Mental illness feels like a two hundred pound weight securely fashioned around my neck forcing my eyes to stare blankly onto the hard earthen ground. The brilliant sun's rays shine brightly, yet my limited view sees only the looming shadows of my past. My future burrows further towards the cold madness as I succumb to the emotional pull of self-destruction. Ellie Peterson, Apr 15, 2016 Journal Entry
With the approach of May Mental Health month, I have been reflecting on all of my pre-qualified disorders. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Major Depressive Disorder. Eating Disorder. Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders.
Is there a limit to the amount of disorders one person can have? I'm not complaining although if I live long enough a Complicating Complaining Disorder may be identified. I can see it now. Once diagnosed, the person would wear a bright red necklace. When the complaining thought arrived at the back of the neck, just prior to being spoken, the necklace would flash like an emergency vehicle strobe light and the siren would sound its menacing alarm. In addition, the complainer would receive an electronic shock to the tongue. If the jolt intensity did not deter the negative thinker from speaking the thought, than anyone in the vicinity could see the light, hear the amplified warnings, and get out of the way.
What I like about this remedy is that it gives instant feedback. For me until the age of 23, I was completely baffled on why my life was utter craziness. I was unable to connect the causes with my life effects. Step 2 of the 12 Step Recovery Program is "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." When I learned about this Step, a sliver of hope was ignited.
For me the Step freed me to admit that insanities were rampant. Insanity is eating like a bird because I know food keeps me alive. Insanity is weighing 100 pounds and thinking I'm fat. Insanity is smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Insanity is feeling the emotional bruises that blacken my soul and never lose their color. Insanity is feeling embarrassed and responsible for my husband's drinking because if I was more anything, he would stop. Insanity is using alcohol so that I can be free from my own thinking. Insanity is believing life is stupid and meaningless.Insanity is feeling threatened being in my own body, feeling my own emotions, listening to my own judging voice condemning me, and being utterly disgusted with my living lies. Insanity is the desire to be anywhere but in the present moment.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. By embracing the help of therapists, 12 Step groups, self-help books, and spiritual messages, I have overcome many of my mental health issues. Understanding the mind, body and spirit connection has afforded me success in changing my behaviors. Yet the well-being that WHO identifies goes much deeper.
Our schools teach math and science, history and health. Our families pass down their life ideas. Where was I supposed to learn who I really am so I can reach my full potential?
Embarking into the realms of myself, I have needed to accept in the core of my being that I am one of 7.4 billion people that live on this earth. That everything in life is impermanent. That I do not control the breath I breathe. That I did not create myself or any of the other 7.399999999999 billion people that I share this planet with. Everything that I depend on for my life, plants, water, air and the sun are freely given to me. And most of all that death can take me whenever it sees fit.
This is the truth of my human existence.
Hence I think the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5, which defines and classifies mental disorders, ought to add the Human Condition as a pre-requisite to their list. It could serve as a basic understanding of what it means to be a human being---a living, changing, evolving body of energy that is conscious. Knowing this can create order in the mind instead of disorders.
There is hope in achieving the richness and fullness of life that WHO sets as attainable. My self-directed treatment entails loving my body, trusting and using my emotions and thoughts to guide my actions. The red necklace is unnecessary because I am more in tune with my inner self. Fear has no place to hide or thrive.
Then understanding who I am, I can create the same beauty that I have been given. Like a delicate flower, I can open to others in ways that honor and respect everyone's life. Seeing that we are all connected and interdependent, I can appreciate the vast variety of human colors, religions, languages, viewpoints and preferences.
Letting go of the aches and pains of my own mental suffering, I forgive. As Step 3 advises, I have turned my will and my life over to the care of a Higher Power. My Higher Power is like a puppeteer, pulling on my heart strings so I can move freely on this amazing life stage.
Mental health feels like a feather tickling my neck as I gaze unencumbered at the beauty of the earth's greenness and the vibrancy of nature. The brilliant sun's light illuminates my unlimited view as I take in the newness of each moment. My future has been reframed and contains the harmony and love that always is. Ellie Peterson, Apr 15, 2016 Journal Entry