Dark Matter and What Really Matters

I was reading something recently about dark matter, a substance that science and mathematics seem to agree exists, but which can’t be found, detected, or seen. Yet for most of us what matters isn’t the unseen dark matter, it is everything else.

Technically this is an artistic rendition of a black hole, but given that there are no pictures of dark matter, I guess beggars can’t be too choosy.

And this post, as you might have guessed, is going to be all about metaphors. And I’m betting you can already guess that dark matter is a metaphor for mental illness. And let’s face it, it is a pretty fucking perfect metaphor. Something that can’t be seen or detected, but which impacts the regular matter all around it seems to perfectly describe mental illness.

After all, there are no lab tests that can confirm or deny the presence of mental illness. You can’t see it anywhere in the body. fMRI scans might reveal brain activity that hints at mental illness, but even that is far from full proof. And who has the time or money for an fMRI, especially when your depression makes it hard to get out of bed.

Yet does dark matter really matter? Scientifically, yes, probably (I don’t know I’m not a scientist). Does mental illness matter? Yes, in the sense that it is a serious condition that shouldn’t be stigmatized or dismissed. Yet when we define the universe, most of us don’t define it based on dark matter. Similarly, mental illness does not define us. The universe is more than just a collection of dark matter and I am more than my depression and anxiety.

We can see the gravitational impacts, the relationships if you will, between different galactic bodies, such as stars and planets. We can see the relationships in our own lives too. Those relationships, the people in your life, I’m willing to bet good money that they aren’t in your life despite the mental illness, but rather because of who you are.

So let’s leave the dark matter to the experts. The regular matter is what matters to me. Dark matter is not how I define my universe and mental illness is not how I define my life. And if you live with mental illness neither should you.

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