Band-aid for the brain

Band-aid for the brain

5 March 2015

My personal stance on medication is that like anything, it has its uses if used in the right way. I believe medication should be used as part of an emotional rehabilitation plan IF it is necessary i.e. as an initial application to reduce "emotional swelling" so effective therapeutic practice can be applied to heal and rehabilitate. 

Its hard for people to understand emotional trauma because we can't see our thoughts and feelings, so when explaining it I link it to something we can understand and associate with - a physical trauma. For the purposes of understanding, lets look at breaking a leg being the same as being bullied for instance. When we break a bone in our leg, swelling occurs immediately to protect the break - same thing happens on an emotional level. When we get bullied, if we haven't learnt how to process that experience and manage ourselves in a proactive way, we become reactive and will feel sad or upset - this is the emotional swelling. With the broken leg, there is a treatment plan in place - the leg is stabilised, the person is made comfortable and cared for while the ambulance is called, they're given the happy pen to suck on which takes the pain away, x-ray, plaster (when the swelling goes down), friends and flowers, crutches, then cast off and a bit of rehab to get the muscles working again.

This isn't the case at the moment with emotional trauma though - there is no rehabilitation plan in place to help people heal and move on without carrying a lifelong affliction. Imagine if the leg was never treated, the person would develop a limp. Same thing happens emotionally...they become dysfunctional. In this day and age, general practice for dealing with someone who has been abused, bullied, or gone through an emotionally traumatic experience is to tell them they're going to be ok, or to harden up or just get over it. To me, that doesn't make sense. We are not just a body, we are a heart, a mind, a spirit and a soul too. When a person has a car crash, their body is the first thing that is looked after but what about their mind? Shouldn't that be cared for in the initial period, then monitored and treated as necessary too?

Unfortunately, as humans we tend only to focus on the things that we can see and this is clearly evident in the way we obsess over our bodies. The weight loss industry is growing at a rate of knots while the mental health industry is in a state of disrepair. Both industries need fixing though because they're causing more harm than good. Focusing only on the physical element has been common practice for such a long time yet heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia. Labelling someone and medicating them because they feel something other than what doctors have determined is "normal" is creating a mess too, but whats the answer?

Well, its my belief that we have to stop treating the symptoms - for the most part, medication is like a band-aid on the brain and it doesn't actually assist a person to heal and recover. In many cases, the person ends up with "septicemia of the emotions"; a toxic reaction to the emotional wound not being healed. Life happens, and pain is inevitable - we need to accept that. Its like when I had growing pains as a kid...I remember being on the kitchen floor crying because the pain was that bad but now I love being as tall as I am, the pain was worth it and I grew as a result. People need to learn from the experiences they go through, not numbed with medication and labelled for life. Education is the key to solving this widespread issue, along with developing new best practice for managing emotional trauma. Imagine a world where people were better for having been through their experiences? I'd like to see that.

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