Broken People

It’s interesting to live in times where the young are so quick to label themselves with various mental illnesses, disorders, or generalized anxieties. (Perhaps they have diagnoses as well that they’re also open about.)

And every other week is “awareness” week for something or other. (Geez, I feel old writing that sentence.)

I’m not sure how I feel about it.

On the one hand, I’m happy that it’s becoming less commonplace to hide family secrets from people. Growing up with a mother with mental illness, it was always this weight that felt shameful. There were times when my father begged my mother “to behave” for specific events so that we could all be the perfect example of a pious pastor’s family.

My mother came from a family that also had secrets and hid different parts of their shame away. My grandmother could not admit that there was anything “wrong” with her children.
I’ve had a lot of self-reflection in the past couple of years, and I know I could pick and choose a few labels to give myself. I’ve just never understood how labeling these things would help me.

On the other hand, I’m not sure how else labels are helpful. Do they help build relationships? What are they meant to do? I suppose it depends on the diagnosis, it just feels like EVERYONE is screwed up in some way. That we’re all broken in some way.
Perhaps labels are supposed to instill compassion in us. Understanding. And empathy. But do those things happen in practice?

I struggle with my perception of psychology, therapy, and mental illness. While the brain is a fascinating topic, I grew up feeling as if the countless hours of therapy my family endured didn’t really help.

Perhaps I’m just scared of vulnerability. Scared of looking too deeply. Of picking the scabs away from old wounds.

I know therapy helps some people, but my go-to response to pain has always been to sweep it under the rug as soon as possible and hope that no one ever lifts the rug up.

Published by JenniferClaywood

An American expat living in Sweden. I teach middle school science, have four amazing children, the best partner anyone could ask for, and not enough dogs. The dog we do have at the moment, a beautiful mutt of pointer, husky, and border collie, is one of the sweetest creatures to grace this planet. I am busy trying to get better at teaching and writing.

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