crop man with reflecting crystal ball in forest
My Take

Mental Illness: Reshaping Perspective and View

I’ve been having some trouble writing because I haven’t felt very good, so I’m sorry for the delay.

Quick Update

I realized that I was having more trouble and made the decision to not work and instead build energy for the start of school with the time I have left. I was at work one day and the next… I was off the schedule. That day was very difficult for me because I was energetically anxious / a little paranoid but confused and empty at the same time. I found myself walking in a circle in the back store with no idea where to begin. I’m going to miss working with my friendly coworkers and I did really like the job. I’m reminding myself at least that next summer might be a perfect time to go back. I hope I wasn’t being a quitter … I just was trying to be smart because I’m so anxious about this semester. I’m worried because it’s the winter one, and each one I’ve started has ended up with me in the hospital and a medical incomplete that negated my painful efforts. I’m desperate to not let that happen again which means I have to be extremely careful. The thing is, it’s not the first time I try to be super careful and it all goes to Hell anyway. My dad is right though…I have a negative association that needs to be broken and succeeding at this semester would really do the trick by proving to myself that I CAN do it.

Today is also my course registration which I pray works in my favour, and then I have a call with my psychiatrist. Unfortunately he and I don’t have the best fit and communication is a bit of a struggle since I have difficulty expressing my emotions in French and he doesn’t understand what I say in English very well. This appointment is super important though so I’m not taking any chances…I wrote what I want to say in English and then took the time to get it perfect in French. This way I’ll be able to read what I wrote and I think it should help. Never be afraid to come up with whatever way works best for you to communicate your feelings.

I’m going through a strange period right now…my moods are more unstable than usual and are getting more intense. Instead of periods that are clearly either depressive or hypomanic they’re occurring at the same time which is somehow even MORE confusing and troubling. And while I feel that, my thoughts haven’t stopped either…it’s a lot of fun right now and school is days away. I could write a lot more about how I’m feeling and the scary impulses I’ve been getting, but I don’t want to go there. Today I want to write something short that’s pertinent to my situation and hopefully yours as well.


There is no shortage of areas to look at in life, both in the big picture and in our own comparatively small lives. And when there’s a huge dichotomy in emotions, situations, events, etc., I think perspective is an enormous component that regulates the way in which we interpret and live through them. This brings me to foreground and background. If I seem vague with my topic and explanations today, that’s because I’m trying to figure them out for myself too and I’m finding this very difficult!

The thing about foreground and background is that what is in the foreground can be moved to the background and vice versa. In this case I’m talking about human choice: volition. We have to power to choose what is and remains in prominence as well as what lies behind. We can focus on a conversation while mentally muting the background noise of a TV for example. The thing is, I can’t. And this is related to my struggles with foreground and background. I feel overloaded with stimuli and that builds anxiety and paralysis in myself. Just as with sound, my foreground and background aren’t properly regulated. The ideal is to choose what we want to dwell upon; after all, that tends to shape our reality. However sometimes unwanted things become fixed to the foreground of our minds, leaving us blind to the background, AKA, the bigger picture. Keeping our mental canvas free and flowing involves knowing how to shift between perspectives and therefore attitudes. For example I can choose to focus on the past failures I’ve had during winter semesters, or, I can focus on the one I successfully completed and use that energy to push forward into a new one. If this was easy I wouldn’t be so emotional and confused…which is why today I do not really bring forth answers or solutions but rather questions. What does it take to shift from an extra loud, harmful component to one that is healthy, especially considering that these aspects can be quieter? Once again, still waters run deep. Perhaps if there’s any insight today, it comes from that phrase. Only once we can maintain a calm, inner stillness can we see the truth reflected back to us from the still pond. Drop a pebble and that clarity ripples away – literally.

Art Tells the Whole Story…

I wish I could continue…but I’ve honestly exhausted my mental energy and focus. Instead, I’ll leave you with this optical illusion I found online that speaks a great deal of meaning to me. Instead of focussing on the obviously present, look at what is not so evident. Perhaps even what isn’t there.

Optical illusion: perspective and volition.

ANSWER (Written backwards): The image spells out EFIL.

This is a complex topic that I encourage us all to give serious thought to. I hope to come back to it with fresh thoughts.

Take care!

3 thoughts on “Mental Illness: Reshaping Perspective and View”

  1. When it comes to the social reality of (at least for the foreseeable future) the prevalence of mental illness, I’m often left frustrated by the contradictory proclamations and conduct coming from one of the seven pillars of our supposedly enlightened culture—the media, or more specifically that of entertainment and news.

    They will state the obvious, that society must open up its collective minds and common dialogue when it comes to far more progressively addressing the real challenge of more fruitfully treating and preventing such illness. After all, its social ramifications exist all around us; indeed, it’s suffered by people of whom we are aware and familiar, and/or even more so to whom so many of us are related to some degree or another.

    Perhaps needless to say, the above-mentioned most commonly occurs when a greatly endeared celebrity passes away or dies an untimely death. This fact was in particular exemplified immediately following the many predictable platitudinous sound bites and mini-memorial commentaries from the late actor/comedian Robin Williams’ contemporaries as well as in many newspaper letters and editorials following his tragic suicide (on August 11, 2014).

    However, that’s when the doublespeak so boldly occurred. The vast majority of the mainstream media, if not in its virtual entirety, distinctly appeared to willfully overlook Williams’ full mental health diagnosis, if not current condition—i.e. bipolar disorder (a.k.a. manic depression).

    With the exception of three newspapers (Alberni Valley Times, South China Morning Post and The New York Daily News), a few amongst a large number to which I had submitted a detailed letter on the matter, none of them replied let alone ran the letter—their conspicuous silence on this matter was to me deafening.

    And, of course, to claim ignorance of Williams’ complete illness, consisting of two opposite extreme sides to the same coin, is plainly implausible since it could be immediately found upon a Google search using the obviously relevant names and terminology. Nevertheless, when I posted this point onto the Philosophy Now’s discussion forum, the very first response posted was, “I haven’t seen anywhere that he was ‘bi-polar’.”

    ‘Exactly my point!’ was my immediate response.

    (Frank Sterle Jr.)

    1. I really appreciate hearing your view and I agree with your observations. The inconsistencies are frustrating and the fact that conversations only occur when something happens to a person who is in the eye of the media, is tragic. These are constant, human struggles faced by millions and collective action must be taken. The media should not just serve as an ‘after event’ commentary when such things happen to well-known people. It should use its power to spread awareness, dispel ignorance and contribute to helping every John and Jane Doe who live this each and every day of their lives. As you wisely said; its social ramifications exist all around us; indeed, it’s suffered by people of whom we are aware and familiar, and/or even more so to whom so many of us are related to some degree or another.

  2. Also, a 2007 study (titled The Science of Early Childhood Development) found and reported that:
    “The future of any society depends on its ability to foster the health and well-being of the next generation. Stated simply, today’s children will become tomorrow’s citizens, workers, and parents. When we invest wisely in children and families, the next generation will pay that back through a lifetime of productivity and responsible citizenship. When we fail to provide children with what they need to build a strong foundation for healthy and productive lives, we put our future prosperity and security at risk …

    “All aspects of adult human capital, from work force skills to cooperative and lawful behavior, build on capacities that are developed during childhood, beginning at birth … The basic principles of neuroscience and the process of human skill formation indicate that early intervention for the most vulnerable children will generate the greatest payback.”

    While I appreciated the study’s initiative, for me it’s still a disappointing revelation as to our collective humanity when the report’s author feels compelled to repeatedly refer to living, breathing and often enough suffering human beings as a well-returning ‘investment’ and ‘human capital’ in an attempt to convince money-minded society that it’s in our own best fiscal interest to fund early-life programs that result in lowered incidence of unhealthy, dysfunctional child development.

    Meanwhile, general society perceives and treats human reproductive “rights” as though we’ll somehow, in blind anticipation, be innately inclined to sufficiently understand and appropriately nurture our children’s naturally developing minds and needs.

    As a moral and ethical rule, a psychologically sound as well as a physically healthy future must be all children’s foremost right—especially considering the very troubled world into which they never asked to enter.

    “It has been said that if child abuse and neglect were to disappear today, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual would shrink to the size of a pamphlet in two generations, and the prisons would empty. Or, as Bernie Siegel, MD, puts it, quite simply, after half a century of practicing medicine, ‘I have become convinced that our number-one public health problem is our childhood’.” (Childhood Disrupted, pg.228).

What's YOUR take?