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We create our own mental illness

A radical viewpoint? Definitely a bit controversial. I'm probably gonna be shot down in flames for suggesting this concept but I have my reasons for coming to these conclusions. From personal experience and from reading and researching this phenomenon as well as observing other people like myself who have these difficulties in their lives. It seems to me its not so much what happens to us in our lives but what we make of it in our minds and the negative untrue meanings we create in our own heads about these experiences, that makes the difference between mental wellness or mental illness. Unfortunately when bad things happen to us, especially when we are children, we tend to internalise it and believe its our own fault these bad things happen and they are not as a result of the perpetrators own mental illness. This false belief leads us to feel bad about it. When we feel bad about it, we as most of the rest of the human race, want to feel better. We do this by abdicating our own bad feelings and projecting them outwards. In this way we inadvertantly put the responsibility for our bad feelings back onto other people, particularly and maybe especially, the people who hurt us in the first place. Current psychological theory says we need to do this, put the blame for the things that lead us to feel so bad, back on the people who 'caused' these bad feelings in the first place. But are not our bad feelings our own? And is it not what happened to us, but how we view it and interpret it, and the feelings, our own responsibility? No we are absolutely not responsible for the abuse other people inflicted on us. I'm not saying that at all. It's what we MAKE of it in our own minds that is responsible for our suffering. Change how you interpret it and realise it was your abusers sickness and resulting actions, and how you blamed yourself for it wrongly, that is the problem. Stop blaming yourself, but take responsibility for your REACTION to it that has caused the pain and grief, not necessarily other people's abusive behaviour towards you initially. The word 'responsibility' actually means ' the ability to respond appropriately to any given person situation or action'. So many of us developed a maladaptive way of responding to other people's abuse of us. We thought that other people's abuse of us meant WE were bad people, not them, as it actually was. Change this perception to matching the reality, and guess what? Miracles of miracles, you will start FEELING better. And when you FEEL better, you start BEING and DOING better. Is this really a radical concept? Not really, from my recent experiences. And overall, I'm starting to see its just logical, and GOOD sense. Notice I say GOOD sense, not common sense. I know there are some amongst us who will say, how can you apply logic and reason to the realms of emotion and subjective experience​? But for me, now at least, both thinking and believing, then emotions that result from what we think and believe, are inextricably linked. One cannot exist without the other. I suppose this is at the crux of the problem. I've been looking at Buddhism and what they teach about right thinking leading to right feeling leading to right behaviour. It makes an awful lot of sense to me. Maybe there are some amongst us that think this is too simplistic a view. 'But what I have been through is outside the realm of normal human experience and I'm in so much pain about it and my life will never be the same again because of it', say a lot of us here. The pain of what you have been through twists your ability to see things clearly as they really truly are. Like I said earlier thinking and feeling is inextricably linked. I have talked about how what you think twists your feelings. But equally, what you feel also twists how you think. They each have an equal and opposite reaction to each other. Just like Sir Isaac Newton talked about with regard to the apple falling off the tree about gravity. Try to look at this from a scientific and rational point of view. The science of the mind is no different to physics, when you get down to fundamentals. But so may many people get caught up in the emotions and then they can't think straight enough to think their way out of it. Hence mentally and emotional illnesses occur. It manifests in some people as obsessions (thinking) or neuroses and psychoses ( feelings). To achieve optimum mental and emotional health you need to find a balance between the two. This is what the Buddhists refer to, as the ' middle way'. Not going from one extreme to the other. Its only an ideal, something to aim for, not necessarily something us damaged human beings will ever achieve. A guide to life, not necessarily a doctrine or commandments as they teach in the Church. Now I'm getting onto religion. Did you know the word 'religion' comes from the Latin meaning ' to reconnect'. Just what are we ' reconnecting' to? Some people would interpret it as reconnecting with 'God' or 'Spirit'. I used to see it like that myself until very recently. Now I see it as reconnecting to a part of myself that is wise and knowledgeable and knows what is best for me. The ' Higher Self'. There is only one more letter in 'good' than there is in 'God'. Its just that people generally tend to externalise it and think its something outsides themselves that's going to 'fix' them. I now realise the only being or entity that will 'fix' me is ME. I think in order to get back to where we were before the traumatic experiences happened to us, we have to restore our faith in the basic 'goodness' of ourselves and other human beings. We are responsible for 'fixing' ourselves not a 'God' that may or may NOT exist. We can only do that when we change the way we think. No one else can change the way we think. Only ourselves. Radical? Woo-woo? Not really. Why spend hundreds and thousands of quid/dollars to pay someone to 'fix' us, when with the correct information, we can do it ourselves? We could probably put the whole psychiatry profession out of  business with this realisation. Lol. Why should we let other people make money out of our self-created misery? Change your interpretation, lose your misery. Its really that simple.

Hope I haven't offended anyone with what I just talked about. My intention is to enlighten educate and heal. Never to hurt or frighten. Because I love you all. As I love myself now. Finally!!!

Blessings upon us all.

Your friend

Manda XXX



Starting with the confession that I didn't read the whole essay, BL. Been in episode and not processing well enough to handle Faulkner-sized paragraphs.

Still, what I skimmed sounds like a familiar argument. Radical? Doesn't that depend which "Side" you are on. Whatever your stance, mental illness is a complex issue. I go for the circles which have no sides. Each case is to the individual to sort.

Thank you for the education and enlightenment on your own sorting process. It is yours to sort. Continued support, whichever way you take it.

Hope I did not offend you by not being able to read the whole thing and comparing you to Faulkner. I was only comparing the paragraph lengths. The man was a master of one paragraph sentences and 20 page paragraphs. Wasn't the content which made my eyes water when he was forced on me during another education process. My eyes watered because the pages of his books looked like big, black smudges to me. Couldn't keep the lines separated. Never did grasp his content because of it.

First, I'm asking you, go back and add paragraphs. It's wicked hard to read that through.

Second, a lecture on depression,

another interesting talk

epigenetics...this stuff is fascinating,

I don't disagree with you that our own thoughts have a powerful affect on our behavior, I just don't think that it's the whole story,
Hugs, Patti

Drink a Mountain Dew and consciously make yourself fall asleep with all that caffeine. My point is the mind over matter approach only goes so far. Our bodies and minds consist of biochemicals which are effected and altered by stimuli, especially at the early developmental stages of life. Mental illnesses aren't a state of mind just like being gay or strait isn't a choice.
Community Leadermujicaptsd

Hey, Manda, I'm with others here first of all about paragraph breaks and stuff. It's hard for me to read anything without them, especially in my new format.

As for what you're saying, I couldn't read it all because of the lack of paragraph breaks. If I got the general idea, I'd say you're experimenting with outlooks on mental health that are empowering instead of making you look like a victim.

I'm all for empowering ourselves. In seminary my favorite book in training to become a hospital chaplain was "Victim to Survivor" by my professor Nancy Poling.

I was really pleased, then, when I came here to DS PTSD and pointed me to a book that is sort of a sequel, Pete Walker's "Complex PTSD-From Surviving To Thriving."

So I'm all for growth in recovery beyond remaining a victim. The thing about empowering myself to the point that I could say I created my own PTSD, though, is that I was 9 years old when I got PTSD. My father decided to be a missionary when I was 7 and took me overseas to grow up in a war zone. It would take a real stretch to say that at age 7 a kid ought to refuse to move where his parents decide the family should live.

Two years later at age 9, I still wasn't old enough to refuse to get in the car when my dad decided to take the family out for ice cream. I can't say I was old enough, either, to jump out of the car when we got to the ice cream parlor. I wish I could say I had the power to stop the fellow who stood across the street from it and threw the bomb at us, but I don't think an adult could have, either.

Let me know what you think, though, because I like it that you're looking for empowerment for recovery. On that point, I think we have lots of choice. The other 3 people in my family have refused to get PTSD treatment. Their choice has kept them mentally ill ever since.

Unlike them, I chose to get a diagnosis and do my therapy and support group work. It didn't make me a weaker person. It made me strong enough that I could go on in my own recovery to give something back to people who survive trauma. That's how I came to be a hospital chaplain at an ER in Chicago.

There I was on the front line seeing people with trauma come into my ER from car wrecks, gunshot wounds, all sorts of things. I saw some car wrecks survivors who may match what you're saying. Sometimes they created their situation by getting behind the wheel and driving drunk or high.

I saw, too, though, car wreck survivors who were the people those drunk drivers hit. I can't say they created their own situation just by getting out on the road in their car. They have a reasonable expectation of some degree of safety and that others would make legal and sane choices not to endanger themselves and others by driving drunk.

That doesn't include the gunshot wound survivors I helped at my ER in Chicago. In those cases, sometimes the survivors had been wielding a gun themselves, and so they may have created the situation for trauma, as you say.

But I'll never forget the 12 year old girl who was shot that I had to help. I'll never forget my having to talk to her parents, either. She was caught in the crossfire where they all lived as a family, and they didn't choose for the gunfire to happen. She was 12 and I was 9 when somebody else decided to be crazy, not us.

So I'm not offended, no, and I'm glad you're seeking empowerment for recovery. I'm with Patti, though, about how what you say's just not the whole story quite yet. I don't say that in any condescending or patronizing tone, since it's a mystery to me, too.

Ironically, admitting we are powerless becomes empowering along the path in a paradox to great to explain in this space. It doesn't take denial to keep on track. Keep going on the journey from victim to survivor to thriver.

we do not cause it. we do feed it without knowing it , I believe that you should be in control not the illness , with that said sometimes it has mind of it own I lose control, therapist always ask me how did I did it survive you do very well the ptsd , I had good support system never took serious meds for my condition , i think it because I never put chemicals like birth control, into my body tell I was in my forty's , at twenty six I would forget what I was doing , I don't how I got to places long story short had breakdown the kind people do not come back from anyway told me if I was not better would spend my life in institution , I went back in three weeks and they where amazed at progress , I would not take all those meds , I told my mom I have to do this without meds or I well never be free so I think why I have done well with ptsd, hugs Minnie a woman's number one bad thing for you is birth control chemical I believe

I didn't read the whole thing - was having a hard time, TBH and also went in and out, but I do know one thing, that even though I do believe it's NOT my fault, but I placed myself in that situation (unknowing) as I was a child (how would I have known) and that became my fault and the trauma that followed from that. I believe how you look at it, makes a difference. with my PTSD and DID, it's been a struggle, now do I blame someone an extent that's been human, I did not create this, to think about it, the reason I'm in therapy..guess that says it' all.
Community LeaderSunCloudJD

When you say mental illness I'm not sure if you mean PTSD....Here are definitions for the disorder

Whatever tools can help 'you' I think are great and spirituality or religion can play an important part for people

Religions that basically don't believe in mental illness or disorders I think are frightening and I personally think are wrong.... They aren't mental health professionals and have caused a lot of damage for the people that need help

I've seen people in forensics that are completely out of touch with reality from illness.... .Psychosis is real.... It is their reality...

So I do think people should use the tools that help them however I don't agree that we can just fix ourselves anymore then we can fix appendicitis or a broken leg without some professional help and for some things people need ongoing help both mentally and physically

I do agree that we need to be plugged into our treatment in order for it to help us.....xo

I have a hard time reading and remembering all of what i've read, so pardon that. But some of what you're saying isn't 'radical' at all. One of the first things a therapist told me was to be responsible for my emotions and reactions and to accept that I couldn't control how others did those things. Responsibility for yourself is important, and can be key to getting well and whatnot.
Secondly, I felt like this was reminiscent of William Glasser's "choice theory" in some ways. The idea that we "create" our own psychiatric issues is Glasser-esque because his theory is exactly what it sounds like: choice theory boils down to the idea that we choose how we respond and some of us (consciously or unconsciously) choose to display psychiatric symptoms. However, the KEY to this theory is that the behaviors we choose are essential to our existence and are the best choice we have.
So, if someone actually did have the ability to choose, say, depression(or any illness) there is a serious reason and cause and still needs to be worked through. This theory is highly debated and somewhat debunked, depending who you talk to. Though pieces of it are really useful and practiced (like the part of it that says you should recognize your responsibility for your behaviors which actually is helpful for many people). But in general, the scholarly community isn't supportive of the part of his theory that people choose their illnesses for a lot of reasons. What about the endless studies involving brain imaging that show a physical cause in the brain for mental illnesses?
I do want to say that in some ways you're onto something, though. Studies show that people who have certain reactions to traumatic events will develop ptsd and some will not. However, if you are truly unable to do anything, you're trapped and therefore feel haven't quite "chosen" that reaction or the resulting illness. CBT does teach us to think differently and is helpful though. I think I just have a hard time agreeing with any statement that we could "fix ourselves" if we just changed enough. That goes a bit too far for my scientifically/medically centered view of mental illness.
Apologies if I didn't address the post well. My mind is jumbled, but these are my two cents.

I think I'll echo Muji on this one.
We only have choices to a point. I can't choose to undo injuries done me when I was 2 years old....
And it depends what recovery you mean. We can go so far, before our bodies say, "Yeah, sorry, no."
I'm not offended, but I do want to caution you, Manda, to explore this *cautiously*. B/c I've heard this said "If you just choose to not have epilepsy..." As if I chose it, or my thinking causes the seizures?! Nope. Molecular chemical glitch in my brain from God knows where or why. Ain't up to me. I wish!
And I didn't intentionally worsen my PTSD.
Or my depressions.
But different tools work for different people, as with physical injuries, and sometimes you can learn to walk again without canes, sometimes you need canes forever. It's not simply "Oh, I'm worth love, ergo, this traumatic sh*t isn't touching me anymore!".... Lovely bumper sticker, but it takes work, therapy, work, more work, and a lot of emotional output, as well as *retraining* our views of ourselves. THat's da*n difficult if you are told from birth, before you have words of your own, that you're nothing and worthless and a problem. ...
Pre-verbal trauma versus post-verbal trauma is its own thing. When we're hurt without an ability to express it in a way that makes the pain stop? (As in toddlers.) Those neural pathways form before we have *any* others to rely upon. It's simple on paper, but *never* easy, to say "Don't create your illness".

Well, I live healthy phsyically, and mentally, as much as possible. Still got the scars. ANd PTSD is, for some, about the *scars*. Not active injury or actively irritating old injuries, but simple fact that scars will freaking well *hurt*. Physical or psychological. And that's okay. That's *nature*. We can't overcome all of it without anything but our own willpower. Friends, family, love, help, therapy, meds, meditation, prayer, whatever, but ... if it's not harming us? Then I'll take that help, thanks. I may not need all of it forever....

BTW, been screened for manic episodes? The lack of paragraphs and run-ons remind me of that in an old friend from college when she's off her meds for bipolar. (Yeah, her willpower doesn't fix her chemical imbalance, alas.)

So I ask you to be careful as you seek empowerment to not shun healthy assistance. I've seen that willpower-only approach literally kill.

You could have tore a page right out of my book. We need to take responsibility for our own feelings. Yes, bad things happened to us that damaged our way of thinking, but we can choose to accept them or we can choose to change them. It is all about what is going on in between our ears.

I am going to go out on a limb, but I am thinking you have had a lot of therapy to come to this point. It does not really matter. I believe we come to this conclusion once we become unstuck in the cycle of memories that holds us prisoner and stuck in the never ending loop of PTSD. I believe it starts with acknowledge that what happened to us was crappy, unfair and we have every right to be angry and pissed off at it.

I am in agreement with you, but I also think it is a part of the recovery and others who disagree are not there yet or maybe will never be there. We do have to take responsibility for our thoughts and no blame other for how we feel. Carefully read that last statement, I am not saying what happened to us is right, justified or anything like that. I am saying only we can think what we think, no one else makes us think the way we do. It does take willpower to get though this and I do believe we have to push ourselves, challenge our thoughts and use every once of strength to move forward even on the days we feel like giving up.

Funny I was just pondering questions on acceptance, I feel accepting were we are is like giving up. If people accepted their situations, tolerated the pain in life there would be no movement forward. It is that uncomfortable that we need to embrace for it is that uncomfortable feeling that drives us to find a way out of it. Maybe that means taking yourself to the hospital, or asking for help or even pushing yourself to get up and make lunch today or go outside. It is uncomfortable situations that make use stronger. Hell some here have enduring unspeakable pain and suffering at the hands of those who are suppose to care for and look out for them. The very fact they are still here show us that they are fighters, who are looking for a way out of the pain and suffering. They are incredibly strong but unfortunately are not aware of their own strength because along with their mental illness, they lost their self-esteem, confidence and self-worth.

How do you recover? You change the way you think about things. You do not give any more power to those who have hurt you by taking back your mind and controlling it. By draw on your courage and focus on positives in life and you push yourself. No one every said it would be easy. Nothing worth while ever is easy and believe me you are worth while.

Thank you for writing this post.

Finally someone who posts with the length and density that I do. "Perspective" is really the ultimate subject of your essay, it's all about how we view things and how many of us are not able to objectively deal with our thoughts and feelings. And this is why the psychology and Psychiatry profession will never go away, because people often times need that outside perspective that they themselves lack. When one finds oneself in an emotional fog or inside a maze you need an observer who can see through it in order to help get you out of it, regardless of whether or not we can argue the maze was of your own creation or if the fog was brought about by an emotional storm. Since we're talking about fictional idealized worlds why not just say there would be a world with no trauma and we would all live in Anarchy because everyone would know how to do the right thing every single time? What you are talking about is nothing less than a utopian ideal. Of course everyone's experience is internal from our perspective on the World to how we interact with other people, to how we react to things but many people are emotionally and intellectually weak, and there is no hope that we will, all seven billion of us, be on the same plane. It made for some good reading and like I said in a perfect world you are not wrong but we don't live in a perfect world do we? There is a modicum of Truth to what you say but what some other people have said is things have happened to us and we are doing the best we can to deal with them with the tools we have and what knowledge we have at our disposal and many people are working with an empty toolbox or one that is woefully lacking in supplies. Many times, it really isn't our fault. Sometimes it is. Have to be careful once you boil things down into ultimate simplicities because human beings are complex emotionally dynamic animals and there are very few truths that are universally applicable. Nice try though. Keep moving forward

Wow interesting readings, enjoyed everyones thoughts. I too had a hard time with first post by brokenlady. It was too hard to read without paragraphs, I did try and got some of it though. I like what Doo, Muji, Spiral and espresso wrote, easy to read and follow despite being long.

I agree with what others wrote, life happens and we can not control it as a baby, toddler or child but as an adult we can choose to get help and re write our story. I am changing mine as I do not like my old one. I certainly could not do that without help though. Thanks for the topic

First of all, I must apologise for the way I presented my ideas. I can understand why reading a huge paragraph like my post would be confusing to some. However it wasn't indicative of me being drunk or in the grip of 'mania', since I haven't had a drink for 5 days and I don't have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Just wanted to clear that up straight away.

Dan, no you didn't have a choice as a child in the way you reacted to your trauma. What I'm saying is that immature way of reaction is probably not helping you much in the here and now. As an adult you absolutely can change your reaction to something more appropriate and helpful. This is because as adults we have maturity and an ability to intellectualise stuff we didn't have as kids. I'm sorry about your ADHD. That must come with its own sets of challenges in itself without adding PTSD into the mix.

Patti thanks for those links. You're no doubt correct in thinking there is more to this than just changing our thoughts to change feelings and behaviour. Its a complex issue alright. Risen yes we are all made of chemicals and outside influences and stimuli will have an effect on us for sure. I think us human beings are complex organisms effected by all sorts of things. What I'm saying is that I believe we all have the innate ability to change how we react to those external stimuli. Of course you're going to get hyper ingesting caffeine. But that's a chemical itself. I'm talking about other people's behaviour towards us and how we choose to interpret that behaviour and the meanings we attach to that outside behaviour in our minds. If we create a bad meaning we will feel bad and might even behave badly ourselves in response to it. And the very term 'mental illness' says it all. Its a sickness of the mind.

Muji, thanks mate yes empowerment is exactly what I'm getting at here. Like you so eloquently put it none if us chose our trauma's especially as kids. But its how we choose to deal with it as adults that I believe makes the difference between victim hood or surviving and thriving as you say. M. Scott Peck talks about transference being an out dated map of reality in his seminal masterpiece 'The Road Less Travelled'. Please see my comment to Dan above. I think what happened to me at least, was that I transferred my outdated and maladaptive way of coping with my trauma as a kid to my adult life. What worked for me as a kid certainly didn't help me as an adult. I think the task of therapy would be to get ourselves up to date as it were, and learn new healthy ways of coping. Thanks for your support mi amigo.

Doo I do agree that PTSD is a psychiatric injury. It is damage to our mind. I also like what you have to say about the difference between Complex PTSD and the personality disorders. At the end of the day it really doesn't matter what labels we put on it, the bottom line is our minds have been damaged by trauma. In order to heal the trauma I believe personally that if we change the way we view the trauma and what it all means, we can heal. I also liked the way you defined 'breakdown'. In my own experience I define it as a breaking down of an old way of thinking and interpreting stuff outside ourselves, in order to incorporate a new more sane and healthy way of thinking and coping. I appreciate your input all the same :)

Min I agree with you that hormones most definitely played a part in my own PTSD down the years. I was on the pill in my 20s and 30s and it made me a load worse than I needed to be. I also agree that popping a pill or a dozen to cope with symptoms masks the symptoms and makes it more difficult to get to the root of a person's mental struggles. Thanks for chiming in.

Dark side I am not saying that anything that happens to traumatize us is in any way our fault. That lies entirely on the abusers. However as adults it is most definitely our responsibility to change how we view the trauma and what it means to us, about us, and who we are. We aren't the bad ones for being abused,the abusers are the bad ones. Its how we respond to it that makes the difference. I feel like I'm repeating myself here. Lol.

Suncloud yes I am talking about PTSD because it is actually classed as a mental illness. Thanks for the link. But we are the ones who, consciously or unconsciously de used to get I'll in the first place. Therefore it is our decision to stay unwell or to try to recover. I'm not talking about a religion that didn't believe in mentally illness. I've no doubt that spirituality rather than religion per we can be a positive thing in getting better. And I'm not saying We don't need professional help. All a therapist is, or a doctor for that matter, is a tool we can use to facilitate healing. They can start us off to healing, but ultimately the choice is ours and ours alone to recover. Thanks for your contribution to this thread.

Leo, I'm not saying you had any choice over the trauma at all that caused your symptoms of PTSD. No you absolutely cannot undo it. But you can undo your reaction to it. As an adult. Also I didn't mean to imply that epilepsy is a illness you choose either. Much like I didn't choose to have asthma or Muji for example didn't choose his kidney disease or diabetes. These are proven medical physical problems. I'm talking about what our minds are doing in response to external problems and the meanings we attach to those external events. And I'm not saying that willpower alone will cure us of PTSD. I'm just saying that as adult human beings we have the capacity wired into us through millions of years of human evolution to cure ourselves of the wrong interpretations that lead to our suffering. What sets us apart from all the other animals on this great planet of ours is the ability to think and solve problems and be creative in finding those solutions. Once again I am talking about the power we already have in ourselves to affect a recuperation. Therapy will teach us to start believing in our own power to help ourselves. Then the rest is up to us. And no I'm not bipolar. Lol. Please don't imply I'm "crazy" because I come out with a different way of looking at things that don't sit the normal accepted way of thinking about things. That implies to me a certain resistance on your part to think of it differently yourself. Perhaps you don't want to get better? Well I do. Thanks for your input anyway.

Thank you family guy. I disagree that I am a Utopian idealist. I disagree that keeping it simple doesn't work. I think we over think things to the point we end up feeling so crap we can't function or operate effectively in this world. However in response to Espresso I do agree about the wiring in our brains and the chemicals that are firing off in or brains as a result of trauma is adrenaline and cortisol. But what causes those chemical reactions in the first place? The way our minds read what is happening. Our minds and brains are inextricably linked. Change the way you think, change the chemical reactions in our brains. We can get control of our fight or flight or freeze reactions if we keep this simple truth in mind. We have more control over ourselves as adults then we think or realise. But thanks for your contribution anyway.

Spiral thanks for your support on this. I'm glad someone got something out of what I've come up with. Appreciate it. And Musk thanks for your I put too.
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