What is mental health?

  • When you don’t have mental health, it might change your perspective on what mental health is. The list provided by User-11339196036930217825 is interesting. I like the psychodynamic version best of all because it leaves the most room for differences without judging, I think.

    I’m told I’m bipolar. Right now, I’m feeling a great deal of despair. I don’t want anyone in the real world to know. I’m feeling a lack of love — which is one of the criteria of the psychodynamicists. I’ve been thinking that the depth of my despair about ever being able to have the kind of love I want is such that nonexistence would be preferable.

    Fortunately, I have children, and I couldn’t do that to them.But it does condemn me to a life of enduring pain.

    I’ve been trying to find love. But when I find it, I destroy it. I feel like there are two parts of my brain. One is desperate to make me healthy and the other is equally convinced that I do not deserve any happiness, because it will inevitably come at the expense of the happiness of people I love. I am trapped. And trapped creatures do irrational things.

    So even though I have a diagnosis, I don’t really believe I’m mentally ill. I think I am in an untenable situation, and I am doing the best I can, given the impossibility of my options. There is no way out for me. Sometimes I can cope with that and sometimes the pain becomes too much and I have an “episode” of “depression.”

    To get out of this, I will have to choose to hurt someone I love very much. My wife, in specific. Somehow, I can not do this. Not yet, anyway.

    If I liked booze or drugs, I would dull my pain. But I like my brain to feel clear more than I dislike the pain of despair. That’s probably enough to get me diagnosed right there.

    I don’t think I’m really mentally ill. I think I’m healthy enough. Indeed, I think most people who are diagnosed don’t have much illness. I believe they are mostly trapped in situations where they have no way out, without hurting someone they love. So they take it out on themselves. For most of us, the problem is love. We are not allowed to love the person or in the way we need to, because to do so, would be to incur the wrath of most people.

    So mental health is sustained by love. Mental illness happens when you can not, for whatever reason, express your love in an acceptable way.

    When you can’t love the way you want to, you do all kinds of things that people call mental illness. You use mind altering substances all the time. You cut yourself, starve yourself, deny yourself happiness. You call yourself names. You deny your own worth. You dissassociate inside your head, and form multiple self entities that war with each other. Sometimes we experience these entities as voices or people from outside.

    We do all kinds of things to distract ourselves from the pain. Spend money. Act out in all kinds of ways. Stop caring about ourselves. Act violent on occasion. We do antisocial things in order to call attention to ourselves and maybe get help. Except almost everyone only sees the antisocial and weird behavior. No one sees through to the need for love. Not even most others who are diagnosed. No one, as far as I know, is talking about this. Not that I have done a lit review. But I’d expect to hear about it somewhere.

    I know when I talk about it to mentally ill people, they often nod their heads at me, as if it makes sense. Maybe I’m just seeing what I want to see. Or maybe the psychological profession has been totally missing the boat for a very long time.

    Naw. Couldn’t be. They all have a lot of education. They must know what they are doing. Right?

    Read through Girard’s list again. Is there anything there that is concrete and not open to a lot of interpretation? I think mental illness is still like pornography to the Supreme Court. The professionals know it when they see it. Not that my definition would change that. But maybe it would start people thinking along a line of thought that could actually help some of us. Maybe society would begin to understand their role — the role of judging others and the harm that causes.

    You can’t make people love. You can’t just give people love. But there must be an easier way. Perhaps acknowledging this is the problem and the solution would make it easier for us to find a way to be healthy.

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