Throughout my life the term mental health has had different meanings to me as a person. It is only now that I can argue with that term after some degree of experience of the demons I have struggled with and having the daily honour of supporting others on their journey. Should the correct expression now be emotional health? It is through being vulnerable, dependent and needing/longing from others that we were failed and left insecure, emotionally fragile and uncertain in our identity as children. The core wound is in reality an emotional pain, not a mental/ thinking issue. We feel now as adults what is an echo of the feelings then as children – they live on as a reminder of what is unfinished in us. It is the overwhelming nature of the emotional impact that has left us scarred today.
Therapy thus becomes a journey now to feel the unfelt, to experience what was too much for our fragile young hearts – to repair and rework the scenes in a more accurate way, a real way. The therapeutic journey allows you to take into account others responsibility so we are freed from the historical onus on us to be wrong and not good enough. Every child will rather be a bold child with perfect parents then risk being a good child with less than perfect parents. We always blame ourselves for what was done to us as children, always.
It is this core felt sense that requires gentle and loving attention. The mind, the mental side is a consequence of this…how we learnt to square it all off, to make sense of the pain. It became a template for how we see ourselves, others and the world. Mentally we are left with thoughts of self-criticism, catastrophizing our lives away or projecting onto the world the anger and terror in ourselves.
What I guess I am urging you to understand is that the key to recovery is not in the reprogramming of our minds…but a healing of our hearts. When we feel safe and loved and accepted and valued in our relationship with ourselves and then with others…Our minds will begin to be free and open and available to us once again. Let’s start there…
Start at the heart…
Jason Cowell – Counsellor & Psychotherapist
Cork City & County