Hope, despair, joy, sorrow, happiness, sadness, peace, anxiety, detached, attached… all these words in some way describe mental health. For years the term mental illness has been used. Mental illness is a term used to describe other people, but not me! The term might cause our minds to recall scenes from “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” It is scary and unapproachable. The term mental illness implies something is “wrong” and something needs to be “fixed.”
There has been a change and now we see the term mental health instead of mental illness. The term mental health is used as a way to look at the positive aspects of the psyche. It helps us go from saying them to us. At some point most of us, if not all of us will come to a place in our lives where our mental health is not at the place we would want. We find ourselves on the side of sorrow, desperation and hopelessness. We long for the days of joy, hope, and happiness, but it just is not happening. It seems the more we try, the darker the world becomes. No one understands the innermost being of our souls.
We realize mental health does not even come close to describe the yearnings, aches, and hollowness of the soul. Each part of our being is impacted. Our physical health is affected along with our spiritual being. It is at this point we learn the soul of our mental health is the essence of our being. It is the essence of our being and we want a fix fast. We do not like the feelings of despair and silence. We wait for something to “feel” different and yet we find that all we are doing is waiting.
Our culture pulls us into thinking that we do not have to wait for anything. Communication is constant and we expect answers immediately. If we wait for anything we think we have been slighted; we fail to realize the depth and importance of the waiting. So when we start feeling the darkness and yearnings we want a change and fast. Our society tries to tell us if we shop, eat, and drink more we will find happiness, but yet the more we do the more realize these things will not “fix” our problem.
Sue Monk Kidd in her book “When the Heart,” Waits explains the inevitability of waiting in life. Kidd sees it as a vital part of spiritual life. If we look at some of our favorite biblical stories we realize we have numerous examples of waiting. One of the most profound examples is Israel wondering and waiting in the desert for forty years. Forty years of waiting and yearning for something new, a promise.
Kidd explains in her book the key during these difficult times is being able to fully accept waiting in life. Fighting waiting brings more suffering to an already difficult time. It is when acceptance becomes part of the process one is able to gain the gifts waiting has to offer. Once acceptance happens the focus is not on “fixing” the problem, it is living the process. Living the process eventually leads one out of the darkness.
Rainer Maria Rilke beautifully writes in “Letters to a Young Poet” “…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
Hope, despair, joy, sorrow, happiness, sadness, peace, anxiety, detached, attached… The soul of mental health is the essence of our being. When we learn to wait in the dark times, we learn a valuable lesson. We learn to appreciate all seasons of life. The times of joy, happiness, and peace have a deeper meaning. The world is more colorful and we realize the soul of mental health is much more complex than fixing our psyche.