“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” – World Health Organization
Something I’ve heard from people close to me struggling with mental health issues is, “I’m able to work, I can’t be that unwell.” It’s the same reasoning behind the “functioning” alcoholic whose addiction doesn’t interfere with working hours, but interferes with family life instead. There is a terrible misconception that just because someone’s physical body appears to be functioning in a socially acceptable way, that means one is in good health.
Anyone who has a family member or loved one suffering from an addiction or mental illness knows that denial is perhaps the greatest obstacle to getting care. Denial that there is a problem, paranoia about taking medication, resistance to committing to a treatment plan that requires mindfulness and responsibility for one’s emotions are common with those who are suffering.
This is for the caregivers, the loved ones of those who are suffering and anyone else who can use support. Those of you who have been treated harshly by someone who wasn’t born moody or cruel, but may have been born with a genetic inheritance, and experienced something that triggered a biological factor that has led to their mind becoming worse of an enemy than we can imagine on our worst days. We need to have compassion while setting boundaries to protect our own well-being.
There is always a price to pay when someone with a mental illness doesn’t get help. Homelessness is a big issue for those who can’t function in society. The “functioning” mentally ill who are able to mask their inner demons, maintain jobs and appear fine to extended family will often end up divorced or never married, and perhaps at some point unable to work once the stress of life becomes too much and the illness progresses further without treatment.
The most unfortunate case is when aggression and violence are a factor and someone gets hurt.
The veil of shame must be lifted on this issue. There is a science to mental health. People aren’t just “crazy.” We must move beyond this kind of ignorant thinking. If you look deeper, there is often a physical reason behind the illness, just like with any other illness. Heavy metal toxicity, MTHFR, trauma-induced brain chemistry changes, bacterial infections, food, malabsorption of critical vitamins like folate, B’s and D, lack of good fats, intestinal issues, and enzyme production are just a few factors linked to the development of mental illness, along with genetic predisposition. There is a gene someplace in the person’s body, like a light switch. And when a trigger happens like major stress, or bacteria and chemicals build up, that light switch is turned on.
Calming practices that help regulate the nervous system like yoga and meditation have a good track record for leveling out brain chemistry. The greatest challenge for the resistant is maintaining structure and committing to a daily practice which is needed to see results. What I most often see is a lack of love for oneself, this seems to be the mind’s worst weapon against itself. A promising healing agent is the study of neuroplasticity, learning to re-train your brain with new thoughts. I’m a big proponent of this, something that is a cornerstone belief in yoga and spiritual philosophy, and the inspiration behind my albums, including Inspired: music for a magical life.
Caregivers and loved ones, I commend you for your patience, your ability to endlessly forgive and to provide whatever support you can in a healthy manner for those who are suffering. Let’s pray together that anyone who is struggling with any kind of health issue finds peace.