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Oscar Pistorious and mental resiliency

Posted by hyperfocus on February 16, 2013, at 15:27:08

The guy's innocent till proven guilty of course and we do not as yet know much of the circumstances but the police at least do not believe the shooting was accidental. He did have some history of uncontrolled anger towards others and reckless behavior. And it would not be the first time that a immensely talented and world-famous and revered athlete or sports-figure decided that perhaps because of their achievements in this world, somehow the laws of human decency didn't apply to them. Jerry Sandusky, Ben Roethlisberger, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, O.J Simpson,... going back through the years, it's a pretty long list, and those are just the cases that made national headlines because of the prominence of the people involved. There have been and will always be a million more less-visible incidents and cases like this from all over that we just never come across.

There's an equivalence placed by the outside world between mental illness and human qualities like strength and courage and resiliency and optimism that is just plain wrong and it's not right when people with MI also want to adopt this equivalenc to benchmark themselves and their decisions and their life. The qualities people on the outside associate with MI are weakness, sadness, despondency, pessimism, instability, loneliness,cowardice, rage, obsession...there will always be proponents of antipsychiatry who see MI and psychiatry as mostly a fabrication solely intended for the financial benefit of drug companies and to conceal what are simply character deficiencies and moral turpitude and flawed decision-making in bad and weak people.

Except that for all the myriad stories of anxiety and depression and bipolar and obsessive-compulsive disorder and paranoia and psychosis and personality disorders I have read here, I cannot ever recall thinking to myself: this poster is a serial liar or philanderer who will cheat on his wife with a million other women,..that poster will probably rape or murder somebody,...he or she is a terrible mother or parent or husband or wife or son or daughter or person.

I just want to point out to people here that how we treat others and the things we believe in and the human qualities that underlie our race's progress throughout history come from a place inside us that is not impacted by mental illness. Whatever impairments in our cognitive and emotional processing and regulation, or our flawed psychosocial models of the world and other people, or our neurological abnormalities or hypersensitivities or deterioration, the decisions we make each day with regard to the things that really matter in life are formed in a place depression and anxiety do not touch. Similarly, people classified as free of MI who have everything in this world, literally, seem just as capable of being weak, selfish, dishonest, violent, cowardly, just plain evil, as people who don't have much. Even moreso it seems if history is any reliable indication.

People like Pistorious and Armstrong are revered as ideals of human will and determination to beat the odds. But Pistorious was born to a very privileged family and Armstrong was a world famous athlete before his cancer. I don't want to take away anything away from what they accomplished which is still very inspiring but in both cases, they had access to every financial and medical resource available for their recovery, together with strong social and family support, and a complete absence of stigma for their illness or disability -- things most MI people do not. And sports at a world-class professional level clearly takes physical talent and endurance most of us don't possess. But when I see here people who always go the extra mile to help or care for others in their life, or at the very least spare their loved ones and neighbors any negative action or emotions that their illness constantly generates in them, I see a unique kind of determination, strength, and optimism.

Mental illness doesn't rob you of the use of your legs or degrade your cardio-pulmonary systems. It robs you of pretty much every resource and faculty you use to live, every single day. So while millions might talk about the achievements of Armstrong and Pistorious beating the odds, I might be wrong but I see a lot of odds-beaters here too.

So if physical talent and endurance is equivalent to strength and wealth and fame are equivalent to success and happiness and people like Pistorious epitomize resilience and strength and optimism, how then how does one explain the actions of these athletes or celebrities we see in the news literally everyday. You can talk about Columbine and Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook as the visible impact of mental illness on society, but how many super-athletes and super-celebrities end up hurting directly or indirectly a huge amount of people during their lifetime? And for every Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook how many millions with autism and depression and anxiety every day wake up and perform small acts of kindness and generosity and caring that are invisible unnoticed. How many millions of borderlines and avoidants and schizoaffectives everyday think "OK I have huge feelings of hurt and anger and jealousy and rage and all that, but I'm not going to hurt anyone today."

Let me just say that the things we consider the rewards of success in this world do not on their own improve one's life and character, and it is extremely easy for people to get to a place where we feel like we can do certain things and not worry about consequences. For all that Tiger Woods accomplished and the people he inspired I wonder if ultimately it can balance out the bad things he has done to his family. Joe Paterno was a leader of young men, adored by millions, but do those things make up for his decision to turn a blind eye to decades of sexual abuse of more than a dozen kids by his friend? I'm pretty sure the father or mother of one of those kids doesn't think so. I think they'd say it would have been better if Paterno never won a football game in his whole life if it could mean what would happen to their kid could have been avoided.

So in my understanding of mental strength and resiliency and all that, I don't see a lot of examples in the news a lot of the time. To me a big component of strength and courage and all that is always at least trying to do the right thing or at least the thing that avoids hurting other people regardless of the personal consequences to yourself or whatever you'd be depriving yourself of. Optimism to me means a firm belief in the good and eternal things in life, regardless of what adversity you encounter or success you achieve. All these things combine to bring about at least some interest in helping your fellow man some of the time. I do see a lot of that here so that is the reasoning I use.

C-PTSD: social phobia, major depression, dissociation. 20 yrs duration.
Asperger's Syndrome.
Currently: 150mg amitriptyline single dose at night. 75mg Lyrica occasionally.
Significantly improving.




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