Many people not only survive mental illness – they thrive

Many people not only survive mental illness – they thrive

To really be unhappy, we need to manage the unhappy.

For many of us, that’s managing or overcoming mental ill-health so we can really enjoy mental health.

That’s not easy; but it’s far more possible than many realise and rather than just surviving, we may well be able to thrive …

via Psyche by Jonathan Rottenberg

Mental disorders afflict humanity on a vast scale. The World Health Organization estimates that half a billion people struggle with depression and anxiety. Those who have a mental illness suffer great distress – whether it’s the crippling fear of a panic attack, the angst of remembered trauma, or the horror of compulsive rituals. Collectively, mental health problems account for more than a fifth of all years lived with disability.

As important and compelling as these statistics are, however, the story they tell overlooks the other side of the coin – the reality that some percentage of people with mental illness recover and even thrive. The story of Kevin Hines is one notable example of this possibility. After years of suffering from depression, delusions and paranoia, Hines attempted suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Immediately after leaving the railing, he felt regret as he plunged 240 feet into the waters below. Miraculously, Hines survived. His mental health has since improved, and he is now a prominent public speaker on suicide prevention, and the author of the book Cracked, Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt (2013).

While one story cannot represent every person’s experience, it does raise important questions about mental illness. What are the chances that someone with a mental health problem such as depression, anxiety or suicidal impulses will recover from these difficulties to live a happy life? Are mental health disorders so horrible, so corrosive and so destructive to wellbeing that instances of thriving after mental illness are too rare to enumerate? Or is the transition from mental illness to wellness a realistic possibility for many? The psychiatry, psychology and public health establishment has hesitated to tackle these important questions.

Mental health fields have invested their energy into tracking symptoms or disorders as endpoints. In practical terms, this means that those who formally evaluate treatment typically consider the extent to which treatments reduce the symptoms of mental illness rather than the extent to which they lead to a state of high wellbeing. This distinction is non-trivial, as insights from positive psychology have shown us that the absence of symptoms does not equal the presence of good functioning – ridding oneself of anxiety is not the same as creating joy, meaning and satisfaction with life…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE