We very well would like to believe that we have much more control of our emotions than we really do. Here is the shocker: we can try to influence the circumstances in our lives, but we cannot necessarily control how our bodies are going to react to certain external and internal triggers. As such, we need to destabilize the belief system where your ability to withstand emotional, psychological and physical issues are a show of strength.
Just because you survived an ordeal does not automatically mean that the next person will survive the same ordeal just fine. We are not all genetically/biologically engineered to handle external triggers the same way and so, our capabilities to withstand stress depends on our components.
What makes the situation worse is that the topic of mental illness is deeply rooted in supernatural beliefs to the point where not only is the victim stigmatized, but the entire family as a whole.
I remember the case of a young boy who was Bipolar. The family hid it from everyone else but their pastor. And of course the parents were told that the young boy was possessed by a demon. They went through rounds and rounds of deliverance to cast the “demon” out of him until the young boy eventually committed suicide.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are spiritual issues and there are mental health issues –each sector has their own solution. I am a Christian and while prayers do help, we really need to know where to draw the line and seek medical help while we also pray.
If you understood my previous article (Let’s throw some light on MENTAL ILLNESS), you would acknowledge that Mental Illnesses can alter the brain structure, affecting the sufferer in such a way that changes their thinking, senses, feelings and behaviors. As the neurotransmitters are imbalanced, they alter the normal functioning of the brain thereby sending signals that initiate behaviors, symptoms and sensations that are beyond the sufferers control. THE BRAIN IS IN CONTROL.
You simply cannot tell sufferers to get over it – no, just no. How can they?When the sugar levels in our bodies get depleted or high, do we just tell ourselves to get over it? When someone is having a heart attack, do we simply tell them that they are taking things to heart too seriously? No. Seeking appropriate medical attention would be the only viable option in these scenarios.
The earlier we diagnose the problem for these issues, the better the treatment outcomes. Now this is exactly the same with mental illnesses. Just because sufferers do not look sick or just because you cannot physically see the illness does not make it any less real. Medications can help in stabilizing the chemical threshold in the brain.
Therapy helps sufferers identify and walk through the factors that may be triggering the illness. A combination of both being the most effective way to promote recovery. We are all at risk of changes in our brain chemistry. The illness can affect a person of any race, gender, religion or socioeconomic status.
Estimates are that at least one in four people will be directly or indirectly affected by one form of mental disorder or the other (this includes behavioral/ moods disorders). I hope this article has at the least helped to create a shift in mind-set that could save lives. I hope you understand that sufferers are not the enemy. We need to unlearn some misconceptions and preconceived notions to make the world a better place.
For anyone going through emotional and psychological issues, I want you to know that there are people who care about you. It is possible to recover from neurotransmitter imbalances. For some, full recovery can be for a certain period of time, for others, it can be a long gradual process where you learn many things about yourselves. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. You do not need to walk the road alone. It is OK to seek help.
There is an enormous amount of work that needs to be done to get the word out there, but we can start from you and I.
HEALTH IS WEALTH, BUT THERE IS NO HEALTH WITHOUT MENTAL HEALTH. Let that sink in.
Jean Clare Ogechi Igwegbe is a Public Health practitioner currently working in the field of Mental Health and Addiction. Being an introvert, Jean loves to express herself through writing.