Admitting Illness

Health, Psychology

For a long time, you’ve denied who you are. You’ve denied that there was something seriously wrong with the way your mind works because you were scared to face reality. This whole time, you kept telling people and yourself, “I’m not depressed, I just get like that sometimes,” when in fact you are. You think about wanting to die, mainly because you feel like your life isn’t worth it.

You can’t control your emotions. You got through episodes of sadness and apparent happiness. You cry in settings you shouldn’t and for reasons that you’ve conjured up. You’ve avoided getting to know people because they’re all just going to leave and hurt you like the demons of your past. You tucked everything away, internalizing all the trauma you dealt with as a child. Now, the dam has broke and is flooding the person who you are.

Profound early losses, such as the death of a parent or the withdrawal of a loved one’s affection, may resonate throughout life, eventually expressing themselves as depression. When an individual is unaware of the wellspring of his or her illness, he or she can’t easily move past the depression. Moreover, unless the person gains a conscious understanding of the source of the condition, later losses or disappointments may trigger its return.

What causes depression? By Harvard Health

Worse, you hate yourself for all this. You think that this should be controllable that you’re wrong for feeling this way, that perhaps you should just get over it. You’re unhinging at the seams, trying to keep your sanity together and it scares everyone you know. You don’t want them to worry, so you rationalize that it’s better if you didn’t exist in the first place.

It’s not your fault.

What happened to you as a child wasn’t your fault. Your parents divorced. Someone you trusted was psychologically and physically abusive, neglectful, and selfish. You didn’t want to understand what happened to you because it made you feel uncomfortable and ashamed, so instead of talking about it, you cut off everyone. You reduced yourself to a shell of a person, hiding all the painful events deep inside your brain because what else were you supposed to do to protect yourself? Still now, so many years later, you tell yourself affirmations, you say the words aloud, but you don’t believe them. You’re damaged.

Millions of Americans suffer from some form of depression every year, making it one of the most common mental disorders in the country.

Major Depression (Unipolar Depression) By Arnold Lieber, MD

You’re not alone.

Do the things you really don’t feel like doing. Get outside and talk to strangers. Tell yourself you’re worthy. Put a smile on your face. Exercise. Write in a journal. Be creative. And let yourself heal. It takes time. There will be moments, like maybe right now, that it seems like you’re not getting anywhere. Sometimes, you still feel like you can’t control your emotions, but all those years you denied your mental illness changed the chemistry of your brain. Seek and accept help for you and the people you love. Small progress is progress. Each day you get out of bed is each day you grow stronger. One day, it’ll be part of your past.  

Freedom, Independence, and Loneliness

Philosophy, Social

Outside, the sun shines through clouds, tempting those stuck behind a window, wishing they could feel it on their skin. As a prisoner of responsibility, one is never free of anything. There is always something keeping you back. When we think of freedom we think of it as having the capability to do whatever we want, whenever we want. Of course, the case isn’t true with the average person: there’s work, family, pets, bills, and so much more that we’re responsible for.


Freedom consists of three main principles:

1. The absence of human coercion or restraint preventing one from choosing the alternatives one would wish.

2. The absence of physical constraints in natural conditions which prevent one from achieving one’s chosen objectives.

3. The possession of the means or the power to achieve the objective one chooses of one’s own volition.

Rashan John, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India

What happens when you don’t feel free? You feel helpless, ashamed, weak, and hateful. Worse, it’s a feeling that you don’t often recognize. I know, because I’ve been there. Out of the three principles of freedom, I’ve felt most influenced by human coercion. Then again, who hasn’t? We all have family members or friends who tell us what we “should” and “should not” do. Everyone thinks they know better and constantly impose their way of thinking onto you.

At first, you’re rebellious, but after countless comments and hours of influence, you give in and become a person you never wanted to be in the first place. Better than that, you’re not allowed to dislike it. You’re not allowed to oppose others on how you want to be or act for they “know better.” You’re told that this it’s good for you, that these people care about you. In losing your ability to say no, you become miserable because you never thought you’d end up the way others wanted you to be.

Most people aren’t free, so they don’t want you to be. Your dream isn’t realistic because someone older and wiser couldn’t achieve theirs. You should care about making money more than doing what makes you happy because that’s what everyone else did. You can’t do what you want because you have other responsibilities. When you give into these notions, you normalize the negativity and spread it to others.

For a while, I thought freedom and independence were symbiotic. If I gained independence from others and control over my life, I’d be free. While it’s true that these two things coincide with one another, there’s a fine line to walk along when trying to find yourself without losing relationships. The pursuit can be lonely. Loneliness is life threating to a person’s psychological and physical state. A person can feel lonely in a room full of people, in a marriage or family. Being lonely means to feel disconnected, unable to share your thoughts.

“That solitude which we often lament in our life with others betrays our misunderstanding of its meaning. We live together failing to recognize what unites us. Thus even the smallest offense becomes a pretense for breaking down the bonds of trust.”

2019 An Epidemic of Loneliness

It’s difficult to share the pain with others. Especially the type of pain that comes with feeling out of control of your life. There are so many things we are all blessed with, and to express some negativity about how you feel in your current state, makes you feel guilty. You convince yourself that everyone around you is right and you are wrong, thus disconnecting from them because they couldn’t possibly understand.

Take Control of Your Life.

Humans have limits. If we aren’t capable of knowing our limit, our body will do it for us. Breaking the hold of those keeping us back is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough just to set yourself free. You need the support of the ones you love once you make your decision. Without people to share your highs and lows, you can feel lonely. But your loneliness is dependent on you. People do want to listen. They want to help. There are those out there who do love you and any decision you make. You have to just have to allow them to.  

Lifetime Happiness and Health

Social

Lifetime happiness is an elusive notion, one that has been discussed over generations. The answer to happiness has always been retold like folklore, but now there is scientific proof. A 75 year Harvard Study of Adult Development, revealed that the key to long term happiness, mental and physical health, is having healthy relationships.

[Close relationships] protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.

Harvard study, almost 80 years old, has proved that embracing community helps us live longer, and be happier By Liz Mineo

It’s not about the quantity of personal relationships that one may have, it’s about the quality of those relationships. Mending friendships, rekindling romance, and dissolving grudges are just as important forms of self care as hygiene or fitness. People are lonely creatures. It’s possible to feel lonely in a city of millions or lonely in a room filled with family. Loneliness is the largest, life-draining emotion a person can have. That’s why maintaining healthy relationships is important.

Psychiatry professor and current director of the Harvard study, Robert Waldinger, goes into depth in his Ted Talk, explaining the importance of quality relationships, its correlation to life’s longevity, and how even an unhappy relationship could be worse than not having one at all. Mental health has a direct correlation with physical health. There are many scientific studies that illustrate how poor mental health can affect blood pressure, mental deterioration, and an increased risk of cancer.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has categorized mental illness into two. Any mental illness (AMI) is “defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder, [ranging from] mild, moderate, and even severe impairment.” This means that AMI could be how a person compartmentalizes things or how they may negatively treat others due to their own pain. Serious mental illness (SMI) “is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment.”

The overall data concludes that 18.9% or an estimated 46.6 million US adults over 18 had prevalence of AMI. That’s a lot of people who are suffering from something. Even if it’s not serious or need of medical treatment, there are millions who are in a similar situation of loneliness and disconnect.

Connecting the statistics from NIMH and results from Harvard’s Study of Adult Development, it’s apparent that the seemingly obvious notion of maintaining relationships for health, happiness, and self care has gone unnoticed by many. Indeed, there are mental issues that need to be consulted with a professional. Some, however, can be resolved with self-awareness and essentially, love.

It’s never too late to practice self-care. In addition to doctor’s recommendations to eating healthier and exercising more, working on maintaining the spark in marital relationships can reduce the affects from the pains of aging. There are also those who believe that their life expectancy is based on family generations before them. According to Harvard’s study, “the role of genetics and long-lived ancestors proved less important to longevity than the level of satisfaction with relationships in midlife, now recognized as a good predictor of healthy aging.”

There are some mental and physical conditions that are unpreventable, and the effects of one’s previous experiences can impact a person’s life for decades. Rather than being a statistic, there are ways to alter the outcome of your situation. If it’s one thing that science and belief has proven to be true is that love for yourself and those in your positive relationships will bring with it, good health.

Unconditional, pure, and good love within romance, friendship, and family will lead a longer, happier life. So when you’re feeling depressed, or out of control of your thoughts and emotions, take a moment and do something new with someone you love, reconnect with a friend or family member. Create and nurture positive relationships because the key to a rich life is love.