Magic and Mental Illness

So I’m going to write this, even though I’m probably going to cry while doing it. See, this is intensely personal, and yet, it’s a huge part of who I am, something that I struggle with on a daily basis. I haven’t talked a lot about it because I’ve been rather ashamed. I still am not fully comfortable admitting everything, so I’m broad-stroking some details. Still though, I need to write up something that is a huge part of who I am. Even if I can’t/won’t write it all yet, I need to at least write out some of it, because it is a factor in my life.

I don’t practice a lot when I’m at my worst. Honestly, I don’t do anything when I’m at my worst. I’m usually pretty quiet and not really up to much if I’m at a low. So if I’m feeling down, I don’t do anything really. I tend to withdraw fully spiritually.

Now, I’ve had several diagnoses in the last 3 years. There’s quite a few things one cannot be diagnosed as when a minor, and then there’s the sheer fact that my insurance kept changing and so I haven’t had established, long-term care in 2.5 years. So the doctors always have their own slightly different interpretation of my mental issues that they all have to say are slightly different from every other doctor that I’ve ever seen. Even if previous treatment/diagnosis was working fine, they still have to tweak it slightly…or at least “thoroughly evaluate” me all over again. Still, there’s a lot that I’ve been diagnosed with. I’m not going to say what it is right now, because I don’t know if I actually have it or not. I suppose if treatment works, then that’s the proof I need of the diagnosis, but I’m not going to name it without fully understanding myself what I’m going through.

All I’ll really say at the moment is that it’s not really the best news I’ve ever gotten (this recent one), and I don’t like it – well, I suppose no one likes being told they have a mental illness. It messes with who I think I am, and what I think I am. It shakes everything apart that I really thought I was dealing with. And being shaken up upsets me and puts me far out of my comfort zone, which I suppose is not always a bad thing. But at the moment it frustrates me and just adds more layers to the problems I’m dealing with. And, this latest diagnosis actually is worse than the last one I had, at least as to how I look at it, so that’s disheartening in the extreme. Worst of all, if this one proves correct – it means that every doctor I’ve had has misdiagnosed me since I was around 14 years old. That’s disheartening, scary and downright upsetting to consider. But, since it’s still “up in the air”, I can’t be certain. Perhaps the diagnosis that I got 3 years ago is the correct one, and this new one is a mistake (which is honestly what I am hoping for).

In any case, regardless of what the “official” thing is, agreement runs that I’m not fully mentally healthy – this is something I could have told anyone from the age of around 7 or so onwards, without all the money spent. At the least I have depression. It’s not easy to deal with, it’s pervasive and encroaching. I don’t handle it very well often, in fact, most of the time I’m actually on the worse end of things. I’m not healthy, not in a sense of my mental health. I’m working to get there, but it isn’t there, not yet. And that’s not good. But, I’m at least looking for help and going in to try and get better. So theoretically, down the road I might one day be better, perhaps near “normal”.

Now, I’ve read opinions on Tumblr, Facebook, and other online communities, that state that one should be “fully healthy” before contacting the gods. I should say “I respectfully disagree”, but I won’t. I disagree flat out with that statement. Sure, I don’t think one should be (personal opinion), say, in the middle of a psychotic break when contacting the gods or doing ritual, but I think that’s more for personal safety than anything else (and the safety of anyone else who might so happen to be around one when doing said ritual/contact). However, most humans are not perfectly healthy, so the judgment inherent in the maxim of total health before contact is just far off base to me. Besides, I think that history shows quite a few stories of people going to their gods when they need help. Help is broad in definition. It usually means the human needs something. Needing something is a deficiency of that thing, or that’s how I see it.

So I get upset when people state things like that. It frustrates me, because if people were always fine, they wouldn’t turn to outside sources for help. I think, at the core, the relationship between deity and individual stems from need, an agreement to exchange goods almost. I need X from deity, in return I offer Y as recompense. The deity may not need my Y in the same way that I, as a human, need aid X from them, but I do think that they need their recompense. And, because both sides need the other, there’s a reason to contact deity. My human need for X is a deficiency, an incomplete kind of arrangement that necessitates asking for help. Given that, in my way of thinking, there is absolutely nothing wrong with turning to deity when one is feeling down, or is not at their best for help.

And yet, I’ve been told before that my going to the gods when I’m upset and in need of aid is wrong. That I’m somehow “offending” my gods by going before them if I’m less than perfect. This upsets me greatly. The gods are not perfect, they make mistakes (at least, that’s how I see it). And yet, I, a mere human, must be perfect before I can approach imperfect beings? Something like that infuriates me. I don’t do well when angry, and being told that my problems, major or minor as they are on any given day, make me unworthy (to quote a message I got once) of notice does nothing more than push me very close to wanting to hex someone. Still though, I’ve restrained myself from ever doing it, because I figure if someone is really going to think that way, their own morality will bite them or teach them a lesson eventually (yes, I’m judgmental about it, I admit that. If they don’t learn a lesson, well then perhaps their relationship was meant to work out that way).

My experience has been that being imperfect is no hindrance to my relationship with deity at all. In fact, being imperfect means I have much to learn. I’m far from perfect, and I suspect that the gods prefer it that way. After all, not even they are perfect, so what would they want with a bunch of “perfect” humans running around? If I’ve had no problems, and no deity has struck me down (figuratively speaking here), for asking for help on occasion, as needed, then I figure that there’s nothing wrong with what I’ve been doing.

As for magic. Well, I suppose I don’t think that one must be “all there” to do that either. After all, plenty of people are less than fully healthy and do things like praying. I mean, I know a friend of mine who never seemed “all there” (note – I have no clue if she was mentally healthy or not. For this, I’ll just go on assumption, since that’s all anyone can go off of for another person – assumptions and appearances), who would pray to God for people to get struck down for tiny insults as she saw them to herself. I figure, if I want to do magic, I’ll do it whether I’m fully sane or not by societal definition. Societal definition hasn’t stopped me from identifying as a witch, so it certainly won’t stop me from practicing. And some person’s idea that I have to be “mentally healthy” before I can practice means nothing to me. After all, perhaps performing magic helps keep me sane, or perhaps it would, if I bent it to that purpose. No one else could be the judge of that.

I guess this is a long way of my putting out that I don’t care.

I’m not going to let others values and judgments rule my path. I can’t, not knowing what I know about myself. After all, by societal standards I’m mentally ill, moderately so. And by many people’s ideas I should be afraid to do anything. I can’t be though. I put enough of that on myself. If I want to ask my gods for help, to ask that they help me cope, or to ask that they help me with something else unrelated, and I offer what services I may in return, that is no one else business but mine. My work with my gods is mine alone, and I cannot let any other values determine what I feel and believe is right. Especially not when it comes to my beliefs, values and my own health. I’m not perfect, but then, neither is anyone else.

So, I’m learning that I just can’t listen to people who say I have to be “healthy” before I can approach deity or magic.


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I'm a bibliophile who loves collecting books. Definite cat person. Amateur historian and major geek, who loves all things Tolkien and Star Trek. I'm also fluent in German.

3 thoughts on “Magic and Mental Illness

  1. There are gods in almost every pantheon that are said to take special interest in the mentally ill, for example Dionysus. Not to mention that in many societies, madness could be divine in origin… anybody who would tell you that you’re not fit to worship because you are as you were made is an asshole, pure and simple, and I’m glad you’re not taking that BS to heart.


    1. It’s taken me a very long time to get to where I can say basically “screw you” to people who tell me I shouldn’t worship if I’m not perfect. But, I’m generally happy I’ve gotten to this stage. I’d forgotten about it having divine origins in some societies, thank you for the reminder as to that.


  2. Thank you so much for writing this. I thought I was crazy most of my life and struggled with depression for as long as I remember. I have never fitted in with “normal” society and try to stay away from large crowds and most people who ca not understand that not everyone is the same. I believe some of us must stand alone in order to fulfill our purpose here and now. Still, it has not been easy. Can’t wait to read more.


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