D L Henderson
6 min readMay 10, 2023

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The Glory of Dysphoria, Part Two: An Apology

I know what I was trying to say and what I had in mind to say, but Medium pointed out that my ham-handed attempt was offensive. After re-reading my first essay, it became clear that offense could easily be taken. Rightly so. I did not clearly nor fully say what I was trying to say and did not fully write what I had in mind to write.

My apologies, and here is my rewritten effort — some quotes from the first essay, with edits added.

I started the essay with, “I find it interesting that there has been a developing string of brand new mental illnesses that are becoming popular “red badges of courage” for the self-analyzing amateur hypochondriac (“a person who is often or always worried about his or her own health” — MerriamWebster.com).”

Now, I added to clarify my point that there is nothing wrong with being concerned about one’s mental or physical health. But medical professionals love to put Latin names on everything — big or small — which, like in the case of the word “hypochondriac,” can scare the heck out of laypersons like myself. It is a word that someone without a higher education should avoid using. I should have avoided using it.

My point that I over exaggerated was that some people worry too much to the extent of becoming a nervous wreck. If someone is worried about anything, they should talk to someone, starting with a family member or a trusted friend. If that doesn’t work for them, a true healthcare professional like your family physician should be sought out. My problem is with searching for answers on the internet from strangers who may not have the experience or credentials to be able to understand and be able to help. They only have opinions.

I’d recommend taking it to God, but that avenue might be one a person shies away from or not be able to interact with in any personal way.

I blathered on, “Such folks convince themselves that they should hold themselves out to be ‘martyrs for the cause.’ The worst self-serving examples in my [opinion] are those who claim PTSD by their own “scholarly” — but rather, emotional — self-diagnosis and prognosis. The key word here is ‘self.’” I think that if they were truly ill, they wouldn’t want to publish it.

I am no stranger to mental illness. At the time, I sure didn’t recognize it as mental illness, but I sure wasn’t right in the head: When I was a teenager I fell into a deep depression which was probably clinical but never diagnosed. In those days, people thought one would just get over it given time, like the “blues” or the common cold. Mental Health was in its infancy and not really considered available. No one talked about such things in those days. It wasn’t until I attempted suicide that my parents realized there was something seriously wrong with me. I think the only thing they could do was wring their hands and blame themselves without any good reason.

Anyway, I became so lost and alone, I refused to socialize with anyone. That, of course, made my depression worse, and I withdrew even more completely from social activities — except for a few times binge drinking. Yes, a downward spiral, and that is why I advise talking to a trusted someone, because I could not talk; I didn’t know where or how to begin.

Also, in my immediate family we have ADHD, diagnosed and treated; autistic spectrum, diagnosed and treated; effects of Tours of Duty in Iraq and Afghanistan… So, you must understand that I’m not a stranger to mental illness.

Mental Health resources:

Then, I went for a walk in the mud, “Another more socially controversial example is the ever expanding acronym for divergent sexual activities: LGBTQ+ … ‘plus’ whatever is next, I suppose. Before anyone gets mad at me, I think I have discovered from the latest now trending “illness” or “disability” the key to this onslaught of medical [delete] [terminology] put upon the masses: DYSPHORIA — ‘a state of feeling very unhappy, uneasy, or dissatisfied’ — (ibid) “

“Well, haven’t we all… “ I started and now add: we all felt that way at one time or another. Now, “dysphoria” is one of those scary Latin words used by scholars in the medical fields. But it is not an illness. It is just a word with a simple definition. What changes the sniffles into pneumonia, that is, what changes dysphoria into an illness is when a person cannot shake off those feelings and a chronic and then clinical condition develops.

I continued in my first essay, “I’m not usually unsympathetic toward others or lacking empathy with any cause, but again, isn’t life full of troubles?” The first thought we have should not be imagining calamity.

We have to learn to deal with everyday problems, and seek help when we can no longer tolerate or handle them ourselves. I just protest the immediate reaction of “Woe is me!” at the slightest prick or sliver.

I continued, “Everybody everywhere has feelings at one time or another that make us unhappy, uneasy and/or dissatisfied! Sexuality is definitely not excluded among all our times of feeling blue.” In fact, I will add now, at least in my life, sex was a huge problem in which I had no insight or understanding. I was kind of left on my own with harmful literature found in a couple pornographic books and magazines… not healthy sources.

Anyways, I continued, “It is also true we can feel blue for some length of time… but that doesn’t mean it is a chronic condition, even though it seems like it is lasting forever. A lot of times we cannot snap ourselves out of it by ourselves… “I’ve been lonely too long.” — the Young Rascals. That’s when we should seek a change.

Regarding the rising trend of sex change, I went on saying, “So, why does anyone think it necessary to promote sex change just because someone has a bit of dysmorphia? I have never heard of any adolescent who goes through the changes of growing up without at least some uneasiness, or getting very sad once in a while, or not being completely satisfied with life. ‘All the lonely people; where do they all come from?’ — ‘Eleanor Rigby’ by the Beatles.”

I add now, and as I have written before in other essays, it really doesn’t matter to me what a person decides their lifestyle to be, as long as one isn’t harming themselves or others. Yet, I see that much harm is being done. Still, there are openly gay men for whom I have respect and have often learned from. They have positive aspects and undeniable contributions to Society in many ways. Everything else I understand to be just opinionated, prejudicial, and without consequence to normal human relationships.

The Bible says the person without fault should cast the first stone, and it also says nobody is without faults.

Finally, actually dealing with any issues arising out of this unique community is above my pay grade. I just resent unqualified people promoting sexual behaviors or any behaviors for that matter. I continued, “It occurs to me that a lot of adults are forcing their own unresolved issues [and political perspectives] on young people’s heads, making things nearly impossible for teens (and even younger kids) to negotiate the twists and turns of growing up.”

They are busybodies and should mind their own business. (I know. Maybe I should, too… Maybe everybody should just shut up for a while.)

I guess, in many ways, I am a traditionalist, but that’s the world I grew up in — whatever judgment you might put on it. It is getting nearly impossible to share that philosophy in this ever expanding nontraditional world… to expound on the natural in an unnatural world. It is getting harder and harder to grow up naturally in an ever expanding artificial world.

My best advice is to try Jesus. Don’t be anxious about anything, but take it to the Lord in prayer, the Bible advises. We never have to be alone or carry the load by ourselves.

It took a long time for me to realize my need, because I’m quite slow on the uptake, but I finally got rescued…rescued from myself and the harm I was causing myself and others.

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D L Henderson

Born 1950; HS 1968; Born again 1972; Cornell ILR; Steward, Local President/Business Agent; Husband, father, grandfather; winner/loser/everything in between