5 July

Mental Health And Me

by Jon Katz
Mental Health And Me

Like most of you, I sometimes look out at the world beyond my precious little farm  and wonder if it has gone mad, or if I have. The world often seems angry and irrational to me pointlessly cruel and hopelessly divided.

For most of my life, I thought I was insane, and then I began to understand that those who think they are insane are usually the only ones who are really sane, and this is a revelation I am still processing, it seems both self-serving and profound to me.

The wise person, in my mind, knows the worst things about themselves. The truly insane person can’t acknowledge the worst things about themselves or see them in others.

Erich Fromm, the great psychologist and philosopher wrote in his landmark book “The Sane Society,” that the mentally health person is the productive and un-alienated person; the one who relates himself to the world lovingly, and who uses reason to grasp  reality objectively, rather than ideologically or through dogma.

The sane person experiences himself as a unique and individual entity, and at the same time feels one with his fellow-man; who is not subject to irrational authority, and accepts willingly the rational authority of conscience and reason.

The sane person is in the process of being born again and again as long as he or she is alive, he is never done learning, growing, doubting or changing.

The mentally health person considers the gift of life to be the most precious chance he has in his time on the earth, and is grateful for it.

As I real through this utterly rational list, I see I am getting closer to sanity. I  see myself as unique and individual, and i accept what is different and  special about me, even it if is not pleasant to me or others.

Increasingly, I relate to the world lovingly, and see my role, as the Dalai Lama, Gandhi and Christ suggested, as caring for others as much as for myself, or as a way of caring for myself.  I do not always feel at one with my fellow man, quite the opposite, yet I feel connected to the idea of community and humanity, and perhaps that is the same thing.

I am not subject to irrational authority, not yet, and I have always accepted the rational, rather than ideological authority of conscience, morality as I see it, and reason as I understand it. Like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I have always believed that we are not born once, but that life requires us to give birth to ourselves again and again.

I consider the gift of life to be sacred, beyond precious, I give thanks for it every day, no matter what the day brings. To be alive does not mean to always be happy or fulfilled, it means to hope and strive and create and grow and feel.

I think one thing that unites me to most  of humanity is our almost universal striving for health, mental and physical, for  happiness, harmony, community, love and productiveness. I know very few people who don’t want those things for themselves, as I want them for me. In that way, I feel connected to the world.

Am I mentally healthy? Honestly, I don’t know. It is a direction in which I seek to go, every day of my life. In one way, the path to sanity for me is knowing I’ll never quite get there.

And that I’ll never stop trying.

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