KFC For The Soul
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Health and Wellness

KFC For The Soul

If you're depressed, get a cow.

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KFC For The Soul

I am in a committed relationship with bagels and cream cheese. I feel emotionally invested in Mexican food. I am the type of girl who can give you my top 20 restaurants in an elevator ride. However, I do have a moderate understanding of what actually is healthy for us- even when I choose to ignore it. The things we put into our body control our energy, our health, our weight, our bodies. I've started thinking deeper into a different form of health and how we can keep us feeling right.

We have either been there ourselves or had a friend or a family member, or statistically, most people in our lives experience mental illness. From church to TED Talks, I have picked my brain about the actual aspect of "health" in this arena of our lives. In most cases, if you are unwell, you go to the doctor and they give you medicine to help you feel better. Mental health is similar except for the fact that treatment is far more taboo and fewer people are likely to seek it. Regardless, if you go to the doctor and explain mental health problems, they will likely attribute it to the chemicals in your brain and prescribe you with a medication to help counteract that inevitable imbalance. However, many people still experience the weight of these problems while taking a series of prescriptions of increasing dosages.

Biology can play a role in our likelihood to experience depression and anxiety dependent on if it runs in our family. We also can be socially more likely to come into contact with these conditions through our work, social, family, and relational life. The same way we have physical needs that can be fulfilled with healthy eating and exercise, we have mental needs that need to be fulfilled to keep us healthy: acceptance, community, support, joy.

Here's where the cow comes in. A psychiatrist traveled to Cambodia to introduce mental health drugs for the first time to that area, but they responded saying that they already had them. They told the story of a man who was harmed working in a field and was unhappy with his new job due to the pain it caused his damaged limb. He developed symptoms of classic depression. The Cambodians sat with him and listened; they understood that his pain made sense. They bought him a cow so that he could produce milk rather than working his miserable job. His depression was cured within a few months. They argued that the cow was an anti-depressant.

This shows us that if you're anxious or depressed, you aren't weak or broken: you're a human being with unmet needs. The Cambodians pulled together as a group to fix the problem. We need to talk less about the chemical balances and more about the social ones: because depression and anxiety are deeper than biology.

A doctor is East London prescribed a form of social therapy- not a group to talk about how depressed the patients were but to work with the group on a project that mattered. They started to care about each other as a whole- checking in when one didn't show up. When people are depressed, we tell them to "be you" to "be yourself" which is so far from the solution. We need to tell people to "be us" "be part of our group" "do something that gives your life meaning".

The way junk food harms our body and makes us physically sick, junk values have taken our minds and makes us emotionally sick. We've been fed KFC for the soul since birth. We need fuel: something that keeps us healthy, keeps us thriving, gives us power, gives us a way to keep going. Our depression and anxiety is far less about what we are going through but the way we respond to it.

We have to acknowledge it. We have to confront it because if you don't grieve, you can't be comforted. We need social support the same way we need nutrients. We need to be part of a community that we walk into naked: no masks, nothing to hide behind. We need to show the broken parts of us in order to be healed. The biggest issue we see today is the way we connect with others. Remember when you were 7 and would sing in the grocery store to practice for American Idol or imitate crowds cheering when you finally hit the ball in your backyard. We weren't afraid of anything. No one told us what we could or couldn't be.

The reason we don't see college kids or adults singing in the check out line or screaming in the backyard is because someone told them to stop. We stop doing things we like because we are taught to be ashamed of them. We see this turn into mental illnesses as adults because shame has forced us to keep quiet. We get embarrassed to say what we feel because we were once rejected for it. Over time, we just shut up. We keep our feelings and passions and fears to ourselves rather than risk rejection for them all over again. Shame forces us to be silent. We need to make an "un-do" list because we need to take away this stigma.

We need a group of Cambodians to buy us a cow to give us new hope. We need a community to talk to. We need a group to support us. We need to talk about what's going on and how to fix it because the pain is valid and it makes sense. People need to be socially fulfilled the way we have to be physically. We have to take care of ourselves mentally. We need acceptance. We need openness. We need vulnerability. We need community. We need to break the silence and shame and talk about it as valid and just.

We need a cow… not KFC.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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