Perfectly Flawed by J. Costlow

woman-looking-out-a-window-at-peaceAs soon as the words mental illness or mental disorder leave my mouth in a conversation I feel myself flush involuntarily with embarrassment. I brace myself for the awkward reassurance or feigned understanding from the other party, no matter what topic the conversation had been on up to this point. Intellectually I know I SHOULDN’T be embarrassed, no more than a diabetic should be self-conscious when explaining why they abstain from sugary treats. But I am I’m ashamed because the outside world has made it unacceptable to represent anything seen as imperfect, ugly, fat, stupid; Any quality that cannot be glamorized or marketed to illicit some sort of positive gain.Most of us are born with the basic outline of our belief system ready and waiting to be installed into our impressionable minds from our social settings. I’m tired of trying to be politically correct, it’s just too damn hard. So I repeatedly say out loud, on paper, to the mirror, that I suffer from depression and a dissociative disorder to try to desensitize the humiliation instilled so deeply in me. I feel as though I’ve lived my life apologetically up until now because of the effect my individual characteristics have had on those around me. Like I should be sorry for making you uncomfortable in your uncertainty. Well I’m not. Sorry, that is. I do, however, feel genuine remorse for the ugliness some of my actions and words have caused. These are things I will live with always and aspire to amend in some fashion daily. Talking about mental illness in a personal fashion makes many people uneasy, I think it makes it too real and lets face it there are still those who believe ignorance is bliss. If you share having a mental illness with someone close to you, that makes it REAL, impossible to ignore. It no longer is just a word, the premise of Girl, Interrupted or some form of slang to throw around. It has taken on a face which could easily be their own and is a reminder that bad things DO happen to good people. Our lives are formed around this image of perfection; what we have learned and grown to believe signifies success. Too often people with dissociative disorders are seen as flawed, Crazy, Dangerous, As failures. The reality is that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. People who dissociate are often survivors of the most unspeakable acts of abuse; traumatic events that threatened their lives and overwhelmed their ability to process it. It is a brilliant autonomous coping skill that can unconsciously stay on after the danger has passed and interfere with the person’s daily life. The process to alleviate involuntary dissociation is painful, raw and can actually be traumatic itself if not guided by an experienced professional. All of this, from beginning to end, is done in order to survive. I don’t want to just survive anymore I choose to live.