The Cycle of Perspective

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

In a given day, my head can go different places based on how I feel. If my mood is down, then I have a hard time concentrating on much. I’ll spend time doing stuff that doesn’t require my full attention. I’ll get frustrated easily with tasks if something unexpected happens.

If I can buoy my feelings to a neutral level, then my day opens up for normal functionality. I can write things, I can go outside, and I can do stuff that requires a good amount of concentration. But all of this is at the mercy of my mercurial state of mind.

With Kanye West and his mental health in the news, I’m reminded of how embarrassing it can be to live with a mental illness, or be a loved one of someone with a mental illness. Things that I do in a different state of mind can become the things I’m known for. Nobody wants to be known solely for times when they are flawed.

Everyone who has struggled with mental illness will have a different way that it manifests itself. For me, my moods are things that hold me hostage. At other times, I just feel like I am trapped inside my mind, and what I want to say isn’t what other people are hearing. Then there are the times when other people are hurting, and there is nothing I can do or say that will make an improvement.

The difference between mental illness and other kinds of illness is that mental illness is better at hiding than cancer or chicken pox. I learned over the years that deep down, most people can’t handle the notion that someone around them has this invisible thing that makes them not right. It creates a feedback loop. In my case, it fed this notion that nobody ever wanted to hear about it.

That nobody cared.

That was my flawed perspective. It still isolates me from time to time. But out there, many people live their lives with illnesses that remain hidden. They can’t find a way to share their perspective because of how they might be judged – for something they can’t help. Case in point, I’m only able to write this because I’m anonymous. In person, I do everything I can to hide the tempest in my mind.

It’s hard to be kind to others in a world where so much is designed to get under a person’s skin. Whenever I see a person held up for spectacle, I try to think about how I’d feel if I was in that person’s situation. Is any human being the sum of what others say about that person in a brief moment of unwanted fame? Hardly. Most of a person’s life goes by without a permanent record. Those lost details would speak volumes if they had a voice.

Strangers I meet could be smiling on the outside and screaming on the inside. I want to remember that, both for other people, and myself.