Morning Musings: Mental Health Mantra

Mental Health Mantra

Known also as the Bipolar Princess, while I playfully dub myself the King of Mental Illness, Victoria Maxwell performs hilarious, genuine solo performances available on DVD fueled by the experiences she has endured over the years with mental illness, and mental health. She blogs insightfully on

Victoria posted a question this morning to her audience. I though it was both applicable and serendipitous while I otherwise lay in bed all day, down and out, desolately depressed, but as Victoria (publicly, a mental health stigma buster, advocate, survivor and someone I consider a friend,) posted:

I’m not to blame for my illness, but I am responsible for my health.

What are your thoughts?

—Victoria Maxwell

I thought, to get the hell up, and out of bed, well, off the couch, doing nothing but staring at the ceiling, and no matter how it would come out, to reply on Porcelain Utopia, as part taking action in my own responsibility for my own wellbeing.

The first thought that came to mind, on the instant, was that mental illness, to me, should be considered a third party. Not the core of the individual. Not that both are separate to the full or entire extent, perhaps indecisively so, but just as it is nearly impossible for science and medicine to accurately describe what these illnesses are all about, in the first place, perhaps that they are not, as I see it truly hard science; the DSM-IV has overlapping symptoms, here and there, and to map out one’s mind is nearly impossible, these days, yet it’s the best way we are able to categorize mental states thus to treat, heal, and to perhaps look into a mirror that reads we are not alone with what we’re dealt, not completely. and none of us truly understand all that is going on in the brain, all the science and biochemistry involved, etc., neither the spirit or the mind can be precisely defined. Everyone’s illness, whatever it might be called, or not, is experienced differently. Therefore, the way we might or might not heal, deal, and recover from our conditions, are likely going to be different for different people.

For myself, I usually cannot just “snap out” of an episode, of apathy, depression, or stress. However, it seems when I find something that interests me, motivation will often follow, feeling a sense of empowerment and usually creativity, then, like right now, at 10:30 in the morning with only about 10 minutes left to write a bit in haste due to several meetings and appointment today, Monday, 22 April 2013—”wellness” comes to mind. So in a nutshell, I’ll speak for the moment:

I am not to blame for my mental health condition, but many of my actions are influenced in part, due to my mental illnesses. With that said, I am often blamed, even by my own self, for my mental conditions, and yet to not, as they say, “beat myself up—“ it’s often easier said than done, they key being simply to do one’s best, while keeping hope alive, the best we can, even if we don’t know what it is we’re hoping for—the outcome. Just hope alone can help us with responsibility, as it helps me—overall.

It’s my illness, though it affects others, too. And I feel a sense of responsibility to not get too caught up in other people’s drama and the effects that I might have on others, but at the same time, when I acknowledge any actions or behaviors that are derived more out of the symptoms of any mental illness, specifically schizoaffective disorder, I do feel good, perhaps momentarily healed, or freed, when apologizing, whether I am forgiven or not. Then to forgive myself, and to continue doing my best with taking the medication that I am prescribed, attending doctor’s appointments, grooming, and all-in-all, being myself, laughing at the experiences that have fallen into the past, when I am able, in order to overcome them.

My mental illness, to me, means it is mine, no one else’s—the way mine manifests and the impact is has on me, and yes, thus others—if I were to ever have a psychotic break again, as it’s been years now since the last one in 2009, and say, if I broke the law, I would simply hope that I would be treated as a mental health consumer and not a criminal. Though there are still a lot of grey areas with the judicial aspect of the implications of mental illness, so as not to get too involved with it here, at the moment. I believe I am a good and kind person. My mental illness, a lot of the times, is not so kind—again overall. To see the gifts that do come with mental health conditions make me not want to trade my diagnosis in, of you can believe that. In a way, as one of my funny t-shirts I wear on a good day says on it, “I Love Being Schizophrenic.” The days I wear that shirt, I usually feel pretty good about myself, and happy.

Regarding responsibility for my actions, with or without mental illness—but as a human being, you know quotes, and me but to recall Eleanor Roosevelt’s famed, “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”

And as for myself, it comes down to my own mind, which within itself can make a heaven or a hell. But at times, it can actually turn a “hell” from a “heaven.”

I believe John Milton said something about that, I would have read long ago, but nerveless, my time is pressed now, so with more to come, while, I am pleased that for the last few minutes I didn’t beat myself up, I just wrote, and that’s what they say writers do—just write!

Thank you Victoria, for motivating me (perhaps without knowing that you did) to get today day off to a better start than yesterday. That to me is growth. It’s what makes the now, all we have and the best moments, as we are always in, and always seeking.

Jonathan Harnisch

About Jonathan Harnisch

Author | Mental Health Advocate | Schizophrenia | Artist | Blogger | Podcast Host | Patent Holder | Hedge Fund Manager | Film & TV Producer | Musician
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