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Mental Health

September 01, 20234 min read

"The attempt to escape from pain, is what creates more pain." ― Gabor Maté

This post is the thesis for a book about you, the survivor of all that you’ve survived. It's actually about all of us who have experienced and survived trauma and the impact that unhealed trauma can have on our mental and emotional wellbeing.

What inspires this post are my observations of our collective mental wellness - and lack of it - and the history of trauma for those who struggle with mental health. 

It seems that every few years or so, for decades, that the schools of psychology come up with a new diagnostic term or label to describe a symptomatology pattern whose incidence is increasing in the population.

One detail that I find most interesting is that it is commonly discovered in psychiatric treatment intake protocols that a history of trauma - and the resulting post-traumatic stress conditions many people cope with daily - is fairly consistent. 

When it comes to profiling those diagnosed with any of the growing variety of what we commonly refer to as mental illnesses, then, why isn’t ‘trauma survivor’ the label we ascribe?

From this angle, it looks like what schools of psychology are effectively doing with this labeling system is more like categorizing clusters of symptoms and profiling the groups of people who present with in-common symptomatology. Which is neat if you want to know what the best chemical symptom abatement method to use could be, but what if what you want is recovery? Wellness? Wellbeing? Results from treatment?

Another detail that stands out to me is that when we describe someone with mental illness, what we refer to is a set of emotional symptoms. So, why is it referred to as mental illness and not emotional illness? Why aren’t we talking about cultivating emotional wellbeing as a method for approaching the recovery of mental wellness?

On this note, why is it a commonly accepted and driving assumption that mental illness is a permanent condition?

As one who has struggled with

  • chronic depression

  • chronic anxiety and panic disorder

  • been accused of being "borderline" and narcissistic

and is definitely a trauma survivor and recover-er my ongoing recovery journey, I have gained a number of insights and keep running into more and more questions, like these above, which illuminate what we’re really talking about when we discuss mental health.

My long and continuing journey from mental illness to mental wellness was an emotional one. 

This is what tipped me off to the relationship between my unwell thinking and how awful I felt inside for most of my first 40 years. This is quite a long time, when you think about it; to be a mentally unwell person running around in the world, raising kids, wreaking havoc with my family members and generally flailing around. 

All this same while, exhausting myself by presenting a front that concealed - for the most part - how awful I felt. Why did I feel compelled to hide how I felt? Frankly, it’s how I learned to cope with feeling awful inside. Pretend I feel fine. A lot of the time it worked, but, after so many years, and the increasing feeling that I was living a double life: the life I lived with my friends and family on okay days, and the inner life going on inside of me which came out from time to time and either hurt, frightened or otherwise upset those closest to me - my family - and most crushingly, my children.

The ones I worried most about - the ones whom I couldn’t bear to see in pain, yet, I hurt them in ways that weren’t with shouts or physical violence, but by living in a state of inner emotional turmoil constantly, and making important life choices from inside that turmoil. Life choices that impacted both of them in different ways and in enduring ways. This condition I was living with ultimately transferred the trauma I’d worked so hard to spare them, as I had not yet learned to effectively address it.

Thus began my long journey of recovery. It's this journey now that I share with you, dear reader. My message? Trauma is inevitable in this world. It's not your parent's fault. It's not anyone's fault. And. Wellbeing is your birthright. It's all our birthright. Your journey will be different from mine. And. Your wellbeing is not only possible, it's essential if we want a future free of what we, and our parents, inherited. It happens one internally loving act at a time--for this is what causes your healing.

If you want to talk about where to start, please take me up on this gift for you. I can show you in fewer than 20 minutes how to utilize your inner resources to activate your natural ability to effectively heal your trauma from within. I would be honored to talk with you.

With love,

Angelina Frost

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