Pushing Back the Stigma of Mental Illness

Here is an interesting question. Does a person’s anxiety, depression or other distressing feeling indicate that they are mentally ill, or absolutely normal?

Different schools of thought will give you different answers. In core development terms, however, anxiety, depression and other signs of emotional distress often indicate that your sense of self is healthy enough to produce these symptoms of a deeper, often hidden emotional conflict.

Whilst in some cases clinical or medical treatment may be required, in most cases exploring these conflicts in a safe and supportive way can help a person resolve emotional challenges and blockages that are preventing them from living a healthy and fulfilling life.

Mentally ill, or just unable to adapt to society’s expectations?

Here’s question number two. Does a person’s difficulty meeting society’s expectations indicate that they are mentally ill, or absolutely normal?

My view is clear – you can be perfectly healthy and normal, yet still struggle to live up to society’s expectations.

In fact I believe that difficulty fitting in might be the sanest response of all, considering how unreasonable and confusing many of society’s rules – both written and unwritten – are.

Daily we face expectations of how we should dress, speak, think, bring up our children, work, eat and even sleep.

On top of this, we’re often faced with a barrage of ‘experts’ all telling us totally different things about the same subject. And that’s before we even get to all the self-proclaimed ‘experts’ – neighbours, friends, family and colleagues – who have their own well-meaning ideas about how we should deal with our work, children or difficult feelings.

In short, there’s a huge range of variables when it comes to ‘normal’, and an equally huge range of people who insist they have the definitive version.

So who’s the ‘normal’ one then? The person who insists that everything works smoothly for them? Or you, showing visible signs of emotional wear and tear in a world which is daily, by turns, infuriating, frightening, exhilarating, fluctuating and often downright unfair?

Just as depression and anxiety are symptoms of a deeper conflict, often stemming back to childhood expectations, so other feelings of fear, restlessness and malaise often stem from sheer confusion about the best way of acting in a fragmented world.

Mentally ill, or simply fearful, conflicted and confused?

In my practice, I do not assume that a person who is depressed, anxious or feeling emotionally unbalanced is necessarily mentally ill.

And I do not measure a person’s mental health by how well or badly they have adjusted to society.

It’s important to note that core development is not a substitute for clinical or medical treatment where indicated. In some cases clinical or medical treatment is necessary.

In most cases, however, I’m pleased to start from scratch on the journey of self-discovery, or pick up where previous therapies have been attempted, then left off.

Core development is a supportive, validating and often challenging process of learning, aimed at unravelling the complex emotional conflicts at the heart of so many distressing mental states.

I aim to help you discover how your ‘shameful’ or disturbing feelings can lead you to the primary feelings at the heart of the human condition – and those from which your true creativity and life force stems.

Often it’s the sheer intensity of feelings which can seem to distort them, especially if these are feelings you might never have permitted before.

When you allow yourself to experience them in a safe and supportive setting with another human being who listens and understands, their true value begins to emerge.

Owning your own wellness

You don’t have to live your life clogged up with feelings you fear or don’t understand, reaching only a fraction of your genuine emotional and creative potential.

You can put aside the stigma and labels of mental illness, and know that, with the right guidance, your so-called “negative” feelings can lead you to the core of your being.

The collaborative process of core development adopts a flexible approach, recognising that what works for one person may not work for another, and has been shown to work in many cases when other forms of therapy have not had enough impact.

It has wide-ranging applications including counselling for stress, anxiety and depression, couples counselling, grief counselling, trauma counselling and conflict resolution.

I am also happy to work with parents and teenagers – what better example could there be of difficulty finding your place in society, and complying with its expectations?

Donald Marmara created Core Development – a process of change and personal growth developed from his professional training and 35 years’ experience in somatic (body) psychotherapy, counselling and structural dynamics.

Core development adopts a flexible approach, recognising that what works for one person may not work for another.

Donald currently resides and practices in Sydney, and is available for individual sessions, couples sessions, counselling teenagers and parents, and facilitating training programs and workshops.

He can be contacted on 02 9413 9794 or 0412 178 234.