The Modern Day Definition of Capability
One of the definitions of the word ‘capable’ yields, “having power and ability; efficient; competent”. How does modern society perceive this? Perhaps you might picture a powerful woman, who not only leads a multinational corporation, but also has three kids, a dog and runs half marathons on a regular basis. Or perhaps you might picture an enterprising entrepreneur, who has set up 10 companies across the globe, travels at every opportunity, and squeezes time for every drop of usefulness he can get out of it. Whichever persona you have in your head, is probably one who is on the go, the epitome of activity.
What if I showed you a picture of someone who is lying in bed, feeling defeated by depression? Or someone who is in pain, crawling to the bathroom only 10 steps away? Would these people fit into your category of ‘capable’? Probably not. They already need so much help to achieve simple tasks, how could they accomplish more?
Here’s What I Found When I Searched for ‘Capable Person’ Stock Photos…
The Unreliability of Our Thoughts
Many of those who struggle with mental symptoms know just how unreliable a feeling can be. Can you trust yourself? The anxiety or even euphoria you experience, might be a result of inflammation in the brain, a hormonal imbalance, or something else. As a result, we have developed defensive mechanisms to help us differentiate between fiction and reality.
Think of it this way – there is a raging fire somewhere in your body, and it is spreading fast. Your body’s control centre, the brain, sends out distress signals. This creates a chain effect of reactions; your body works as a single unit. Thinking happy thoughts will keep your hopes up, but that doesn’t mean the fire will stop burning. The smoke produced can be suffocating, no matter how much willpower and desire you have to escape. Sometimes your own buckets of water aren’t enough to put the fire out, and you need the help of professional firefighters. They often come in the form of therapy, medications and more.
The Future of Experiencing
Many of those who are on medications know how one small pill (I’m looking at you, prednisone) can manipulate your current state of wellbeing, for better or for worse. This futuristic exoskeleton is very interesting – it allows you to experience what old age might be like, by mimicking arthritis, hearing loss and blindness.
I hope that in future we will be able to experience a wide assortment of ailments through simple means. A box of colourful pills: ‘pick one to mimic the effects of an illness for a day’. To let people experience first hand, what it’s like to live with chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, joint pains and more. And to realise how much difference tweaking just one chemical or protein in your body can make. It is both dreadful and mind blowing. You will realise that sometimes, you are no match for your own body.
Struggling With Dark Thoughts
There are people who are struggling with this single thought right now, “To kill or not to kill myself?”
Isn’t that pathetic? They should try to distract themselves. Fill their time with sports, the endorphins will help. Immerse themselves in hobbies, pleasant activities are good for you. See some friends, we are social creatures. Do something, anything, except lie there drenched in the excrement of self pity.
But the fact that they haven’t ended their life yet is one hell of an amazing feat. You may or may not ever comprehend their level of physical or mental pain, but there is a boiling point. The word ‘clinging’ sounds feeble; it is often associated with infants or children attached to their mothers. But have you ever tried clinging onto life when pain is all there is? When there might be nothing left to live for? When life has lost all meaning?
Capability is to pursue life, but sometimes that means focussing inwards and not pushing outwards. To preserve yourself and survive. Especially when your body is at civil war, and your mind is a traitor playing tricks. To lie there in all your defeat and hopelessness, whilst clinging onto life for no clear reason. If that isn’t capability, then I don’t know what is.
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*Note: This article is meant for educational purposes and is based on the author’s personal experiences. It is not to be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your own doctor before changing or adding any new treatment protocols.
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For More Insight:
- Are Mental Illnesses Caused by “Chemical Imbalances?” (article on Pete Earley): https://is.gd/3mSfjJ
- 81 Awesome Mental Health Resources When You Can’t Afford a Therapist (article on Greatist): https://goo.gl/WAbtNV
I don’t feel very capable at the moment, but I can see where you are coming from, I watched an episode of Greys Anatomy yesterday that took me back to a part of my life I would rather forget, I will recover from it but I just need a little time, great writing Sheryl x
Thanks Rachael. It’s okay not to feel capable at times – we all go through such moments 🙂 Just hang in there, the light always shines again, some day. 🙂 xxx
I love how you say that sometimes being capable is shown through the inner work rather than the outer doing. At 56, the last two years of inner work has really been something that makes me feel accomplished and has given me back some of the confidence I had lost the three years prior when I didn’t know why I was declining.
Hi Katie, yes I think that really is true. A lot of inner, unseen work can be much harder than what is seen. I hope you slowly regain your confidence – you are a lovely person, know that 🙂
A couple of weeks back, a good-looking, successful, intelligent, very well educated, well spoken, articulate, 34-year old Indian actor committed suicide (Name: Sushant Singh Rajput). He was what any young person would be inspired by and be seen as much more than capable – and he was.
It’s been a huge shock to anyone who has followed his journey over the years.
What cost him was his mental health.
So as I read this today, I completely agree with you Sheryl on our perception of what ‘capable’ looks like. It takes a lot to keep going and like you have so beautifully said that “Capability is to pursue life, but sometimes that means focussing inwards and not pushing outwards. To preserve yourself and survive. Especially when your body is at civil war, and your mind is a traitor playing tricks. ”
And a huge shout out to everyone who manages to look inward and keeps persevering – you’re all doing such a brilliant job and quietly you know that it’s true. We all just need to be kind to ourselves and each other.
Hi Shruti, yes I heard about that online. It really is sad, but also serves to highlight to society and the public (especially in an Asian culture as an Indian or Chinese) that mental illness kills. Mental health matters. Stigma needs to be broken. Conversations had. People listened to.
I hope that by raising awareness and breaking the stigma, many lives will not be lost when they don’t have to be. Sending love your way.
Thank you Sheryl. Love to you too.
I agree on the increase in conversation and the increase in awareness of the options people have. I always feel fortunate that I went through counselling as a teenager and how those lessons improved my mental health. An early exposure armed me well.
Sadly India is the highest in suicide rate in our region of South-East Asia. Hopefully I’ll do a podcast on it soon.
But again, thank you for raising awareness and increasing conversation on being “capable”.
Yes it’s sad about the suicide rate, especially in India 🙁 I look forward to that particular podcast episode 🙂 And I’m glad you received mental health help early on – I wish I had too as a teen.
Great post, and I think many people put themselves down when they live with chronic illness, thinking they aren’t capable because they aren’t able to do certain things. Yet perhaps they are the most capable of all!
Hi Claire, yes capability looks a bit or a lot different for everyone! And I do believe inner capability is what matters at the end of the day. Outer capability is just the byproduct of that inner capability 🙂
I like it when you say Living each day is capability. Enabling us to face the challenges and struggles of life is capability.
Thanks Jojo! It really is, if you think about it. And especially when you live with a pain of any kind, it really is survival at its most capable.
Well written! I hope people get an insight into what it feels like to live with chronic pain or mental illness from this article.
All human beings has the capability to be good and great. There are lot of factors that affects our capability to reach our full potential but i think is up to us to overcame it. Nice article, good read and informative.
I believed we are all capable of something great we just have to trust ourselves more and do it. Excellent read and I enjoy it. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks April, you’re so sweet 🙂 Yes we are all truly capable in some extent 🙂
This is a beautiful post. For me, apart from our skills and skills, the capability is the power from within. Something that drives us to move forward.
Aww thank you so much Jho, I appreciate your comment 🙂 Yes we are all capable in some way 🙂 x
When faced with adversity, in whatever shape it comes, we are all so much more capable than we may feel or even appear. Human spirit and our survival instincts are the essence of capability.
Yes, you’re exactly right, Jayne! It all boils down to simply, being human 🙂
Really interesting piece. As a family we are all too familiar with mental capability and dark thoughts – me with long term chronic illness, hubby having had a breakdown, and now adolescents….one having a major crash during first year uni, another now on antidepressants & self harming ahead of A levels, and the 3rd with major anxiety. Doesn’t make me feel great as a mum when I received a letter detailing an assessment and listing out all our family issues!! But we have to work through it don’t we, and teach our kids too. Thanks for sharing on #Chronic Pain & chronic illness linkup party!
I am very sorry to hear how each and every member of your family is struggling with issues, it definitely sounds more than a handful. Well done for even coping up to here. Yes I agree with you…all we can do is try our best, and hope our children (I have none but hopefully in future!) learn from our examples. You are most welcome and thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and life.