Nov 2022
Yes ,we can all get crazy !

So yeah , I have had some major mental health issues when I was younger . In fact if I think about it my whole family is crazy ….or has been at various stages of our existence . Th impact was enormous and the knock on effect to the rest of the family was a Tsunami . Little did I realise  all those years ago how life changing it was, or give it the same respect and dignity as I would have done if it had been say…. cancer or MS .

We hear people talking about wellbeing all the time now, and how much it impacts every aspect of ours lives. The new buzzword is ” invisible disability” and I’m not trying to poo poo that at all ! In fact I love it ! I suspect it has  a lot to do with The NDIS which is slowly coming to terms with the fact that people with mental health issues are impacted enormously by their disability as much as someone with a physical disability . Ergo they need to be funded to support coping with  that disability .  It can be permanent, just like a spinal cord injury or Motor Neuron Disease .  Its an invisible disability because the person can appear outwardly perfectly healthy and functioning well. Maybe you sit , talk to them,  watch them kick goals, get great jobs, see them get married and have children, break bread with them,  and laugh with them , and you would NEVER know they were unwell. They are either hiding it well, or they may be in period of remission . But yes, they were and they  are unwell. How amazing are they ?!

But we  are still a long way off from realizing the impact of trauma on mental health and how it contributes substantially to the development of psychiatric illness. Trauma especially repeated trauma  during our developmental years can impact our wellbeing in the same way as repeated knocks to the brain in football. Except its a psychological and emotional brain injury rather than a physical injury ( more on this in future blogs ) We are understanding more and more the relationship between trauma experiences and poor mental health such as PTSD CPTSD and psychiatric illness. The work of physician and recovering alcoholic Gabor Mate explores this theory in great depth and nuance .He has a new book out now called ” The Myth of Normal “. You might want to check it out after reading this blog. Interesting read !

You may well be wondering as I am often how we get to serious mental health conditions such as Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder or the lesser known Schizoeffective Disorder . Its a complicated and complex pathway and the jury is still out , but we know it is a combination of colluding factors in any one individuals life, a unique combo , not repeated exactly the same way in any freshly made  human  . There has been a number of genes identified as ” Schizophrenia genes ” . But genes sometimes need a trigger to be activated . This is our environment.  There is a theory of epigenetics which purports that the gene likes dormant and can be triggered like a switch on and off , depending on individual experience and perception of that experience. Perception being the key here , because the messages we take away from our bad experience is what shapes us not the trauma in of itself .  Two children may experience the death of a parent but one grows up to be functioning and healthy, the other may flounder and become mentally unwell.  Its a bit like a bad lotto , isn’t it really ?

One of my very close family members  became Schizophrenic at 50 years of age .How on earth did that happen ?It’s  often a sign of having been strong for so long in the wake of repeated adversity that our brain finally says enough , I need help. My mind is now flooded and I can no longer distinguish reality from non-reality .

So knowing this as our background template can  anyone become mentally unwell ? Potentially yes. Even the most resilient people , with a positive outlook, and a “glass half full” outlook and temperament in the world can flip, with enough destabilizing experiences. But, what breaks you , may not break me and vice versa . As I mentioned its the take away ( perception is reality )  that counts on the Richter Scale ,   as well as other factors such as personality,  core beliefs about self , other compounded individualized negative life experiences, support, nurturance, or lack there of , and resilience.

Its important to break the stigma , myth , stigma and  negative narrative about mental ill health .Being mentally unwell is NOT a weakness of personality or temperament.

rabbits caring for each other

You are one of the strongest bunnies I know !

This is tweet I read on Twitter from June 2018 by @quotes_mental 

“Having a mental illness like anxiety, depression, bipolar, bpd, ptsd, is not a simple illness that goes away with some ant-virals or a good night’s sleep and some panadol. It’s not just about feeling sad or being moody all the time. If we could click our fingers and just snap out of it, don’t you think we would ?  Until you have walked in our shoes, thought in our head and felt the hurt we have , don’t  judge us and see us as somehow weak and not resilient to life’s ups and downs. What we have is complex , and finding peace in our soul is a journey of discovery.

We did not cause it ourselves , or create our own pain , because  of our miserable outlook on life , nor did we decide to keep it in our back-pocket to gain attention and play the victim . The stigma around mental illnesses  is getting better , but we are in the amber light , not the red light , and that is  where I hope we are heading.

If you or someone you love needs support , reach out. I’m based in Nerang on the Gold Coast and have both in person and online sessions .

Blessings Sian  https://counsellorsianpryce.com.au