Saturday, March 11, 2017

Whole Happy and Healthy: A Revolutionary Approach to Understanding and Thriving with Mental Illness by Jessica R. Dreistadt

Whole Happy and Healthy:
A Revolutionary Approach to Understanding and Thriving with Mental Illness 

Mental illness is greatly misunderstood. It is distorted, feared, and hidden — often leading to shame, guilt, and exacerbated mental health symptoms. Whole Happy and Healthy: A Revolutionary Approach to Understanding and Thriving with Mental Illness challenges this stigma and opens up new possibilities by exploring how people who experience mental illness can create a full, purposeful, and vibrant life by connecting with and continually expanding their perceptions — the intersection and interaction of emotions, intellect, intuition, and the senses — in twelve areas.

Author Jessica R. Dreistadt reframes mental illness as a gift, rather than a deficit, to help readers discover and develop a holistic, integrative process that leads to more inner peace, emotional freedom, and joy. Whole Happy and Healthy changes the conversation about mental illness and emotional well-being, resulting in increased empathy, compassion, and resilience.

Mental illness is an integral part of who we are, but it doesn’t define or limit us as human beings. Mental illness is an expression of our special exceptionality. The processes through which our cognitive and emotional systems interact creates a distinctive palette that we can use to paint the fabric of our lives. No two people with mental illness will experience it in quite the same way. My experience of bipolar disorder is unique to me and very different from how other people with this same dis-ease experience it.

Mental illness has caused great pain in my life, but it has also been a source of strength. The way my brain works is an asset that, in spite of sporadic setbacks, enriches my life. It has been a special gift that helps me thrive in complexity, appreciate diverse perspectives, creatively engage with challenges, and envision possibilities that might otherwise remain obscured. By being flexible and responsive, my mental illness has become a strong component of my mental acuity and resilience.

As an alternative to treating mental illness by evaluating and controlling it, we can also seek greater understanding and acceptance of our emotions to heal and thrive. Instead of judging ourselves and changing to meet other people’s standards, we can discover and illuminate all of the greatness within so that we can shine the beautiful, warming light of a healthy mind and heart on the world. 

About the Author
Jessica R. Dreistadt is an emotional health advocate, leadership scholar, social justice educator, community change practitioner, and founding director of The Fruition Coalition. Her interests, reflected in both her writing and her research, include wellness, public policy, education, leadership, social psychology, quantum theory, and existential philosophy. Her scholarship and community practice intentionally integrate curiosity, creativity, and compassion into critical thought and praxis to provoke reflection, dialogue, and sustainable transformation.

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