How does one define ‘mental illness?’ Is it a static thing with the same symptoms, or does it metastasize individually in the diseased brain? Who suffers from it? Is there anyone who actually does not? What are the conditions? What is the cause? What what what what what?
Now that frantic series of questions may in itself point to a disturbance of the mind. But that does not mean that such inquiries invalid. Mental illness takes many forms and we all deal with it differently like a fingerprint smeared off of a murder weapon and pointing to every person as a suspect.
We can flip through the traditional definitions and get a superficial, symptomatic understanding of how a person is supposed to suffer. They experience depression, social anxiety and numerous other anxious, neurotic behaviors. We can go more exotic into the realm of serious medical conditions, to imbalances in the brain or chemical foul ups that leave an already-traumatized-since-childhood individual (nature and nurture) suffering from schizophrenia, psychosis and those other extreme ailments that makes a great killer in a movie.
But the realities are not fun. All forms of mental illness are, in one way or another, depression. It is an inability to adapt to what your life has become. We are sad about this–frustrated. We sometimes lash out in anger and rage when people pity us, sometimes when they don’t. Things become less and less real and we believe them more and more. We use drugs, we take the pills that the doctors prescribe. Sometimes we accidentally overdose; sometimes we take too many in the hope of dying. And then there is always the following judgment: “They lost a heroic battle with mental illness,” or “They were a fucking coward.”
And then there are the funerals of suicides, somber affairs to be sure, but more like other funerals than the attendees may realize in their unconsoled grief. And the fact remains: we lie about people at funerals. We can remember only good things once people are gone, or at least we can only say them. But what about all that resentment, what about the disappointments you had with your parents or you children or your spouse or your friends? Why is that never discussed? Why do we only anoint saints instead of taking people as they were?
I want my funeral to be a roast–everyone who knew me talking about what an asshole I was, mixed in with the few positive qualities they may have believed I possessed. Then they can take my shell of a corpse and throw it in an alley so stray dogs and cats can devour me, giving them another few days in their exposure to the cruel and indifferent world.