Hi, friends! I’m being all professional adult and adulting from sun-up to sun-down most days. I can haz awardz now?
I’d love to blog every day or every few days but it’s not going to work out that frequently for me until some other areas of life become less demanding and/or hypothyroidism doesn’t play a constant factor into every second of my life.
But back to now: I’d like to express a few thoughts I have on mental health. I’m happy to see that it’s now a fairly mainstream topic without all the stigma and shame that used to accompany it. This is GREAT news!
Sadly though, many of us are in situations and circumstances where it is still very shameful and taboo and carries a great deal of stigma with it. One is told that depression/anxiety/mental disorders of any kind are simply due to ‘living in sin’ or ‘making selfish decisions’ or ‘not focusing on the positive and choosing gratitude’ and so on. Of course, such things can be true and/or factor into our mental wellbeing to varying degrees. It’s just that there are frequently cases and people where no amount of practicing gratitude and positive thinking will amount to any improvement in the condition of the afflicted person’s mind. BECAUSE there are medical things going on!
Hello, medical condition, I will now proceed to cure you with the extreme medicinal power of appreciating the sunlight on my face.
Yeah, probably not.
A friend and I recently had a great talk about this very topic and we both come from a background where the mindset and ideals I referred to above are the prevailing view and teaching. So we suffered in silence and isolation, for years.
Guess what? News flash! Sometimes the body doesn’t work properly. You may have heard of diabetes? Or hypothyroidism (hello my depressing life companion)? Or Celiac disease? Or any other of a number of disorders which cause the body to function improperly and even attack itself? There are very few people who would be anti-medical assistance in any of those cases. And yet, when some of us have chemical imbalances (that cannot be fixed by any coping/therapeutic /counselling efforts), it is suddenly a point of shame to accept medical treatment? It is selfish on the suffering person’s part to accept medicine for a condition which is due to the body malfunctioning?
This grinds my gears. It grinds all the gears ever. I accepted this way of thinking because of the circumstances and influences in my life for a very long time. And also because I really don’t want to be medicated – I want to be fully healthy without any medical intervention. It took me a long time to accept the fact that that was never going to happen and also to reject the teaching I had accepted regarding mental health. I’m on medication and I love it. I feel zero guilt over it and I’m the most healthy I’ve been in quite some time. Thank you medical research and advancement! Please create a no-weight-gain-whatsoever miracle drug….
Funny thing, I finally feel like I’ve got the energy to be thankful and to appreciate what I have in my life. Read the quote from the image in my post again. When that is life every second of every day, where do you even muster strength from to do anything but draw the next breath, let alone endeavour into thinking positively and practicing a lifestyle of gratitude? If it can be done, it’s not by me. I survived. And that’s it. With the help I needed all along, I’m finally able to THRIVE.
All of that isn’t to say that I think we should medicate our problems. Far from it. We should always deal with them by consciously working through our hangups, mistakes, traumas and so on – perhaps with the assistance of professional therapy if warranted. But there are times when things have happened to us that are so traumatic and scarring that it can alter our brain chemistry over time and cause us to sink into depressions we’ll never be able to get out of unassisted. And sometimes, our bodies just do not produce the correct chemical balance to allow for good mental health. Just like sometimes a person can be afflicted with diabetes even though they’ve lived a healthy life. If it’s not wrong for them to be medicated for their condition, a chemical imbalance being medicated is also not wrong.
I’m not familiar with Elizabeth Wurtzel but I read this quote recently, attibuted to her, and it is so much THIS:
“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.”
My apologies if this is a little bit of a ramble; I’m typing super fast because I’ve got a million things waiting on me.
Be healthy, friends, and think through your choices carefully – make sure nobody else is making your decisions for you because you’re the only one who should have that authority.