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My Take

Mental Illness and F-Word Empowerment

Hi everyone, today should be interesting and it may surprise you. We’re going to be looking at the more famous F-word. Yup. F*ck. Now believe me I’m not one to throw profanity around constantly, though if I stub my toe I WILL be saying it. Kidding aside, there’s validity to my profane topic and you’ll see why.

First off, if you curse now and again how do you feel? Is it a small and explosive moment of satisfying release? Is it a little catharctic? I’ll pause there to remind us that catharctic means basically to cleanse or purge. This is important because I’ll go so far as to say that the F-word can be a ‘purge’ word too. Let’s forget about the small F-words we utter under our breath and focus more on the vehement kind…you know…out loud and in full glory: F*CK!!!

This simple expletive can be nearly any type of word. An adjective, a noun, a verb, an interjection…it’s rare to find such a versatile word. I have a new proposed usage however that goes a surprisingly long way and that is to insult and disregard some thoughts and feelings that come with mental illness. It’s not a panacea, (with mental illness no singular technique is), but it’s another tool in my arsenal.

You know what I appreciate? Even though a complete sentence is more accurate than this one word (like calling someone a f*cking idiot when driving, though it can be more precisely said that they’re rude, inconsiderate and endangering others), it’s still perfect for certain situations. What do I mean? Well…when we’re not feeling well we don’t always have the proper words to fully enunciate the feelings and we may not even want to. This is where the F-word can come in and replace everything with an explosive and often immediately satisfying effect. I’m certainly not suggesting that we replace important self-talk and other necessary thinking, but in certain situations this ‘passe-partout’ is a good start!

How I Use the F-Word

My head likes to talk to me, so to speak. My inner monologue can be pessimistic, distorted, overly questioning, self-deprecating to the max and riddled with anxiety. It can whisper words of worthlessness and hopelessness, and suggest pretty bad ideas. In short, my mind can be warped with everything that I don’t want to have stuck in my head. This also goes for triggers that set off a loop of disturbing imagery and thoughts. Some form of the above happens on a daily basis and I used to be entirely powerless to ignore it. With my other strategies I can often turn things around which is great, but sometimes a direct attack on the thought as it comes in is the best way for me to keep it from sticking. Hence, the F-word.

Now this doesn’t always work, but I find that the sooner I use this technique the more effective it is. Let’s use something that I have to deal with almost everyday to give you a good example. The news is on for hours at home and of course it’s extremely important to follow what’s happening, especially right now! But, it’s also difficult. I think / hope that writing this won’t be a trigger because that would be ironic and stupid (I should say understandable but painful), but here we go. Ventilators. We hear about them a lot now…we see images and well, you know what I’m talking about. This is extremely triggering for me because my most severe suicide attempt was taking 3 bottles of anxiety/sleep medication. This landed me in the hospital where I passed out and later woke up while sedated. The ventilator tube…the charcoal tube in my stomach…I couldn’t speak and my breath wasn’t in my control. It hurt, I didn’t know what was happening and I saw my dad and Aaron but was panicked with nowhere to turn. In truth, I thought it might be my last time seeing them and I would’ve never had to chance to say anything to them, or to my mom who wasn’t there yet. Unfortunately I woke up a second time…this time restrained since I had of course tried to move the first time.

Moving on because I don’t need to dwell on this…almost every time I hear or think about it you can imagine how much I hate it. It’s bad enough in nightmare form, but I HATE dealing with it in the light of day. More awake = more thoughts = more feelings that I can’t forget about by falling back asleep with my meds. So now when I hear things about it, I immediately tell my thoughts to F*CK OFF! I think or say it with feeling and conjuring some anger along with it tends to help. If it seems like the opposite of self-compassion, I agree but in this case you’ll see what I’m going for. I try to view the thoughts as ‘attempting to land’, so I use a quick outburst to get them to turn around before they do. I’ve noticed that if I wait too long and they’ve ‘landed’, no amount of F-words will work! The reason why this is strangely self-compassionate is that it implies a distinction between myself and the thought. I’m not being compassionate with the thought, but by denying its power I’m kind of empowering myself, if that makes sense.

A Little Deeper

Since we probably agree that profanity is for particular moments that aren’t high in importance and value, using profanity in these situations act as both attack and disregard. Using the F-word kind of cheats my brain into thinking that ok, this isn’t serious, it’s not a thought for me and I don’t need it in my head right now. Shove off, you serve no purpose towards my attempted forward momentum! I say attempted because I still have to work on…well…pretty much everything I write about. I’m human. It upsets me, but I can’t change that. Progress isn’t an easy task! I’m trying to use this technique along with others because right now it’s particularly important so I can handle the slump I’m in.

I hope this small but surprising trick can help you too. Be firm and act more powerful if it helps. Like my first post…fake it till you make it! Don’t let the thoughts/emotions land; you’re in the control tower and it has to listen to YOU.

What's YOUR take?