For many years I thought it was normal to soar to precipitous emotional heights, only to find myself plunging to crippling emotional lows.

In my world, it was normal to ruminate and obsess, replaying the same torturous memory of me in a shameful situation over and over until I had immiserated myself. We all did that on a daily basis, right?

Everyone frequently worried about leaving the coffee maker on, or the door unlocked, or the car headlights on, or their babies somehow endangered to the degree that it impaired their lives.

We all walked around with a chip on our shoulder lest our fragile, shame-assailed sense of self-worth worth be shattered.

We all read minds and knew that the other person was thinking how weak and stupid we were.

We all put super-human expectations on ourselves, nearly self destructed trying to get to our ridiculously unachievable goals, and mercilessly mentally self-flagellated when we didn’t.

We all self medicated with alcohol, exercise, porn, cigarette burns, and shoplifting.

We all ran up staggering amounts of debt with no way to repay it.

We all found “fellowship” by militating with people with extreme political views.

We all went into explosive rages instead of asking or asserting.

We all “thrived” on dark, negative, cynical thoughts and cooked up suicide plans…..

My point and question are, why don’t we have mental health education in school?

God knows I “did my time” in P.E. and loathed it because I wasn’t athletic. But in the end, it was good for me.

So why don’t we have M.H.E. (Mental Health Education) in school? 1 in 5 Americans have some form of mental illness. It’s an issue, people.

Had I received even basic healthy coping skills and recognition that my brain was sick when I was in school, I am certain it would have mitigated the years of hellish untreated Bipolar Disorder that I experienced.

To imagine that I could have learned that the litany of self-destructive behaviors that I reeled off above are not natural parts of the human condition through which we all just have to persevere -AND that help was available. It gives me chills.

Growing up is a boot camp of sorts. We receive the training we will take into the world when we strike out on our own. Much of the quality of one’s adult life depends upon this training.

Once a person gets out into the world and the “battle of life” starts, one reacts based on one’s training. Poor training. Poor results. Poor results. Unnecessary suffering.

It took me years of blood, sweat and tears; many great therapists and teachers; AA; and the Higher Power of my understanding to get retrained, in a mentally healthy way, so that I could handle life on life’s terms. One day at a time.

Perhaps one day there will be M.H.E. to spare future generations some of the hell that I endured.

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