10 Years Later


After I wrote about my emergence from long-term welfare last week, I recalled that I still had a screen shot of my 2006 BVR-ordered psychological evaluation. The picture above shows the summary of my MMPI-2 results. Since my life has a perpetual soundtrack, this picture brings to mind a lyric from “Never Too Late” by Three Days Grace: “This world will never be what I expected, and if I don’t belong, who would have guessed it?”

I have considered that there is risk involved in disclosing such information, in particular the risk that this revelation could undermine the apparent legitimacy of my perspective on subjects that are unrelated to my history of mental illness. I think this risk is due to stigma about mental illness and that disclosure helps reduce this stigma. My history of clinical depression does not make me an unreliable narrator because if I were still suffering from disabling mental illness, I would not have the motivation to write this blog. There wouldn’t be enough of my writing for anyone to critique and dismiss on the grounds of my illness.

The highest score on my exam may be surprising considering that I’ve focused on depression in the history of this blog. My seventeen years of treatment (1992-2009) lent me a torn perspective on mental illness. While I do believe that mental illness can be disabling, I’ve also considered that there are symptoms that may be considered part of a “disease” but are not necessarily harmful to one’s happiness and productivity. With that aside, I will tell you that my occasional hallucinations have not been a burden to me. When I was seriously depressed, I had little relief from the drudgery of reality. I wished that I would hear or see something divorced from my everyday life, but it seemed the visions would not return, like a dark night of the soul. If I had no insight that I sometimes hear or see things that are not grounded in physical perception, then my hallucinations would indeed be part of a disease.

Yesterday evening I beheld a precious gift, a gold necklace that belonged to a friend of mine who passed away early this year. I was standing in my kitchen holding the necklace and looked toward the living room. Standing next to my couch was my departed friend. With a peaceful smile, she flickered away. I am grateful for such comfort. If this is a disease, I do not wish to be treated for it.