Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Thoughts on mental illness and melancholia

I have been reading a lot of thoughtful and noteworthy blog-post as of late. I want to share posts from two different blogs that have provoked my thought and let me reflect on my own life and experiences.

Sally Mandy over at the Blue Kimono have written several memorable posts about depression; or melancholia as she prefer to term it, and her experiences with this subject. I recommend you to read it, as it brings up how melancholia can manifest itself and that it also can mean a lot of things for different people.

"For me, running from suffering causes much more suffering. That includes running from depression. It feeds compulsion and addiction. Holding out for an impossible sense of joy and happiness is a setup for disappointment of the highest magnitude."
- The Blue Kimono

I have been on medication for depression and anxiety for quite some time, and I know that some are helped by these kinds of medicines and others are not. One of my personal lessons of living with issues such as these, is that a strategy for health has to be multi-faceted and individual.

Someones path might lead to lead them to specific religious teaching, another one finds comfort in a support group in family and friends, all of which might be completely wrong for a third person. If we recognize that each and every person holds the key to his or her health, even if they might not find it on their own, I think we might grow a profound respect for what it means to be human. Personally I have come to think that we create our own medicine trough our thinking and actions.

Also, why is suffering considered to be inherently unnatural? The thinking that it does not belong to any normal persons experiences can cause very much suffering as this ideal does not recognize the richness of many peoples experiences. To diminish whatever troubles us into something that should not exist denies the one thing it really amounts into: the human experience.

Bleak outlook - Photo captured last day of 2008

"I have spent much time contemplating the life of the homeless and mentally ill. Their current circumstances, as well as the history that has led them to sleep on the street, in SROs, self-medicate, and speak and listen to voices, intrigues me. I feel for them. I understand them. I am them."

- Thoughts on Life and the World

F. Monique Pitre writes on the topic of homelessness and mental illness on the blog Thoughts on Life and the World. With just a few words she manage to capture what I feel to be a very valuable truth. While we are different on many levels: underneath our different experiences we still all come from one source.

If meditating on the oneness of our existence might seem strange to you, maybe thinking a while upon all the things we have in common is easier to grasp. How it is that when we peel off more and more layers of culture and ways of living we are essentially so much alike?

While we do need to affirm our right to be different, choose different paths and live different lives, even live separate and defend ourselves, we are also breathing the same air and have the same color of blood in our veins. This understanding might be used to develop a greater compassion towards those around us.

Essentially mental illness is not something that only happens to others, and separating ourselves from a reality that affects all of us in one way or another does not offer real protection.


Sarah said...

Oh hon.... am in tears again - geesh! I so deeply understood what you said about oneness. Something I have clearly come to understand. I have such an amazing assortment of folks in my life! Lots of folks with mental illness of one form or another, I have had and do have students with autism, ADHD, learning disorders etc. I guess what I want to say to you... we are all the same and all unique there is in my opinion - no "Normal". We all have amazing gifts to offer each other - we just have to take the time and care to look for them.
Your post is amazing and thought provoking - wonderful and honest!!
Namaste and hugs, Sarah

F. Monique Pitre said...

I agree with Sarah, this piece is open, honest, and thought-provoking. May we continue to engage in a manner that brings us together--not apart! Namaste

Sarah said...

I'm so very happy to have met you too!! Hugs and Namaste, Sarah

Suecae Sounds said...

I always value your comments Sarah. I'm also happy to see that you, Monique, stopped by to comment. Yes, let us continue to build bridges between one another.

sallymandy said...

I'm sorry, I was sure I had commented on your lovely post last week when you wrote it. I did read it then--and found it balanced and wise and encouraging. Thank you so much. You've added much to the discussion we've been having.


julochka said...

i know you wrote this awhile ago, but i keep coming back to read it and hadn't yet found the words to leave a comment.

your picture is very evocative and i've found your thoughts echoing back to me again and again since i first read this...especially the part about why suffering is considered to be inherently unnatural? why is that? i think we're driven by the whole culture around us to think we should be happy all the time. and nobody really is that. you're also right that we hold the key to our health and well-being.

i think this i a brave and honest post and i finally found the words to tell you that....

Suecae Sounds said...

sallymandy and julochka: thank you both for sharing your thoughts on my post. I too believe the root of the problem might lie in a cultural thing.

Thank you all again. It makes me happy to see that my thoughts and experiences can make an impression on all of you.