Happy? You might have a mental disorder.
Have you ever had an awesome time on hallucinogens? Stared at the trees and felt them breathe?
Have you ever had amazing gay sex? Just boned your boyfriend until he was raw with love and prolapse?
Ever cross-dressed, or fantasized about switching genders you weren't born as, and felt happy for goddamned once?
According to science, you weren't happy doing any of those: you were mentally ill.
That is, at least, if you believe the bible of mental illness, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published since 1952.
This widely-used book lists a grip of human experiences — from brain-bending drugs to dick-warping sex to a drag show — not as great ways to spend your retirement, but as reasons to take a pharmaceutical twice a day.
For instance, being gay is amazing, and completely natural. But gayness used to be a disease. Yes, it wasn't that long ago that mental health publications talked about "curing" gayness and/or lesbianhood with electric shocks and even lobotomy. And it wasn't until 1987 that homosexuality was completely removed from the manual.
Around the time homosexuality was taken out of the manual, transgenderism was put in. It's listed today as "gender dysphoria," and the symptoms include having "the typical feelings and reactions of the other gender" and a "strong desire to be treated as the other gender" — which sounds like a lot of men when they want to cry over The Notebook without being called a ‘fag.’
For "gender dysphoria," the manual suggests "biomedical treatments." Of course, being transgendered today is not always awesome; in North Carolina some people have to put in their tampons in the men's bathroom, or stand up to pee in the women's — but is that a mental illness?
And then, of course, there are hallucinogens like LSD, mushrooms and even cannabis. By definition, and according to some doctors, you become mentally ill every time you take them. A hallucination is a "false or distorted sensory experience that appears real." The entire time someone is on cannabis, and music sounds clearer, or on mushrooms, and the carpet seems to shimmy, these are false and distorted sensory experiences that appear real. On LSD, one has "impaired functioning, and a distorted or nonexistent sense of objective reality."
Is acid a mental illness?
Or is it an unforgettable way to watch the String Cheese Incident?
Another possibility is that the whole idea of mental illness needs a widespread re-thinking. Just as the manual admitted in 1987 that it had been wrong about homosexuality, maybe it's time for it to admit it's wrong about drugs and transexuals.
In 1961, Thomas Szasz published his influential book "The Myth of Mental Illness." He says that calling something a "mental illness" is just a quick way to describe behavior that is disturbing, shocking, or unusual to the mainstream, a way of cloaking a moral judgment in scientific language, so homophobes and squares can feel smart and educated — instead of ignorant — when they pass judgment on homosexuals and hippies.
All this isn’t to mean mental illnesses don't exist. The brain can go haywire, and you can end up chewing off your fingers because Zeus told you devils live under your fingernails. But the history of psychiatry is an argument in favor of trusting your own perceptions and ignoring the so-called smart people in white lab coats. If something seems awesome to you, and no one else is getting hurt, maybe don't worry too much what other people say? Maybe buy a dress, bone a dude, and dose yourself, and don't think about yourself as crazy — think about yourself as you.