Perhaps some of you will relate to the statement of my introduction. If you do, I would like to share the journey I have taken, because the simple fact is… I was wrong.
Tourette syndrome is neurological. It is not mental health. I’m certain there are those who have heard me say it, and not in a simple teaching way, but in a manner of persistent obligation, I felt I had toward myself. When I heard people mistakenly cite the misconception that Tourette is a mental health disorder, I became offended, perhaps even a bit agitated. Mental health comes with its own stigma’s and it’s hard enough fighting our own battles. Being accused of some form of mental illness made me angry. I spoke out and was adamant that people understand…because I didn’t want to be considered under such negative connotations. I NEEDED for people to understand that I wasn’t….that…
The assumption of my mental illness was like some parasitical thing I had to quickly brush off. I could say it all I wanted. “Tourette is neurological.” Perhaps you’ve been there too.
Here’s the problem with the way I was thinking…
Let’s not defend one condition at the expense of discriminating another.
If we are overly adamant and defensive of the idea of mental health, are we not adding to the stigmas?
Perhaps the real question is, “Do we have to defend ourselves from something that isn’t offensive?” People break in a myriad of different ways. The mind can, just as the body, succumb to illness. Why put the body, the mind, and the brain into categories, because when we do, we are putting people into a higher and lower class. Let’s not allow ourselves to get away with being part of the problem when no illness wins any beauty contest. We are not greater or lesser. We are not Tourette syndrome. We are people.
Anti-depressants are sometimes referred to as “Happy pills.” Jokes are made about mental illness, but just because that mindset is mainstream, does it mean we need to encourage it?
Tourette syndrome, 90% of the time, comes with comorbid mental health conditions. Maybe by putting mental health down, we are putting ourselves down. I have OCD as well as a short list of other conditions of the mind, which makes it ironic that I was defensive of the mental health misconception.
Maybe we can spend less time drawing lines in the sand, and more time considering that perhaps, the debate of one condition or another isn’t necessary.
This blog is a lesson to me as well, as I have been part of the problem. The important lesson being, I don’t have to be.
By Melissa C. Water