Thoughts on mental health
Updated and graciously re-posted from Gürze Publications: In the San Francisco Chronicle there was an article by Martha Woodruff titled, “Let’s treat addiction like the disease it is.” Ms. Woodruff was writing about an HBO executive who was seeking treatment for a substance abuse relapse. Woodruff asked, “When is this country going to relax its judgmental grip on the throats of addicts and alcoholics?”
The question of whether or not an eating disorder can be classified as an “addiction” is open to debate. In my opinion, they are most definitely psychologically and emotionally addictive behaviors, but no matter what label we give them, the very same question can be asked, “When is this country going to relax its judgmental grip on the throats of eating disordered sufferers?”
Ms. Woodruff states,
“Addiction to drugs or alcohol is not an inconvenience, a lapse of willpower, a character flaw, anything to be ashamed of or any form of divine judgment. Addiction is not something that needs to be whispered about or shrouded in euphemisms when you are among polite company. Addiction is a … disease – in the same way that diabetes and asthma are … diseases. ”
We all have physical health….sometimes we’re physically well, sometimes physically ill. We often want to ignore that we all have mental health too and that sometimes we’re mentally well and sometimes mentally ill. It’s that “mentally ill” that gets the bad rap. It is difficult to heal in a culture that does not even want to recognize that one is truly ill.
An eating disorder is a disease. It “is not an inconvenience, a lapse of willpower, a character flaw, anything to be ashamed of or any form of divine judgment.” It is also “not something that needs to be whispered about.”
Sometimes coming to these realizations can be a very slow process for parents. I, too, am a part of this culture…it took me a very long time to be willing to stop whispering and to relax my judgmental grip—I did not want to have a child who suffered with a mental illness. I did not realize that my attitude contributed to the stigma I was attempting to avoid. I now understand that I must first change my thinking before I can ask that of my child or of my culture.
Until next time,