To honour World Mental Health Day, last Thursday we hosted our first hybrid (online & in person) event in collaboration with Dr Chetna Kang. Cheta spoke about what we should expect good mental health to look like, as part of an interactive and energising evening talk, breaking down cultural norms around mental health, as well as bridging science, spirituality and clinical expertise.
All too often we self-diagnose and are prone to catastrophising, or we dismiss the signs of a brewing storm. Chetna answered questions about the difference between being sad and depressed, being anxious and having an anxiety problem, as well as being eccentric and having a personality disorder.
Here are a couple of take-aways from the evening:
Happiness isn't one-dimensional
"The stereotypical picture of happiness that is often portrayed in media can be unrealistic and difficult to sustain. The full spectrum of human emotion is dismissed in a bid to achieve a peak of pleasure. Happiness isn’t one-dimensional. It’s more than a feeling… We don’t want to over-medicalise normal life experiences. If something happens that you don’t want to happen, you’ll feel bad about it… Even jealousy, anger and fear are useful emotions. However, when the frequency, duration and intensity of your emotions starts to take up so much of who we are and starts to overtake our functioning and our relationships, one needs to stop and think: Is this something that I can manage on my own? Yet, when we dismiss normal human experience for overmedicalise normal human experience we end up doing more harm than good."
- Dr Chetna Kang, psychiatrist and BBC radio presenter.
How should our emotions feel?
Chetna further explained, "A happy person feels everything. A happy person gives themselves permission to feel everything. Because when we give ourselves permission to feel everything, our emotions are:
1. Regulated and appropriate to the circumstances. When you suffer with a mental health problem, your emotions, your thoughts don’t fit the circumstances. For example, if someone has had past trauma and pushed away their feelings, they may now be in a situation where life is good, yet the feelings come flooding back without warning, manifesting in panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares, getting sad, getting anxious. But when we’re well, our emotions are regulated according to context, time and space.
2. Manageable. We don’t need something from external or artificial interventions to help manage our feelings (i.e. drink alcohol).
3. Readable. When we have good mental health, our emotions serve as a barometer. When we can’t read our own emotions, we struggle to read other people’s and our relationships can suffer."
When our emotions don’t fit these three criteria and interfere sense of fitting in, having value, or sense of feeling validated, she suggested that it may be time to get help.
"I loved how Chetna balanced substance with accessibility. We explored what good mental health looks like in depth and the Q&A revealed that the audience were able to understand and relate to the information that was shared. There were also several frameworks and processes that I, myself, took away which really helped me to understand what was causing me to feel in certain ways."
- Kit Norman, founder of Augmentive.
The event took place at in 25-EP, Eccleston, Victoria, the home of Augmentive. Our next event will be focussing on sleep and will take place on the 18th of November at 6:30. Follow our Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter for details!
Do you have a question about mental health and wellbeing? We'd love to hear about what events you'd like us to put on. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.