Tuesday, June 02, 2015

THE QUEST FOR MENTAL HEALTH


The quest for mental health is not just feeling like your symptoms are being managed by medications or that you have become functional enough to be accepted into most of society.  The standards or goals of much of the mental health system has little to do with a journey/quest for mental health, but rather for a way to get people out of their system by saying they have recovered.  Time limits on services means in and of themselves that the system does not believe in people finding mental health, but rather the system and its resources are more important than the people it serves.

Mental health can only start to be found if one can find the starting point.  The starting point is self.  Self in this blog entry is used to mean that part of a being that is inner and is able to entertain first-person thoughts, feelings, experiences and actions.  Self is the real person minus the exterior veneer so many people spend so much time worrying about.  When I reached 65 and passed it and looked in the mirror, I realized more than I ever had before that my blue eyes and dark hair were not as important as I thought.  The hair was white and thinner.  The eyes not as blue.  The face was drawn.  The question to be answered was simple.  Had my interior improved over the years?

The following appears in the latest issue (June 2015) of Christianity Today about Simone Weil’s book Waiting for God. It was written by Gregory Wolfe who was recommending it as one of five books that can save your life.  “Written by a brilliant French Jew who became something of a Christian mystic, these scattered essays and letters don’t make for easy reading.  And yet Weil’s meditations on attention as a form of prayer and the nature and meaning of suffering (which she calls ‘affliction’) offer illuminating insights.  Weil died young, so her theology was a work in progress. But that doesn’t mean her wisdom can’t aid one’s pilgrimage through life.”

The quest for mental health is a pilgrimage.  A seeking of the restoration of self.  It is not a process to be measured in blocks of billable medicaid time.  It is not a one size fits all exercise.  It can not be done by applying a set timetable or model.  It is a very personal and individualized journey and one can only help if they are willing to first become a friend to the person they are trying to walk beside.  To walk beside and listen to the person tell you were they are going is very different from deciding where they should go and trying to push and pull them there by a timetable.

Mental health is about healing and having good health and not about concentrating on illness.  It can only be done among friends in community.  Rooted in a home one feels welcome in.  You know when you are at home.

© Ed Cooper, June 2, 2015, Stoney Creek, TN
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