Mental health is more than just depression, anxiety, and medication. Mental health is about our whole body health.
When our mind is processing information and circumstances in a healthy way, then our body is also healthy, because your mind and body are one in the same.
An example is; have you ever had a pet or loved one die? Did you feel strange and want to sleep a lot? Or did you have a rough day at work and just want to curl up and eat junk food?
Another step deeper, is that your thoughts also affect your body. If you go around all day thinking about how bad things are “going to be” or “could be” then your body will respond accordingly, by keeping you on high alert for bad things; making you tired, and craving junk food, to keep up with the high calorie demand, to keep you on high alert.
Having feelings is normal. It is only when these feelings last longer than is helpful that one needs to be concerned about their mental health. It is okay to feel sad or depressed after the death of a pet, the breakup of a relationship, a medical diagnosis, or loss of a job. If the sadness persists longer than a week and does not improve, then it is a sign you need some help.
There are exceptions to the timeline of feeling sad; after the death of a family member, it is healthy and normal to experience grief for 1-3 or more years afterwards. The length of time grief takes depends on how close you were to the individual and many other factors. Grief is not a once and done process, it is like the waves on the ocean. Right after the death, the waves of grief are huge and disabling, leaving you tossed about in a sea of emotion. After a couple months, these waves begin to smooth and begin to come less and frequently, but they still come. For some people who never allow themselves to grieve, these waves of grief can last a lifetime, and become debilitating.
For many generations, mental health was a taboo subject. In everyone’s family history there are stories of some relative who was “committed” to an asylum. Just because they were admitted, does not mean they were mentally defective! Chances are, these people had a, nutritional or chemical imbalance, or they were not able to express their emotions properly. Suppressing abuse, emotion, or keeping a deep dark family secret, for long periods of time is not healthy. Some were even admitted because they got pregnant at a young age out of wedlock. These people were not “crazy”, they were pregnant in an era when even pregnancy was a disorder – and still is today!
Can you spot mental illness? NO! Actually, according to the DSM (the diagnostic manual used by therapists) everyone of us has a diagnosable mental illness! Everything you do on a daily basis, which you call “routine”, is listed in the DSM and is considered diagnosable.
So, now that we are all on the same level, what do we do about it?
Some of the most intelligent people have diagnoses of: manic depression, schizophrenia, hoarding, obsession, neurosis, etc.
These are the people who create the machines and medicines which improve your life. These are the people who; defend your rights, operate on your cancers, prepare your food, teach your children, preach on Sunday, and more. If they didn’t have a quirk, they couldn’t excel at their job and wouldn’t be who they are!
If you want to meet a messed-up person, get to know a therapist, especially psychiatrists and psychologists. People in the mental health profession are in it to find answers for themselves. Because they’ve lived it, they are well versed in the subject, and therefore are able to recognize it others and help them along the way. Their talent is to easily recognize the symptoms in others.
The old sayings go, “a builders house is never complete” “a mechanics car is always broken”, this is true, because these people have the ability to see their need in others, and know how to fix it. By fixing it for others, they are attempting to fix themselves.
We are ALL beautifully broken! Yours truly is no exception to the rule. I have my own struggles and see them in my clients. When I help a client, I am also helping myself. We are all getting well together! If you want a fancy term, it is called “mirror neurons.” It comes from the saying, “what you hate about another, is only a reflection of what you hate about yourself.” It takes a strong person to admit it, but it is very true!
From time to time, when something happens, I seek the help of another therapist. I do not have all the answers, so even I need support from time to time.
May is mental health month. I want you to know that, IT IS ALWAYS OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP! Not all help comes from a pill or medication. Some of the best help comes by improving your coping skills, or by just doing something different- such as getting outdoors, sitting by a campfire, spending a few hours in nature, etc.
Other mental health activities are: hobbies, walking, fishing, cooking, having coffee with friends, or anything which helps you to feel better!
It takes a strong person to admit he/she needs help, but asking for help and accepting it is a superpower! Use your superpowers wisely!
Jessica L. Hanson
Jessica L Hanson CHt. LLC