature of the universe.  But I may or may not avoid this specific one.

Meanwhile, I’m having a hard time staying motivated or disciplined even to go to work.  I won’t just slack off, because I don’t want to cause unnecessary trouble for the people at the office, and for my boss, and so on.  I’ve never been any good at doing things for me, really, but I do find it distasteful to be rude to other people or to let them down.

I’ve always tried to live for other people in some sense, but it’s left me prone to real problems when either other people get fed up with me‒which tends to happen‒or when other people take advantage of me because I like to work hard and be productive and be appreciated, and try to relieve suffering when I can.  Sometimes that ends up landing me in prison, while people who took advantage stay free and clear and go on about their lives.  Certainly I was the one who bore the brunt of that situation, the one to which I am not-so-obliquely referring.  I still am bearing it.

Apparently, this sort of thing happens to people with ASD with some frequency.  This is another clue that’s caused me to sneak myself toward the suspicion that I might be “on the spectrum”.  I doubt that I’ll ever get an official diagnoses****‒the process is expensive and not easily entered by adults, especially ones who are, on paper, successful, or who at least have been in the past.

Also, frankly, there doesn’t seem to be much benefit in America, certainly in Florida, to receiving a diagnosis of ASD as an adult.  It’s not as if I’d be able to get disability benefits, and even if I could, such benefits are laughably inadequate.  So, what would be the point?  Better our nation should spend its cultural energy arguing about what terms are harmful and should be avoided at universities or should never be mentioned in a public school or whatever, right?

That was sarcasm, just to be clear.  Yes, my self-hatred is beginning to leak out onto my “neighbors”.  Should it ever fully escape containment, that would be a direr catastrophe than Fukushima and Chernobyl combined.

Okay, that was wildly hyperbolic, I admit it.  But who doesn’t appreciate equations like y=1/x?

And with that very bad, very nerdy joke, I’ll begin to end this blog post.  If I’m still alive and still able to do it, I’ll write more tomorrow.  Don’t get your hopes up: I probably won’t die today.  More’s the pity, right?

hyperbolic speech

This is the most important diagram of all time in the entire universe.

*This has nothing to do with the Mini Cooper or Cooper Mini car, or whatever the proper way to name it is.  Although, I think it would be rather cool if they made a small laptop with their logo and design or something, as a promotional thing.  Though that would probably have a very limited market.

**People even used to think it could make you go blind or grow hair on your palms.  Ha.  Ha.

***I’m quite sure I’ve literally heard that phrase.  “Troubled with mental health”?  I wish I were so troubled.  I’m troubled by a lack of mental health.

****Though I do carry “official” diagnoses of depression and dysthymia, from more than once source.

2 thoughts on “Can one exaggerate the dangers of “mental health”?

  1. Hi Robert, Nodding along to ALL of your article because I’ve been there many times myself when I’m depressed – wondering if I’m worth anything or if I’m “just being dramatic” while I quietly fade into nothingness. I’m here and I’m listening – you’re not alone. I don’t think one can exaggerate the dangers of mental health, the dangers are real and if anything, the stigma about them causes disbelief and scorn until that person isn’t alive anymore. Oh gosh, I hope this isn’t triggering you or upsetting you – I just wanted you to know I understand. Sending you a big hug xx

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