Guest Author - Tracy Hamilton
The freedictionary.com describes mental health as follows:
a. A state of emotional and psychological well-being in which an individual is able to use his or her cognitive and emotional capabilities, function in society, and meet the ordinary demands of everyday life.
b. A person's overall emotional and psychological condition: Since witnessing the accident, his mental health has been poor….
I wonder if it is actually possible to always have mental health as described above in 1a. There are always up’s and down’s that challenge our equanimity and ability to function, for example; loss of a loved one, redundancy or health issues.
It is probably safe to say that we all experience mental health challenges at some time in our life, so stigmatising those who are unable to come out of their challenge is very judgmental and short sighted.
At different times of the year it is not usual for people to feel different, spring and summer tend to be happier more uplifting times while winter can be seen as more depressing and a time to withdraw. Couple this with other contributing factors, and the effects can be doubled or feel insurmountable.
This is all well and good for ‘normal mental health challenges’. What I mean by that is non-diagnosed mental health episodes that are seen as part and parcel of life. What if you have a diagnosis that involves psychosis or suicidal and depressive thoughts? It is not so easy to ‘come out of it’, and feel like you are in control in any way.
If you have been diagnosed with a mental health challenge then I’m sure you will have people and resources in place to help you. What do you find the most useful and beneficial to allow you to get on with your life?
Talking Therapies can be really helpful. For one they can help you to come out of your thought process’s. When you are never challenged you can never see another option or way forward. Talking to someone qualified can be really useful, and creates a feeling of being supported.
More often than not drugs will be prescribed to help when things get really tough. A lot of factors have to be considered before taking drugs and they are usually prescribed in relation to your age, weight, lifestyle choices and diet and general overall health.
Antipsychotics are like a really strong tranquilliser so they work to help calm you down and almost sedate you. They can be useful when things are overwhelming, however, they do not solve the underlying problem, and long term use is generally not recommended.
Is it possible to re-gain mental health? I think it is. whatisneurplasisticy.com put it this way: ‘Neuroplasticity refers to the potential that the brain has to reorganize by creating new neural pathways to adapt, as it needs. Think of the neurological changes being made in the brain as the brain's way of tuning itself to meet your needs.’
This means that the brain is adaptable and that it is possible to create new neural pathways by taking different actions which can then lead to feeling like you have a choice.
When you feel like you have a choice can you start to make new decisions and move out of the old habitual ways. Knowing that we all have mental health challenges at times in our life can also help towards self compassion and being kinder to ourselves when things are tough.