This quote appeared in my Facebook feed yesterday. I won’t name the site, but it is a site that is supposed to support people with mental health issues. Well, it didn’t help or support me, to say the least. In fact, it made me quite angry. It reminded me of the previous post I talked about in The Choice is Yours. The following are some of the thoughts that I felt necessary to complete the original post. (In addition to speaking about healing ourselves, I would also like to detour momentarily to express that I strongly disagree with caging animals that are meant to live freely. This post is a prime example of why I do not condone animal confinement).
Mohini didn’t pass her life trapped in the same old patterns. PEOPLE did that to her. The complexity of repeating old patterns is immeasurably intricate and cannot be remedied by simply recognizing our limiting beliefs. These are hard-wired limits, cemented into our brains (and the brain of this innocent tiger)… and the mere idea of making a decision to simply learn to recognize our limits is an injustice to those living with mental illness. There is hard wiring that occurs in any brain, traumatized or not, and I believe that some conversation on the topic of neuroplasticity is necessary in this article. There is no hope that this tiger will simply step out of the prison she has spent her life in (hard wired in a state of fear, hopelessness and depression) and walk out into “freedom” with a smile on her face. She cannot recognize and revel in something that is completely and utterly foreign to her. Human beings are the same.
This is a nice-ish start… but perhaps leading people to a solution that includes action may serve a more meaningful purpose. This post, most likely, will leave many sitting in the same corner they have occupied for years, feeling even more defeated and hopeless. Why? Because people experiencing mental health issues cannot just decide one day to acknowledge their limitations… and step into a new world of freedom. It is so much more complex than this post implies.
Perhaps the biggest tragedy is that we will be forever trapped if we continue to just sit with our beliefs, suffering endlessly, while we wait for some unknown to open the door for us. Our limits will continue to exist whether the door is open or not. Once that door is open, one must take action in order to find true freedom, or even the hope for true freedom.
This post misses the most important piece if we are to heal and find freedom from our beliefs and fears, it is missing the ‘how.” How does one go about freeing themselves? For each of us, this ‘how’ is going to look different. We must work with our care providers, therapists, psychiatrists, and support people to build a plan that includes a variety of strategies. It is possible to begin re-wiring our brains so that we may see, feel, and believe in a freedom from the confines of the prison that is mental illness.
And equally important, please do not wait for someone else to come along and open that door. We each hold our own unique key. In order to unlock it, however, we must first believe that there is a freedom waiting for us on the other side and that freedom can only be accessed through action.