Today's post is authored by Mental Health Project Group member: Kavya Davuluri
Physics. Despite being an arduous subject, it defines the world around us. Sound travels as waves, with dips and highs that navigate through air particles, much how dominoes cascade against one another. From my vocal cords, vibrating against each other in quick motions, are waves of sound which travel up through my lips, flitting across the air between us, and landing against your eardrum, launching another series of events.
In the human world, perhaps the most important sound is voice. Words orated from anyone between our dearest loved ones, to the average joe on the street all make an impact on how we behave, perceive, think, and feel. Sure, our own personalities have something to do with how our lives go on, but the people around us are more important than we care to say at times. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words can affect us psychologically.
When someone says something to you, neurons in your brain can devise an appropriate emotional reaction, swiftly compose an eloquent response, or lack thereof, to what you’ve been told, or even trigger facial muscles to pull up into a smile or twist into a scowl.
But, alas, humans aren’t all normal. And nothing is entirely perfect.
This brings me back to sound waves. In the moments where something is going perfect in your life, the wave rolls into a hill, a little bump of joy. And in those moments where nothing could be better, a mountain is formed. Then, there are the lows, the dips, the crashes. Those moments in life where flaws are dominant and frowns seem persistent.
When I say normal, I mean the general population of people who hear the voices of people around them, interact with their world, live their lives, and have their waves go up or down appropriately. But it is more than common knowledge at this point that not everyone’s waves are normal.
There are people whose waves don’t mountain even when it seems like they should. There are those whose waves delve lower more often than they climb back up. Extremely speaking, waves only bob up, never enough to balance out the lows.
There could be a number of things going on. Growing up, grieving after a death, suffering an accident, or any other of the endless life experiences. But often times, the waves find their way back to climbing up and down in an endless pattern of life. The other times, something is amiss.
You might be wondering what this Mental Health blog has to do with sound waves and an abstract metaphor for how they’re about life. Here’s where it makes sense.
When something is amiss, it’s called depression, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder. Dysthymic disorder. Dependence. Bipolar. PTSD. A number of things.
All of these conditions are complex; there is not a single cause for any of them, but there is one thing in common. The brain behaves differently. More neurotransmitters that cause fluctuations in mood, often negatively, are released. Cortisol, to name one. Norepinephrine to name another. Lower dopamine and serotonin.
My point is this: people suffering from a disorder that impacts their emotional functioning are having their bodies turn against them, causing them to feel emotions that aren’t really theirs’. When a voice says something that should cause happiness, instead of this, a flat line of sadness, anger, or maybe even nothing exists.
And when a voice says something that is sharp, cutting, and awful, the result is much worse. The wave drops out, as if the very substance that it rested upon was torn from underneath it. That’s what happens to the individual when a remark that wouldn’t be said had the speaker known it’d be taken that way is, in fact, said.
Logically speaking, the first step to solving something is by identifying the problem. Perhaps the problem I’m identifying isn’t something that you’d define as an issue that needs solving, but I want to assure you that it is.
About 6.7% of the adult United States population is affected by depression. 8% by PTSD. A staggering 18% from anxiety disorders. Approximately 2.6% has bipolar and the stats continue for a plethora other disorders.
The problem isn’t the condition. The conditions are being treated by a variety of things varying from medication to support groups. The problem lies in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.
Glance back up at the stats above. Notice how many people are going through a rebellion of their nervous systems. Perhaps the percentages make it less clear. 1% of the US population is 3,189,000. That’s about 3.2 million people. Does each percentage above carry more weight now? I hope they do.
There are those around us who may not react to your voice, that is, your interaction with them in a way that you may think is appropriate. But realize that you do not know the reason why they’re behaving that way, and maybe they don’t either. One of those people may be you. It may be me. Anyone you know, anyone you’ve sat next to, spoken to, or anyone you love.
You need not know or understand others’ behavior. All you need to know is this:
Be kind beyond reason. Be helpful beyond understanding. Be considerate beyond bare necessity. Because it shouldn’t be that you must know one’s troubles before you attempt to ease them.
Mental health isn’t just about diagnosing and taking medication and talking to therapists. It’s about growing into a person that one desires to be, and one is happy to be.
That happiness comes when their wave bobs up a little. It comes when the sound wave of your voice bobs up a little, and kind words flow.