Just as a person experiences physical illnesses in their life that eventually pass, mental health issues are no different (I know that’s not the standard line, but the standard line as found in the DSN is based on a lot of half-baked theories and pseudo-scientific conjecture about what’s actually causing mental health issues, in the first place.)
The human mind is a remarkably resilient, flexible creation. Just as it was taught to behave or react in certain, unhealthy ways, it can be re-taught and re-trained to think and behave in ways that encourage good emotional health.
The main problem: people don't BELIEVE they can heal from mental illness
The main problem is that people don’t BELIEVE in their ability to get well again.
They frequently aren’t encouraged to make the changes required that would enable that to happen (more on this in a moment); and they have no idea what’s really causing the problems in the first place or what to do about it.
There are vested interests involved in keeping people 'sick'
If they’re lucky, they’ll wind up with a therapist who helps them to start focusing on these real, underlying issues (often, a cognitive-behaviorial therapist), and start to get to grips with the real issues that are making them mentally ill.
If they’re unlucky, they’ll wind up with ‘experts’ who push them on to pills as the only solution to their problem, either because they don’t really have anything else to offer them, or because they themselves have been misled into believing all the pseudo-science about ‘chemical imbalances’ pumped out by the pharmaceutical industry.
We don’t like to believe it, but the pharmaceutical industry, and many other ‘experts’ in the mental health field, have huge financial vested interests in keeping people permanently ‘mentally ill’, and in perpetual need of their products and services.
The alternative health view
So now, how does someone go about fully recovering their mental and emotional health, joie de vivre, happiness, sense of purpose, peace of mind, and a whole bunch of other good things?
The first thing, as mentioned above, is to believe that it’s possible, and don’t write yourself off.
Rufus May was diagnosed with a whole bunch of mental illnesses. He continued to believe he could heal, retrained as a psychiatrist, and is now helping others to recover from the other side of the couch.
Marsha Linehan, founder of the DBT approach to treating Borderline Personality Disorder was institutionalized in her younger years; again, she didn’t give up on herself, retrained, got past her difficulties and used her experiences to go on to help other people.
I myself had crippling depression for years, before I finally worked out what was underneath it, and took the steps required to start working on ameliorating those things. Now, I’m using my own experiences and knowledge to help other people find their way back to health and happiness.
So the first thing is believe it can happen.
The second thing is understand what’s really causing the problem, because mental health issues don’t just happen for no reason. Like all health issues, they have 3 components to them: body, mind and soul.
In the next post, we'll take a more detailed look at what the body, mind and soul factors are, that can affect your mental health.