Feeling very excited about this; had to create a new Comments and Contribution section because we’ve received our first contribution. I just love it when people share their stories and reflections! If anyone else feels inspired to share please use the contact form in “Celebrating Diversity – sharing Stories and Strategies” under the Sharing and Learning section.
Embracing the Lens of Sensitivity
Since attending the Understanding Our Sensitivity workshop in Toronto facilitated by Elisabeth Svanholmer and Rufus May I have been struck with a profound realization. As I listened to people’s stories and engaged in some really fun activities it hit me that many of my fellow participants had a mental health diagnosis. I have several labels and have worked in mental health for over 20 years. I go to a lot of these learning events and always look for ways of using the information in my work.
I knew some of the participants through my work so I was privy to their inner-most struggles and their psychiatric labels. But here’s the rub on ‘Understanding Our Sensitivity’ – not once did I hear the facilitators use words like “mental illness” “psychiatric disorder” or any other clinical references.
This added to my list of many life healing, life affirming epiphanies. I now understood clearly that the lens of ‘sensitivities’ versus ‘mental illness’ is not only common sense, but levels the common ground for everyone – the diagnosed and undiagnosed. Unfortunately the medical model oozes pathology, never ending stigma and harm.
I’ve known this all along but like many people who are sensitive and experience the mental health system, it took me many years to come full circle. I now embrace ‘sensitivity’ as a lens both personally and professionally. When working with families and their loved ones who are struggling, I now seize the opportunity to frame their experiences in the positive perspective of ‘understanding our sensitivity’. While people may initially be jolted by this concept, they find it a whole lot more palpable than viewing their loved ones as ‘sick’.
The lens of sensitivity is topped off with a massive dose of common sense, creative strategies and dignity.
With many thanks to Elly Latvik – www.whoscrazynow.com and www.familymentalhealthrecovery.org
I look forward to reading more of your blog posts regarding HSP. I was diagnosed bipolar back in 2001 and it has been a real challenge at times living with this label. I think I always knew I was sensitive but never to the extent that I was made aware after my first episode. I often wonder how many HSP have been diagnosed with mental illnesses? I have read nearly all Dr. Aron’s books and have adjusted my lifestyle over the past 8 years to live a much happier HSP life.
Thank you 🙂 got a couple of diagnosis myself but haven’t found them useful except when trying to convince other people that I have needed help and support at times. And also I guess it was an eye-opener at first to realise that I needed to have a look at how stress affected me. But the stress/vulnerability model that I was presented with made me feel like I had to avoid stress and excitement by all means or I would “relapse” and only get worse.
I like the sensitivity model as Aron talks about it much better because she is all for self-care and getting to know yourself better but she also argues that hiding away and avoiding stress only sensitises you even further and it might keep you from using your talents and skills out there in the world.
I too wonder how many people have been diagnosed and told to think of themselves as “ill” when maybe they just needed to learn about their sensitivities and how to live and work with them. It is heartwarming that there seems to be a wave of higher awareness about different ways of thinking about human diversity 🙂 all the best to you on your journey