Sunday, November 04, 2007

Balance-The Emotional Pillar Revisited

I was sitting here thinking about a deeper look at emotional health and how to gain or maintain it. I glanced at the pile of weekend flyers and noticed a white sheet. It was titled “Being Well”, Our Mental Health Matters”. Although it is referred to as Mental Health, it is actually Emotional Health. I would like to quote a couple of things from the flyer that caught my eye right away.

First, The World Health Organization in 2005 said “There is no health without mental health.” The second was in a box for emphasis, and was titled “Did You Know”. It said that mental illness is the single leading cause of illness affecting Canadians. Those with mental health issues are at greater risk for chronic disease. It is estimated that mental illness costs the Nova Scotia economy more than $338 million per year.

After I picked up my dropped jaw, I realized that mental health is a much bigger issue than I had thought, and that we are actually talking about emotional health! There is nothing special about Nova Scotia, Canada, that would account for such numbers. This scenario can be applied to most of the western world. It is no wonder that the platform holding our lives is so often tilted to the point that we are in danger of sliding off.

One of the difficulties we encounter if we feel we are ill and needing help, is the stigma that is still attached to anyone with an emotional illness. It makes us try to look happy and in control of our lives. The coping mechanisms we develop are often more damaging than the illness itself.

Most communities have mental health programs, but people are afraid to avail themselves of these services for fear that family and friends will think less of them. This added stress of trying to cover up our emotional problems makes it all worse. We need to educate ourselves as well as those around us. Mental illness most often has a physical cause and can be treated just like any other illness. There are also often events in our lives of such magnitude that we need help and support to deal with them. If we do not, they are very apt to manifest as physical diseases.

We need to take our courage in hand and seek help when we feel overwhelmed. Often our lives can be restored to order or at least made better with education, development of healthy coping skills, and possibly even medication if required to correct a chemical imbalance. Support groups can also help by sharing experiences, ideas, skills and understanding. It is surprising how much better we can feel if we know we are not alone, and not the only one with such problems.

Along with other skills we can learn from both professionals and support groups, meditation is recognized as an effective tool by the medical community. A regular meditation routine can reduce stress and put us back in touch with our inner strengths. By bringing the emotional pillar into balance with the others, we become more stable, and happier in all facets of our lives.


jim said...

Hello again Zareba, these are great posts, great writing, and great subjects, important aspects of human/spiritual growth and being. Thanks for bringing them forward, good that you are pushing them further into the conscious light (as I read in a comment-reply on a previous post). Everyone needs help, regardless of where they seem to be.

I think the Emotional is a link state between the Physical and the Understanding/Psychologic/Mental of a person, and of society enmasse.

It becomes extremely vital therefore, a place of greatest vulnerability, where we can be hurt and where we can horribly hurt ourselves thru our own misunderstandings. All of this hurt then settling into the physical realities of a/our life.

So it has seemed with me.

You make great points here, well done, a joy to read and hear being said, as is your work most always, thanks for the pleasure Zareba. Keep it up. Love and Peace to you and yours, always. Jim.

Meadow said...

I agree. Like they say, we get check ups for our bodies and even our cars, but most people are afraid to get check ups for our minds.

Rauf said...

Thank you Zareba for writing on this important topic.
Mental health is a big issue in India as well.
Biggest hurdle here is the ignorance. People are just not aware that mental illness can be treated and cured easily in early stages. More than 60% of the cases are brought to the hospital when it is too late to cure them.
When the behaviour of the affected person changes, people try faith healers first. There are plenty.
I participated in schezophernia awareness programme some 20 years ago, and we used to conduct plays,
telling people not to trust Gurus swamis, who cheat the affected people and make a lot of money out of these unfortunate people.

Paul said...

"It said that mental illness is the single leading cause of illness affecting Canadians."

Sounds like this must mean the leading cause of physical illness...

There are so many examples of emotionally healthy/physically ill people and physically healthy/emotionally ill people (including children) - from history, from contemporary public life and in our private lives - that I feel pretty confident that this study is contradicted by any number of other studies and certainly by our general shared experience of life. Many contemporary studies are carried out by organizations with a point to make.

The mind body connection is often overstated today as a modern version of a very ancient theodicy: bad things only happen to bad people. Here, of course, it's not "bad" but "emotionally unwell." But it works the same: false reassurance. It would be great if staying on track with our lives emotionally and socially virtually guaranteed good physical health, but it doesn't. However, so long as you happen to be in good health both emotionally and physically, it can be reassuring if one can get oneself to believe it.

I should state that this was also my view on this prior to losing my own physical health, which didn't happen until age 37. The mind body connection stated in an extreme form never fit with what I observed in humanity. Not to mention that viruses, genes, and genetic predispositions coupled with environmental factors, only a small number of which we've begun to understand, surely far surpass emotional health as the leading cause of physical illness. I’d bet that’s what a meta-analysis of reputable studies would show. Also, health insurance companies are highly aware of what saves them money. Hard to believe they’d consistently provide such poor mental health coverage if they had stats showing this was the leading cause of payments for the diseases that they have to cover.

Don Iannone said...

Z: Thanks for these reminders. SO important!

Zareba said...

Hi Jim: I started a long reply to your comment then realized that the relationship between the physical and emotional pillars is one often misunderstood by people. I converted the reply into a second post about this relationship.

Thank you for your comment and all the comments here contributed to my writing a second post.

Peace be with you


Zareba said...

Hi Meadow: We do get physical check-ups, and often get mental check-ups in the way of IQ tests and comprehension tests, but you are right, we don't get emotional check-ups or even seek validation for our emotions from others. We burry our feelings deep where they can take root and grow into terrible monsters.Let us hope that this attitude will change.


Zareba said...

Hi Rauf: It is great to see you here. I have been enjoying your pictures and the glimpse into Indian life that you give for a long time now, and have been really glad to go and catch up. Don't ever give up the camera!!

I agree that ignorance is a terrible thing and causes so much pain. If we could only let people know that many emotional or mental illnesses have their base in physical imbalances and can be healed, treated or controlled by medical means, it would reduce the suffering a great deal.


Zareba said...

Hi Paul:

I believe the mind.body..emotional connection is not well understood. That leads to some very wrong ideas based on ignorance. I have heard repeatedly that physical illness is caused by the mind and can be cured or prevented by the mind.

This is not a view I have ever held as I have had to fight for my life from the age of 2, and am still fighting at 63.

One of the problems is that people avoid dealing with mental health until it has made itself heard so loudly that it can not be ignored.

Please see my next post about this matter and share your opinions with me again. It really helps me to know if I am writing in an understandable manner.It also causes me to think,,,,which is always a good thing.

May you find peace


Zareba said...

Thank you, Don.

jon be me said...

Outside of chemical imbalance, our "emotional" health is greatly damaged by our attachment to the material goods in our life. When the need for material exceeds our emotional capacity, we "breakdown" and become emotionaly drained. On the other hand, when our attachment to material goods is no longer prevailant, then our emotional and spiritual well being become free and thus we are happy. Society at large places such a large need on the material that we can easily be overwhelmed with the "jones" syndrome. To be free, we need to be free of the material bondage.

Zareba said...

Hello Jon. Thank you for your visit and your comments. I am guessing you are familiar with the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. I agree that attachment is the root of suffering. When we stop being attached to outcomes, we are able to move forward. When we stop being attached to material wealth, we are freed from the stress and worry of keeping up appearances. I could go on but you already know that.