Insufficiency and the fragile mind

It’s fairly easy to tell when you’ve been overloaded. Be it stress, workloads, noise, light, or people, overloading tends to be self announcing. In recent months it has become apparent to me that insufficiency can be just as damaging, but it’s far harder to spot.

How do I tell if I’m not getting enough calories? Or enough potassium? Am I tired because I’m not getting enough sleep, or is that depression caused by an emotional insufficiency? I spent a while being thirsty a lot, not because I needed more water exactly, but because I needed more electrolytes. 

I’m fairly sure at this point that tactile input is a big deal for me, and that I need to do deliberate things to feed my brain information about my body. Lack of body information may well be what’s underpinned my regular and relentless bouts of burnout and mental collapse. 

I think there’s a cultural aspect to all of this. We’re encouraged to be alert to excess, and to be responsible for not having too much of a thing – food and alcohol especially. Being insufficient often has less to do with personal choice – it’s hard to have a good diet if your budget and available shopping options don’t offer you good nutrition. It’s not easy getting good and restorative sleep if there is noise and light pollution you cannot do anything about. Excess is ours to control, insufficiency may well not be.

At the moment, there are a lot of places around the world where mental health is treated as a discreet and personal problem. That tends to focus you on looking for a ‘cure’ in the areas of life you have control over. Mental illness is not a failure of effort, and it makes more sense to look at the things we have less or no control over as likely suspects when our brains stop working properly.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

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