Inner Demons???

There has been a phrase that has bothered me since Kaitlyn’s death when I hear some people talking about mental illness. But since Robin Williams’ suicide, I have heard it so much that I’m sick to death of it and it, quite frankly, upsets me. And what really makes it worse is that you hear so many mental health professionals even using it, not to mention all the news media people and personal friends of his. The phrase I am referring to is “inner demons” when someone is referring to the mental problems and pain or substance abuse that people go through. Example, “Oh he fought his inner demons so hard.” And many more such phrases.

I know that these people (most of them at least) do not literally mean that people with mental illness have a demon in them which is why they are suffering. But I can’t help that the phrase takes my mind back to the days of dark ages when people actually DID think people with mental illness had a demon in them. So it makes me cringe when I hear this phrase. My daughter Kaitlyn certainly did not have demons in her but did suffer an illness that led to her suicide. So I hate that phrase.

Soon after Kaitlyn’s suicide I learned very quickly that the phrase “Committed suicide” was an intolerable phrase to some as it sounds as if they committed some crime because the word commit or committed is often followed by a horrible offense. It actually means “to carry into action deliberately.” The word commit did not offend me as it did others but I soon realized its negative connotations and have since quit using that word in association with suicide and I can see why it is offensive. Once in a while I might accidentally use that word, but it is always an accident.

Another word that I dislike very much when some people discuss bipolar disorder and other forms of mental illness is “madness.” I think it a horribly harsh word and it reminds me of times when people were thrown into mental wards forever deemed “mad.” No distinct diagnoses then….just mad. Have we not come any farther than that? Even Kay Redfield Jamison who suffers from bipolar disorder herself, is a professor at Johns Hopkins Medical School and whose books are very informing on the subject often uses the word “madness” when referring to the disease. Maybe it’s because when she was diagnosed many years ago that word was often used for mental illness. But I don’t like it at all. But who am I to argue with Ms. Jamison who I very much admire….but still.

The name of the mental illness bipolar disorder has been changed in the not so distant past from the previous name of Manic Depression for one reason being (not the only reason) that the word “manic” often conquers up in people’s minds the word “maniac” and so on, which is not used much today thank goodness. So why can’t we abolish these other horrible terms such as “inner demons” and “madness” which are so out of date and causes many people to see mental illness as some kind of condition in which they are filled with demons and not the mental illness that it is.

I know my reflections and statements here might make me sound a little too sensitive about these words and phrases. But for me, I don’t think it sensitive at all. In order to change people’s views about mental illness, we, along with many, many other things, need to change our vocabulary. I think it’s important.

I think when I go see my psychologist this week if I told her I had “inner demons” and I’m a “maniac” and that is what my problem is, I think she would have a lot to say about that.

Inner demons!! My gosh it makes me think of the movie The Exorcist and mental illness should not be associated with words and phrases like that.

My opinion.

Below: Not a nice vision to me. This is what I think of when I hear “inner demons” discussed when people talk of inner struggles that many people have.


About gatito2

My name is Rhonda. I'm a registered nurse, for the last 20 years, that has not been able to work since the day I learned of my daughter's death by suicide 4-12-13. (She actually died 4-11-13 and her body was not found until the 12th) Me and my husband have been married for 32 years and he's a wonderful man. We grieve in different ways. He works, I write. This is my journey through this horrible land of losing a child..
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13 Responses to Inner Demons???

  1. bpdyke says:

    That demon looks rather like the Balrog in LOTR? I’m glad you wrote this post. I’ve been getting irritated with well intentioned people calling me crazy – don’t they know it hurts? I’m reading a book called A Brief History of Madness, which goes through how it was perceived and handled through the ages. And yeah, demons and madness are ludicrously archaic terms. Not the way to lessen stigma …


  2. AnnetteM says:

    Good points Rhonda. Language is very important to help people think about things in a more positive way.


  3. gatito2 says:

    Thank you. I think so too.


  4. gatito2 says:

    Thank you. I don’t know where that demon came from originally, all I know is that he’s an ugly thing. 🙂 I’ve watched Lord of the Rings quite a few times with Kaitlyn (it was one of her favorites…the trilogy) but I don’t remember him. But gosh….there were so many horrible looking things in that movie. I think Gollum was the ugliest though. (“my precious….”)


  5. bpdyke says:

    He’s the one who whacked Gandalf with a fiery whip in the mines of Moria – when Gandalf said youuuu shall not pass and then, fly you fools. Kaitlyn had great taste.


  6. gatito2 says:

    Oh so he was the one! Yes, Kaitlyn loved movies like that and the books. I did too and I also read the books. But I have to admit, I would have never known how great they were had she not introduced them to me. She introduced me to a lot of wonderful things.


  7. Linda Braun says:

    It seems like this type of death and mental illness has so much judgement connected to it. And those of us who are grieving the loss are getting so much of the judgement. It surely has been a painful learning experience for me. Its hard enough to get through the days sometimes, then we have to deal with so much ignorance. Thank you for writing this, and I hope you have peace in your soul today. One day at a time…..


  8. caitybee370 says:

    I think it is very important people do learn about mental illnesses before they open their mouth. Trust me ,I have depression and anxiety . It isn’t as bad as it used to be ,but that doesn’t mean I don’t do anything with my life. I just recently got a job I always wanted and I do writing, arts and crafts and many other things. People seem to be so judgemental and don’t seem to understand a mental illness doesn’t mean you are crazy, It doesn’t mean you are not a great person. They just need to READ and LEARN before they say a something hurtful.


  9. gatito2 says:

    Yes, there is so much ignorance about mental illness and what is so bad are the ones that refuse to think any differently even when they are presented with the facts. But sometimes people do change their views if they are educated. Hopefully more people will change their views. I will do everything I can in my small world to make as much of that happen as possible.


  10. gatito2 says:

    Thank you. Yes, as if we aren’t saddened enough by what has happened with our loved ones, when someone opens their mouth and lets hurtful things about it come out, it’s like throwing gas on an already huge fire.


  11. :) says:

    The spirit of suicide/untimely death is real. It may seem hurtful when people call it that (a demon) after loved ones are gone but it’s definitely a life saver in realizing the truth and getting them some type of Christian counseling or deliverance before they take that turn. Either way, Jesus saves and self deliverance is possible also.

    John 10:10
    10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

    Life in him (having faith in Christ who gives hope, a sense of purpose and clarity in our calling) takes one away from the misery they experience in a life in the ‘world’ (being without Christ). I’m speaking this with much love, conviction and certainty.

    God bless.


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