Monday, December 13, 2010

What is Good Mental Health?

A satisfactory definition of good mental health has been hard for me to find. There's an intangible quality to feeling good that is just elusive. Good mental health, to me, is a sort of integration of emotional well-being, spiritual contentedness, psychological awareness, and intellectual clarity. You know, it's like when you wake up in the morning and you heard your kids arguing but it doesn't bring you down because you know that God is watching out for you and you know that you have the capacity to think through things and manage whatever comes your way. It's like being water. (Yes, I did just quote Bruce Lee. BTW, his delivery is PRICELESS!)

I think I've finally been able to start to define good mental health because I have (finally) experienced it for an extended period of time. Since about half way through my pregnancy, when the psychological tweezing eased up, and especially since the Little Cannoli has been born I have been good. For about the last ten months (the Cannoli is only 7 months old but I felt so good pregnant I'm counting some of that too) I've had a few down days here and there but overall the crazies have not been a defining factor for me.

It has been so freeing.

And restful. Like even when life is busy--and momming four kids creates a lot of busy!--there is a part inside me that is at rest. I might be physically exhausted and mentally spent but I don't want to hide from everything. I want sleep but not escape. The inner turmoil has turn into placidity.

I kind of never believed this was possible. I never believed that I could be one of those people who could be at peace and not kick against the pricks. I pictured my life and future as a constant struggle against the deterioration happening in my mind. I figured I would always be the kind of mommy that my kids would be a little wary of. I figured I would always struggle with Church assignments because there would always be some sort of inner drama draining my energy.

But I'm not. To love and to serve and to just be fully present in my own life is such a gift right now.

I'm sure there are hard times ahead. I'm sure there will be things that set my crazy off again. But I'm really savoring this experience now--I want the memory of this time of my life to be solid--because this is what happy feels like.