Homeostasis, Balance and Medsby Jennifer Siciliano on 11/23/10
Although there are genetic markers that suggest predisposition, mental illness is not a defective and inevitable pre-condition that we have no control over; but rather, a consequence of neglect or breakdown that can usually return to balance. Balance needs conscious maintenance, and sometimes it requires the assistance of a change in lifestyle or even medication. Many of us shun medication for fear of being linked to those "who actually need it." But needing an aid that helps us retain balance is not something that should be shunned.
A family member of mine who struggles with OCD took herself off her meds. She had been doing well for decades, and because she felt fine, she relinquished her pills. The severe stages of her OCD returned, and her balance was thrown off. We bipolars have often shunned our medication as well and know the possible consequences of such a thing. After having made the same mistake myself, I realize that anything that aids in my body's homeostasis is embraceable, especially if it keeps me out of a hospital.
Everyone has a homeostasis system in their bodies, even the mentally ill. Homeostasis is our body's natural ability and tendency to regain its balance when disease or injury occurs. The organic roots from which we all stem, homeostatic mechanisms help us remain healthy as our bodies maintain an internal equilibrium by continually adjusting physiologically to conditions that are optimal for our survival. When mental illness occurs, our physiological equilibrium is disrupted. The call for healing is needed, as with any other illness. And healing is always possible.
People accept the journey to real healing much more readily with other known physical illnesses. We rarely judge diabetes treatment and need not judge mental illness treatment either. Even we who suffer with mental illness judge certain treatment plans. But if our tendency is towards homeostasis, then maintaining mental health lies in the same vein as maintaining physical health. Popping a pill for mood stabilization is equivalent to taking insulin to maintain healthy glucose levels. And alternative treatments are available to us across the board. Treatment in helping us access our homeostasis allows us to stay well and live among the healthy. But ignoring the problem is not an option.
My relative got back on her meds and is saddened by her delay in feeling better. "It will take time," I told her. "But stay on your meds, and you will live a very normal life again. And it's nothing to be ashamed of." And with that reassurance, I saw hope return to her eyes. She walked out of my house with a slightly stronger posture realizing that health is an attainable must. In the end, healing ultimately occurs with the first choice, which is to make balance a priority.