Polyamory and Mental Illness, Part II

Okay, folks. After a much needed hiatus, I’m going back to tackling polyamory and mental illness. For those who are interested, the old polyamory and mental illness posts are below.

Mental Illness: Monster or Myself

My approach to mental illness frames it as something outside “who I am”. It is very similar to how I frame cancer. My father is not a cancerous person, he is a person who is battling cancer. I am not an ill person, I am a person who is battling mental illness. As part of framing mental illness as separate from myself, I speak of it as a monster, invader, or in other extremely negative terms. Being able to frame my mental illnesses as something apart from myself has been a major factor in my healing.

However, not everyone frames mental illness this way. Some learn to embrace and accept mental illness as part of themselves. My mother, who has multiple sclerosis, rejects the idea that she is a person with disability. She is a disabled person who has learned to accept and love herself, disability and all. Similar, some people with depression, or anxiety or PTSD have embraced their mental illness. It is a part of themselves, and learning to love themselves, including their illness, has been a major part of their healing.

Through this blog series, I have framed mental illness as something separate from the person suffering from it. I frame it that way because that is the framing that works for me and because it is the framing I am familiar with. Unfortunately, for people who frame mental illness as part of themselves, my framing can be hurtful. I’m sorry for that, and equally sorry that it took me so long to realize this.

If you have a mental illness, you need to frame it in a way that works for you. If your partner has a mental illness, you need to learn how they frame it and support their approach. If your partner frames mental illness as a part of themselves they are struggling to love and accept, please DO NOT use my framing. Speaking of mental illness as a monster that is taking over their lives, an illness that is distorting who they are, or similar terms can be extremely hurtful to people who use that framing.

For the rest of this series, I am going to try to be more aware of my framing. I am going to try to present information in a way that will work for both frames. When I can’t, I’ll differentiate which frame a certain approach or idea is best suited to.

Polyamory and Mental Illness Blog Series:

  1. Polyamory and Mental Illness (Guest post by Clementine Morgan)
  2. Facts About Mental Illness for Poly Partners
  3. Opening Up About Mental Illness
  4. How Can I Support my Mentally Ill Poly Partner? (Part 1)
  5. How Can I Support my Mentally Ill Poly Partner? (Part 2)
  6. A Rant: “I Know I am Being Irrational Right Now”
  7. When Polyamory and Mental Illness Collide (Part 1)
  8. Living With Depression
  9. Polyamory Advice for the Mentally Ill: “Be with Your Emotions”
  10. Depressive Disorders and Polyamory
  11. Polyamory Advice for the Mentally Ill: “Communicate, Communicate, Communicate”
  12. Polyamory Boundaries and Mental Illness
  13. Living with Anxiety
  14. Anxiety Disorders and Polyamory
  15. Mental Illness: The Course of Treatment
    1. Recognizing Your Need Help
    2. Getting a Diagnosis
    3. Treatment Options
      1. Medication
      2. Talk Therapy
      3. Alternative Therapies
      4. Alternative Medicine
      5. Home Care
      6. Treatment Intensity
        1. Treatment Intensity and the Impact on Polyamory
    4. The Treatment Roller Coaster
  16. Fucked Up Parts of Mental Illness: Punishing Myself for Having Fun
  17. The Wrong Diagnosis (Guest Post by Michon Neal)
  18. Polyamory and PTSD (and other trauma and stress-related disorders) (Part 1)
  19. Polyamory and PTSD (and other trauma and stress-related disorders) (Part 2)

This post is part of the Polyamory and Mental Illness blog series.