What is mental illness?

So much of the verbiage that we use in our society is shrouded with abstractions. We consider an idealism such as mental illness and immediately associate the thought with institutional living. However, in reality, the term is much more applicable to the populous at large. Mental illness is a distortion of thought and those distortions happen primarily through our conditioning. What we believe about ourselves, others and our circumstances is a good gauge whereby to assess our mental stability. The grid through which we view our surroundings is paramount to healthy living.

Unresolved emotional distresses inevitably get transferred and to think that they will not surface is short sighted. Mental illness is living life from an unresolved standpoint. We are often not even cognizant of unresolved emotional distress and many times it isn’t even noticeable in a public sense until the situation or circumstance is extremely personal to someone or to their sense of being. A threat is often the trigger that reveals the true placement of the mental state. It becomes visible in a tangible way and what is seen and recognized is often at odds with what is typical in a controlled circumstance. The loss of control is a catalyst for what can actually be deemed as a form of mental illness. Irrational thinking or behaviors that are emotionally driven are likened unto that which we have in our physicality, the flu, a common cold, both symptomatic of circumstances invading our being. The frequency of the occurrence is telling in regard to our mental health. If the root of an issue is not dealt with, the inevitability of problematic behavior is not only probable it is a given. A wise person, even when not comprehending their illness, will attempt to curtail the inevitable through avoidance or self regulatory behaviors but simple behavior modification tactics are ineffective and do not qualify as mental health.

Aggression related to shame or possessiveness or anger is a form of mental illness that needs to be examined and resolved. We, so often, dismiss this type of behavior as acceptable because outbursts of anger are common in our assessment of humanity; yet, it is not a healthy means of relating or processing life.

There are different levels of assessment that need to be determined. There are those given to verbal abuse, there are those given to emotional abuse and there are those given to physical abuse and each needs to be recognized and treated as an indicator of a mental illness to be taken seriously.

Discipline is often touted as a justifying factor for these types of abuse and I’m here to say that is not a valid excuse. Aggression has to be dealt with but it is vital that our mental health be in check when that process occurs. Discipline is administered with maturity and when the responses are from uncontrollable and unresolved personal issues inevitably the result is going to be unacceptable.

You may ask, “how is it that these fits of anger are adequately addressed?” The first step is acknowledgement of the problem. An acknowledgement allows other people with informed wisdom to engage the issue. When the only perspective a person has is their own, they are living in a myopic way. Also, being teachable, a person who has no willingness to hear or learn is a person who will be continually stuck in unhealthy patterns of associating. The best decisions I’ve ever made in my life were those made in counseling sessions. I opened my heart and mind to the understanding that I did not know everything and that there were people who were equipped to help me sort through the “what has been” of my existence. The reframing was invaluable. I found answers and self compassion and breath and hope for a new way of living and being. I immersed myself in what was offered and I began to find a new lease on life. The unknowing of my existence started to be explained and the relief I felt in those answers helped me to change in magnificent ways. I was given a toolbox full of everything I could need to navigate the landscape of my emotional life. The time and money spent was probably the best investment I have ever made. What a person does with the revelation of emotional health is indicative of the trajectory for the remainder of their life.

As a society, we have elevated the term, “mental illness” to those who are visibly and socially inept. However, when we really stop to consider the mechanism of our mind, inevitably it affects the day to day interactions of society in every regard. Naming issues with truth is vital for motivation. Take some time today and consider mental health, particularly your own. I think you will find that it is a beneficial and wise use of your time.

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