All mental illness might be — is our unique way of coping with repressed (or unrepressed) unhealed trauma (repressed means forgotten; it’s a survival mechanism). Forgotten or unforgotten childhood trauma causes physical changes in our brain, cells, our tissues, our immunity and our biochemistry in general. Trauma that is not dealt with is stored in the body affecting our physiology and our nervous system. So when ‘the experts” say that mental illness is due to a “chemical imbalance” they are only partially correct. There are imbalances and mutations, but very few people want to talk about where they come from. Then we hear the nature vs nurture argument debate pop up. Nature are the predispositions that come through genetics, but those genes are activated through our environment, so it’s both.
Mental illness is really repressed heartache, repressed rage, repressed sadness, repressed grief, repressed terror, repressed feelings of helplessness, repressed feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness, repressed needs, and the repressed sense of self. It is also frozen physical agitation that comes from not discharging the freeze response from trauma (not completing the cycle of fight or flight). There is an instinctual biological response we have built-in to being violently attacked. Per the culture we live in, we are conditioned to hold on and stuff down that response. This is why we all suffer and eventually have physical-emotional-spiritual troubles.
Mental illness (should really be called emotional illness) does not make anyone special. It’s because we all have various degrees of it and individuated expressions of it. Emotional illness is what brings us all together. While some people DO use their emotional illness to get special treatment, they are in the minority. Most of us are not trying to get attention, to be special, or to get sympathy. How could that be possible when we are all suffering together? I cannot speak for us all, but I know myself and have spoken to lots of survivors and they do not want sympathy or special treatment that puts them above others. I can promise you that.
Relief from emotional illness is not about addressing a chemical imbalance but by finally doing what the body and the emotions needed to do at the time of the violent event. It is really that simple. We differ on how to get access to the body and the emotions, but how to truly move past our past is all the same and it can take a lifetime to move through all the layers of denial and defenses.
In conclusion, emotional illness might not be “normal”, but it is common; it is one of the threads that tie us all together. Emotional illness does not come out of nowhere. Nothing exists without an action-based cause. Once we start learning cause and effect in terms of emotional health, I predict that will be the day we start seeing more healing and less perpetration.
Note: if your doctor requires you take medication, please do so. Healing is not for everyone and I do think many of us need to be on medication. Please follow the advice of a medical professional!