Thursday, August 09, 2012

The need to be more sensitive online.

Mental illness.

Yesterday I lifted a term from a blog for a post I composed, which was really used as part of my running commentary on blogs, popularity and status in the 'blogosphere'.  I must confess, I did not read the entire post and had no idea that the author linked to another woman's post dealing with mental illness.  I left a comment in the com box of my post explaining what happened and killed the link to the original post.  I have to admit I don't really read a lot of bloggers, and those I do, I often skim their posts.  Sorry.  I'm a bad man.

Very seriously, mental illness in the blogosphere - diagnosed or undiagnosed, in the closet or out of the closet - is a fact.  Personally, I think it accounts for a lot of snark and mean spirited comments in com boxes, misunderstandings, jealousy and envy, as well as some of the great humor.  No doubt, mental illness is indeed an illness, and a terrible suffering.  There are many degrees and a whole lot that I don't understand about it - nor do the professionals.  Though I went through a period in my life struggling with mild depression and panic attacks, I've never had serious difficulties, and though I did some therapy for a time hoping to 'straighten' out some sexual 'addiction' issues, I've never been diagnosed with anything other than mild depression and panic disorder.  All good now, thanks be to God.  In my case, confession did more than therapy.  I stopped therapy when the therapist told me my main problem was being a Roman Catholic.  I should write about it some day.

That said, I've always been fascinated with mental illness, and the mentally ill.  Perhaps it's because my parents were so nuts.  In their case it was exasperated by childhood abuse, serious moral difficulties and alcoholism.  Likewise it could be related to my use of psychedelics in the late 1960's.  I've also worked with people who were mentally ill, and actually became friends with religious people whom I later discovered were mentally ill.  As I've mentioned before, I particularly enjoyed my bi-polar friends in their manic stages, and of course, the alcoholics were delightful drinking buddies.  My experience with these friends helped me to understand to some extent, strange behavior much better than I ever could have otherwise, as well as an ability to see humor in the absurd and life's most difficult circumstances; although much more deeply, to recognize that compassion enables us to share in one anothers sufferings - after all, we are all human. 

Benedicta a Crux - Blessed by the Cross.

I came across two very interesting posts today:  One by a man who suffers from mental illness, and the other, by a guy who was raised by lesbian mothers.  I will reprint an excerpt or two from both - the accounts struck me, I'm not sure if they will you - but I reprint them nonetheless.  
From Catholic Lane:  "I have been struggling with my illness for 16 years, and on medication for 13. Apart from my Catholic faith and my relationship with Jesus I am certain I would be dead. It’s as simple as that. Whether from a bullet from a prison guard or by my own hand, I’m not sure, but the world would be getting along without me. And no one can suffer mental illness without wondering if he’d be better off dead anyway. It’s hard to imagine a cross harder to bear, or heavier, or more laden with shame. But through it all Jesus has given me hope, strength, and indefatigable peace. He has not saved me from suffering; rather, he has given me a much greater gift: he has saved me through suffering. My suffering, my weakness, is a badge of honor, and not a scarlet letter.

My Catholic faith gets me through everything. I know that I am a human person who has value, despite consistently under performing in almost every job I’ve had in the last 13 years, and there have been many. I am not a “mentally-ill person” or a “schizophrenic”; I am a human person who struggles with mental illness. My illness does not define me; my relationship with Jesus does. And Jesus, in our relationship, looks out for me." - Anthony Schefter

Crazy home life and gay parents... its effect on a kid.

I kind of get this - coming from the background I come from.  Disordered and dysfunctional homes disorient a kid. The following from a man raised by lesbian mothers.
From The Public Discourse:  "Quite simply, growing up with gay parents was very difficult, and not because of prejudice from neighbors. [...] When your home life is so drastically different from everyone around you, in a fundamental way striking at basic physical relations, you grow up weird. I have no mental health disorders or biological conditions. I just grew up in a house so unusual that I was destined to exist as a social outcast.

My home life was not traditional nor conventional. I suffered because of it, in ways that are difficult for sociologists to index. Both nervous and yet blunt, I would later seem strange even in the eyes of gay and bisexual adults who had little patience for someone like me. I was just as odd to them as I was to straight people.

Life is hard when you are strange. Even now, I have very few friends and often feel as though I do not understand people because of the unspoken gender cues that everyone around me, even gays raised in traditional homes, takes for granted. Though I am hard-working and a quick learner, I have trouble in professional settings because co-workers find me bizarre." - Robert Lopez
Fascinating stuff, if you ask me.

St. Benedict Joseph Labre,
pray for us.


  1. Re the Second: But but but, that's not what the "research" shows.

    1. I know! Amazing isn't it?

  2. Anonymous4:56 PM

    A fair number of the rad trads seem to have some mental illness-related problems. And I say that as a traditional Catholic. The most severe rad trad I knew was a High Anglican convert, could admirably hold forth on Tolkien at the drop of a hat, and had his own blog of course (that no one read btw). He was F. Longenecker's Stuart Mandible. Overnight he went from rad trad to a "hotsexy gender queer iconoclast of modernism"--at least according to his twitter page. He wrote that his therapist had convinced him that this was his true self, and the key to his happiness (Terry, is that what the therapist once told you?). Anyway, please say a quick prayer for him. And let's all have mercy on those difficult people we run across online.
    Scott W

  3. Rad trad here who is bipolar. I used to leave a lot of negative comments when you would bash us.. but now that I'm on medication, I think I love you.

    Seriously though, you're one of the only blogs I read anymore.

    1. Really? Thanks Katherine. I deserve the bashings however - they are good for the soul.

      I'm tending more traditional these days myself BTW.

      God bless you!

  4. I've been accused of being a rad trad, but you can't get there from here.

  5. I never heard the term "rad trad" prior to reading this blog. I knew immediately what it mean't of course. I'm sure there are those who would pigeon hole me with that title. I don't think it fits my own leanings. Liturgically, I'm in Monsignor Klaus Gamber & Richard Schuler's corner. I'm all about the "hermeneutic of continuity". I don't believe in a "pre vatican II and post vatican II" church. I don't subscribe to the "hermeneutic of rupture". I also don't see the Church as a "Big Tent" of compromise.


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.