Mental Health. Today, I was thinking about mental health as it pertains to Tree. Initially, I was thinking of talking about it as a continuum, one that stretches infinitely in each direction, from blissed out ecstasy to suicide or murderous obsession. But there is no end point in either direction, is there? Where would destruction of Planet Earth belong? The smell of a kitten or an infant’s first smile? Where does a memory fit as it shifts over time? How many points on the line as we revise our past?
The other problem with a continuum is that it suggests that once you’re “here” or “there” you can go only in one of two directions, up or down. But my experience with mental health and mental illness tells me that it’s not so linear, or not always so, and that something more like ocean waves suggest the heaving and ebbing, returning and receding of mental health and illness.
Our mental wellbeing is something that we must nurture and cultivate even when we are stable and “happy.” And when we’ve been slapped down, we long for its return, often seeking it in ineffective, even damaging ways. I will have more to say tomorrow, maybe, when I talk a little about addiction.
At any rate, recovery from mental illness (situational or lifelong) is important enough to The Tree You Come Home To that my editor and publisher Jodie Toohey (more on her soon) asked if I’d be willing to donate 10% of the proceeds to NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and of course I said yes.