I hope you have all had a wonderful weekend! It’s difficult to believe that we are in the last few days of summer break before the madness of back to school time begins. It’s amazing how much the first and last months of school challenge my mental health! Yes, I am known to belt out the words of Frank Costanza from Seinfeld, “Serenity Now”!!!!! I hope we can all move through the first few weeks with ease, reminding ourselves to take care of our mental, physical, and emotional health so we can get everyone back to school, work, activities, etc. without a breakdown!
On the topic of mental health and a much more serious note, along with the rest of the world, I was enormously saddened by the death of Robin Williams last week. I know many of you experienced the same thing, but I really felt like I had lost a friend. Reading all the tributes and news articles on his suicide just sent me deeper into a state of despair. I suddenly had flashbacks to my first day of Psychotherapy class in graduate school when my professor asked the class how many of us thought we could be diagnosed using our brand new DSM IV’s. Of course, no one raised their hands, to which he responded, “just by being in graduate school, you are already diagnosable”. “You have to fall somewhere on the obsessive-compulsive scale to even make it to graduate school.” I went on to realize that we all fall somewhere on the mental health continuum for different disorders, in reality, we are only a few life events away from mental illness. I wondered all week what must have pushed Robin Williams, a man who seemed to have been able to manage his depression and substance abuse with a healthy lifestyle and commitment to his sobriety and depression treatment, over the edge. Then I heard the news from his wife, he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and it seemed to make more sense.
I hope the loss of our beloved actor, comedian, humanitarian, and role model will bring greater awareness to the importance of mental health and what we can do to help ourselves when life events become greater than our capacity for processing and managing them. I believe the first step for understanding the complexities of mental health is to acknowledge our own connection to mental illness. Having empathy and understanding for those dealing with depression or other mental disorders is paramount to progress in our society. Destigmatizing help for those who are suffering is also essential. Just think of the benefit for our children and our children’s children if we can start normalizing mental health services. Help your loved ones understand that mental health services are medicine for the brain, not something for which they need to feel ashamed.
In the meantime, we can all take care of our mental, physical, and emotional health by eating healthy non-processed, organic foods, making exercise a priority every week, work on our connections with others, and reach out for help when we feel like life is too much to handle.
I hope to see you all back in class this week. We are still not back to our regular schedule, so make sure you check to see which classes and times will meet this week.