Who you are VS What you can be

Today I come to speak about the curse of knowing yourself too much. The paralyzing reluctance to mistake anxiety for intuition and intuition for anxiety.

The fear of responding to perceived threats because you can’t quite place the motivation behind the bullets. The crippling regret of losing out on a good thing because you couldn’t help overthinking.

A thing about diagnoses

Any ethical psychologist knows that diagnosing a patient should be treated like a life-threatening bomb. It is a terrible thing to bestow someone with an identity that can affect their self-perception.

This is part reason I hate mental health social media. I hate the throwing around of labels to contexts that merely need a pause and a breath and then a conclusion. Because when it comes down to it, it is an altering complication to come to terms with the reasons why you are a little imperfect human with ugly traits.

Just imagine people attributing your choices, words and behaviour to a diagnosis. Imagine being the hilarious crazy person every time you voice your opinion. Imagine being too scared to trust your justified needs because “what if I am being my diagnosis?”

This is why I am also against making a diagnosis your entire personality beyond it just being something you live with. I can understand the relief of finally being able to understand why certain contexts evoke certain reactions in you. I just have a hard time understanding where to draw a line, especially where healing is concerned.

When and how does the worst person become redeemed? At what point do you say I have done the work that this instance of my anger is warranted and it’s not a consequence of struggling to manage my emotions?

Grace to those trying their best

I am writing this post to empathise with people who know exactly what is wrong with them so much so they scold themselves for the times they burnt their loved ones. I think such circumstances are slippery and should never be simplified. And in saying this, I am doing my best to choose my words as carefully as I can because I don’t want to make the mistake of justifying the unspeakable.

I am writing this with full understanding that people who suffer from any mental illness or simply carry trauma that need healing have choices. In that regard, I affirm people make the choice to be abusive. But I also believe that sometimes people make the same mistake too many times but deserve grace either way.

Consider Melanie Klein’s theory. A psychoanalyst who established herself as a child psychologist. Melanie Klein made the case that infants cannot comprehend that adults are their own people with their own alternative realities. As a result, they understand parents to be a split image of good and bad.

To an infant, a parent who is not providing soothing and giving in to their demands is bad and vice versa. With time, we expect a healthy developed child to overcome this split and understand that people are a mixture of both good and bad traits. This is evident with the decrease of tantrums and a child showing some tangible understanding of complex contexts.

For example, some children have a hard time separating from their parents, while others easily settle into the routine of separating from a parent every morning when they go to work.

Now, before a child transitions from this unbearable state of unpredictability and sensitive reactions to stimulus, the parent has to soothe the baby. The parent has to be patient with the demands while reinforcing behaviours and stimulus that help the baby come to understand this complicated concept that people are not all good or all bad.

Even though the child is repeatedly behaving unwantedly, the parent should not take to scold the kid into behaving. This achieves nothing beyond changing outside behaviour temporarily, while the internal state remains the same. The parent should be patient with the child’s developmental stage, or worse; the child might struggle to cross over from this primitive state even in their adulthood.

Stuck in between

Now, let’s imagine a child that failed to overcome the phase of perceiving people as a split image of a good a bad is now a self-aware adult.

With good faith, this person knows exactly what is wrong with them and the best they can do is work on correcting the shortcomings.

The worst thing anyone, including this person, can do to themselves is to internalise that their psychological struggles determine their being, goodness and worth, while dismissing the key component—who they are.

I am speaking directly to anyone who sees themselves as the person I have been describing despite your unique mental illness diagnosis. If this is you, and you are self-aware, then you know the mental struggle of deciding whether your reactions to your environment are warranted intuition or unjustified anxiety.

Especially if all you believe yourself to be is a ticking time bomb with no self-control.

Consider the following tweet:

I am going to be controversial and say this tweet is justified to some extent. And based on the replies, there are many people who feel this way too. And I think there’s some lesson you can take from this if you suffer from mental illness.

Many replies concurred with this fear because of their own personal experiences dating an individual with a said mental condition. Emphasis on a said individual because two cases of the same mental health will never look the same.

And while it sucks that people with an outsider’s understanding have a hard time comprehending that, I think the worst thing you can do for yourself, as the person with a mental health condition, is to deny who you are by seeing yourself through the lenses of what you can be.

I think it is crucial you don’t deny yourself what you need because you think your diagnosis draws a line between who you are and what you deserve.

There were multiple responses to this tweet fighting to make the tweeter see that what he is saying is uncalled for. And while I applaud people who use their voices despite not being acknowledged, at this moment I am more proud of people who simply scrolled through the tweet because they know who they are is more than just a DSM 5 diagnosis.

Also, why would you fight to be seen and received by someone who vehemently rejected you?—something to address, yeah?

Imperfections and nuances

My current favorite thing on the internet is the becoming view of neurodivergent people as uniquely gifted people rather than any other degrading conclusion.

I am also for the successful and blossoming relationships between neurotypical and neurodivergent people. Beyond these two, I love successful relationships between any random pairing.

I also know of many failed relationships between paired neurotypical people and the same goes for neurodivergent people. With that in mind, think about the imperfections that break these relationships and also think about the nuances that make them work.

With this logic, it is a fair assumption that any relationship can fail. Even a relationship between the most ‘normal’ people. Because when it comes down to it, people resolve to be with people they are compatible with. And this is true for people with mental illness too.

My point is, there’s contentment in seeing your incompatibilities as simply that; an incompatibility. What you suffer from is not a determining factor of what you deserve. Your needs don’t have to take a step back because you’re flawed. However, they will be dismissed by those not interested in catering to them, and it is not your job to convince them otherwise.

Your job is to love yourself and accept the cards life dealt you and make the best out of it. Your job is to mind your healing, introspection, self-awareness, and strive to be someone who deserves the love you want. You should also know that despite your unfortunate position; you are still required to be an accountable person and meet the people you want in your life half-way.

To others, we cannot preach that healing has no ending, but refuse to offer grace to those who have to heal the most. Or punish them because their healing will never be absolute.

What this does is strip people with mental illness of their individuality and bestow upon them the same generalized identity.

What an uncool thing.

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