Yesterday, as I scrolled on my social media, I came across a quote that I resonated with, and then inspiration struck, expressing itself in this writing. This was the quote:
“Every person you meet should be regarded as one of the walking wounded. We have never seen a man or woman not slightly deranged by either anxiety or grief. We have never seen a totally sane human being.”— Robert Anton Wilson
This is not the first time that I have heard something similar. And, around a month ago, while accessing some meditative state, I channeled this message: “All of this is crazy. We are all crazy.”
But, what is mental illness and what is mental wellness anyway? We have become accustomed to the idea that mental illness is someone suffering from conditions such as anxiety, depression or schizophrenia. However, I would suggest that these are actually highly gifted people, and high sensitivity often accompanies this gift. Their nervous systems get too agitated by the mental illness that they observe around them and it displays itself in the “conditions” that we diagnose. These people are, in fact, teachers, who highlight the things that are not working in our society. But their value and help in this way often goes unnoticed.
I would suggest that the majority of people who are deemed “functional” are also unwell. Even indulging in an argument is mental illness. Because to get into that state, a false, dis-empowering and unkind thought has presented itself and has been given permission to run wild. Each one of us is a student and a teacher to one another, continually shining a light unto that which is unbalanced. Arguments reflect each other’s mental illness; mental illness that is subtle and has long been regarded as acceptable.
Our society, as a whole, is rife with mental illness, because each one of us entertains hurtful thoughts towards ourselves and others. Some of this mental illness is blatant, yet, nonetheless it has been permitted to continue to a certain degree, while we turn and look the other way. After all, dealing with our shadows demands courage, energy and tears.
I see xenophobia, racism, patriarchy, sexism, chauvinism, sexism, domestic abuse, amongst others as mental illness.
I see an epidemic of unhappiness. An epidemic of “fronts”; of people wearing invisible masks, keeping up appearances, keeping up with what is expected of them in society. I recognize a failing society, which expresses itself in the rising numbers of anxiety and depression. I do see a huge uprising, an awakening on the horizon. But before we purify, all of this is going to boil to a head. It has to. It is a must. Because, we have been looking the other way for far too long.
We pigeon-hole one another, expecting one another to live and think a certain way, asking one another to exhaust our self-expression, our creativity, our uniqueness – brushing aside the existence of any other possibilities. We copy one another through fear of judgment, exclusion and rejection. We adopted belief systems so entrenched, which end up encompassing the majority of the population. So far, this is the only way that we can conceive of how to co-exist with one another. We became a herd, for fear of chaos any other way. Everyone must do the same. It is fundamentally a survival tactic. But the norm does not equate health. And, we forget that each one of us is here to be our own unique selves rather than a replica of one another.
Those that deviate from the norm may be seen as troublemakers, rebels or mentally unbalanced. But those are the people who are seeing and showing another way. They keep creativity, variety, Life and hope alive. They pave the way towards evolution.
But, what if we took another route, which ended up being regarded as totally “normal”. I will use the example of homeschooling here, which will possibly become a popular schooling choice amidst the pandemic – as well as a journey that we shall be embarking upon this September.
What if homeschooling were actually the norm versus schooling outside of the home?
Is it really mental wellness when everyone does the same? What is “normal”? Anything can be regarded as “normal” – we just decide what it is and go with it. “Normal” is simply a mainstream idea that we adopted.
I will share a little story that happened recently. While I have always been very insightful, I did lose my way for many years. It was my children who woke me up again. They are some of my biggest teachers and they have, unknowingly, spurred me onto my journey of self-discovery, healing and of coming alive, once again.
In Canada, we have the choice of schooling in English or French, the latter known as French Immersion. I had heard of the idea of Waldorf schooling many years ago and it had always appealed to me. When my daughter was a baby, the idea of homeschooling reappeared. Thereafter, I toyed with the idea of either French Immersion or homeschooling for her, even though my intuition always came up with the latter. And yet again, when Covid19 struck, my choice became obvious. I would be homeschooling.
However, before my choice was made, I began teaching my daughter to read in English, in the event that she attended French Immersion. But, my daughter taught me something else. Recently, as we sat down at the kitchen table, learning numbers, I was expecting her to perform to a certain standard. I was, in all honesty, being too hard on her. It was very reminiscent of my own upbringing and also of my own schooling days.
My daughter was born an “Old Soul”. She has always been very mature for her age. She has always observed. She takes her time – she watches – and once she is ready, she masters the lesson. One of our first experiences with her was when she was learning to walk. Some of our friends were concerned that she wasn’t walking at a certain age. For the most part, as her parents, we were unconcerned. However, I failed to listen to myself, gave in to doubt, and got her checked out. My daughter was absolutely fine. And, when she was indeed ready, she walked at 16 months.
Sitting at the table today, I understood again. I needed to back off. My daughter would master this when she was ready. She taught me this many times over and I was once again reminded. I needed to trust her, again. Trust in Life, the process, Trust all of it. I realized that to push her was like saying: “You aren’t acceptable as you are.” And that is not what I want at all. I wish for my children to be so engulfed in self-love. For me, success is Happiness. I am not a huge Waldorf connoisseur, but I do get the impression that my view coincides with their methods of teaching. Self-love is of upmost importance because even those managers who doctor up their resumes – but truthfully have little to no required experience – get those positions in the first place because (even if their conscience level suffers) – their self-confidence soars.
I share this story to illustrate the expectations we impose upon one another.
Is that mental wellness?
I am reminded here of what is really important. When I depart from this world, will I be glad that I performed for others or that I listened to my Heart while respecting and loving others? I think happiness is the whole point of Life. To Live is the whole point in Life. Is that mental wellness?
All thoughts that we have are ideas. Nothing else. But, we tend to attach or reject certain ones. Neutrality and letting things be as they are is not something that we are well accustomed to practicing.
I am reminded of the Laughing Buddha. He laughs because he has understood. All these thoughts are just energy – energy that we have given substance to. He laughs because he has broken free from all the illusions. He is free and happy. Buddha taught us about Maya – The Land of Illusions. We live our Human lives caught up in this illusionary labyrinth.
What I am writing right now is an illusion, simply an idea. It is not concrete, not reality and neither is anything that you are thinking about. We are essentially empty vessels at our core, which end up adopting ideas and filling up our vessels until they overflow.
As I woke up today, something that I have been holding onto came to mind. And soon after, a suggestion followed. It said: “You can just drop that.” And, at that moment, it was that simple. I had understood. I dropped it – just like that. And, I instantly accessed peace and happiness. I had become an empty vessel.