I haven’t written in a few days now. It seems I’ve stalled out in contemplating the next step, which will be the daunting task of revealing and examining my own experience with mental health issues. Up until this point, I have presented the perspective of living with someone with a serious mental illness like schizophrenia, and I will continue to write posts on this important topic. Nonetheless, since the title of this blog is Exploring Mental Health Issues, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the challenges of other types of mental illnesses which may occur during the course of one’s lifetime.
Like it or not, just as the organs in our body are vulnerable to any number of illnesses when under stress, our brain is no different and is vulnerable as well. Coping with various types of stress over prolonged periods of time can make us susceptible to depression, anxiety, addictions, and many other emotional and mental health issues. This can be compounded by a genetic predisposition as well. In my next blog, I’ll be taking a leap into talking about the coping mechanisms I acquired and how they led to my struggles with anxiety and depression.
Curiosity is lying in wait for every secret.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
But before I go any further, I’d like to switch topics and talk about another common theme that came up on numerous occasions as our family struggled to deal with my mom’s mental illness. Over the years, I remember my dad questioning why this could have happened to my mom. I had often asked the same question in the small circles of the church groups I attended, and the answer was usually the same. “It is not up to us to question God, there is a reason for everything”. Even though that answer stung, I soon found myself responding to my dad’s question with the same answer. Eventually I felt guilty for even asking the question, as the answer seemed clear – don’t question God.
I have found two levels to that answer and have learned to live in peace with both. First, it is true that it really does no good to argue with reality. It exists whether we accept it or not. The reality of the situation is that my mom did have a mental illness, and I can ask why this happened to her all day long and still not be any closer to an answer that makes sense. On a deeper and more reassuring level, I believe that asking why is useful when we aren’t looking for someone to blame but looking for constructive ways to move forward. We were given an innate sense of curiosity for a reason — to learn and find answers. When we are no longer immobilized by feelings of self-pity and asking “why me”, we are able to focus more clearly on finding solutions.
Depending on where our talents lie, searching for solutions may take on many different forms. Doctors and scientists are using their God-given talents to find the causes and cures. Others in the medical profession are using their talents to find new ways to provide treatment, care, and hope. Family and friends seek inner strength to help their loved ones and often volunteer to share their experiences with others going through the same thing. When we are able to frame the questions properly, we are empowered to do great things, and therein lies the ability to make progress.
I am happy that I am no longer searching for something or someone to blame, and that I am free to ask questions and be a part of the solutions.