Articles, Blog

Is it mental illness?

February 2, 2020

So many people think
that mental health and mental illness are on one continuum, that you’re either mentally healthy
or you’re mentally ill. But in fact, the research has shown
there’s two continuums. The one, which is the continuum
of mental illness, can go all the way
from someone who can’t function, they may have to be hospitalized, they may have to be off work,
they’re disabled, all the way to people
who may have had a diagnosis of a mental illness, but they’re symptom-free,
they’re fine. They’re able-bodied,
they’re able-minded, they’re able to do
whatever they need to do. And we need to think about the fact that most of the people
that are in the workplace, even if they have a diagnosis
of a mental illness, are somewhere on that continuum, and many are still able to function. Mental illness is often
just part of the human condition, just like other illnesses
that we have to live with and manage. Now, the other continuum,
the one of mental health, is also a continuum
that everybody is on, including those who have
a diagnosis of mental illness. At the bottom is languishing. Languishing is a term we use
to talk about when you don’t feel like
getting out of bed in the morning, you don’t feel like going to work, you’re not really happy
to see the people at work. You may not even be fond
of your family members at that time. There’s nothing you look forward to. You may not have a diagnosis, but if you’re in that place,
in that place of languishing for more than a couple of weeks, you are much more likely to become ill
with a physical or a mental illness. So we really want to think about
when we’re down, when we’re not feeling well, how do we lift ourselves up? And at the very top
of the mental health continuum is what we call flourishing. Now, flourishing is not
walking around every day saying, “I am so happy,
I only think happy thoughts.” That is probably recreational drugs
or delusion. That flourishing is when we can deal
with what life really throws at us, right? And it throws challenges,
it throws conflict, it throws all sorts of disappointments, but we deal with them. We feel the sadness,
we feel the pain, and then we move on. Then we move beyond it, back to a place
where we can enjoy life, where we can be grateful for life,
for the people around us, for the things that we can enjoy. So when we think about mental health, when we think about mental illness, don’t put it in a box. Understand it’s part of the human condition, and every day, every moment, we have the power to improve
our own mental health.

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