Our Illness is not Mental

If there is anything I hate more than the term “mental illness,” it is being called “mentally ill.”

Gag me.

I mean, yes there is something rather “messed up” in our brains. And for no reason at all it can randomly make us feel….  sad/bad/crappy/anxious/terrified/awful/full of broken glass/aching/deadened/agitated/unsettled/enraged/flattened/hopeless/numb/broken/lost/needy/emotionally destitute/dysphoric/mixed/depressed………

and I guess “ill” is as good a word as any to use to cover all of that.

Except. it is not.

It would be a good word if it at least made people think that we have physical illness in our brains.  And that this would inspire them to give us the same understanding and compassion that they give other physically “ill” people.

But we all know that is not the case.

If anything “mentally ill” has a more stigmafying effect.  It makes people uncomfortable.  It conjures up unpleasant images.

I know it does for me.  I see a blurry image of old time hospital beds and people in blue hospital gowns lying around stupid.  It is a disempowering image.  It is a disturbing image. An image of weak, sickly people.  It isn’t a fair image. It isn’t an accurate image.

Because we are a bunch of badasses.

We are fighters and survivors.  We are stronger and tougher than anyone out there can ever fully appreciate.

NIH calls Bipolar a brain disorder. Every article I have read declares it.  Every Pdoc I have met has said that it is a physical brain problem.

So then why can’t they just throw us a bone and spread the word a little more. Get EVERYONE to call it a BRAIN disorder? Why torture us with this “mental” thing?  Why can’t they get us out from under this “mental illness” label?  It perpetuates stigma and the idea that we should just fix our “minds.”

Mental is about the mind. And the definition of mind and brain are different. Only brain is defined as a physical organ. Therefore, only a brain can have a physical illness.

i don’t actually know what I would like to be called.  Brain disordered is kinda weird as well, though light years more accurate than mentally ill.

Bipolar is not  “all in your mind” as people like to tell us. Nope.

They also like to say “It is all in your head.”

Damn right

it IS all in my head

that is where my BRAIN is.


Add Yours
  1. Miss Rebecca

    Thank you for ‘Our Illness is not Mental.’I was criticized on NAMIAIR for posting a joke with the word ‘crazy.’ I replied that ‘mental illness’ is a much more damaging term contributing to stigma. I lived in denial of my illness most of my life. Now that I’m forced to confront it, one of my coping skills is to remind myself that I have a ‘brain disorder.’ It lessens some of the guilt and shame. Let’s continue spreading the word(s). Thanks again.


  2. bpnurse

    Reblogged this on bpnurse and commented:
    This piece is written by a friend of mine over at a mental health support site. She is brutally honest about this condition we both have and I couldn’t possibly have said these things better.


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