We are hearing more and more about mental illness, which I think is so great that it’s much less of a taboo subject. Do you ever wonder if you have mental illness? Do you know what it means to be mentally healthy? When this question was posed to me, I thought, “I’m not sure. Sometimes I’m happy. Sometimes I feel really upset, even despair. Does that mean I’m mentally ill?” You guys, I have questioned my mental health since I was a teenager. I remember cutting an article out of the Ensign about depression and telling my dad that I thought I might be depressed, but I wasn’t sure. I was happy sometimes, but sometimes I just couldn’t kick this feeling of sadness, awkwardness, not-fitting-in-ness, there’s-something-wrong-with-me-ness. I thought I was good if I was happy and peaceful, and bad if I was mad, embarrassed, ashamed, depressed. I was okay if I was sad. That was an acceptable “negative” emotion. Or frustrated, that was another acceptable “negative” emotion.
I remember once a friend asking me if I ever got mad, like it was good that I never got mad. I honestly felt like I didn’t get mad, I just got frustrated. It’s very probable I did get mad, but it wasn’t acceptable to me so I pushed it away. Do you think that about people? “They’re so good, they’re just so happy all of the time.” I’m not saying it’s bad to be happy either, just that that’s not the definition of goodness or mental wellness.
So, what does it mean to be mentally healthy, or emotionally well? I’m just barely exploring this as I write this, but I don’t think it means to be happy all of the time. I don’t think it means to have certain emotions that are “okay” to feel and that you don’t feel the rest if you’re mentally well. I think it means you are aware of your emotions. You’re aware of how they affect you. You realize that your thoughts create your emotions, not anything or anyone outside of you. You know that your thoughts are not YOU. They’re just thoughts. But if you don’t take time to slow it all down, you think they’re facts. “This is just how my world is.” But really they’re just thoughts that are just as much true as they are untrue.
If you want help figuring out what thoughts are causing your emotional pain, or figuring out how the circumstances in your life aren’t causing your emotional pain, sign-up for a free mini-session with me where I can help you with ANYthing that’s “causing” you pain.