Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why I Prefer the Term "Mental Illness"

I know there are many people who don't like the term "mental illness" because of the negative stigma associated with it. I'm not writing this to try and convince people that using "mental illness" is the way to go, I'm just writing my thought on why I prefer that term over others.

An illness is a period of sickness affecting the body and mind. If I have a mental illness, that means it can get better! Maybe I won't be cured, but I can improve.

An illness is something you have, not something you are. Calling my anxiety an illness helps me to know that I am NOT defined by my anxiety. It is not part of my personality. It is an illness I have. My experiences help shape my personality and define me, but the mental illness itself has no bearing on my spirit and the person I am trying to become.

An illness is something that goes away when you are resurrected. I don't think that I will suffer from severe anxiety or depression after I am resurrected. Maybe my spirit will still have anxious tendencies, I don't know how that works. But I do know that after resurrection, I won't need to take medicine to function day to day.

An illness is socially acceptable. Sure, when people are sick we want to stay away from them, but it's not like we think in our head, "Wow, Natalie has the flu?? She must have some serious problems. She must not be a very good person."So if anxiety is a mental illness, no one should think less of us.

Finally, when I am having a panic attack, or feeling particularly anxious one day/week/month, I don't feel right. I don't feel normal or good. I feel sick. Just in the way someone with a physical illness feels sick and knows they aren't functioning normally, I feel sick and know that I am not functioning normally.

If I start thinking of anxiety as anything other than a mental illness, I forget that it doesn't define me. I start thinking that it's part of who I am, it's something to be ashamed of.

So yeah, I know that all seems backwards. But calling anxiety a mental illness helps me know that I can still be okay.


Lindsay said...

Natalie, I love your honesty as you share posts on your battle with anxiety. Not even an acquaintance could attribute your anxiety to you not "being a very good person." You are the type of person whose testimony, goodness, and virtue shines through your countenance.

Thanks again for your posts! --Lindsay Hyatt

Lindsay said...

Also, forgot to note that I completely agree with everything you said! :)