The Miller Sphere of Mental Wellness

I have spent the last few years trying to rethink mental health. As we work to lessen stigma and fear I ask everyone to keep an open mind and join me as I delve into a unique hypothesis.

This started with my sphere of mental health. I do not believe true “normal” exists and feel that everyone has issues that fit within that sphere. A diagnosis comes because of observations that are inherently flawed and variable due to relative perceptions.
I use the word flawed because none of us can read minds, therefore, there is no objective way to truly know exactly what someone is going through or how extreme their suffering is. This is one reason mental health pros have such a difficult job.

Of course we can see when someone is not well when they are at their extremes (mania, violence, suicide, psychotic reactions). However, what if I hypothesize that everyone has experienced psychotic symptoms? Every person, at some point, has heard or seen something that isn’t real. Whether it is a voice in the wind, a mistaken shadow or shape, or a feeling that someone is in the house. These could be classified as hallucinations and could lead to a serious diagnosis depending on intensity, duration, or life consequences.

So what really separates “normal” individuals from someone diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar, or other mental health issues? The truth is less clear than we like to believe, leading to my second hypothesis that all mental health issues are spectrum-based.

Let’s start with my first example of hallucinations. Everyone sometimes hears or sees things that do not exist. That does not make everyone schizophrenic. What if we are all schizophrenic and the only difference is the spectrum of severity? Therefore, I dislike labels.

The same could be said of anxiety, depression, ADHD, bipolar, autism, OCD and every mental health issue that is not related to a brain injury. An example of this would be: my father has very little anxiety, my mother certainly has generalized anxiety, and my anxiety is, at times, debilitating.

Taking the idea that every issue is less complex and spectrum-based, then anxiety becomes a part of OCD, social anxiety, and generalized anxiety. Therefore, my father has anxiety, just the mildest form. I want us to see everyone as a human not a label. I, compared to my father, can be diagnosed with anxiety but an extreme form. My anxiety, OCD, and panic attacks make my heart thunder and leave me having a hard time breathing. If we break all mental health into spectrums, it brings everyone together and enhances compassion.

There are extremes in everything in this world, but one of the main issues of mental health is a feeling of being alone. This must change. I believe that our technology has advanced to the point that we have lost sight of the forest for the trees. We continue to focus on smaller parts like neurotransmitters, DNA, and have lost track of some of Hippocrates’ most important beliefs that sickness is not a punishment, but caused from environmental factors, diet, and lifestyle. One of my favorite writings of Hippocrates is about the importance of balance in the body. When this concept is lost, mental health is less successfully treated.

This leads to my final hypothesis that mental health is system and balanced based. So, what do I mean by system based? Let me explain. My approach to treating my bipolar 1 involved treating and balancing my endocrine system. We saw success with this approach on bipolar and some unexpected and unknown success with schizophrenia and autism. At this time, I am not the only one that feels this approach has potential. After my patent filing in 2009, over 50 patents by large pharmaceutical companies are claiming aromatase inhibitors as a potentially useful treatment for mood disorders. I am proof this approach can work and many examples of the endocrine system affecting mental health exist. Postpartum depression, psychotic and depressive symptoms caused by anabolic steroid abuse, discontinuation without post cycle treatment, and bipolar onset with menopause are great examples. Even marijuana affects estrogen. The endocrine system is not the only one at play. The CNS (Central nervous system) is a major factor in anxiety, OCD, and ADHD. Consider the medications involved, CNS depressants for anxiety, CNS stimulants for ADHD. There is a reason there is not a single magic pill, but if we continue researching only the brain and separating it from the body and systems, diet, environment, and lifestyle (technology) we have a number of problems.

1. We will never conquer mental health
2. We will miss important connections and discoveries.
3. We segregate mental health and health.

These all add up to making everyone diagnosed feeling alone. I don’t have all the reasons and answers, but I know my recovery has been unique. All I want is for more and different approaches to be researched, to be explored and, most importantly, to rid the world of the idea that there exists a perfect normal. It does not.

To summarize:
I believe everyone struggles with mental health in different degrees.

I believe all mental health diagnoses are spectrum-based, not completely different.

Mental health is not just the brain, but systems. This is taking me a long time to work on and has a long way to go, however I do believe I’m on the right track.

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