Reflection (2014)
As of late I have become bothered by the term Mental Illness.  I am afraid that in our efforts to understand the struggle of natural human experience, we have become all too quick to label normal human developmental experiences and the associated internal effects of those as Mental Illness.
I wonder what is gained by developing a common language and labels for difficult human experiences.  For example, the natural cycle for substantial loss is periods of apathy, disconnection, lifelessness, and withdrawal from others.  It is a part of the healing phase, as well as deep and sorrowful bellows that unleash the pain of the loss.  The releasing of the emotions lets loose the pain and heals the heart.  The release is also a part of the healing phase.
Shutting down these natural healing states through medication or labels prevents the healing that needs to occur to be free of the loss.  The same is true for trauma.  To label these states as Mental Illness in my estimation is tragic and resembles the concept of “Blame the Victim”
The Dali Lama, a man of great peace and equanimity once described a scenario of a monk who passed by a dead man on the road, he laid down with the dead man and sobbed uncontrollably.  Two other monks came by and said, Why are you crying, the monk lying on the road with the dead man said, “ Because I am SAD”
Being of great peace and presence does not take away the emotions that occur in us or the need to express them.  They simply provide a foundation to come home to once the pain has been expelled.

  • Eric Keating While I share your concern for improper labels especially where “regular” human situational problems are concerned. This is different from a proper diagnosis of mental illness just as that of any illness. :-}

  • Lori Ellis McKinney I agree, Eric,  My brother who I care for each and every day has the mental illness of schizophrenia, no question about that and absolutely requires daily medication to have any quality of life, live in the world and have some measure of freedom from his torture.  Just looking for some balance here 🙂

  • Eric Keating As you my know I have bipolar disorder which is thus far chronic and progressive. I need medication to decrease the number and duration and depth of symptoms. I happen to be symptom free for a while and am filled with gratitude while asymptomatic.

  • Lori Ellis McKinney Wonderful Eric, just wonderful I pray this peace will last.
    Lori Ellis McKinney Still thinking 🙂 When I received my brother from an institution 7 years ago, after having been missing for 15 years I was overwhelmed by what I could do to help him and to have him not have to live the rest of his life in an institution. My brother previous to that ,  was married to a beautiful woman, had a lovely home and was  a paralegal until that fateful day he disappeared from all with no contact for 15 years.  It was so hard to not know if he was dead or alive or suffering. He was receiving treatment for his mental illness however he was still severely ill, non communicative, didn’t recognize me, tortured, pacing frantically and aggressively day and night, till his feet bled and he developed a hernia  all the while in my care.  Of course mainstream medicine said there was no hope for his recovery I should institutionalize  him.  I would have done so if it was required but only after I had done all I knew was humanely possible for him.  It was been a long and difficult road for both of us and my family but I am pleased to say that the love and care, stability, healing practices and support have brought my brother back to me and his lives in his own cabin on my property, which was his only wish in life, to live simply in a cabin.  He is happy, social, loving and a contributing member to our home and the community.  He is special 🙂
    • Lori Ellis McKinney Your welcome, still hard to talk about it, as I long for my brother to be who he was as a child, but life happens, tables turn and we must move with it, such as it is, one day at time

    • Eric Keating Thanks for sharing. I am sorry to hear how your brother has suffered. As well my heart goes out to you and your family for your suffering and for your commitment to his well being. I know the struggles of loved ones that arise in dealing with mental illness.

    • Lori Ellis McKinney Thank you Eric, people often ask me about the burden I say no burden at all, just listen to the song ” he ain’t heavy he is my brother”  It was a burden when he was lost.  He is safe and loved now, that is all that matters

    • Judy McCurdy amen to that Lori

    • Henni Stanley I so admire your dedication to him. Just heard bits and pieces of his story thru you. Thanks for sharing his story.  I have always felt the ” mental illness ” label is too broad. As you know, I have suffered from depression for many years but with meds it is manageable . Some times I just wonder if we are being fair about the label. Wish I could explain better how I feel about it.

    • Heather Hanusiak Hogan Perhaps the day will come when the term mental illness is treated with the same caring and compaasion as cancer, heart disease, diabetes etc. Even by those who have it. Society has taught us to look at it differently but we can change that. Sometimes the labels just help to identify an illness and determine how to treat it. It is up to us to learn how to accept and aid those in need even if it is us who have the disease.

    • Lori Ellis McKinney Yes Heather, After having an outstanding record of employment in the civil service, I was penalized when I was having difficulty coping with the care of my brother, it is hard for me to accept that the same system that cares for the ill, could not summon the understanding  and compassion to support me as I moved through the process of caring for a family member that was ill.  That is why we at the Wellness Centre do as much to care for the family of the ill, as the ill themselves, no matter the origin of the illness. I have no regrets 🙂

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