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You wouldn't walk around with a broken leg
Tuesday, August 25 2009
 
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Just about everybody would go to the doctor and get professional help if they had an accident and broke a leg, an arm or anything else. It wouldn’t make sense to just limp around in pain, waiting for the bones to heal. Getting medical help would include an examination, cleaning up the wound and supporting the area for the best healing outcome. By doing that, healing is faster and less painful than if you just limped around without help.

It’s interesting that many people don’t look at emotional health the same way. When a person is depressed, or experiencing the effects of past or current trauma, there is a wound, like a broken leg, but this wound is in the mind and the spirit.


 

Emotional wounds are every bit as serious as a broken leg, but many people limp around for weeks, years and sometimes, the rest of their lives without seeking help. When a person suffering from an emotional illness doesn’t get help, that wound is always there, affecting how they react to people, how they feel about themselves, how they face their lives. It makes it difficult to be a good friend, a good partner, a good parent. It gets in the way of feeling joy in life.

Getting help for emotional illness makes sense. It means taking a look at what is causing the pain, how it got there and how it is affecting your life. Getting therapy for emotional illness does not mean a person is “crazy” or weak. Therapy helps you to understand better how things affect you, and what you can do to help heal the emotional pain. With help, the healing is faster and less painful. Sometimes problems can be worked out in a few sessions, other problems need longer periods.

When a person does not get help for emotional illness, they tend to REACT to the stress in ways that are harmful to their physical health as well. Internalizing emotional pain can cause problems with sleep, blood pressure, heart rhythmns, headaches, and backaches.

People with an emotional illness tend to overeat, overwork, or increase use of alcohol and/or drugs. By getting help, a person can RESPOND in a healthy way instead of just reacting. They can learn strategies for problem-solving that would help them to have a quicker recovery of calmness and balance of mind.
Traditional healers also provide guidance and treatment in a way that focuses on the person’s spiritual needs. In order to be truly healthy, it is very important to nurture the spiritual as well as the physical and emotional parts of ourselves. Like the medicine wheel shows, health is about our whole self – Body, Mind and Spirit.

Everyone suffers emotional pain in life. Sometimes are more difficult than others, and at those times, seeking help is as sensible and necessary as getting medical help for a broken leg. Don’t accept limping as a way to live.

– The Doctors at NACC welcome comments and ideas about health disparities for upcoming articles. Send to: NACC,  1213 E. Franklin Ave., Mpls., MN 55404. 612-872-8086

Users' Comments (1)
Posted by MJ Madrid, on 20-09-2012 13:29,
1. Unseen scars
I believe that emotional illness can be more debilitating than a physical illness in many ways. As the article states, physical illness or injury prompts medical care whereas mental or emotional illness often goes undiagnosed or untreated. To make matters worse, emotional illness can lead to suicide, substance and spousal abuse and child neglect.  
 
There is also a stigma to emotional and mental illness and many people worry about how they will be perceived by friends and family.
 
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