People get angry when I tell them they can change their mental health. They tell me that they were born to be depressed, anxious or OCD. They tell me their PTSD can never be treated, that their childhood set them up to be depressed forever and that their anxiety attacks will never go away, no matter how much medication and treatment they get.
People are defensive of their mental health. They’re protective of their status as ‘depressed’, ‘anxious’ or ‘OCD’ because they’ve lived with them so long that they’ve become part of their identity.
Society has done a wonderful job of breaking down mental health stigmatisation. No one should be ashamed of who they are, no matter what is happening in their head or how they process emotions.
However, the destigmatisation of mental health issues has resulted in complacent acceptance of them.
People learn to live with their depression and anxiety and continue this process for the rest of their lives. They learn to talk about it with their friends, their coworkers, family and their bosses. They stop feeling so ashamed and embarrassed about their mental health and begin to embrace it – so much so that they choose to keep it as it is.
The idea of recovery, of overcoming mental health issues, is thrown out the window because society tells us that we were just born this way and we should accept it for what it is.
The problem is, you weren’t born depressed or anxious. You may have a genetic disposition to adopt certain mental health issues, but that doesn’t mean you have to adopt them as part of your identity.
You are not your mental health issue and your mental health issue does not need to be part of you.
Depression and anxiety are two prime examples of mental health conditions which are triggered by one’s thoughts process. When people aren’t taught how to regulate, manage, reflect upon and choose which thoughts and emotions they consider significant in life, they develop mental health issues which can spiral into life-long disordered ways of thinking and processing life.
Whilst there are obvious exceptions to the concept of self-regulation, such as mental health disorders like Dementia, for example, which requires medical assistance and is related more to the makeup of the individual experiencing it, many other proclaimed mental health conditions are within our power to control and overcome.
“You can’t just overcome depression,” most people retort, “It’s not that easy!” Who said any of this was easy?
Learning to monitor your thoughts and choosing which thoughts you give validation, credibility and attention to is an incredible skill which takes years of dedicated practice, self-reflection and determination.
Choosing not to allow your brain to go on auto-pilot and accept the automatic negative thoughts, beliefs and images which enter your mind every minute of the day is a demonstration of immense self-control, self-care and self-respect.
Choosing not to identify with mental health labels and instead choosing to take the empowered direction in life in which you cease allowing your thoughts and emotions to dictate your outcomes in life is a mastery of self very few people in life ever accomplish.
“Freedom is born of self-discipline. No individual, no nation, can achieve or maintain liberty without self-control.”– Alan Valentine
Telling people that they can change their mental health for the better offends them more than inspires or uplifts them because most people find it easier and more comfortable to be a victim with a list of excuses than an empowered and capable individual who is capable of overcoming whatever is thrown their way and making the best of out their life regardless of circumstance.
So, if you’re offended by this concept ask yourself why.
Ask yourself why this concept being wrong makes your life any better?
Why do you believe this idea being true makes your life worse off?
Why does it offend you rather than inspire you and give you hope?