Sunday, 10 January 2021

Questions and Answers (Forty): Is Mental Illness a Choice?

Taking Ownership of My Mental Health

Question:

I understand your point, but saying "Mental Illness" is a choice?
  • I was diagnosed with severe depression last year.
  • The thing about mental illness is, when you are mentally ill, you become weak; you lose all will and strength to thrive, to survive, to be alive (do basic life responsibilities – including staying alive, getting out of bed, having one’s bath, etc.). You basically depend on the strength of your family, friends, health providers. 
  • Depression is like you being in a pit and not having the strength to come out of that place.
  • It might be difficult for depressed persons to adhere to counsels. They might think saying, “saying it is a choice,” is rather being inconsiderate.

Answer:

Thanks for this awesome feedback. This is the kind of engagement I shoot to have. This is why the group was set up in the first place. I want to meet each person where they are. Thanks for taking the risk to be open and trusting.

Yes, depending on the level and stage of depression, what I wrote can either be healing or offensive. That is why I tried to clarify at the beginning.

When one starts playing around with the things that lead to depression, it is very much a choice. One can decide to desist or not. One can decide to build resilience or not. It is a choice. Once captivated by depression, one becomes a captive, and it is as if one does not have a choice.

Yes, it is as if one does not have a choice, but that is not true. The choices are limited, but one still has a choice. Even in the weakness, one can decide to fall back and enjoy the weakness or continue focusing on recovery. It is a choice.

One can continue to surround him or herself with the things that help or not. That is a choice. At every level of depression, there is always something one can do. These are the choices I am referring to. Do you understand me?

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