‘The Quiet Borderline’, in her kindness, gifted me with The Strong Person Award, which I have accepted with grace. She is a 27 year old young lady who had a mental breakdown about three years ago and has been in and out of the psychiatric ward ever since. She both alarms and delights her readers with her blogs, writing of her everyday life on the ward, and revealing the contents of her mind. I am personally fascinated by her journey because through all her pain and anxiety, I see a strong character; a woman who is startlingly intelligent, yet overwhelmed by what I call the ‘internal war between established thinking and radical change’. I am interested in the way she views her state of mind and particularly in the way her condition is dealt with by professionals, and in reading about hers and other people’s circumstances, I am often startled by how little we as human beings understand the human mind and its personal journey. On being nominated by her, I was compelled to write a little about my views on mental ‘illness’.
Since I am one of those nominees on her list currently not ‘diagnosed’ with a ‘mental illness’ I decided to accept my award with some words about my view of mental health, as well as sharing an amazingly inspiring video that I found, called The Wayseer. This video (below) is for you, ‘The Quiet Borderline’, and for all of you on ‘The Quiet Borderline’s’ list of nominees. It is also for anyone else out there struggling to cope in the world, and especially for those who do not conform to established thinking and know that there is more to life than we are offered.
Though I have suffered from depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts and to this day still move in and out of that space, I do not view these states as some sort of illness. For me, the fact that I have these tendencies tells me that I have reached a place in my evolution where I am questioning the established order, and no longer accept the ideas that we are generally fed since birth. When I become depressed, I know that there is a part of me prodding me to make great changes. When I feel suicidal, there is a part of me wanting to die…not necessarily a physical death, but to an idea according to which I have lived my life. To my mind, suicidal tendencies aren’t bad; they simply have to be understood in the right context. Some people actually come face to face with physical death. For them change means ending this life and beginning another. For many others, it means changing a way of being in this world. My anxiety kicks in because there is also a part of me terrified of what the changes might bring. For me to move out of these difficult feelings requires that I answer all the inner questions by getting in touch with the unconscious war within myself.
To me, depression, anxiety and suicidal feelings are all indicators that I am evolving out of a robotic mindset into one that is freer and much more expressive. Within the depressive feelings are those of self-hatred. I do not self-harm, and I do not take any medications because when I get these feelings, I confront what is happening inside of myself. In my case, self-hate plays itself out in the metaphor of my feelings about my body. When I move into depression and self-hate, I take time out to get straight to the truth. I first tell myself that the self-hate is an acknowledgement that I am not being true to myself in some way. It is not about my body at all. Then I ask myself what needs to change, what idea is stopping me from moving forward in my life. The depression is always about an idea that I hold dear, bearing down on me, depressing me. When I have a panic attack because I know I am going to a mall or I am going to socialize in a large group, I ask myself what I am really afraid of. I know that the mall or the groups of people aren’t the real issue. The mall and the people are just the metaphor to play out my fear. The question of what I’m really afraid of always leads back to what idea about both myself and my life I need to let go of, and what changes will take place because of it.
Mental ‘illness’ to me is about people undergoing massive internal shifts and changes and it is always about the psyche trying to break out of its rigid conditioning. Because we are a society of human beings who hold on to the established order of thinking, I observe that we are unable to respond when people break down under the pressure of changes in their world perspectives. Mental health professionals generally have fixed ideas about how one should view the world, and therefore are compelled to work with this in mind. ‘Healing’ for these mental health professionals means bringing the ‘patient’ back to the established way of looking at the world, and in most cases, drugs are used to this end. As a species, we maintain the status quo, generation after generation, showing only superficial signs of change. At the deepest part of us, we are the same as we were hundreds of thousands of years ago. We are still a species that is imprisoned by its ideas; we are still a species that continues to perpetuate itself even though it has nothing to look forward to except a perpetuation of the same ideas and the same manifestation of its physical form and living conditions. We are a species that unfortunately is hardly aware that it is imprisoned; it only knows that it is desperately unhappy and has adapted to that innate despair by creating the concept of endeavour in order to be distracted from it. We work hard to cover up the pain that is so much a part of us and our ambition, aspirations, desires, hopes, and dreams are all part of the desperate measures that we take to escape from it.
My own journey has taught me that the human race as a collective is totally messed up. The collective mind does not know its place in the universe, it has no recollection of its origins, and no idea where it goes after death. It has a sense of its own divinity, yet cannot locate it. The collective mind fumbles about in the dark making up stories about itself, completely lost. It concocts belief systems that produce a sense of safety, and when later these beliefs are challenged, creates new ones in their place. The collective mind goes from pillar to post trying to understand itself, searching for its origins, and failing miserably at every turn as it collides with its beliefs. In short, the collective mind is sick, and our healing only begins to manifest when we start to remove the rigid belief structures that blind us to the truth as to who we really are. In other words, true healing only begins when the mind undergoes emotional and mental breakdown.
I’ve learned that the breakdown of the psyche marks the beginning of a total transformation in the human system and can be a devastating experience for the person involved. Depression and anxiety are only symptoms of a greater event taking place in the mind of the individual. People going through this intensely difficult transformation need help in understanding what is happening. Unfortunately, the human world does not have the facilities or knowledge to offer this kind of assistance, and while some people with milder change issues get better, most people either find their own way of coping, or they commit suicide.
For all of you who are struggling with mental breakdown, know that it is happening for a reason far greater than you may imagine, and that you are not ‘weak’ in the head. ‘The Quiet Borderline’ is right when she says that all of us are strong. Weak people cling to established ways of thinking and refuse to question their lot in life. Strong people respond to the inner voice that whispers that there is more to life than we are told. It isn’t easy to break out and we have a lot to contend with before we get to the end of the road. But in the long term, we have much to gain even though sometimes that is hard to imagine. This is a human journey, and every last one of us will take it. For each individual, it is just a matter of time.
I wish you well in your journey, and every now and again when you feel down, watch the video. It’s brilliant, and in watching it, you touch your own greatness for a moment. Enjoy!