I have refrained from writing this post for four days, as it is my apperception (the mental process by which a person makes sense of an idea by assimilating it to the body of ideas they already possess) I have gained from considering the erudite wisdom of Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning‘, an empirical resource of psychiatric and psychological study, in which he reasons that between the action and reaction there is a void in which we have a choice to make in how we react in life to the action. We may either react in an impetuous and emotional manner in which unknown consequences flow from such behaviour, or we may sit back, and in a measured, thoughtful and rational response set out our thoughts. I have not chosen the path of impetuosity, as I consider the words I am about to write below should be set out in a context of personal experience, and hopefully, therapeutic value for people living with a mental illness.
As you may gather from the headline to my post, I am obviously responding to Mr. Morrison’s words spoken last Sunday at a Pentecostal Church established in Perth by the former Australian tennis player, Margaret Court. May I indicate at the outset of this post, I do not intend to display any impiety towards the Pentecostal religion; people are entitled to believe in any form of religion they so choose to believe in; just as I or any other person may abjure any form of religious belief.
My apostasy for religion does not influence my thoughts about Mr. Morrison’s words spoken during his sermon last Sunday about mental illness. As I explained herein my words are derived from personal experience. Many of you may be already aware of this fact, but for those of you who are unaware I have almost recovered from a mental health breakdown in March 2021, a breakdown which culminated from both the post traumatic shock I suffered of seeing my deceased mother on the floor of her apartment approximately 14 hours after she had passed away, as well as almost 43 years of undiagnosed mental illnesses. My mental illnesses had been undiagnosed for such a lengthy period of time because of my shame to admit to my thoughts, and it is the issue of shame which motivates my reaction to Mr. Morrison’s words.
If you are also unaware of what Mr. Morrison said during his sermon (his words decrying government and the United Nations have been more than adequately addressed by the Prime Minister Mr. Albanese) about mental illness, it is reported in the Murdoch media (don’t get too excited, Uncle Rupert, I am still unhappy with you and Lachlan) that:
“While he noted there were “biological issues” or “brain chemistry” that resulted in clinical disorders, he sought to link the everyday anxieties to a spiritual deficit. Mr. Morrison declared that if people gave into their worries, they were giving into “Satan’s plan”.
The symptoms of mental illness, including worry and anxiety are not part of “Satan’s plan”. Mr. Morrison’s words are reckless, and they are also indicative of the anachronistic mindset of a medieval cleric manipulating the benighted minds of the parishioners during the Dark Ages. To link such symptoms to “Satan” or evil, only increases the risk of propagating thoughts of shame amongst the two million or so people suffering from a mental illness in this country.
It is shame which causes many people suffering from mental illness coming forward to seek help. Without displaying too much impiety at this juncture, for Mr. Morrison to link the symptoms of mental illness to “Satan’s plan” is just a product of dissolute pious mumbo jumbo of the greatest degree, and it has no place in psychiatric medicine or psychology. I know, because I have been now undergoing psychiatric treatment and psychological counselling for 16 months, and Lucifer plays no part in either field of treatment.
So I strongly reject Mr. Morrison’s misconceived words about mental illness, but if you think I may have be prone to displaying emotive language in this post, you should have been at my house on Monday when I initially read the above-mentioned article.
I would also like to share with you now the importance of candour and advocacy in normalising mental illness in our society. I have openly shared my mental health journey on Facebook and Twitter since about April 2021. The genesis of my online advocacy about the journey of my mental health treatment and recovery, and the need to normalise the condition in society, arises from the shame I had about my various mental illness thoughts which consumed my mind since 1979.
Whilst I was hospitalised during my first admission to hospital in March 2021, I heard many of my fellow inpatients express the feelings of shame they held about their mental illnesses, and how they were too ashamed to allow the illness to be known in their individual communities.
It became apparent to me, being the outspoken person that I am, society needed to have an open discussion about mental illness, so that more people would come forward to admit to their suffering, and to seek treatment. I have received a number of social media messages from various people since April last year in which they thank me for my advocacy, but this week I received a message from one of my 23, 700 followers on Twitter which best encapsulates the need for an open discussion about mental health in this country. The message I received from this person (for their privacy they shall remain anonymous) read as follows:
“Hi Michael – we have never met but wanted to thank you for your up front and honest tweets in relation your mental health condition. I suffer from anxiety which has re-emerged after 20 years of control. Bit of a dark place now but reading your words provides confidence and reassurance that there is a future and a path forward. Thanks again.”
I do not derive any narcissistic pleasure from this message, but it does give me comfort that by being candid and discussing online my journey back to a healthy state of mind I have given this person hope they will do the same.
Stay well, my friends.
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