Deciding the Definition of Mental Health
According to Sigmund Freud, the definition of mental health is the capacity to work and to love. It’s a nice one. Bite-sized, maybe not filling enough for a layperson.
The World health organization gives the definition of mental health as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
Somewhere between the two, a working definition of mental health is how you deal with the pressures of every day with the strength to stand up and the resilience to make it through. Like a muscle that tenses and relaxes to keep you moving, your mind also has to have a good rhythm of toughening and relaxing as a response to what you’re going through.
Good mental health is the feeling of not being overwhelmed by those daily stresses, not living in fear and living a life without depression or anxiety.
That should be enough to satisfy a definition of mental health but its implications aren’t so easy to nail down.
The Stigma of The Mind
Despite decades of study, there is still a stigma attached to mental health. Anyone seeking help or attempting to be open about their situation may face rejection or a lack of support. Not because getting treatment is bad but because people don’t understand how real the problems are.
Have you ever seen a nice car? One of those real nice ones with the trash bag duct-taped to there the window was? Mentally there are a lot of us driving around with trash bags and duct-tape. Shivering down the highway with a quick fix, ignoring a grind in the gear shift or a squeak in the engine block. You learn to cope, papering things over with a quick fix. It’s a roundabout way of living that can end in picking up bad behaviors or responses to the world. You still get through life, right on down that highway but you’re not fixing anything and it’s shortchanging you.
Maintain on The Brain
The mind needs maintenance. When your energy level drops considerably for an extended period, when you lose sight of the reasons to get out of bed or give a damn about much of anything, those days when it feels like too much and your thoughts are fixated on the worst possible events, too many of us just sigh, grit teeth and practice a smile. There’s more effort going in to covering up than in recovering.
The issues you face could just be a sudden change. Your workload has doubled, relationships break down or end, you bills pile as money grows thin. Those things you measure life by are shifted or gone and you feel overwhelmed.
You may be facing serious issues effecting your moods or energy level. Your body may be producing too much or too little of different chemicals making things harder to cope with.
There are 1 in 5 people in the US alone who have an issue with mental health while 1 in 25 will experience a serious mental illness. These issues could be life long developmental or chemical issues. Traumas or unresolved grief. They may just be the result of a sudden change in life.
No one’s perfect. We are all potential and deserve the chance to realize ours.
Most people understand sick. You get sick with chills or flop sweats, your stomach rebels or locks up. You don’t need a PhD or a microscope to get the idea of a virus or an infection. Not as easy to think of stress or trauma rewiring neural pathways or your family genes distinguishing your responses.
It’s harder to see how talking to someone or taking a medication can change your outlook on life. After all you live in your own head. It’s tough to accept that what you see and feel is not always giving you the chance for the optimal life.
To The Best of Us
Mind, body and soul everyone is different. However you measure a person, no two will come out perfectly the same. Though we all have things in common.
Famous people go through it too. Mental health is not a poor persons issue. Money can better afford treatment but it doesn’t decide who is effected.
Bruce Springsteen is one of the highest earning musicians in history. Pushing 70 years old, he regularly sells out stadiums and arenas performing for more than four hours straight. He travels with people that help keep his body warmed up and stretched out so he can play this hard. And he does it all while managing depression.
Not everyone who has it wants to talk about it. These issues are real and need the same care as you would give a Flu or broken bone. Your happiness in life is worth it.
To learn more or start getting help click here.
Check back next week for more health and fitness.