G is for Guilt and the Gift of Grace

Day SEVENApril A-Z Blogging  Challenge 2015



One of the debilitating mental factors that hurt people with mental health is the social burden they have to carry. Along with having to endure the symptoms of the illness, mild or pronounced, there is this constant pressure to be like everyone around, in terms of working, interacting, or just living each day with its challenges of adjustment. For very long, several types of mental health issues were not even recognised as problems. I have lived with people for whom the world is an unfriendly place with no one to empathise or understand, since the so-called symptoms are so hidden or not seen as symptoms at all.

In children who are intelligent and above average, there might be a lack of motivation to achieve. They might be bright but restless and without focus or obsessively focussed on something. Such children and adults are dubbed difficult, lazy, careless, intelligent but not conscientious, arrogant, wilful and so on. Such reactions from parents, teachers and adults in the case of children and from peers, spouses, colleagues in the case of adults can create a sense of guilt in the person that they may carry silently and unconsciously for a long time. The reasons for such behaviour lie in brain chemistry.

One example of this is children with mild forms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). I came across an interesting article that said that in people with ADHD, certain chemicals or ‘key proteins’ that are required for human beings to experience a sense of reward and motivation are lacking in the brain. Due to the deficit in production of Dopamine in the brain, many ‘normal’ qualities are missing in these children.

New research by US brain researchers show  that ADHD is not just about abnormalities in the attention systems of the brain, that is, areas controlling attention and activity, “but abnormalities in the motivation and emotion centres as well. These deficits in the brain’s reward system may help explain clinical symptoms of ADHD, including inattention and reduced motivation, as well as the propensity for complications such as drug abuse and obesity among ADHD patients.” It goes on to say, “For far too long there has been an assumption that children with ADHD are deliberately wilful which has led to mismanagement and ultimately permanent exclusions from school.” You can read the full article here: ADHD Brain Chemistry Clue Found

For parents who sometimes hear the complaint that their children are ‘not well brought up‘, there is a pleasant catch here! You have a gifted child. These same aberrations in chemical production also make these people extremely resilient and creative. Also, sometimes it just is the creative energy seeking an outlet. In what is called ‘shared neuron pathways’, symptoms of a disorder and a child wanting an outlet may look the same. So watch out!  ‘Indeed, while many experts automatically link overexcited, impulsive, and even disruptive behavior to ADHD, there are some who believe this same conduct may simply be the earmarks of profound creativity looking for a way to flourish. 

Says an article on ADD-like behaviour, “People who don’t understand intelligence and giftedness and creativity think that if you’re smart you ought to know how to behave, and if you don’t behave you’re not smart — or you have something wrong with you — but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Minnesota child psychologist Deborah Ruf, PhD, National Gifted Children’s Coordinator for American Mensa and author of the book Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind. Read here: Not all restless children are ADD 

The Gift of Grace comes from awareness. Awareness of symptoms, that these are caused by brain functions basically, that there are outlets to be creative that can help and so on. Guilt is a useless burden, especially when it has no basis other than ignorant social norms. Convert the energy expended in guilt to discover the gifts inherent within.

© Lakshmi S. Menon & VOICE’nVIEWS



Day ONE: April  A-Z Blogging Challenge

The world has been pre-occupied with physical health from the beginning of civilisation and culture. Yet we take mental health for granted. While enormous time, money and energy are spent on perpetuating bodily health, beauty and youthfulness, scant regard is paid to mental and spiritual well-being. Perhaps we can blame  Rene Descartes, that 17th century philosopher who famously declared : cogito ergo sum I think therefore I am, for introducing in a big way, the mind-body dualism. Since then (putting it simplistically, though it contains a grain of truth) humanity has become firmly entrenched in the physical world and in the pursuit of material wealth, with an intelligent and rational mind being an ally and often the key to all success. In this outward, EXTERNAL seeking of well-being and wealth, the body assumed importance and the mind became a handy tool to achieve material goals. BUT in this process, something vital went missing.

While the mind, the conscious thinking and reasoning part of our being gained importance,  the  emotions, the soul, the heart, the intuition— these unseen aspects of our being were forced underground and were devalued and neglected. Being emotional became a sign of weakness; being imaginative was flirting with delusion and intuition had no voice in the onslaught of reason. These elements of consciousness that were not given their due receded to the background or even the underground; they became a part of our subconscious, unhappy wraiths of out true selves. But what goes underground does not disappear.  They started to subtly and surreptiously manifest as SYMPTOMS in the mind, as various kinds of mental disorders. They began to appear as addictions, as depression, as autism, as OCD, as ADHD, and numerous other illnesses with fancy names and fancier theories as to their cause and treatment.

Where do we begin to start redressing this problem that even today is not talked about much, except when a celebrity dies of it, (as the popular and successful Robin Williams was driven to take his own life), or some other fashion/film icon mentions it in public ( a la Deepika Padukone, the young Indian actress of mainstream cinema who spoke of it in the media recently) ? The problem is not just a medical one. It is a psychological, social and spiritual problem. It is symptomatic of the spiritual vacuum plaguing modern society.

So is there  hope for the silent (and not-so-silent) sufferers of mental disease whose numbers run into millions and are increasing day by day as the times we live in become more volatile, uncertain and subject to change?Hope lies in AWARENESS, both individual and collective. Hope stems from an AWAKENING of society to the acknowledgement and support for a malady that while affecting individuals, affects the collective health of our communities, nations and the world itself.

From tomorrow, I want to talk about the different ways mental illness can be dealt with both by oneself or for others, which finally paves the way to a deep and profound understanding of our inner personal selves. It also leads to the discovery of hidden gifts! Not all is as it looks like !

© Lakshmi S. Menon & VOICE’nVIEWS