Little did I know that an afternoon brainstorm, plotting out the campaign of my mental health activist project, would spin The Babyfacedassassin upside-down. A kind of frustrated brooding takes over when I consider how far we’ve strayed from our true nature when it comes to mental health care.
I’m fortunate to have a team of bright thinkers and warm-hearted feelers, picking my brains on exactly what needs to to happen to ensure our mental health care system in Australia represents what people want and deserve. Fortunately, Australia has dedicated organisations brimming with forums and recommendations on how to get help for your depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
Unfortunately, these places, claiming to reach ‘beyondblue’ of our ‘headspace’, rarely look further than the medical sector for inspiration on how to truly care for oneself.
It’s no surprise that I took it upon myself to pursue a path of activism – countless hospital admissions recommending medication and therapy in the face of my natural sensitivity, certainly opened me up to this culture of quick-fix and fix-feelings. I’m tired of living in a culture that doesn’t actively mention ‘heart and soul’ in mainstream culture when it comes to matters of healing. It’s not new-age, it’s ice-age, to acknowledge the sacredness of life and death in all its passion, pain and glory, and I am tired of science having its way with matters best left to healing arts. Our spirituality, regardless of faith, goes hand-in-hand with the big questions that the mind grapples with, those that are precisely termed ‘mental illness’. A shaman, priestess or monk could very well share a thing or two about alleviating depression. Why does psychiatry claim to have all the answers?
The recent launch of the DSMV – psychiatry’s bible of diagnostic rules – invites us to look at grief as an illness if it does not pass after 2 weeks…(!) These are the approaches that people in power of mental health policies and procedures have over our emotions and life’s cycles. Sickness! It’s the new term for uncomfortable, unpleasant and unfortunate, and also very convenient for pharmaceuticals.
So this is one of many reasons I am choosing to avidly represent the underrepresented and request that the government provide free access via online databases and the ease of the information age, to all the wonderful community endeavours dedicated to wellbeing that do not necessarily involve medication and medicalisation: The simple yet true to form arts of humanity that have survived civilisation, regenerated: our creative arts, martial arts, our ceremonies and sacred rituals. Those activities, some call hippie, like freestyle dancing and free-spirited hooping, you know, the ones that are FUN, INTERACTIVE, PARTICIPATORY AND INCLUSIVE. The arts of being human somehow cast aside as ‘alternative’ in the face of Dr so-and-so’s latest hypothesis for a grief stricken widow.
I’m tired and I’m stretched in my bank account and energy reserves, pumping up my projects with love and commitment to see them through but I pray every day, that my activism makes its mark in the history of mental health care, not for sheer satisfaction of a hobbie well-done – I know nudity can only get so far and introducing new systems of accessible health care is the ultimate goal – but for relief, celebration and unmatched freedom earned as a human race from seeing systems turn around and open wide and broaden their horizons, so that our dearest human nature – fluid in feeling and emotion – remains vibrant and intact, not hindered and suppressed.
I know we can do better than the state of play of psychiatry. It’s an area of some merits but in a twisted kind of way, prevents the mind from resting from consistent classification imposed upon our senses, our intuitions and our grief. A system dictated by the mind will give the mind no space or time for peace. It’s through our courageous hearts and souls that what we’re looking for in the passages of depression and the fits of anxiety will set us free.