AnxietyBipolar ThoughtsDepressionPersonal HistoryPersonal RelationshipsTherapy

Salmon

“Perhaps [ideas] are, for instance, like some big salmon or trout. They are not born fully grown; they are not even born in the sea or water where they normally live. They are born hundreds of miles away from their home grounds, where the rivers narrow to tiny streams. Just as it takes time for a speck of fish spawn to mature into a fully-grown fish, so we need time for everything that develops and crystallizes in our world of ideas.”

“Nothing is as dangerous in architecture as dealing with separated problems. If we split life into separated problems we split the possibilities to make good building art.”

-Alvar Aalto

Aalto is one of my favorite architects/ furniture designers. Most architects I know consider him one of their favorites. I won’t get into anything about his architecture, but you should look him up if you like architecture or design. He was amazing.

Like most of the biggest architects throughout history, he was also a pretty incredible thinker and philosopher. He always spoke of big ideas in relation to architecture, but many of the things he had to say have impact in most areas of life.

The two quotes above are about ideas. The first is about the genesis of them and the second is about how we should deal with them. I find them incredibly important and inspirational regarding mental health.

A lot of people tend to think of depression or anxiety as spurred by a direct incident. Your girlfriend dumps you and now you are depressed. That reasoning is based on logic, and not based in understanding of the complex nature of mental illness.

The reality is much closer to this: your self-image is such that you believe you are unworthy of affection, this was built up by mistreatment or misunderstanding of dozens of situations throughout your life that, had you had a normal functioning brain, you wouldn’t have interpreted these situations this way. And each time you witness this it is self-affirming and deepens your belief. And when you finally get a girl to love you, you sink such deep emotional capital into that situation that when the relationship is severed, it is hard to understand it anything more than an affirmation that you are completely worthless and don’t deserve to live.

It is easy to see here how one situation is like the salmon.

But it even goes beyond that. Even in this situation it is still a direct link between relationships past and present. But in reality, the streams that these ideas are born in are often far more remote than that. For instance, the girlfriend breaking up with you might affirm the idea that you are incapable of achievement or fulfillment in any area of life. Or the history of constantly routing yourself into deeper and deeper into denial of your self-worth might actually cause you to be very outgoing, instead of agoraphobic, or maybe have terrible stage fright, or maybe be a wallflower. It is nearly impossible to tell which way certain things will drive certain people.

The origins of personal psychology, just like Aalto had suggested about the origins of ideas, originate as specks in seemingly un-traversable distances from where they mature and begin to drive us.

The only certainty is that we will be driven.

And this is where the second quote comes in: if we try to separate our mental illness from the rest of our life, we stand no chance of healing. Every part of our life is affected by our mental health. Your brain is the filter for every single piece of information you interpret. And when your brain is misfiring, it is often misfiring about many things in many areas, some seemingly very disparate from what we normally consider mental illness.

Both of these lessons are incredible important to constantly consider: your current mood or thoughts are being driven by deep and wide rivers of influence, and you cannot isolate them from other parts of your life if you hope to understand them.