Day 5: Do you believe nature (biology/physiology), nurture(environment), a mix, or something else has an impact on mental health?

Warning: I am not, nor do I claim to be, a psychologist, psychiatrist or any other mental health professional. I don’t even play one on TV. (Lame, I know) What you read below are my thoughts and feelings based on my personal experiences with mental illness. Thanks for not taking this seriously – Carry on.

In terms of the cause of mental illness, I think it’s a mixture of everything and it really depends on the type of mental illness you have. For example, if you experienced trauma at an early age, that would explain your PTSD. But if you have, say, Bipolar or Schizophrenia, that may be genetic. So it’s hard to nail down one specific cause of mental illness. When speaking about myself, I absolutely think mine is genetic. I’m a 4th generation of OCD sufferers in my family, and that’s just what we know about. (And while we’re at it, a great-great-great-(seriously not sure how many great’s we’re talking about here)-grandfather of mine married the sister of the Ringling Brothers. Therefore, I am technically related to the circus. Explains a LOT, I know. But hey, as George Bernard Shaw said, “If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”) 

I do think that environment can play a huge role in the severity of and recovery from the mental illness. For example, if your family/significant other/etc. make your illness worse by enabling you, that can have an impact on how severe your illness gets before you seek treatment, if at all. Maybe they get you help before you hit rock bottom, thus shortening the suffering that you have to go through. And then when discussing recovery, those same people that are close to you can make or break your recovery efforts. Maybe they are uncooperative with your treatment plan or are disinterested in making accommodations for you, or maybe they are incredibly supportive and help you get better, faster. 

Essentially, it boils down to this – Each person’s experience with mental illness is individual. There isn’t one root cause, one thing that we can point a finger to and say, “That’s what made her lose her mind. Yep, it was definitely that one thing, right there.” Each of us have experiences that shape who we are and how we view the world. Our mental illness just gives us a kaleidoscope view – A little more colorful, unpredictable and skewed, but just as beautiful.