Mental Health Awareness

You may not or may not have any emotional distress yourself, but being aware of feelings and emotional distress may help you prevent both emotional and physical problems in yourself and your loved ones.   Mental health and happiness is the cornerstone to enjoying our lives, enjoying others and helping keep ourselves both mentally and physically healthy.  It has been said ‘There is NO health without physical health’ which I consider an important truth.   It is also important to know that if you don’t attend to those distressed emotions directly, they WILL cause you physical or more severe emotional symptoms, trying to get your attention.   I learned to be very good at stuffing my feelings and keeping a ‘stiff upper lip’ – which can serve one well as a physician, and sometimes work to our detriment- just like with everyone else.  Accordingly, if physical symptoms start arising, it is really important to stop, take a break, and see what might be causing distress. That was a very important lesson for me to learn just like for everyone else.

Are you aware that most of October has days designated to some sort of mental health awareness?  Didn’t get much attention, did it?  How often when you go to your doctor do they ask if you are experiencing any emotional issues – anxiety, stress, grief, depression, insomnia, lack of get up and go, anger, frustration, helplessness or a wide array of other feelings?  Those feelings tend to get ignored and yet may be a key to your physical issues.  What a that shame  we have been trained to ignore and be ashamed of emotions, which makes about as much sense as being trained to ignore and be ashamed of our ability to see.  Unlike our eyes, where if we don’t use them we can lose our vision, with our emotions, if we don’t learn to understand, appreciate, respect and use them we can not only develop blindness about them, but become ‘hurt’ by them.  The easiest way to create an enemy of another person is to start by treating them like an enemy.  That same thing happens with out feelings.   Well used they are our greatest friend and ally, poorly used, misused, unused they often become like an enemy, causing us to feel we are in a hostile world and creating problems with anxiety, depression, suicide, drug abuse and physical illnesses, all of which seem to be worsening over time as our neglect of them continues.  Worst than that, these problems are worsening in our children and our teens, which is not a legacy most of us want to leave to our children.

Pain has been postulated as ‘the fifth vital sign’ by drug companies wanting to sell a lot of opiates, but the true pain as a 5th vital sign is emotional pain – which almost never gets checked. Family doctors used to be allotted time to do that, but not any more. Of course it is hard to check out your emotional pain if you have been taught to be embarrassed or ashamed, accused of being ‘weak’  or other derogatory terms if you discuss or display them – yet in today’s world, it takes more strength and courage to display them than to hide them.

So much of our physical health and well being is closely tied to our emotional health and happiness, and yet most of the time, things are presented just the opposite way – that our emotions are brought down by our physical problems.   This is a 2 way street, and the sooner you are aware of this, and the more you know about it,  the better you can survive and thrive in your life, and help enhance the lives of the people you love.

If you would like to learn more about this there is a lot of information on my website, which will also link to my podcast, entitled Shrink Rapt,  and it will also allow you to contact me and ask questions or suggest future topics.

Meanwhile, November 13  World Kindness Day. Take time to be kind to yourself and your feelings!

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