Would You Go If I Said You Have The Affliction Of Life?: Psychotherapy & The Health Of The Mind

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There is something about the health of the mind that as a race we just find issue with sometimes. Somebody tells you to go to a dentist twice a year and you say well of course that is obvious…unless you afraid of the dentist then you’re screwed. You get told that you need to come in for a general health checkup. You nod your head and get your butt down to the doctors to make sure you ain’t dying….well most of us. Suddenly someone suggests to you that perhaps you should try a psychiatrist or therapy and damn I ain’t no crazy people will think something is wrong with me god do you hate me or just feel like seeing me suffer. We got issues with going to the doctor, the doctor for your mind.

Perhaps it is leftover of an era where going to them meant you had to be utterly insane and needed to be locked up or something, I couldn’t tell you. All I know is there is a strong aversion to admitting any sort of mental weakness or suffering when we are generally open about our physical health. I get a nasty cough and I want it gone, immediate departure for the nearest clinic. Intense stress or feeling what you believe might be depression? Just keep it bottled up, hey maybe it isn’t and you are just twisting it, it isn’t like this is something that could be disastrous if left unchecked or anything.

Therapy is expensive….I think, films and television seem to insist that you pay them large sums of money per hour which I can’t confirm or deny. Doesn’t help that not every country has medical insurance or what have you, sitting here in the UK my health is generally covered by systems like the NHS (google it if you don’t know as I’d need another post and a half to explain the NHS in effective detail). Nobody would want to shell out a large sum of money only to be told that they are fine which I can at least fathom is a decent reason for displaying resistance to the idea.

There is such an odd sitgma about looking after our mental health, as if the only debilitations are characteristic of what we may call “crazy”. We’ll go to a massage parlour to undo the tension the body has created from stress yet all that is doing is relieving the consequences rather than the source. Why are you under so much stress? How can you minimize stress via changes in your life and your outlook? Such a wondrous exercise in futility when we aren’t solving the core problem at hand.

I despise the likelihood of people not reacting at all when I say I went to the doctors, yet tell someone you went to a therapist and the likelihood is not the same. I want to look after myself body and mind in any way I can, nipping any issues in a bud before they grow into something more formidable and damaging. From what I have gathered from some friends, family and others it seems there is a pattern of believing that only weak or damaged people suffer from mental illnesses or issues that you need a therapist for.

That there is the problem, we believe the human mind is some sort of invincible enigma of our bodies that can’t falter or suffer, I feel fine I’m just having a bad day is all. We do this with our bodies as well to an extent, I don’t get ill a lot so I must have a strong immune system or something. Perhaps it is in that realisation that our bodies are under fire all the time from things we are aware about that makes the mind seem like something that only suffers if something is broken. We don’t identify the things that could be damaging to our mind nearly as well as we do the threats to our bodies health.

As some sort of attempt at humour by the brain the minds state heavily influences the bodies. This then becomes assumed as a physical ailment and isn’t addressed because worse than not recognising potential threats to our psyche, there is a notable lack of knowledge on the symptoms of basic and common mental issues. I know that stress causes some very uncomfortable changes to the chemical make-up of the body and generally makes me feel like crap. What helps me is I am aware of this and know how to “treat” myself while still continuing my life.

Stress hits us all. Depression can hit anyone. You don’t encounter these issues by exposure like a physical illness, you didn’t spend too much time around sneezing and coughing children during the cold and wet seasons of the year. You have the affliction of life, the putting up with the daily trials of getting on with your life bug. There is no reason to feel ashamed to go to a psychiatrist anymore than there is a reason to feel ashamed to go to your local GP. Looking after yourself in more ways than one is not a negative thing. Some people go to the doctors all the time like I did during my teen years, some rarely do, surely the same is for those who need to just sit down with someone and let all their problems out.

When this topic came up to my mind it struck me that it is a marvel any of us are still sane after what we put our minds through. There was once a time where expression of certain emotions were considered signs of weakness, as if the strong ones just bottle it up. Weak or strong if you keep hitting something it will begin to chip, the scratches will pile up and even the tallest wall will buckle.

I have always been interested in the care of the self in terms of both the mind and body. I want to be at my best to face a cruel world and somehow looking after your mental state when life gets tough has become something of shame. It is not about thinking right or having the right attitudes that keep you away from the mental illnesses that you may see plague people in your life. You are not a failure to go to a therapist, in fact I’d love to just be able to book an appointment with a therapist and express my woes to someone completely objective, not a single emotional connection to my life. Just a release from the weight on my shoulders.

I don’t want to suffer from ailments of my mind anymore than I do of my body, it makes me feel like crap. I want to be preventative so that I may enjoy not wanting to lie in bed and do nothing all day because it hurts, physically or mentally. Can we all just make sure before anything else that people are cared for no matter what life has chucked them? I doubt any of us asked for these problems so let’s stop making it worse.

Do you have an aversion to seeing therapists? Why would that be if you said so? Is there hope that the future may remove this atmosphere of fear from looking after our health in a way we might find somewhat unconventional? Thanks for the read & I’ll see you around.

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  1. #1 by Elektra Kenway on January 21, 2015 - 9:12 pm

    You make some truly interesting points here, so I took a few notes before writting this comment because there’s so much I’d like to add:

    – “A pattern of believing that only weak or damaged people suffer from mental illnesses or issues that you need a therapist for”

    You absolutely nailed it! There’s this ridiculous assumption of stigma/shame towards mental illnesses, like it makes someone weak or something like that. Absurd. I was even told I was “stupid” because of issues I had related to suicide and depression… I had just got back from the hospital, and I found people trashing and laughing at me for it (even online).

    Not cool. At all.

    – Connected to the previous point, some people think it’s rather easy to just “overcome” depression (or any other mental illness), as if it were a choice or a matter of will.

    “Get better”, “see the bright side”, “life is beautiful”, etc. They may mean well, but an illness is never a choice and much less under the patients’ control. It must be difficult for those around the sufferer, too.

    Which leads to…

    – Mental illnesses are invisible, as you also state at some point. If I break an arm, it can be seen. If I break my mind, not at all (“but you don’t seem depressed!”, “but you’re doing awesome at everything! why would you?”, etc). That doesn’t make it any less serious and real.

    A bit on me?

    Depression, insomnia, anorexia, bulimia, alcoholism, and suicide attempts ended up making me lose a whole decade of my life that I’ll never get back. Dark times.

    There’s also this other “stigma”… eating disorders are usually attributed only to women, just as alcoholism is to men. They can happen to anyone.

    Countless psychiatrists and psychologists didn’t help me at all, but actually achieved the exact opposite. I was taking around 20+ pills a day (no, I’m not exaggerating) while I was not even 25 years old and going to therapy twice a week… until some really good mental health professionals helped me get me back on my feet.

    I haven’t been prescribed any medications for two years now, I’m 100% clean and stable. For the first time in my life, I don’t want to die. I can’t even remember the last time I cried. This may seem minor to anyone else, but it’s a major achievement *unlocked!* for me. I still have some trouble sleeping, though.

    “Do you have an aversion to seeing therapists?”

    Nah. It’s just that I only trust one psychologist that helped me so much that words are not enough to thank him. I haven’t been to therapy for a while now, I may stop by some day if I feel the need to.

    I do have some aversion to psychiatrists, though. They really messed with my head and triggered it into hell. Some of them are only after money. I’d advise anyone to be very careful and always go with a friend/relative to meet them for second opinions and extra perspectives.
    Also have someone at home to keep an eye out for your reactions to meds (they can notice the changes far easier that patients).

    “Is there hope that the future may remove this atmosphere of fear from looking after our health in a way we might find somewhat unconventional?”

    Well, that’s a hope we all have to build together. Looking after our own health and integrity in every possible way is part of surviving and living. We need it and we should feel no shame at all. Some will continue to humilliate people that suffer from mental illnesses (or any other type of illnesses), and then they’ll go hide back into their caves.

    (Talk about long comments, huh? I hope I didn’t bore you XD)

    Like

    • #2 by Prof.mcstevie on January 21, 2015 - 11:02 pm

      No bother to the length, I did not start a blog to create an echo chamber of my voice I made it in part to hear others opinions and perspectives. A lengthy comment is a lot to say and I appreciate it.

      Like

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