Mental wellness can not be fully defined. If it was to be defined, then I believe it would be defined by the ability to function equally in ones own culture and habitat, the ability to reach our own expectations in life and successfully deal with the trials and difficulties that lay on our path. Maybe mental wellness can be defined by a warm smile, a happy laugh, no matter our situation. The ability to enjoy life and to keep ourselves physically and mentally balanced and strong.
As someone that has lived with the destruction of Paranoid Schizophrenia, I can recognise strongly what mental wellness means to me, simply, because I know 1st hand how mental un-wellness has played a part in the destruction of my life. Mental wellness means different things to each individual and I believe to become aware of mental wellness you have to be very aware of mental un-wellness.
My own illness was triggered by my involvement with marching on the streets of Moscow in 1991, against the communist hardliners who attempted a coup against the then Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev. On my return to London I feared persecution from the KGB for my involvement with the marching. The stress and anxiety I was experiencing quickly formed into the destructive symptoms of schizophrenia.
My mental un-wellness was very apparent. My symptoms included voices, psychosis, false and irrational beliefs, thought disorder, suicidal thoughts, depression, lack of motivation, the feeling of being controlled by outside forces and paranoia and fear of persecution. These strong symptoms stayed with me for many years and I was unable to function in life, socialise, or complete the smallest of tasks. Even having a shower or shaving was sometimes too much and reduced me to tears.
Now, in 2007, my mental wellness can be strongly recognised. My own journey with schizophrenia, has taken me from the streets of Moscow, to the depths of demoralisation, to the heights of the Himalayas. Mental wellness has been established through my own self belief and will to survive and a strong recognition of how to work with and cope with the difficulties of schizophrenia.
My own wellness can be recognised and measured by good self esteem, the resilience to overcome and to control and recover from my symptoms. The ability to socialise, travel, communicate more eloquently and to maintain the ability of a good strong healthy body and mind. To survive and work on an equal basis within the expectations of myself and the world which now surrounds me. The ability to adapt and cope with whatever obstacles may lay in my path. The ability to be me!
Mental wellness has also been established by eventually finding a medication which worked with me, Seroquel, and the final recognition by others and myself, that I am greater than my diagnosis of schizophrenia. The holistic recognition of me, the whole person and my true capabilities, beyond that of a man who could do nothing more than try and cope with the destruction of his illness.
Posted by Stuart Baker-Brown at December 6, 2007 02:57 PM