Ciela, I appreciate your thoughtful response, and here are a couple of things to consider: I battled eating disorders for forty years. Forty years; they cost me all my teeth, I struggled with suicidal thoughts, I have danced with the devil for most of my adult life. These are intimate issues with me, but for the record, they are largely the result of sexual assaults in my family and in the military. I finally learned that the so-called diagnosis for bipolar was a complete lie. What I had was PTSD. So trust me, Ciela, I really understand, but from a different standpoint. I have come to the realization (rightly or wrongly, this is a gut feel here) that MOST of us women are struggling with issues because of abuses, a deeply patriarchal society that does everything it can to use, abuse, control and manage us as women and not as fully-realized adults. I could go on for hours on this, you can see where I am headed. The current Administration is stigmatizing mental health because the current Prez is mentally unstable himself, but that’s a whole other story.

Some of these issues are huge. Suffice it to say that as a student of religious history- and not being a religious person- I believe that patriarchal religions have a big part to play in this. I have some pretty strong feelings based on a lifetime of study and observation about how any society responds to behavior that it doesn’t deem “normal” or “acceptable” especially in women, but don’t get me started. That’s one hell of a lively discussion.

Long before we had a pill for every damned thing (and I have to take one or two myself, Ciela, but my meds are for migraines) we simply had to cope. rightly or wrongly, we did. My mother had issues, my brother was unstable and committed suicide. Do I think these things are real? Of course I do. However a part of me wonders how much of our mental instability, however it presents, is the result of societal pressures, painful life circumstances (there is a huge line of research around this now) and/or the simple lack of being able to be in Nature and at peace. All these things come into play. The more time I spend riding horses, around animals and in the countryside, the more stable I am and feel.

You clearly are very well educated and bright, and you’ve done your research. I might offer here that you needn’t be defensive, that doesn’t serve you, nor does it serve our conversations here on line. Your journey, however that looks,is your unique journey. It took me years to learn to challenge the various and ultimately very wrong diagnoses that doctors had burdened me with, but does that mean that yours are wrong? No. All that means is that on my journey, that’s what I found. What you find is unique to you. Multiply that times nearly eight billion. We all walk a walk. As a species we are destroying much of what helps keep us happy and sane: forests, animals, water, good air. I have no answer for that.

When I write I want to be provocative enough so that we question what we think we know and understand. I want us to question the diagnoses that some doctor laid at our feet and around our necks like an albatross. Just how much do they really know? As it turns out, not too much. You and I know more about ourselves than any doctor when it comes to mental health. That’s a lot about taking back our power. Perhaps what troubles me most is a for-profit health system that thrives the more sick we think we are, that sells pills rather than advises healthy habits. Is there a panacea? No. There is no one-stop shop that fits for all of us. However, for so very many of us — and this is an unfortunate side effect of our society- when we have sadness or depression or suicidal thoughts, which I would bet that most of us do from time to time because life is just life- I would posit that learning how to think differently, cope better and master ourselves might prove to be healthier alternatives to pills. All life involves pain, whether we’re a horse, a human or an amoeba. How we learn to embrace it as a natural part of existence has a lot to do with how happy we are. No pill can do that for us as effectively as learning to have faith in ourselves, to learn to love despite loss, and to have a wicked ass sense of humor no matter what shit sandwiches we were handed.

But that’s just me. That’s nearly 67 years on this earth and a poo-load of personal and spiritual work. Doesn’t make me right. It’s just my take. Thanks for taking the time to pen a response.

Horizon Huntress, prize-winning author, adventure traveler, boundary-pusher, wilder, veteran, aging vibrantly. I own my sh*t. Let’s play!

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