One flew over the cuckoo’s nest – or alot more than that

admin/ September 30, 2015/ Dr. Danielle/

Okay, a super duper lot more than that fly over the cuckoo’s nest every single day. And if you have lived in a cave recently, or are just too young to clue into my pop culture reference here, allow me to make myself clear. I am talking about “the crazies”, “the sickos”, “the psychos”, “the clowns”…..the humans who struggle with mental illness. Yes, today I am tackling the subject of mental illness because I am sick of people pretending it doesn’t exist; of people who suffer through it and don’t get help because they are worried what others will say; of people who don’t prioritize their mental health as high as their physical health.

I get it, ok? There has been and always will be a taboo relating to mental health. And no matter how much awareness we bring to people, and how much we educate and expose others to this aspect of our health, there will always be that one person (you know, the over-compensator who can’t feel good about themselves so they spend their time making others feel bad) who strikes out against someone suffering mentally and emotionally. But you know what? That’s ok. It really is ok. Because every person who maintains the taboo regarding mental health is sicker than those they isolate. But not in a medical sense, in an ethical, scum of the earth sense.

So exactly what am I talking about when I say mental health? I am talking about the people who suffer from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and all the associated pathologies. You may or may not know of someone in your life that has been affected by these illnesses. In my case, I have seen most of these diagnoses at their worst. I have also been granted the opportunity to treat people suffering from them. And the reason I feel blessed to be treating this type of illness is because there is so much to learn from a person who is connected to their mind that is beyond the superficial. From someone who has decided to face their day by confronting it and not letting one day run into another. When a person walks into my clinic, they have decided to stop suffering. And they have picked me to help them do it. My role as a naturopath differs from one patient to the next. And this depends on the specific needs of the patient. Some patients refuse psychiatric medication and would prefer supplementation, acupuncture, etc. Others want adjunctive, supportive treatment alongside their psychiatric meds. And some just want to talk and have an unbiased discussion about how they feel. And of course, recognizing my scope of practice, some patients need referrals to professionals in the mental health field. Which is easier said than done as I feel our town is so very under-serviced when it comes to mental health support.

So what can we do to bring a better understanding to our community regarding mental health? We can start by taking a look at ourselves; reflect on our own mental health and how important we view it. Start taking inventory at the end of each day, an introspective look into our emotions and thought patterns. And make this a priority. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t be ashamed. Talk to someone you trust for guidance and be pro-active! Secondly, be open to talking about mental health with other people. Don’t shy away because your knowledge on the subject may be limited. The more you talk about it, the more you will discover. Perhaps reach out to someone whom you think may be suffering but is too scared to talk. Just let them know you are there as a sounding board if they need it. Additionally, there is a great national initiative happening right now called Partners for Mental Health. Check out their website at http://www.partnersformh.ca/ and take the pledge! There are also a lot of great volunteer opportunities and the more local volunteers we get, the better!

So no matter what your personal experience is with mental health, I encourage you to be open to learning more. Whether it’s for yourself or someone you know, bringing more awareness to this subject will only allow for a greater number of challenges overcome.
Wishing you a happy and healthy day, while I sit here, 12 days away from my due date, in severe, severe back pain …. trying not to act all “crazy”.

Dr. D