There is a vast explosion of mental crises in the world. Depression, anxiety, autism spectrum, fibromyalgia, insomnia, addiction, schizophrenia, ADD…. the list goes on…and on…
Skeptics may regard these illnesses with a critical eye. After all, who doesn’t feel crippling anxiety when we change jobs or have a death in the family? Who doesn’t feel depressed, alone, and unwilling to live? Who hasn’t hear their name whispered in the dark, had trouble sleeping, inability to focus, generalized pain, has innate abilities and social awkwardness…
Assuredly, many illnesses are exploited as a method of acquiring sympathy and/or social benefits. Individuals may investigate depression, while feeling particularly depressed, and realize that clinical depression matches the current symptoms they feel. This is done for a variety of illnesses.
This brief moment of instability is then perpetuated by victim hood, shallow support, and chemical dependence on certain drugs. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, in an effort to treat these conditions, the individual can quite literally be chemically programmed to have them.
The brain is a fantastic thing, and will adapt to certain stimuli. It can change shape, chemical composition, volume, and reflect these changes in MRI and EEG.
It is important for skeptics to understand the reality of this. Some patients truly, genuinely are afflicted by a mental illness. The origins could be genetic, environmental, dietary… Those who had the illness falsely induced by poor health practices, and lack of self-awareness are not any LESS ill than the “organic” method of disease acquisition.
Skeptics of these conditions should take a college course in abnormal psychology. Or volunteer at a rehabilitation facility. The exposure to what haunts these patients is…unsettling. Suicide attempts by crushing their own skulls. Feces smeared around the room. Patients sobbing, rocking back and forth in a pool of their own blood, not understanding where they are, or where their family is. The most unearthly screams of pure agony. Endless voices constantly demanding the patient do things. Things that would require months of therapy for a healthy individual to even conceive.
One particular patient drew endless circles in a notebook. Not for an hour, but ceaselessly for a twelve hour period. They relieved themselves in the chair where they sat. When asked about the circles, they said they had to draw them or it was like something was left unfinished.
One patient, a child, would begin to cry inconsolably, because a voice speaking above them and to the right would say the word “plasma” over and over and would make her parent’s eyes disappear, regularly, like a nightly curse. This child lived in terror of the evening time, because she was tucked in by people who had no eyes.
Another patient was tested with an EEG and was so chronically depressed that they registered an abysmal level of excitement at any of the pictures, regardless of how disturbing, erotic, or joyful they were. This patient was clinically indifferent to everything. The laughter of a baby had the same dry, tasteless impact as a bloody carnage-filled car wreck. How do we inspire someone like that?
That being said…
Do not romanticize or seek to be mentally ill. It is not a trophy, it is not an achievement, and it affords you no special privilege. A word of warning, if you aggressively pursue it, you can make it real. The hellish nightmares that you are surrendering too…are not worth the attention you think you’ll get. Because once those nightmares find us, they will never let go, and they will only ever fight to keep you alone with them.
We have to hope, beyond hope. We have to manically push ourselves to be positive, in the face of unspeakable horror.
One of the best tools against these mental illnesses manifesting, perpetuating, and tearing us apart are the hierarchy of needs.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is the gold standard for clinical psychiatry, nursing, and medicine in general. Healthcare providers are trained to specifically and systematically fulfill your first two tiers. They do this for everyone, anywhere, habitually.
If we have any hope of fighting off mental illness, these are things we need to be proactive about. Not just proactive…be excited about them. This is essentially a menu of life experience.
Food…not just oatmeal. What kind of food do you like? Try something new. Try something…adventurous! Water can be filtered, from a bottle, flavored, fizzy, caffeinated, sweet, hot, cold. Warmth doesn’t have to be just a temperature. Buy a fuzzy blanket, take a hot shower and put your towel on the radiator so it is warm when you get out. Rest? Send the kids to Grandma’s. Take a personal day. Don’t just rest…but be professionally lazy that day. Just once. Don’t do a single chore.
Society attempts to desensitize us to the simple things so that it can sell us “better” things. So it bombards us with fear, or generic beautiful families enjoying a certain product. Ignore the manipulation. Don’t waste senses on it. Open your senses now to things you like. Turn them back on. Even as you read this, have you been paying attention to your sense of smell? Hearing? How does your right pinkie-toe feel?
More than likely, as you read each of those, you focused attention on them. Focus attention on them all the time. LOOK for things to like. Even if it is hard, impossible, and the world is shrouded in darkness…look. Look for beauty in spite of the darkness. Do it with all the stubbornness, anger, and frustration we can muster.
Attend do your needs with excitement. Enjoy what you are doing. Don’t just buy an apple, pick it up. Experience it. Understand the connection of even that led you to it. Connect with everything you interact with. Do you know what kind of apple it is? Where did it come from? What is it made of?
There is a wealth of experience and excitement the world has to offer. When we are depressed, anxious, withdrawing….it can be utterly impossible to focus on them. Do it in spite of the illness. Do it angrily. Do whatever you have to.
Watch This: The Secret
Call These: Hotlines
Talk to: People
Start a: Blog
Do whatever you have to. Advocate for yourself. Reach out to us. Call the hotlines, join a community. Ask happy successful people for advice, your favorite author, Warren Buffet. You’d be amazed who will offer it freely. If you need purpose, feel free to think about being an Oracle. Or joining a different faith. Or starting your own.
Talk to your doctor. Talk to a fitness instructor. Talk to a life coach. Talk to a business owner. Send an e-mail to the adventurous photographers for National Geographic. Become busy.
If you don’t exercise and you don’t eat healthily, that is a problem you can correct. Fruits and veggies are incredibly cheap. Calorie counting generally reduces your grocery bill. Exercise decreases your risk of expensive healthcare costs.
Find friends. We will be your friend. But join communities of people that like the same silly things you do. Why not? Maybe these people can be your friends?
Do. Fight. Win.