A Different Perspective on Mental Health
Whenever I read about mental health, the topic immediately gravitates to the pain of mental illness. The presumption is that, if that pain is removed or relieved, mental health will take over, naturally. I see this as talking about light and the conversation moves to the fear of darkness, and if the darkness is removed, light will be found beneath. We know this comparison is ridiculous, not just regarding the severity of mental pain but that, in itself, it is ridiculous to say that the removal of darkness will reveal light. Yet, I use it to try to show that the same thinking about mental health is also ridiculous.
You see, mental health is not a natural state that only becomes hidden when there is mental illness. We’d like it to be a state that emerges naturally, but it is not. Just think about a baby. The first thing a baby does when it emerges is to cry. That state of being disconnected from a provided state of comfort, even for a short, temporary period, is scary. It is a feeling that stays for a while until the baby learns to feel comfortable in a different space. That is why we make that space simple and comfortable. We encourage the baby to grow in life through guided introduction to progressively larger spaces and more challenging conditions. Just imagine what can happen if that guided introduction to life did not happen or failed to happen in some areas that later became important. The mental health that should progress as life gets more challenging will have flaws or defects that are simply areas that have not yet been filled with guided experience. As we know, however, defects can erode into other adjoining areas. We cannot remove a defect. We can only fill it. That is just like darkness. We cannot remove it. We can only fill it with more light.
I read about people who have all things going for them and still suffer mental illness. There are two things wrong with that statement. One is that we cannot observe “all things” that affect another person. The other is that having all things to make life seem comfortable does not fill those defects; it only allows the opportunity to save them from being exposed to life.
Therefore, the best, most effective way to get (not restore) total mental health is to discover those areas where the natural emptiness had not been filled, and fill them. It is easy, but not when we are only looking to save ourselves from exposing our areas of emptiness. They work when we are seeking to fill them.