There is no such thing as “objective reality” that can be observed by wholly objective observer. The very act of observing changes what is observed.
How we observe changes what we observe.
What we believe changes how we observe.
The stories we tell change what we believe.
What we believe is the stories we hear and rehear, tell and retell.
The stories we make up become what we tell ourselves is “reality”.
‘Thought creates reality then it says “I didn’t do it”‘
– David Bohm
When we tell and retell often enough stories of of how a person’s struggle is the result of a chemical imbalance, faulty genes, or mis-wired brain, we come to a point when all we look for is signs of that chemical imbalance. Then the automatic thinking clicks in and we begin to fiddle with chemicals.
Now, fiddling with chemicals can be enormous fun – it can also be very hazardous.
But we have now limited ourselves to fiddling with chemicals.
Bizarrely, we have whole sections of society: many institutions, vast commercial enterprises and hundreds of thousands of careers devoted to and dependent upon fiddling with chemicals and the telling and retelling of stories that construct the reality that leads us to belief that what observe is all that there is to observe and all we can do is fiddle with chemicals.
Sadly, we also reduce the possibilities of the many other ways we might understand and we limit our ability to support a person who is struggling to ticking boxes on lists, calling them names and to fiddling about with chemicals. This is all now regimented part of an elaborate theatre we create to kid ourselves that we have this thing licked and we’ve fixed things.
What if we were to choose to view things differently?
What if we chose to believe that a person’s struggle – and the many ways that can manifest itself – are very imply understandable as being overwhelmed by having a tough time for too long?
What if we believed that a person’s struggle is entirely understandable in context of a whole life -rather than as opportunity to get out the clipboard , the checklist and the bingo pen and tick-off “symptoms” to “qualify” for a some “diagnosis” that was constructed in committee rooms of people pretending to themselves and us that they are perfectly objective observers of some mythical, objectively observable objective reality there never existed nor could it except in their own minds.
What if we believed that jumping to a quick chemical fix might be helpful in the short term but also brings with it heavy risk of making things worse in the long term – more especially especially if that is all we do?
What if we believed not that experiences like feeling anxious, like hearing voices , like being unable to let a too busy mind dominate our attention can only be symptoms of some hypothetical biological fault but of a person feeling overwhelmed and feeling disconnected and feeling powerless to act in key areas of their own life?
What if we believed that instead of isolating and demonizing and discriminating-against those who are struggling, instead we embraced them and made space for them to share their pain and made time to listen – to really listen, not that elaborately fake pretending-to-listen – so that we might come understand?
What if instead of hiding behind chemicals we opened ourselves up to embrace the idea that we can learn how to live with even the most difficult experiences?
What if open up possibilities that enable us to understand; that we might discover that the pain they experience is the pain we might also experience, or that we will experience, one day.
What if when we do come to experience such pain – and we will- we might remember the connection we have already made with someone else who lived with that pain before and we remind ourselves that, as difficult as it may be, we can get through to the other side, we can find our way.
What if we chose to look at what we call “mental illness” not as a problem but as an experience?
What if instead we regarded such experiences as, yes, difficult and testing but also as opportunities from which we can learn, make adjustments to our habits, to the ways we relate and connect?
What if we regarded a period of overwhelm and struggle not as an individual’s illness or faulty wiring or faulty chemicals within in their singular brain but as opportunity to learn about the hundreds of small changes we might choose to make that could take us down a different path?
What if a individual’s struggle were viewed as an opportunity for a whole network or community connected with that individual to learn a little more about diversity and the many, many ways we are different beneath the surface – and instead of fearing them we can embrace those differences an learn from them?
The way we look at things determines what we allow ourselves to see.
When we change the way we look at things, we what look at changes too.
and the way we look at things is always a choice we make.
What if… ?