The Struggling Genius

The world is full of stories about people overcoming or battling against their mental health issues. Those articles of the genius who achieves something despite their ongoing struggles with their mind.

Stories of great artists usually talk about their depressive moods and reliance on substances to pick up the brush. So many of these tales exist out there that it almost seems like genius and mental illness go hand in hand. And while this may be correct, it is also a very damaging trope to push.

Treating mental illness like a game to beat, or a battle to overcome, means that people never learn how to manage mental health issues.

Self defeating behaviours and unhealthy coping mechanisms become the norm. Have you ever found yourself doing anything else apart from the task that fills you with dread? Learning to connect the avoidance to the task can be the first step in learning how to manage mental health issues.

Mental health issues are not something to struggle with, they’re something to reflect and notice on. To anticipate and to manage. The next time you find yourself doing anything you can in order to avoid doing The Thing, take a moment, when you are in a place of comfort and safety, to notice what is happening to you.

Notice how you are feeling.

Notice what is happening in your body, where are those feelings sitting?

Take a moment to reflect on when you felt these same feelings in the past.

Once you’ve reflected you may find that you linked the present task with a feeling from the past. This is totally normal, it’s a way that our mind anticipates the events that will occur and the outcome. However, our mind cannot know the future, it only knows what happened in the past and draws upon those events which leads to the avoidance behaviours in the present.

So, the next time you see the struggling genius trope in the media, take a moment to notice how there is a focus on the struggle and not the managing of the mental health issue.