In the not too distant future, before political correctness tightened its grip, this ‘folksy adage’ could be seen adorning staff room bulletin boards, desktop signs, coffee mugs, fridge magnets and stickers on the bathroom stalls. Today mental health jokes are strictly off limits and may find you sitting in front of someone in Human Resources admonishing your callous and insensitive behaviour. You will then be sent home and allowed only to return after a mandated sensitivity training program. You meant no ill will, no malice – it was literally just a joke – a joke which does not belie your sincere concern for those afflicted with serious issues concerning debilitating mental health issues. And you do care, because you have a family member, a friend, a spouse or a co-worker that is struggling. You may be as well; you’re just fighting to keep it a secret (or so you think?)
“You don’t need to be crazy to work here, but it helps.
-Confucius (if not Confucius, it sounds like something he’d say
Mental health issues cover a broad spectrum – so broad in fact, that unless you are a robot or hybrid-type-affair with a human heart but a computer brain, you too have a mental health issue of some definition and to some extent. We all do. It’s okay. What separates us from animals is a heightened intelligence, the capability for abstract thought, and the ability to write terrible poetry – and with these human aptitudes comes a stew of dysfunction to varying degrees – neuroses, self-doubt, depression, anxiety, selfishness, envy, paranoia and so forth.
I have full portions of much of the above – and I’ve embraced them all – they are badges of honour – counterbalanced with self-motivation, determination, independence and so forth. They don’t hamper me – they push me. Some days, however, they weigh me down, forcing me to kick a little harder.
The people I am able to relate to the most are those with myriad quirks and quarks and walk just a little off the well- beaten path (which always has way less foot traffic– leaving more space for us). I have an inherent distrust of those who appear to have it totally together and who can reduce mental health problems to a character weakness or worse: “Depression? Give me a break. It’s just mind over matter.” These are anxious times, so it’s okay to have anxiety. How can you not feel anxious? These are uncertain times so how can you be certain of anything? We are bombarded by news that can only be described as ‘depressing’, so reacting accordingly is appropriate. It’s situational. It may be just a temporary mood, or it may be more significant.
“Life is nothing like a box of chocolates.” -Confucius?
It’s about all about degrees. If there are days when you feel you are waking up with a massive weight and a foreboding sense of dread, and you would give all the money in the world to stay in bed, your funk may be of a more serious nature. The paradox being that if you say anything to anyone, you may be told that it is “all in your head,” which it is. As far as I know, no one has ever been diagnosed with “Clinical Depression of the Feet”. It is in your head. That’s where your brain is. That is where there are all those neurotransmitters and chemicals are sparking and flowing.
Often, depression can be linked to imbalances, and possible misfiring etc. Your brain is an engine. Sometimes, your engine misfires. Don’t sell the car. Get a tune up. The hardest part is just admitting that you may need a mental diagnostic. You are not alone. You are human. Talk to your doctor.