Listen to the voices - Eleanor Longden TED Talk & Mental Health

I haven't been talking about mental health in a while. mostly because I haven't had any problems with that lately – or at least not the obvious ones but more about that further down. I understand now that my ADHD is not a mental health issue but a learning disability so that is why I can actually confidently say I haven't had any mental health problems lately. However, as some of my readers might remember, I did have my brush with depression and burn-out most probably caused by undiagnosed ADHD and years of overworking myself and not taking care of my needs.

I'm bringing the topic up again because I just watched this mindblowing TED Talk by Eleanor Longden, proving to me, once again, that it is imperative we talk about mental health. We need to destigmatise.
At one point she says that hearing voices is very much a 'sane reaction to insane circumstances', and I'm thinking that might be true for many mental health 'issues'; simply our bodies being smart enough to say, 'Hold on a second, we need to deal with this'.

I've begun to understand that my body has ways of communicating too. For instance, when I'm not happy about something I have physical reactions to those feelings. It's taken me a bit to figure out that this is the case, and I'm still learning the correspondences, but there are a couple of things I now have a better grasp of:

There's an obvious one. When I get really nervous about something (i.e. a job interview) I get the shits. Well sorry, that's just how it is. I've heard that a lot of people have that. You're nervous about an exam, a job interview or a performance, you end up spending some time on the loo, but as soon as you're on your way to The Scary Thing your body calms down.

But then there are the more finicky signs, the one's we don't learn about like we do about stage fright or 'nerves'.

Sometimes I get a lump in my throat, this intense feeling that I can't swallow. I used to think it was related to gastritis because that was when it first showed up. But now I know that it's simply a sign that an uncertain situation is stressing me out.
Like, knowing my financial situation is approaching panic mode. I got it when I was fired 4 weeks ago and it went away when I got hired last week. Uncertainty is a big trigger: The lump in my throat resurfaced for a day last week when it suddenly became uncertain what exactly my field of work would be at the new place. It was a highly chaotic situation and it was stressing me out. Sometimes it can be something as simple as not knowing what I have planned for the day that sets it off but most of the time I'm sweating the big stuff.

It was 2011, and I was 'NOT OK'
Sometimes this is what our bodies are trying to tell us, only less strikingly.
(c) 2011

When my stomach begins to burn it means I am stressing out about something that is not external but internal. A job situation I want to get out of because it is not right for me anymore. My own work load and/or the pressure I put on myself. An emotional situation that I haven't yet figured out how to solve.

I rarely get headaches so I haven't figured those out yet. But when my ear starts to ring or gets plugged it means I need to find some peace and quiet. To meditate. Breathe. To be by myself, to not do anything.

I have learned to read these signs and feelings. And, usually, by acknowledging them, by hearing what they are trying to communicate – a bit like Longden's voices –, by promising that I will deal with the root of the problem, these pains and aches go away. Unless I postpone treating the problem indefinitely. But they absolutely have a right to show up again because, apparently, I didn't get the message the first time.

I guess it's time to say, 'Thank you, body. You're a good one. You tell me what I need to hear, and I promise to listen.'

1 comment:

  1. I get the shits, too. ALL the time. In EVERY stressful situation. You should have seen me in med school. I pretty much lived on poop stuffers.