This blog post is from Verily Magazine and can be found at this link: http://verilymag.com/mental-illness-we-are-not-the-monster-under-our-bed/
By: Clare Behe
I have always kept my doubts to myself, afraid of the judgments and abuse that one typically experiences after sharing that she has a mental disorder. But our country ended 2013 with a rallying cry to start a “national conversation” about mental illness and—as a woman who struggles with mental illness—I can no longer remain silent.
Amid the rise in public interest toward the excruciating and silent struggles of the mentally ill, I have been troubled by two predominating attitudes and worry that conversation along these two veins will prove to be fruitless.
The first, and most common, is a dismissive approach asserting that mental illness is not to be talked about. In my experience, many who take this approach adamantly refuse to believe that mental illness exists in the first place. The second and more mainstream attitude is the attitude of wholeheartedly accepting mental illness as part of a person’s identity.
The first dismissive attitude posits that “I am nothing but a body. I accept only physical maladies as real, treatable, or normal.” The second, more popular attitude of embracing tends to claim that “I do not just have a sickness; I am a sickness. It is part of my innate self.”
In Eminem and Rihanna’s new hit song “Monster,” we hear a refrain about the pitfalls of embracing mental illness as a part of one’s identityÚ “I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed / Get along with the voices inside of my head“. Embracing mental illness has become part of the emo culture, where cutting is normalized as an edgy way to be different and the heartache caused by mental illness becomes romanticized.
But there is a middle ground that should be at the center of our national discussion. It’s not helpful to ignore mental illness because it is not physically apparent, but we should also avoid defining those who suffer from mental illness by their illness. Imagine that you have a broken arm. The pain is part of you because it’s your bone, your body. The same pain is an all-too-real part of your life that you must deal with. It would be absurd to deny that the arm is broken or that it needs to be healed. On the other hand, it would also be absurd to embrace the fractures in your bone as “who you are.” There’s no shame in suffering, and living with it is different than being defined by it. It hurts, and you don’t want to talk about it constantly, but you don’t need to hide it either. You did not wish it upon yourself. You can bandage it up and let it heal.
Honest conversation about mental illness is desperately needed. But this can only happen if understanding, empathy, and a balanced perspective are the focal points. We must never forget that the person with a monster under her bed is just as much a person as you are. It’s the monster we need to fight.
By Alison Fleury | Guest Blogger
First, there is a face.
A young, innocent face. A smooth, clear, happy face.
One day, the face comes, and it is sad. The next day it is painted; concealer hides lack of sleep. Makeup hides a broken heart.
But it can’t hide a thinning face.
The face is too plain, it says; too young. It gathers up pieces of metal and pieces them through the nose. It hurts the face; less than a broken heart.
The face has pain now-pain apart from the break in its heart, for it now has holes in its heart as well as its face. New makeup hides the holes; conceals the mistakes. The face is tired.
But paint can cover it. It puts on a new face; one that is not tired. Is it pretty enough?
The face does not know.
There is paint in one color, and then another. The problem is not the look, says the face, it is the money. But there is money to be had, says the face; money enough…
The face comes back, and the nose is different. It is a famous nose, says the face; this nose will be famous. It has no holes, and no crooked edge; it is better to the face.
The face is different.
The face comes back, again and again, to pull at the hair. The hair is too short; it does not grow right. The face does not like it.
There is no more color in the skin, says the face, putting on its own face; color will help.
The face is thinner.
The face has taken off its own face to cry.
The hole is growing; the face cannot always cover it. But makeup; it covers everything…
I am not beautiful, says the face; this is not a famous face.
The face is thin.
It is covered in nothing but salt water for its pain. Not pretty enough, cries the radio.
The face does not understand; the face is tired, the face has changed…
The face is tired of playing charades, it says; charades are for the famous.
Salt water has washed away the paint on the face; the face can see without the black lashes.
The face was like this once, it says. The face was young, and it was beautiful…
The face is beautiful; says the mirror.
P.S. You are enough.
By Craig Pytleski | Guest Blogger
Let’s face it. Society has let men get by when it comes to relationships. There is no accountability in place to ensure that men are living up to a specific standard. (Any standard at all for that matter…)
As a young man who has been involved in various facets of church ministry for the past 5 years, I’ve had the opportunity to lead in various positions. From dating relationships to friendships, project management to individual mentorship – I was asked to lead and responded. Why? Because there was an invitation – a door of opportunity was open and I walked through.
For a plethora of reasons (society, poor upbringing, etc…) many of these doors of opportunity to lead for men have been shut. Now, we both know that our society glorifies youth, looking young, feeling young, etc. Now, I don’t think youth is inherently a bad thing – not at all – but when we promote youth and being forever young we sometimes forget that we need to grow up. I’ve seen it and so have you, our peers living the life of a Perpetual Spring Break with no cares, no worries for anyone but the party or the next hookup. But that begs the question…What the heck is next? Who is going to take the lead? Who is going to grow up? The bottom line is that our culture and society desperately needs masculine leadership – masculine leadership inspired by you, our female counterparts.
Speaking for the majority (if not all) the men out there, we have a desire deep down in our beings to lead and to have a sense responsibility. Why? Responsibility provides a framework to our lives; it structures our minds to focus on things beyond our Xbox 360 or next career move. Responsibility is what makes men, men. As some may say, It’s the thing that separates the Men from the Boys. When we have underdeveloped men leading in our Fortune 500 companies, politics, or more importantly our families – the world suffers.
Now, how does this have to do with women? It has everything to do with women. We need you.
Men need women to invite them to lead. I’m not saying to tell us what to do, or where to lead. I am inviting you to allow your femininity to inspire the men around you to lead. Most men have a desire to lay their lives down, but many haven’t been invited to do so, or have been laying their lives down for the wrong thing (career or money). It just takes a little redirection, a shift in their mindset. To clarify, I’m not saying that women should stop working or leading in our society. Female leadership is just as important (and necessary) as male leadership – but as we have seen throughout history; if men aren’t invited to lead, most of them won’t and that is a terrible place to be, a world with no male leadership.
Ladies, we need you. We need you to help us lead, help invite us back into responsibility. PLEASE, affirm us when we do lead – we need that too. I can’t speak for all men out there, but to have someone by your side that affirms, challenges, encourages, and invites you into something greater than himself, greater than his puny vision for his life, into something greater – a life of leadership for others. That’s what we long for, an invitation to something greater than…well, us. I am sure that there is a cluster of men out there that are just waiting for the invitation. Go ahead! Invite us, we need you, just as much as you need us. Try it out; the world will be a better place if you do. Let’s drop the past and pick up the future.
P.S. You are enough.
By Melissa St. Ledger | Guest Blogger | Chastity speaker for Generation Life
I love the video that blew up on YouTube titled, “Dove Real Beauty Sketches.” If you haven’t seen it, watch it. I won’t explain the premise, but just that it reminded me of the fact that most women in America are unsatisfied with their physical appearance. They do not think that they are beautiful at all. Why? Here is a clue: the problem is not that these women are not beautiful.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” While this may be a cute way of saying that the perception of beauty is subjective, I take it as something more than this. Beauty should be in the eye of everyone who beholds the body of a woman (or a man), because it is beauty which they are beholding. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. See the difference? If the viewer cannot see beauty, the problem is the eyes, not the subject.
American media and society has set impossible standards for physical “perfection” of women. They do this mostly through the means of photoshop. Clothing lines, film studios, and advertisement agencies pressure women to lose weight so that they can be the blueprint of perfection. Yet when these women have lost the pounds and weigh in at a not-so-healthy 108 lbs. at 5’10” as it was for the case of now ex-Victoria’s Secret Model Kylie Bisutti, their pictures are still edited to make them look even smaller. Left and right, models are ditching their scantilly-clad careers and turning to something more substantial – Faith. This was also the case for former American’s Next Top Model contestant, Leah Darrow, who now travels the country speaking to young ladies about true beauty.
Like any other woman, I have always wrestled with the question, “Am I beautiful?” During a chastity talk today with middle school girls I was almost brought to tears speaking about this topic. In looking around the room, I was absolutely convinced of their beauty and I told them this. However, I kept asking them, “Do you believe me? Do you believe that you are beautiful?” And their answers were the same. “Nope.” I wanted to cry. And then kick Victoria (if that’s even her real name) in the shins. I knew that I could never convince these little girls of their beauty. It would take the voice of the loving Father to do that, to undo all the knots and lies in their hearts.
So my prayer is that all women grow to understand their true beauty. And I’m not just talking about a cutesy inner-beauty. I am saying that every single inch of you, from your head to your toes, every pore and every hair is literally gorgeous! The kind of beauty that brings you to tears. But if our eyes are foggy and our heads are filled with media messages and rap videos, we will never see this. So put down the Cosmo and open your eyes.
Oh, and by the way, One Direction is wrong when they sing, “You don’t know you’re beautiful…and that’s what makes you beautiful.” You are allowed to know your beauty. In fact most men agree that confidence makes you even more attractive.
P.S. You are enough.