3 Good Things About Mental Illness

3 Good Things About Mental Illness

I often imagine what my life would have been like if mental illness didn’t show up and usually conclude it would have been like my life prior to mental illness. I was blessed with 12 years of clear time prior to my first breakdown and rely heavily on my recollections from this period as substitutes for felt hope. There is a difference between felt hope and known hope. My pre depression recollections fall within the known hope category, which I define as knowing which thoughts or memories should elicit the feeling of hope, but for me, no longer do. Yet I continue to recall and fantasize, hoping to conjure up the elusive emotional experiences I no longer seem capable of. This conjuring leads me through an alternative universe where I’m OK, only to snap out of it and realize how much I’ve lost to mental illness. Rather than use the rest of this post to vent about the losses, however, I’m going to highlight three gains that came as a direct result of mental illness.

1. Self Awareness

Just before mental illness struck (in such a way that there is now a clear distinction of my life pre and post depression), I was 12 years old and loaded with insecurities. I was socially awkward, confused, quiet, avoidant, and anxious: all things you could experience during mental illness. I experienced these things before I was really challenged, so how did mental illness help me overcome them?

It didn’t.

It amplified them. It went beyond them as it ripped through my soul, finding much deeper issues to feed upon. Because of mental illness, though, I was compelled to tell anyone who would listen what I was experiencing, hoping in some way that honesty about my feelings was imperative to getting well. Fast forward two decades later: this type of introspection and honesty has done nothing to directly relieve the pain. I have found no hidden corner of my mind that contains the unresolved trauma we all hope to find and cope with. I have, however, developed an honest sense of self, which benefits my relationships and helps me make smarter decisions for my wellbeing. This doesn’t mean I’m inherently honest now. Rather, I err towards self-awareness as a means of navigating my upside down world, and in the process, feel OK with being honest about me.

2. Fearlessness

There are people with mental illness who claim that fear does not play a part in their condition. This is hard for me to grasp considering how terror is the common denominator of all of my mental health experiences. My condition has infected the fear center of my brain to the point where I have feared the strangest things to degrees I never imagined possible pre depression. So if mental illness (as I’ve experienced it) has set my brain on fire with fear, how has it helped me become fearless?

It hasn’t.

Rather, after being irrationally terrified for long stretches of time, garden-variety fears don’t carry much weight. I’m no longer afraid of humiliation. I don’t fear the opinions of others. I’m not afraid of sickness (despite a decade’s worth of hypochondria). I don’t fear common things all that much, but maybe this is just me. Many people with mental illness fear very common things and in a very loud way. I will not discount their fears by continuing to give the impression that I’m at a higher level of understanding of my condition. Stated simply, the terror experienced during my mental illness is far scarier than regular life fears. You could argue how this is possible when the end result of mental health terror is just me sitting around, stewing on what’s inside my head with very little happening externally. I would argue back that you haven’t experienced mental illness.

3. Advocacy

Mental illness can either kill you or make you stronger, right?

Wrong.

It can kill you. It can sometimes make you stronger. It can also turn you into your own best advocate. We’ve all heard the stories of people and their loved ones who turned over all the stones, constantly being reminded that they were crazy… that nothing was wrong with the person who was suffering. Then, years later, they found an answer. They knew all along they were right to suspect that something was amiss. They moved beyond doubt to find relief. That is my story because I am on that journey, and if you’re reading this, chances are we both struggle in the dark, looking for an answer to alleviate a suffering that doesn’t (yet) have a proper name.

I turn over stones when I can—it’s a habit I’ve picked up in the dark. In the least, it provides distraction, which is an effective tool during the storm of mental illness. I hope, though, that cultivating this habit will increase my chances of finding long-lasting relief. And maybe one day, a cure. It’s this advocacy that’s brought me to write for Ketamine Treatment Centers. Not because I personally advocate for ketamine infusion. I can’t—I’ve yet to try it. But because ketamine infusion, along with other recent discoveries in the mental health world, represent the type of scientific hope that we all need, even if we currently can’t feel it.

Ryan Wetter is a contributor to this blog. His experiences and opinions expressed in this post do not represent those of the Ketamine Treatment Centers. Ryan’s intention is to share his opinions about mental illness that stem from his own experiences. He recognizes his experiences and opinions are not necessarily representative of others with depression or other mental illness. At the time of this post, Ryan has not tried ketamine infusion therapy for depression, other mental illness, or a pain condition. If you have feedback for the author, please email him at rwetter@ktcpartnership.com.

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Comments (4)

  • K Parris Reply

    Ryan thank you much for this article. It gives me hope for my son whom is 40 years old. It went from us having a very close relationship to him treating to kill me and thinking I’m an evil person, all in 2 years. I believe he knows SOMETHING is wrong but either doesn’t have the insight or refuses to accept something is wrong. He refuses medication and says nothing is wrong with him that he was misdiagnosed. One Dr diagnosed him as having schizophrenia and another diagnosed him as being bi-polar. I haven’t been around him in 5 months which was the last manic episode he had with me. I am at witts end for a solution. I’ve tried to get help for him and that has made him very distrustful of me. But I certainly enjoyed your article and I wish you the best of luck on your journey.

    August 11, 2017 at 7:30 pm
    • Ryan Wetter Reply

      Thank you! I wish you the best as well. I’d recommend looking into local support groups for mental illness. Some offer meet-ups for family members of people with mental illness, which is not only helpful, but brings you together with people who’ve struggled similarly.

      August 13, 2017 at 1:21 am
  • Nancy Reply

    Dear Ryan–
    Thanks so much for writing this–it’s helpful and hopeful. Am wondering if you’ve begun ketamine therapy yet, and if so, have you noticed any improvement in your mental health?
    This treatment sounds too good to be true, frankly; however, I am cautiously optimistic.
    I’m going to see the psychiatrist this Friday, because all three of my Rxs have stopped working.
    Any comments, suggestions, etc. are most welcome. Thank you.

    September 27, 2017 at 4:07 am
    • Ryan Wetter Reply

      Hi Nancy, at the bottom of my blog posts up to this point, I mention that I have not tried ketamine therapy. My goal is to write for mental in general. In regards to ketamine therapy, everything I’ve read or learned by working alongside experts in the field leads me to find it worth considering, although I am not ready to take this step. If you have any questions about the treatment, though, call us with any questions at 888-566-8774.

      October 23, 2017 at 2:47 pm

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