Writing about your own mental illness online

Patrick Malborough, Vice Australia:

One of the great horrors of mental illness is seeing it swallow up your identity. I am uneasy writing about it for that very reason: I don’t want to be the guy that writes mental-illness articles. Outside of the cascade of bullshit that is battling the black dog and his scraggly mates: I’m no expert. I cannot reel off harrowing statistics nor can I provide answers to everyone’s how and why. I just know what it’s like to have your hand on a hot stove, and I’m able to put words to it.

I wanted to wrestle — I don’t say defeat because I can’t win — my mental illness by outing it. I started to recognize it as a part of my makeup, but one I could cordon off with safety tape reading: “work in progress.” It’s me, but it’s not all of me. The genius of the phrase “the black dog” is that it allows you to imagine an other, and that allows you to develop a relationship. If you can project it, you can negotiate with it — but the ability to do so can only come from frank and caring talk.

I now approach my mental illness with a casualness. I discuss it at dinner parties, with workmates, with friends, in my stand-up, here. I want to make it a banal conversation. If someone rolls his or her eyes and thinks, Not this dull shit again, then great. I want to repeat it ad nauseam, so that people who feel uncomfortable with themselves and their diagnoses will one day be at a point where they can discuss it like they discuss asthma or arthritis.

This is me, and just like Patrick I’m not afraid to write that I have it here with my own name proudly on this site. It’s not just me, it’s something wrong with my brain, but Jackson’s still here. Please ignore the other guy, focus on me please.

For my own writing on my own mental illness, see the article I wrote for Fighting For Nippon about Tokyo Ghoul and mental disorders.

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