I recall feeling scared visiting someone I was very close to in the high-security psychiatric ward of a Sydney hospital.
I was not afraid of the person I was visiting; Despite the devastating violence they inflicted on themselves, they were – and are – one of the most wise, insightful and good people I know.
I was afraid of the others in the ward, because I thought they were crazy.
I was aware of the lack of logic; that I could know mental illness, all too intimately, and yet still have an ignorant fear. If I had such a misinformed response – even when I knew it to be incorrect – I wondered about the response of others who had no understanding.
This was 10 years ago, and as much as stigma about mental illness still exists, we have come a long way and the great connector that is the internet, has helped.
Amid the mountain of detritus on the internet, there are insightful gems that help to create understanding.
A new post on Reddit has created an avalanche of responses on the community-driven site.
The post was a simple question: “Psychiatrists/Psychologists of Reddit, what is the most profound or insightful thing you have ever heard from a patient with a mental illness?” the user, theone1221, asked.
In the two days since the post, theone1221 has received more than 7300 responses.
They took some wiley turns, veering away from mental illness in some instances and into different mental perspectives, but there are plenty of gems. Here are some:
“I want to kill myself but I don’t want to die.”
Believe it or not, those are two different things. – rbaltimore
When I started to make real progress against depression was when I started thinking of the depression as a separate entity that lived in my head, infecting me like a dark, sentient parasite. It gave me something to fight that wasn’t me, and something to blame that wasn’t me, in a much more concrete and tangible way than “mental illness nobody takes very seriously anyway”. – vengeance_pigeon
“Imagine if every small decision felt like it had life or death consequences.” Describing living with an anxiety disorder.” – x87Owen
“My arms miss you.” Ten-year-old Autistic boy asking for a hug. — GetOffMySheet
I work with kids.
I had a kiddo in my office (probably 7-9 years old, somewhere in there), and everything he played with crashed, exploded or was destroyed in some way. I asked him about it (after he drew a picture then scribbled it out). He had a difficult past (not living with his parents, witnessed drug use, etc) “Well, if you get mad at the grown ups who make you mad, you get in trouble. But if you make an explosion or a car crash, they think you’re just playing.” Yep. 100%. Even grown ups do this. 🙂 — mindilo0hoo
Patient with schizophrenia that described it as spending all day in a locked room with a stereo on full blast and not being able to turn the volume down. — GeniusLost
“It doesn’t take talent to practice.”
Therapist here, I was working with a defiant teenager and sports was his only outlet. He had big dreams of being in a professional league but knew he was horrible at it. I thought his statement was really inspiring. I think about it often when trying new things. – UnidentifiableReason
Child with autism who was struggling with her difficulty making and keeping friends: “It’s okay if I don’t have any friends. Having friends makes you happy but it doesn’t make you a good person. You know who was really popular? Hitler.”
This girl was so lonely and it was causing her so much pain, but she still managed to see the difference between being popular and being good. We made a project of finding examples of unpopular people who did really good and important things. She still has a tough life ahead of her, but I think her attitude will help her be strong. — nezumipi
“What screws us up most is the picture in our head of how things SHOULD be.” – Cooopz
Feeling pain is better than feeling nothing.
This came from a teenager in juvenile hall upon returning from a psychiatric hold for self injurious behaviors. I was part of his treatment team in the hall and had to make the 5150 call. He explained during our next session that this was the reason for banging his head against a steel door; he couldn’t feel anything. No sadness, no joy. Nothing. He needed to feel. He chose pain. – dj_underboob
Had a client with general anxiety disorder. She explained the feeling as if she tripped and the moment where you don’t know if you are going to catch yourself or not is how she felt all day long.
Also if any of you all feel this way, go speak to a counselor. Living like this is extremely hard and you deserve a better life, even if you don’t believe that yourself. – sandsoccer212
This article first appeared on ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 1 December 2015.