I am by no means an expert on anything to do with the brain, much less anything else, but I am here to talk about mental health because damn, guys... damn.
Mental health has taken a HUGE toll on my existence. Mine, and everyone else who surrounds me. Study's have shown that there is a very strong correlation between mental illness, and addiction. The obvious question here is: why?
I don't personally know. Scientists around the world are trying to sort it out. If I could give a very basic and simple answer though, I would say this: duh.
Of course! Addiction is a form of escapism. 'Nuff said. Right?!
I sat in on another meeting recently, and was astounded to be sitting in the same room with a teenager who took the initiative to form a group in his high school for his peers to become better educated on the harmful effects of drug addiction. Smoking, vaping, pills, edibles... etc. Dude, I'm so proud of you! That's huge! You are changing the world, and the lives of your friends and you may not fully understand the impact of that yet, but wow. I am mad impressed. What he touched on several times was mental illness. Buddy, if you felt like maybe no one was taking you seriously, this girl was completely.
I have felt it and seen it. Could we change the conversation? Could we focus more on what it is to be human within our physical bodies, and minds and try to wrap our heads around why addiction occurs in the first place, and not so much on how trendy it seems, or dare I say, prevention... *gasp*. I know, I'm all about preventative measures, but what teen in your life is going to listen when you say "drugs are bad, and that's that". Not a single one of them. They don't care about you or your message. You know who they care about? Themselves. How they feel. And you know what? Now more so than ever before our teenagers are STRUGGLING in a minefield of depression, anxiety, and a variety of other mental illness that they desperately want to escape.
And not just our teens, but you are too. I can not name one single individual, regardless of age, who isn't at the very least, depressed let alone anything else more serious.
Why are we facing the biggest and worst epidemic of our era? Because life sucks! Life sucks, and our brains are rewiring through the trauma and pain. Rewiring us for escape. Even I want to escape. It's so hard to function, to feel loved, or productive, or successful, or satisfied. Nothing is ever enough. It's never ever ever enough, and it can't be. Nothing can be enough, because we have to work harder, better, more money, more sex, more stuff...more more more ... everything.
I don't have enough time, energy, or money for all of the needy little habits, and responsibilities in my life. I just don't, so I fall apart. So you fall apart. Who do we talk to? Where do we go? And this is very basic, now take that and add a true mental illness to it. Bam! You're broken! You don't fit into society, so you better figure out how to fix yourself, and you better do it all by yourself because the rest of us don't have time for that nonsense. Do we?! No, thank you, we do not.
"What now?! I hate myself. I hate my life... I need out, God, I need out!!! There are those pills that help me feel better. Just for a minute, just for one minute. There's that glass of wine, just one, maybe two, three won't kill me... That vape pen I bought, that takes the edge off, I can sleep it off and feel better tomorrow, or just get through the day and hope that 5pm rolls around sooner than later, and do it again so I can feel better. I live for these moments. I need this. I can't function without this. What else am I supposed to do? It's the only thing that makes me feel better anymore, it's the only way to keep going.................................."
That's the narrative in so many heads. And it does escalate quickly. It doesn't take much before you rely on the substance.
We know that connection to other human beings will fix this, but we are living in such a day that everyone is afraid of everyone else. We don't trust each other, so we can't be there for each other, or ask for help in any meaningful capacity.
That's not good.
So, what if we talked about our emotions more? What if we focused less on the substance abuse, and more on the mental abuse we are living in every day of our lives? What if we were good listeners and that's all it took? What if we took communication classes, and learned to better understand our own behavior and the behavior of others? And how to help them, and in turn ask for help ourselves?
How much different would it all be?
It all feels pretty simple to me, but I know it's not. It's so terribly complicated. Personally I want to talk about it. I will likely ask you too many personal questions about your life. Maybe do that for someone else. See what happens. Do it without judgement, or opinions. Just listen, and ask follow up questions. Let them be the guide, and when they're done, so is the conversation. You don't need to chime in, and if someone does this for you, it's OK to be selfish and talk about yourself and your struggles, or how you're feeling. It's a start right?
I dunno. Mental illness has taken over our world and very recently it seems to be all I can think about.