What defines Mental Health

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What tells me I’m making the right choices, how do I know if I’m balanced? It could almost be a question coming from an existentialist teenager, when actually we can revise these questions all throughout our lives. It seems we always should have answers, and that the explanations must be global and simultaneously apply to each one of us. But then, fortunately, with the amount of things going into the internet world, and that have always been part of the literature world, and the music world, and dance and visual arts and any other form or art world, we do realize that definitions are what we want them to be, what makes sense for us, whether you’re part of the majority or a very small minority of people.

So what makes sense to you is what defines you. And, hence, what defines what is best for you (i.e. makes you healthier) can only be an individual outlook on things. Yours, if all goes well.

General rules apply

Sure, there should be a basic common ground where we settle the pebbles to make our decisions. For instance: if you lack energy constantly, have difficulty with sleep, isolate yourself and tend to self-blame a lot, then common sense tells us you need help; or if you sweat like crazy, always second guess your own thoughts, regularly hesitate to talk to others, and try to plan ahead every little thing in your life, you know you could use some help; on the other hand, if you tend to explain negative experiences in your life by externalizing them (you usually feel you have bad luck, things just seem to go wrong for you, you are always misunderstood, other people usually don’t respect you and are hostile, and you can’t trust most people) then, this is going to be hard for you, but you really need help.

Sometimes we can’t clearly see how we could be healthier. We can see we’re not well, or that we can vaguely remember a time where we felt better, more alive, laughed more, things were lighter, and now things are just different and we might have rational explanations for that, which actually keep us stuck. So if deep down inside we know we’re not well, we can look for help.

X or Y

We give names to things in order to communicate, and in an attempt to understand the myriad of things that surround us and are part of us, so we have to see names and definitions and the general theories for what they are: a tool for thought and communication, and not, definitely not, something we have to be or do.

Every day you can find articles that state the top 5 things you have to do to be happier, or recent research that guarantees new ways to deal with shyness, nice images with texts that sound poetic, but are trying to make us all into one thing we’re actually not, but believe we should be, but in reality never translates into our real actions. To hell with all of that, really! Each one of us needs, wants, feels, craves, values completely different things, so we make our own rules, our own health, our own images with nice text on it. It’s inspiring to read others’, and to share and talk about all of this, but, by the end of the day, only you know what makes you happy and what hurts. People often say they’re crying over something ridiculous. How can that be? If it hurts, it hurts, there’s no rule for it. You might not want it to hurt, but you can’t deny the reality that it does. Accept it so it goes away. Deny it and it stays there as a rock and will hurt the same every time. And by the way, if a close friend of yours is crying you would never say to him/her ‘stop it, it’s ridiculous!’ Here’s my rule: don’t say it to yourself. Accept it, find what it is about, make it better for yourself. And others.

 

© Lea Pereira, 2015

Illustration by João M.P. Lemos (2015)

 

N.B. – In this section you can find short articles on several topics that might range from Education, Love, Anxiety Disorders, Children, Psychotherapy, Sex, or Anything else connected to Mental Health that, at certain moment, seems relevant and deserves a few lines written about it. What you find here is mainly the author’s opinions and thoughts, eventually linked to other articles/authors, i.e. the article itself is not the result of a specific scientific research or study. Feel free to browse through or even leave your opinion. Hope you enjoy!

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