I’ve used the term mental illness in this blog a lot. Doing so has made perfect sense, since Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a form of mental illness that has sparked plenty of depressive episodes in my life. But I’m thinking it’s time to stop packaging my struggle this way.
In fact, from here on out, I’m using the word “struggle” where I would normally use “mental illness.” I’m starting to realize a couple things: One is that EVERYONE has their special struggle, whether it’s depression, alcoholism or an addiction to gambling and pornography. I’m also starting to realize that the term “mental illness” is too limiting and defining for people.
I’m learning this in two places: My 12-Step program and the Cursillo group I’m in. Go to both places and listen to people for awhile and it’s clear everyone has their cross to carry. For one man, it’s a severely disabled daughter. For someone else, there’s the estrangement from a child. For another, it’s a battle with cancer.
For me, it’s been OCD, a binge-eating addiction and the struggles of Crohn’s Disease and the early death of friends and family. In OA, everyone with a binge-eating addiction tells a similar life story of difficulty.
God’s taking me to school again. With each new experience, I realize I’m no more special than anyone else. We all struggle, we all fail and we all grow whether we want to or not.
Since we’re all so much alike, using labels is becoming too problematic for me.
This isn’t a new concept. I know therapists who refuse to label patients with the diagnosis of a certain mental disease. The worry is that those patients make it a handy label to show off whenever the going gets tough.
Call it a case of me getting over myself.
Or simply learning something new and adjusting my tactics as any smart person would do.