“Despair. Anger. Confusion. Frustration. Outrage. Hopelessness. Excitement. Desperation. Paranoia. Anxiety. Grief. Fear. All of these emotions are appropriate responses to the world we live in. An over-stimulating world with constant news of catastrophe, extinction, decimation, violence, cruelty and the reality of our complicity in these horrors. Yet were one to express any of these emotions to a doctor, the likely outcome would be diagnosis and medication. A sane response to an insane world is often deemed pathological by health practitioners in the dominant medical system. However, even as we critique this process, we’re still sad, scared, confused, overwhelmed and despondent. We still need help. So what can we do?
The modern world contributes to, if not outright creates, the conditions of mental disorder. Even if a person can survive the violence of our racist, misogynist, homophobic and classist society, they may not survive intact. Those privileged to have been born to a life without constant threat of violence still experience the day to day alienation that has become the defining trait of our time. The human needs for meaning and purpose are rarely met in this hectic, isolating life. Ideally, we would all work to change the systems that keep us alienated and threaten our sanity. However, this work is a luxury to many who exist in survival mode, barely feeding themselves or their families. And those who have dedicated their lives to working for change face burnout and despair at the seeming futility of the work. So what can we do to address the damage to our psyches done by the systems of domination? What follows is a primer on the use of medicinal herbs to support mental health.”
compiled and written by Janet Kent of Medicine County Herbs and Terra Sylva School with titles drawn by Lauren Scanlon