Nothing Broken, Nothing Lacking

Photo by Ryoma Onita on Unsplash

“Everyone in mental institutions is sitting in the middle of mental health, and they don’t know it” - Sydney Banks

I loved my conversation with Dr. Bill Pettit on this week’s Insightful Conversations. As a former Psychiatrist and one of Sydney Bank’s early students, Bill is one of the most influential and sought-after teachers and practitioners of the 3 Principles.

Bill was 41 years old when he first met Sydney Banks. Before coming across the 3 Principles, Bill had been a board-certified psychiatrist for almost ten years. He recalls that in all that time and during the hundreds of lectures he’d attended, the focus had been on mental illness and sadly zero lectures on mental health. Having spent twenty-six years studying different diagnostic disorders from depressive, bipolar, addictive, PTSD, schizophrenia, and psychotic disorder, Bill was relieved to hear Syd say that at our essence, there’s nothing broken and nothing lacking.

A few years back, when I first heard Bill share that there was no such thing as mental illness and there was nothing broken and nothing lacking in us, I must admit I was more than a bit skeptical. Unfortunately, this was the one area of the 3 Principles where I had difficulty agreeing to what I was hearing.

You see, I grew up surrounded by mentally ill and mentally disabled people. When I was five years old, my single mother needed money to take care of my six siblings and me. At that time, the UK government shut down all the big mental institutions and offered to pay private citizens to take care of mentally ill and mentally disabled people in their homes. So, my mother decided to convert our little Welsh cottage into a home for the mentally ill and mentally disabled while our family slept in separate tiny caravans in our backyard.

By the time I was nine years old, my mother had saved enough money to rent a massive old mansion. She converted it into a home for the mentally ill and mentally disabled and filled it with around 50 residents. My siblings and I were so excited that we would finally get to sleep in a real house. The only problem was my mother didn’t think there was a need to create separate quarters for the family. So, my brothers, sisters and I lived and slept amongst the residents. Imagine, “One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and you’ve got the picture.

Given the environment I grew up in, it was challenging for me to imagine that the residents I lived amongst were sitting in the middle of mental health, and they didn’t know it. The people I shared my home with were visibly different from my family and me. Their faces were contorted, and their speech impaired. Their way of thinking, behaving, and communicating was considered abnormal. Volatile outbursts were not uncommon. It was difficult for me to see that these people had innate wellbeing, resilience, and mental health within them.

What I didn’t understand back then was when Syd said, “Everyone in mental institutions is sitting in the middle of mental health, and they don’t know it” he was pointing to who we are at our spiritual essence, not to how we show up physically in the world of form.

I see now that just because someone has a chemical imbalance or a brain injury doesn’t mean that they don’t have access to the same universal intelligence as the rest of us. Likewise, just because someone looks, thinks, and behaves differently does not mean that they don’t experience the same innate wellbeing and resilience as the rest of us. When we remember that we are all created from the same spiritual energy, we realize that at our essence, none of us are broken or lacking.

When I look back, I see that the mentally disabled people I grew up with were just like you and me in the sense that they fluctuated between high moods and low moods. Like us, they lived in the feeling of their thinking. And no matter how volatile they might have become, they always returned to their natural state of wellbeing. I had innocently assumed that just because they suffered from traumatic brain injury or mental illness and didn’t look or act like so-called normal people, that meant that they were suffering. However, I now see that the love, peace, and joy that we all emanate from is available to all of us regardless of our physical or mental capacity.

With love and appreciation, Del 💕


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