The other day, hubby and I were discussing some mental and emotional health stuff, and we ended up on the topic of things we’ve heard from someone or another that are, well, less than helpful. Things like, “what’s wrong with you?” or “just get over it.” And then, there’s the one that can sting the most. “It’s all in your head.”
Well, of course it’s all in my head, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. It may be the case that the synapses of my brain literally can’t maintain a typical chemical balance, which impacts my moods. Even if that isn’t the case, why is it that saying “it’s all in your head” seems so dismissive? To me, it rather minimizes one of the most complicated and least understood parts of our entire body: our brain.
Yes, my depression and anxiety are “all in my head.” Then again, so is happiness. So is joy, love, frustration, friendship. So is my understanding of color, my interpretation of sound, taste or smell. All of my experiences, and yours, all of our memories, emotions, and perspective of reality are “in our head.” Does that make it any less valid? Any less important?
As if it isn’t enough that our brain is responsible for all of our feelings, thoughts, understanding of the concrete and abstract, and memories, that isn’t all it does. Without brain function, our vital organs and basic life functions would quickly cease. Depression is as much “just all in your head” as the thing that tells your heart to beat and your lungs to breathe, neither of which seem like things I would want to easily or quickly dismiss.
So let’s stop accepting phrases like “it’s all in your head,” as the dismissive, minimizing message that it might be intended as. In fact, I’d like to propose a rather snarky response that can be used in the future. “It’s all in your head.” “Yeah, well so’s your happiness, Susan.”
What is your least favorite comment that you’ve heard from others? Do you have a favorite response to it?