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Tuesday, 11 June 2019

A Message To The Well Minded

A Message To The Mental Well Minded


For someone who is lucky enough to live life free of a mental health condition, it can be very difficult to fathom the inner workings of a disordered brain. Really, how would they know anything about the plight of those who suffer from mental illnesses? It is not within their experience.

As a society, we tend to popularize certain things and as a result they get a lot of air time. It can be almost anything. Words, phrases, movies, groups trying to make a difference in the world, whatever.

One of the most popular sayings in the mental illness community is, "Mentally well people can't see it, therefore they don't see it as real". This phrase, or any variation of it is used a lot for a very good reason, because its one hundred percent accurate.

The problem I have with continuously using this example above to express why some just don't seem to understand mental anguish is that, in my opinion, it stifles both personal and collective growth. What do |I mean by this? Once a sentence goes viral, it tends to get stuck in the cultural consciousness. In other words, you see it everywhere. I tend to think that this can be very helpful at getting people to pay attention to what it is one would like others to know. But I feel that it also leaves little room for other possibilities, other ways that could help drive home what they are trying to convey, in this case, the stigma of mental illness and the interior war zone that destroys so many.

On this road to mental wellness, my goal has been to find ways to alleviate the internal pain. One way I found that helped me to achieve this was to take a hard look at the physiology of my illnesses. As a result of my research, I am of the opinion that it may be helpful to drive home that the brain is an organ. Of course, we all understand this. However, we seldom venture past this fact to learn more about the brain's normal function, little lone it's potential for being subject to untold amount of neurological abnormalities.  I have rightfully concluded that an anomaly with my neurology is indeed the driver of my illnesses.

Most of us understand and have sympathy for those who have a heart condition for example. We have been taught to understand that the heart is an organ and because it is an organ, we know that it is subject to malfunction and failure. When something goes awry with it, you can see it. A heart attack can be sudden and very traumatic. Mental health conditions have their own symptoms. A depressed individual may spend days in bed, this can be and should be considered a symptom. I am of the belief that we need to change our own way of looking at mental illness, and then we need to be passing this message to the well minded.

So what is physiology? Merriam-Webster  defines physiology as: a branch of biology that deals with the functions and activities of life or of living matter (such as organs, tissues or cells) and of the physical and chemical phenomena involved. 

Because we all know that the brain is an organ, and like that all of our organs, is subject to damage in one form or another. Therefore, it stands to reason that the brain is not immune to a variety of damage. Organic brain injury is one form of  damage to this organ but is far from being the only form. Dysfunctional neurology, mental illness in this example, is very real and is just as deserving of  compassion from people as others with more observable medical conditions.

An excellent article on the biology of mental illness can be found here: The roots of mental illness Published by the American Psychological Association.

In the body of this article, it makes a very good argument that mental dysfunction has to originate from somewhere, that somewhere is within the confines of this organ, the brain. I feel like our brains are something we rarely give and thought to, ironically.

In my opinion it is the most ambiguous of all organic functions and psychology and neurology are seen as two different things, at least in the minds of the average person; but my question is, should they be? Perhaps mental disorders need to be communicated to the public from the perspective of a medical model like that of any common illness.



Learning to understand that the brain is subject to an assortment of abnormalities, like that of any other organs may help to make it "click" that mental disorders are clinical, legitimate illnesses. I believe that we must do more to help people see that we are not lazy, that we can't just simply get over it. We must do more than regurgitate the same narrative over and over, that of "just because you can't see it." It's a great start but, in my opinion, it doesn't go far enough to make individuals see mental disorders as a real illness.

The argument that I make here attempts to make mental illness relatable for everyone, building it off the collective knowledge of other clinical organ diseases. My hope is that it will help dismantle the
walls of stigma.

You may also enjoy: When Is The Silence Of Mental Illness Not Stigma?

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4 comments:

A New Dawn Podcast Host , D. Brenner said...

John I think you make a very great point, and hopefully this will begin to break down those walls. The problem I think also is that some people believe those with mental illness are in control of what happens in their mind. They think it’s just a state of mind that can be controlled by the individual. This is a significant problem.

John Arenburg said...

Thank you @anewdawnaa. We need to make it relatable in some way so everyone understands it.

A New Dawn Podcast Host , D. Brenner said...

Yes, I know several individual people & orgs are working on it, including us.

John Arenburg said...

I think it's important to do my part.