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  • Writer's picturefollowingflamingos

What's in a name?

Updated: Jun 5, 2019

I spotted a good article today which also made me angry. Can you guess what I didn't like about it? mad. Check it out here:

Are we all the same - nutty?

I do wonder sometimes, who decides the title of articles? Are they meant to deliberately mislead? It often appears they do not reflect the nature and nuances of what are often exploratory articles which is a shame. Why must they always be judgemental, is this to get more hits and reads and comments?

A better title here would be "Don't Say That Depression Is ALWAYS Caused by a Chemical Imbalance". That is what it is about, we can't fully say it is and we cant fully say it isn't especially as

1. I think we all agree each person and therefore each persons mental health is different and sweeping statements do not fit this reality

2. We have no comprehensive way of objectively quantifying how our experiences and environment changes brain structure, neurochemistry and the expression of genes

3. We have no hard and fast rules for exactly how a resulting neurochemistry will directly lead to specific behaviours, attitudes, reactions and the complexities of subjective experience

4. Its clear that mental health as an issue can be more complex than physical and always seems more of a moral issue than it needs to be. As I understand it there are also spectrums of disease, disagreements about how to interpret the mind-body connection and luckily medical science is continuing to evolve new treatments for both mental and physical ill health.

IMHO It is the notion of wellness that is understudied when you compare mental health with physical and this is why I am studying Positive Psychology to understand what works for the best in people.

My own recent acceptance that my own mental illness can be identified as a 'disorder' and the understanding that it is in part driven by abnormal or out of the ordinary biochemistry (i.e. which I cant control through my own willpower) is helping me no end in managing what I now recognise as an illness. I know I am not alone. I know there is help to be had. I can accept myself more. I can use the energy I save in wondering if I am mad or bad in helping myself to become more than my illness. I can appreciate the good things more as I know it's my illness that tells me to fear everything, not that everthing should objectively be feared.

Anyone who truly believes medication to change biochemistry can't help chronic, residual or recurrent depression or anxiety is speaking from a position of having no lived experience and of not having all the facts.

One thing I believe is that for mental wellness, relying on medication alone is not enough.

Somehow we also need to have the confidence, compassion for ourselves and courage to help ourselves grow as people too. I hope that a change in medication for me will really help with my baseless (chemical imbalance created) symptoms and that I will continue to develop all my other skills to deal with a meaningful real life as I live it.

The double-edged stigma that depression means you are either mad (can’t control your brain or behaviour ) or bad (should be able to control your brain and behaviour).

I think this distracts us from the real issue – that mental illness and mental health are complex, nuanced and require an open mind to get to the bottom of how to help ourselves and others.

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