500 million years ago a tiny sea-worm duplicated its Dlg gene — and then the problems began.
So theorizes Jess Nithianantharajah of the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Melbourne, Australia.
And when primatologist Jane Goodall poignantly recounts in her book, Through The Window, the conditions of depression manifest in a chimpanzee named Flint — so forlorn by the loss of his mother Flo that he lays by her resting place to himself die — you begin to see connections between us all.
So what about these things called synapses — those critical junctions between brain cells that are the very foundation for transmitting information? Whether it’s a dog peeing on a tree or a homeless person peeing on the street, all life is inextricably linked and that notion both fascinates and makes us uneasy. The more synapses we have, the more complications and margin for error as we all co-exist on this not very merry-go-round of Life.
Life is like conjoined twins. You can not extract Nature from Human Nature.
Mental illness has been around for eons. But its current rise is giving rise to inescapable truths; that the world we live in and the way we live in it can foster more wellness or illness, depending on how we choose to hold our Selves and others in the midst of it all. To an extent, mental illness is a question of degree. I can be talking (or laughing or crying out loud) to myself in the confines of my home. But as soon as I take that behaviour public I’m branded as borderline.
Obviously there are medical conditions that truly merit the label. But the more subtle and prevalent grade B level now feeds the flame. This form of mental illness is more like mental stillness, whereby we’re locked into modes of belief and moulds of being based on what is deemed “appropriate” or “acceptable”. It’s well known that IQ quotients aren’t an accurate assessment of intelligence because they straightjacket our multifaceted human intelligence into a single standard of measure. A richer exploration of our self-misperceptions can become antidote to the rampant spiritual, psychological and physiological dissociation currently plaguing our planet.
We have little clue about how to play our role in life other than the pleasing images we’re programmed to accept as standard bearer. But as two time Nobel nominee Professor Ervin Laszlo urges, this script is old paradigm and rapidly changing … often in spite of ourselves.
An actor has a script, costume, and makeup. But what guarantees a great performance? The talent is in the interpretation; how the actor reads between those uttered lines … how the actor understands the underbelly of the character being portrayed.
Our limited understanding about our collective or individual character is partly due to being shamed into hiding those relevant yet less desirable shadowy dimensions. So we keep struggling to reinterpret the same stale script. Yet we laud the greatness of a Shakespeare for showing those remarkable blemishes we’re loathe to bring from the page into reality …
a reality that birthed those very pages!
For a period of time many years ago I experienced an intense work relationship with a brilliant, possibly autistic, intuitive, emotionally unstable individual for whom the word “tornado” could be aptly applied. This person’s combination of brilliance-mental instability-unawakened state + my own unawakened state = mental breakdown (figuratively speaking). I was forever changed from that intense interaction but it heightened my appreciation of the struggle within us all.
The bucking up of energies (internally within one’s own churning nature and externally with that of other individuals’) is the birthplace of us all. And it’s this very convergence of elements, irregularities, disturbances that comprise our Cosmos. Epochs of explosions later, Earth cools down and decompresses, becoming a liveable, stunning, blooming entity.
So let’s talk about The Environment — not Global Warming but heartwarming — as in the need to melt the frigid, fearful atmosphere that pervades our planet in a kind of environMental breakdown. It’s evidenced on many local and global playing fields, particularly in the halls of Power which posture as Leadership (eg. The White House). What distinguishes the shame of a homeless person who has mental disabilities from the narcissistic pride of a billionaire in the throws of dethroning a nation?
Window dressing and our collective perception.
If an insect is coloured iridescent green and lapis, are we less inclined to squash it because it’s more visually appealing than its less dazzling comrades?
We’re a world that has learned to shun its less attractive features, thereby spawning a mass-scale sense of disconnection and rejection (Refugee Crisis anyone?). This pressure cooker builds and eventually explodes or implodes. Indefinite stasis it certainly will not sustain. It is therefore vital to constantly nurture and refresh our role models / symbols of acceptability in order to stay current and take comfort … so instead of spiralling back in time to The Middle Ages we become adept at adapting to the relentless klieg light of The Mobile Ages.
Tech connect is our newest, inevitable synapse. It’s nearly invincible in showing us the cracks in Life where we’re missing connection. From kings to beggars to investment bankers to factory workers to celebrities to Pygmies to astronauts alike … we are all a hairline curve — a mere Dlg — away from that seemingly shameful condition we attribute to being, or to being associated with, one who is mentally ill.
And while it may be a component of our fragile yet fascinating genetic disposition, fortunately within those genetic fibers are embedded unseen spiritual synapses which bond our Being to Existence in inestimable, restorative ways. They can reconfigure our molecular structure. They can spur Evolution. They can perhaps reconnect the disparate aspects of those synapses in a way which might convert mental illness to eleMental wellness.
We decide what’s acceptable. We create the trends. We are the buying power and the power of our beliefs. We, who are hidden from the light of day by virtue of self-imposed or societal stigma need not remain this way (and that includes our very human leaders, whose faiblesse is often overcompensated with bravado rather than the bravery of their humanity).
Mental illness is real, and requires treatment. But how we treat each other in our varied degrees of mental stability or instability is certainly the backbone of global malaise that’s on the upswing. When you’ve been cloaked in darkness for so long, reentering the light can be blinding. So removing the proverbial veil about our real or imagined shortcomings with the utmost care is a significant step toward mental health, and a benevolent missive for us all.
Do it privately. Do it publicly. But “just do it”.
Originally published at medium.com