No matter who is “most likely” to suffer, we’re all affected.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
-A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.
-Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.
-During the first full week of October, NAMI and participants across the country are bringing awareness to mental illness. Each year we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care. Each year, the movement grows stronger.
I wouldn’t dare deny the truth in the above statements. Nothing I’m about to say here is meant to diminish the significance of the condition, to deny the need for medication, or to boil it all down to some woo woo “just meditate and open your heart” mantra….. but I guess maybe because of the general lack of holistic perspective used to treat medical conditions by traditional medical professionals, the above definition of mental illness strikes me as kind of surfacey or too clinical or… something.
It’s my understanding that at it’s core this medical condition, these mental illnesses, are mental imbalances born out of our dis-ease at being in the body, in the world. We’re born free and wide open, and then life starts to happen. And it keeps on happening. In one way or another, by major traumas or minor incidents, our authentic self is misunderstood or rejected or betrayed, and we create defense mechanisms to protect us from again feeling unloved, unaccepted, unworthy, inferior. When the authentic self (basically your heart) has been rejected or hurt in some way, it seems to be the natural human response to protect oneself from having that happen again. So we may build walls around that self to keep the pain out, or become hyper vigilant- always on the lookout for the red flags that danger is imminent then planning escape routes or attack plans. These become our patterns. They’re the operating system running the whole program. And because our society teaches us to look without for relief, for fulfillment and love and peace and joy, our chances of looking within to identify the dysfunction and then consciously choose to upgrade to the operating system effortlessly running the preferred programs are slim.
These imbalances may be great or small, but I believe we all have them to a certain extent. I don’t think anyone is impervious to the precarious nature of the human condition. It must be part of the journey, part of the point of it all. We’re individual expressions of the infinite intelligence of the universe. We incarnate here and we forget that. We believe that we are who we have been conditioned to become, separate from everything else. All of the experiences laid before us we have chosen to help wake us up to remember our authentic self. I guess that means that we choose the experiences that go into the forgetting, too.
Certainly, I digress. I just mean to say that to a certain extent, we’ve all gotten out of alignment with who we really are, identifying instead with the mind and the chaotic thoughts swirling around it. Since our thoughts influence our feelings and create our reality, this incongruence manifests with the imbalances in the mind affecting the ways in which we relate to ourselves and each other. And that’s what it’s all about. How we relate to ourselves and each other. Which is really the same thing. Ideally we’d have a balanced mind and an open heart to freely engage with both the world around and inside of us.
So be aware of your mental health. Be aware of your self. This special day is for mental health education, awareness and advocacy. I am aware that I am prone to depression and anxiety. Perhaps more so than your average bear. I have taken medication, it wasn’t for me. I am a big fan of therapy. All I know for sure though is that the biggest relief has come through the act of allowing, loving…well, simply feeling the feelings. They come and they go. And no feeling ever killed me, even though I was scared to death it might. That’s just it. The fear of the feeling is deadly. If you can courageously choose love over fear as the foundation to stand on as you feel the feeling… that’s when the magic happens. I know this first hand. And I have to remind myself daily.
It’s true that depression is just one of many on the list of mental illnesses, but it’s prevalent so this is relevant.
Depression is symptomatic of feeling isolated and cut off. In our drive to live the good life, we typically isolate ourselves from relationships that might nourish us.- Mel Schwartz Waking Times
Orson: The report, Mork.
Mork: This week I discovered a terrible disease called loneliness.
Orson: Do many people on Earth suffer from this disease?
Mork: Oh yes sir, and how they suffer. One man I know suffers so much he has to take a medication called bourbon, even that doesn’t help very much because then he can hear paint dry.
Orson: Does bed rest help?
Mork: No because I’ve heard that sleeping alone is part of the problem. You see, Orson, loneliness is a disease of the spirit. People who have it think that no one cares about them.
Orson: Do you have any idea why?
Mork: Yes sir you can count on me. You see, when children are young, they’re told not to talk to strangers. When they go to school, they’re told not to talk to the person next to them. Finally when they’re very old, they’re told not to talk to themselves, who’s left?
Orson: Are you saying Earthlings make each other lonely?
Mork: No sir I’m saying just the opposite. They make themeslves lonely, they’re so busy looking out for number one that there’s not enough room for two.
Orson: It’s too bad everybody down there can’t get together and find a cure.
Mork: Here’s the paradox sir because if they did get together, they wouldn’t need one.