Nat S Ford (natf) wrote,
Nat S Ford

"Crazy does not equal …"

naamah_darling has written a brave and sharing considered and informative post about mental health and the stigmas of mental illness. She also links to the following two Shakesville articles which are very eye-opening and interesting to read:
Crazy Does Not Equal Violent
Crazy Does Not Equal Stupid

All three are recommended reading in my opinion, wether you have mental illness, someone in your family/friend-circle/life does or you would just like to understand better when you 'read' about people with mental illness in the news/media.

As someone with ongoing but medicated/controlled clinical depression and PTSD myself who has at times in her life also had psychosis and at least two "nervous breakdowns" with a suicide attempt and numerous other "episodes", I agree that many of us do not even tell our doctors about our mental 'issues' for fear of being labelled and prevented from living our lives. I am intelligent. I am also mentally ill. I am unlikely to attack you. I am not stupid.

One of the comments to naamah_darling's post quoted a Roman scholar that said something about the fine line between genius and madness but I am having trouble finding that quote now to re-quote it here. Ah — my bad — it was actually towards the end of the second Shakesville article instead emphasis mine:

When I took Latin in high school, I collected quotes by famous Romans that I just liked. My all-time favorite is from the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca, "Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit," which translates as "There has never been any great [talent or genius, the word can be translated either way] without an element of madness." Abraham Lincoln, Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, and Charles Dickens all suffered from severe depressive episodes. Virginia Woolf, Ludwig von Beethoven, Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Van Gogh, Winston Churchill, and Patty Duke had (have, in the case of Patty Duke, since she's still living) bipolar disorder. I got that information from the National Alliance on Mental Illness in a two minute Google search, and I think that's a whole lot of not-stupid right there.

Another thought that comes to mind here is that I have repeatedly heard members of my parents' generation (and older) saying something like, "All this new fangled mental illness! There was none of this back in the day!" Yes, there was, but people with mental illness were either locked away in institutions, kept at home by their relatives, locked in prisons or had killed themselves. They were not medicated or understood and so it is no wonder that, in those days, they were considered violent or stupid — many of them resorted to violence when laughed at or worse, I am sure.

Someone elsewhere on LJ in a public comment on a public post on my FL (who has asked that their username and quote be removed from my journal (!?)) linked to a public post that they had made on their LJ (that has now been locked but, of course, some people have a copy of the post in their email LJ notifications and in the many web archives by now) where they mentioned that they found knitting to be a great meditation that allowed them to focus on something other than their feelings and thoughts and cleared their mind. I realise that this is also true for me. Yes, I am medicated for my depression, but knitting is a calming and stabilizing activity. In my case it allows me to read or meditate on my feelings at the same time.</em>
Tags: intelligence, lycanthropy, mental health, sharing

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