One thing that my mental illness has taught me is the importance of community. Growing up, my family was not intricately woven into our local town like a friend of mine’s was. His family attended the local church, and participated in community suppers. His parents volunteered at the fire house, and his mother was a teacher at the elementary school. Every time I was with him in his town, such as grabbing a bite at the deli, he would meet someone he knew and have an interesting chat with them. This was alien to me. I didn’t understand it, and I didn’t realize what I was missing.
When I got sick after college, I had moved back home and was very isolated. I was at odds with my family about my plans to take a year off, and I was spending a lot of time alone. I consider this a factor in contributing to me getting sick. Our understanding of the world is made up of our shared experiences and relationships. When I started to experience psychosis, my experience was so different from the people around me, that I was having a very hard time relating to anyone. This left me more isolated and alone, and a downward spiral ensued. At that point it was too late, and despite my best efforts to connect with people, I needed some form of intervention.
In today’s modern world, in which the drive for economic growth has left people disjunct and isolated from the world around them, like commodities themselves, it’s almost like our society is suffering from mass delusion. We can see this in our politics today. People are having a hard time agreeing on simple facts. I feel quite comfortable in this, because I have already had my belief system broken down. I’m no longer afraid of losing my mind, but I can see why it is so frustrating for people. In the absence of intimacy and true relationship, we are left trying to convince others that we are right. The need to have a shared understanding of what is true is such a deep need, and is so human, perhaps that is why so many people are trying to convince others of their beliefs on the internet. Without this, they feel like their world is less real. They need to convince others so that they can convince themselves. I know that ego death is a painful process, and so I can have compassion for them.
Nowadays, I feel that I am the healthiest I have ever been. Physically, I feel incredible thanks to following the Medical Medium information. I have a greater network of relationships then ever before. My relationship with my family has healed somewhat from the damaged caused by my illness. I am a member of my local church community and have met many people in my town. I don’t relate with everyone on everything, but I can find little ways to connect with different people. I have one friend who loves Elon Musk like I do, and we always chat about the current events related to him and his companies. I relate with others about Jesus being my personal Lord and Savior at my local bible study group. Though we don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, I chat about health food with some of my coworkers at the natural products company that I work for.
I try to relate to people in the little ways that I can, and to find commonalities in the human experience. I truly care about others and am interested in learning about them and their lives. Even though I’d love to share more of my personal understanding with more people, I appreciate any common threads that I can find with others, and I have learned that everyone has something to offer. It’s humbling, but it is also enriching. I still feel alone sometimes, but ultimately I have much more connection with others, and my life feels more whole.
I love Charles Eisenstein’s definition of health from the video below, “health means wholeness . . . and I think a whole human being is someone with a full complement of relationships”: