Mental health, what is it? I decided to write from my heart what I feel organically on this subject. So you will not see me strive to use approved definitions per any particular school of thought, but from knowledge I have gathered and understood over the years. This is my take on the subject.
Mental health is a topic I realized most people don’t talk about as often as I think we should. A topic so important that the absence of addressing it is an alarming oversight. It usually comes up when the negative effects occur, then we realize at that time that we should have paid more attention.
When the body functions as it should, we don’t wake up thinking about it necessarily. It is a given. The spiritually inclined might thank God, the earth, the Heavens for good health. We really only pay attention when the body has an interruption in its smooth flow.
Pain is usually the attention-getter, the warning sign that something needs our attention. Sometimes it is dull, an ache, a cramping pain, sharp, burning, stabbing or piercing. Even with identifying the kind of physical pain, we can go as far as qualifying or quantifying its intensity, which takes into consideration the person’s ability to bear pain. For example, an identical physical wound might cause one person to scream and qualify it as a sharp pain of 8 on a scale 0-10, with zero being no pain, and 10 being the worst pain they ever felt. Another person with the same wound and using the same scale might say they feel it at an intensity of 4. Same event, different pain threshold, different experience
Mental Health, just like physical health is as affected by pain and all its factors as described above. Unfortunately, mental distress and pain is most ignored than physical pain. One can’t walk around with a gaping bleeding wound too long without addressing it. We fear infection and bleeding to death, or the aesthetic need to look neat, dress it up, look presentable, for people can see it.
The disequilibrium in mental health is harder to notice, address or treat. Most of all it is not as overt, it is hidden. Only the one suffering knows they are in trouble. You’d think that like the one with a broken hand knows where and how bad their pain is, that the one with mental pain can easily narrow it down and seek to address it. But no, it is not that simple
It is hard for us to know when we have gone from the expected mental disturbances like anxious moments, spurts of anger, sadness, disappointment, to the conditions of constantly feeling sad, melancholic, depress and debilitating low self-esteem, phobias, then fear of nothing & yet everything.
In the same way the body learns to cope by compensating in order to heal, so too does the mind. The body for example will redirect blood flow from the skin to the vital organs is necessary if blood supply is compromised in the body. Your body will rather sacrifice your fingers and skin to keep you alive, by feeding your heart, lungs, kidneys. The brain/mind has its own coping strategies. We smile, pretend, tough it out and try not to dwell on our stresses. Anything to keep from feeling the mental pain
However like anything that festers and worsens if not addressed, our faithful coping mechanisms fail, we reach the tipping point, boil over and prepare to crash. Choices upon us, to choose the red pill or the blue pill – choose life or death:
OPTION 1) surrender, seek help, talk to someone, share your pain, LIVE!
OPTION 2) Keep running. Avoid the pain, postpone help, DEATH
Not all mental disorders are due to chemical imbalances, and neither will I attempt to identify all or talk of all possible causes. I will seek to only talk of the disorders born of the escalation from poor management of seemingly benign mental and emotional problems to the cancer that is these disorders.
People display new characteristics like over-cleanliness, obsession with carnal satiety, extremely pious, doing good deed, painful humility, low self-esteem, ideation of grandiosity, split personality disorders, brash and hard exteriors, and some set out to hurt and do the same things done to them to others. Others crawl into a life of loneliness, waiting for something, someone to save them
What happens next, depends on the support system you have. Even then, a support system cannot identify for us what we wont identify for ourselves. It is a support system, and can not carry the weight of our success or failures, we ultimately do by the choices we make. We can choose to speak up, or we can choose to run. Sometimes the choice is not that easy to make, that is the sad example, it is not always that simple.
As a people who all have been through one or all of these stages, we should then live with the consciousness that it could be us, or it could be someone going through something. Build humanity, a sense of care, love, concern for fellow-man. Be willing to be vulnerable so those who need strength can break down walls as well, cause you did it. Be approachable, a life may depend on us. We are not directly responsible for that life but our own, but what if we could make a difference. Want to know how? It starts with love, it includes listening, not judging too harshly, and growing ourselves
Images: chicagonow.com, faithsmessenger.com, marciakatz.com