I Am *Not* Mentally Ill

Whenever someone says that in a movie, you just know this is going to end badly. I’m not trying to claim that I don’t have mental illness. Unfortunately, I do. However, I am rephrasing it slightly to focus on the person rather than the illness.

The difference may seem trivial, but it’s important. Just as we talk of someone living with diabetes, we can speak of people living with mental illness. We may call a person a “diabetic,” but this focuses on the illness. It ignores all the other parts of this person, their sense of humor, kindness, knowledge and wisdom, everything else. When a person has diabetes, the illness becomes a part of their life, but the person remains whole. Whoever they were before the illness, they are the same afterwards. They just have to make certain accommodations for the illness.

Similarly, with mental illness, we’re not just mentally ill. We are whole, complete persons who have an illness. Like people with diabetes, we have to make accommodations for the illness, but we’re still fully human. This point sometimes gets overlooked.

People who have mental illness are just folks like anyone else, except we’re struggling with an illness.

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