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  • Writer's pictureMatt Gray

Yes, it is all in my head!

That's a very astute observation. Why yes, my head is precisely where my brain is, thank you for reminding me.

This comment is just as silly as telling somebody with lung cancer "it's all in your chest man", but I fear that until the day comes in which Neurology encompasses Psychiatry, we won't be rid of harmful advice such as "it's all in your head", or "it's all mind over matter, man".

Yes, it IS mind over matter, but the narrative changes when the matter happens to be brain matter. Which is also what the mind is made up of. This line of reasoning leads us to a bit of a paradox. We are talking about physiological mechanisms in the most complex organ in the human body, yet we treat them as the least important ones. We would never tell somebody with a mechanical issue in their heart to "suck it up", or tell somebody with a blood illness that it's mind over matter.

The issue is one of perspective. Everybody has felt depression in their life, and everybody has felt sadness, lack of motivation, or gotten upset. That doesn't qualify you to hold an opinion on someone with a mental illness. See, you may be able to relate to an individual feeling, so you feel as though you can give advice to get past it. I know it comes from a well-intending place, but I'm sorry, has your brain ever had a structural problem?? Have you ever had to experience norepinephrine not being able to reach your prefrontal cortex?? Can you describe what that feels like?? Can you describe what that would do to your executive functioning?? Or are you arrogant enough to believe that brain chemistry doesn't matter, and you can always overpower it?? If you've never experienced it, and have never studied it in-depth then your perspective is worthless. Period. This doesn't mean you're dumb, or you don't have good perspective on other things, it just means I have zero respect for your advice on this subject.

Have you ever binged on amphetamines, or cocaine derivatives?? How about a weekend of MDMA?? How did you feel coming down?? How about afterwards?? Fucking terrible I bet. If you've experienced this neurotransmitter "dry-out", and you judge the girl who's brain just exists in that state... Well you are not a person that should be speaking on this subject. You have a basic perspective on their existence, and ignore it, which is even worse than being fully ignorant. Be kind to people about this shit.

See, the girl that comes to work every single day feeling that way is stronger than you, and is practicing "mind over matter" harder than you ever will. The guy sitting at the cubicle across from you doing breathing exercises to keep his agitation at bay is stronger than you. That guy in your class who holds it together until he can go cry in his car between classes is stronger than you. The girl that goes to the gym every single day because it's the only thing that stops her from killing herself is stronger than you.

These are identified mechanical issues within the brain, and I refuse to stay quiet to the suggestion that the person dealing with these problems is weak. I'm not trying to trivialize anyone else's struggles, trials or tribulations. I don't know what it's like to have heart problems. I don't know what it's like to have cancer, to have a blood infection. I'm also not about to give someone advice on those conditions. So I will ask, if you've never had to experience going through a day acting "normal" while your brain chemistry has your mind tearing itself apart, over and over and over again... Just keep your "mind over matter" rhetoric to yourself.

Thank you for reading.

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