On mentally illness

This is from a FB post I made this morning. I thought maybe someone here could benefit from reading it.

Yesterday morning I posted about another bad dream I had, and how screwed up I am due to my parents. My friend ***** responded, and what he wrote was spot-on. Partially. I’m expanding in a new post, because I think it’s important. This is not to call him out for being wrong, because he certainly wasn’t, it’s to point out that I had something deeper in mind.

**** is right. Regardless of our circumstances we can strive to improve them. Whether you were born in poverty, had a poor family situation, or some trauma along the way, you can pull yourself together and accomplish things you may have doubted were within your ability.

I was born into a lower working class family. I literally grew up in a trailer park in South Louisiana. Education wasn’t encouraged or valued. I had little guidance from my parents (well, none from my mother, little from my father). Healthy eating and physical well-being were never discussed. Substance abuse was a part of life.

Yet, here I am. I joined the Air Force. Worked my ass off after normal duty hours to take college courses. I got accepted to PA school. I got my BS. I got my Masters. I earned my retirement. I’ve helped thousands of patients and their families. I have saved lives.

Though it’s later in life, I have realized the importance of healthy living, and how it is truly accomplished. I have lost 60 pounds so far. I’m a runner now. I’m training for my first marathon (at 49!). I’ve pulled myself out of prehypertension and prediabetes. I’ve quit drinking.

Yes sir, I’ve accomplished remarkable things.

But all of that is about accomplishing externally measurable goals. Goals that can be observed by someone outside looking in. Getting an education, landing a better job, more pay, fame, etc.

What I was referring to was the deeper troubles. The emotional problems that you can’t just rub out with elbow grease. The problems that will always be there, though through time and work you can learn to manage them. Or you can simply ignore them.

Mental illness, deep-seated emotional problems, are etched into our brains. The schizophrenic can’t will himself out of his psychosis. The truly major depressive can’t smile his way out of the darkness. The woman with crippling anxiety attacks can’t wave a wand of logic and make them go away. No, these problems are a part of us, and always will be. We can work to manage them, to see them for what they are, to medicate them if necessary, or to use tools such as meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, etc., to improve them, but they are a part of us.

The same principle applies that **** was alluding to. If you want to get better, if you want to lessen the impact of the emotional problems you face, you have to recognize the problem and you have to do the work. You have to place yourself in uncomfortable situations to confront your problems and do what is necessary to improve them. If you don’t, they may be forever crippling.

Notice I said “better”, and “improve”. For true mental health problems often don’t go away.

If you suffer from depression (as I do) or anxiety, if you’re still impacted by Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) (as I am), know that I see you, and I believe you.

I’ve been accused of using my CEN as an excuse or a crutch. It’s easy for an outsider to make a flippant observation and pass judgement, because they don’t know the real struggle within you.

You can’t make the brain do something it’s simply not capable of.

Keep fighting. Keep trying to improve, to get better, because life can be brighter when we do.

We can learn to live productive lives, we can be happier, even though we know…



Thanks for posting this. So many people just don’t get it and think mental health struggles are a choice and don’t understand what goes on behind the scenes. Great post.


Thank you , a good read.

1 Like

Love this, thanks for sharing! :heart:


John, I just saw this. Really wonderful post You are so right. We can’t wish our backgrounds, our diseases, our mental ilknesses away - but we can learn to manage them, to learn coping strategies,for and make healthier decisions. Thank you for this reminder.

1 Like

My pleasure! Thank you for reading.

1 Like

I too only just saw this and I had wished I read it the other day. I could have used it then. But I’m reading it today and it makes me feel better now. I’m learning to recognize my own mental health issues. It’s so easy to say “oh, I don’t have it so bad, I am being selfish and I should just suck it up” but I am what I am, I am who I am, and I’m okay. I want to be better but that doesn’t mean I’m not good today.


Well said. We have to do the best we can with what we have.