Thursday, August 14, 2014


There are a multitude of ways mental health issues disguise themselves. Often from the sufferer. I am no exception, and thus I rely on the honest feedback of friends to tell me I'm in a forrest when I can't see past the trees in my immediate vicinity.

The key thing is, it's hard to address a problem, like my issues with anger, prior to me being conscious of them or what I am doing. Furthermore if people around me are encouraging or reinforcing my current dissociation.

And that's the word I barely understand myself, 'dissociation' I'm going to call it 'not dealing with it.'

And there are trends in not dealing with problems.

Say you have a body-image problem, rooted in a self-esteem problem, rooted in your early childhood development etc. You interact with your environment, work with your environment and adapt.

Your adaptation may take the form of starving yourself. Literally reducing your food intake so that you burn more energy than you consume on a daily basis. Not eating healthily and exercising, but simply not eating. That's one option, and it's pretty obvious (though confusing and perplexing) that you have a problem and some intervention may be necessary.

Your adaptaption may take the form of purging your food before you can digest it. This way you can appear to be eating, even engorging yourself outwardly, but still lose weight in a much more private and secretive way, where it is more confusing and less obvious for people around you to realise you have a problem and some intervention may be necessary.

Your adaptation may take the form of 'fitspiration' training and exercising relentlessly, going to 24 hour gyms and working out for 4-6 hours a day. Increasing your energy output to be far greater than your energy intake. Thus you eat the same meals as the people around you, but burn far more energy than they. You lose weight in a current environment where many people are going to praise you for your abilities, discipline and dedication. Perhaps expressing amazement and envy, while you kill yourself.

The more unhealthy behavior looks like healthy behavior, the longer you can get away with it, to yourself and to the people around you.

And here's where the whole notion of healthy gets tricky, because what is healthy always depends when it comes to mental health.

The mystery of veganism remains a mystery to me. Namely, why I am not a vegan. I can be a vegan, it's possible. It's inconvenient and time consuming, and has to be done carefully to be healthy, but ethically and rationaly I can't really defend the exploitation of animals. I just for whatever subconscious reason can't bring myself to care.

What I've noticed though and can't explain, is that of the vegans I know, they are much much more dedicated to the welfare of animals than they are to their own. Almost without exception, every vegan I have ever met has put vastly more energy into being a vegan, than into addressing their own mental health and taking care of themselves.

I am lead to suspect, this outwardly altruistic behavior, is actually another manifestation of dissociating. Yet because of it's altruistic appearance, it recieves praise.

Now a form of dissociating close to my own heart and mental health - white knighthood. People who are constantly there for others, emotionally available and exhibit rescuing behavior are held in a special place in society. 'If only there were more like you' etc. are phrases I have had directed at me, and I know people like me who are endlessly, far more so than I, dedicated to the plight of others.

Yet if they are like me, I suspect it is often a distraction from the self. My own feelings of powerlessness, shame and inadequacy. That rather than deal with them, I seek the panacea of helping solve others problems and thereby 'proving' that there's nothing wrong with me, because I am powerful, I am adequate and have no cause for shame.

I feel, lacking a generally accepted definition of health, I'll go to that first principle - 'love yourself first' for anything to be undertaken in a healthy way, the first hurdle out of the gate is to make sure you are healthy yourself - you literally feel good about and in yourself.

Before you can embark on helping your depressive friend, your alcoholic friend, your anorexic friend, before you can get concerned about the welfare of child laborers in Indonesia, South America etc. before you can shed a tear for a chicken with clipped beaks and wings stuffed into a cage - you have to at least be dealing with your own shit. In an honest and active way.

I don't think anybody can be healthy who doesn't prioritize their own health over that of others. Your in a plane and the oxygen masks drop - you are specifically instructed to fit your own before helping any children or anybody else. Other people's problems can seem more pressing or more severe, that's a classic trap of minimizing your own problems.

Well I'm depressed, but I'm a white person living in one of the worlds wealthiest country's who am I to be concerned when children are being forced to work 12 hour days or a sow spends it's day under a roll-cage?

No. It doesn't work like that, it's possible that within the context of their lives, that kid and that sow even enjoy a higher quality of life by virtue of not sharing your depression. In the same crazy way that I can feel better about what I see in the mirror than some professional models do.

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