This shocked me and then it got me thinking
I saw a post from a medical professional today where the term “crazy people” was used to refer to individuals with psychiatric disorders. It should go without saying that this is inappropriate, unacceptable, and unhelpful. But it got me thinking about the bigger picture when it comes to issues around mental health, mental illness, and psychiatric disorders. The way we typically think about mental illness is wrong.
Mental Health Isn’t Black and White
While the fields of medicine and mental health try to capture the depth and breadth of the human experience into lots of neat and tidy categories we call “diagnoses”, the reality is that mental health isn’t black and white.
My clinical experience, combined with what the research shows, has taught me that we all exist on what I think of as a “mental wellness spectrum”. People aren’t mentally ill or not mentally ill. We all move along a spectrum of feeling and functioning in better or worse ways depending on what’s going on within us and around us at that time.
This means that none of us is destined to experience mental health challenges, and none of us is immune from them either. The human experience is one filled with ups and downs, comfort and discomfort. Our brain and our mind shift and change along with our experiences.
Sometimes things happen that, combined with genetic predisposition, cause us to move into the more difficult and uncomfortable “illness” end of that spectrum. And with the right supports we can move back to the more comfortable and functional end. Mental health is a fluid process, not a rigid box.
The bottom line is this
We are all experiencing the condition called “being human”. It’s not about having a mental illness or not. It’s about being aware that we are all somewhere on the spectrum of mental wellness at any given moment in time, and supporting ourselves and each other in whatever ways are most needed and helpful. At a minimum it means recognizing each person’s inherent dignity, value, and humanity. Because people who are struggling are no different than the rest of us.
What do you think about these ideas? Do they resonate? Do you disagree? Share with me in the comments so we can discuss!