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Before you get hungry, cook a meal.

Community Member

Every culture has various sayings, proverbs, colloquialisms and expressions that reflect norms, traditional values and beliefs. These notions are passed on from generation to generation and create the soul of a people and help form an ethnic identity. Each ethic group identifies with these and they’re embedded in the cultural identity and reflected in its folklore, art, music and literature.

In Greek language, for example, myriads of expressions like these are part of everyday lingo and used by every generation. One that comes to mind is ‘The children of wisemen cook before they are hungry’. My grandmother used to say this often and also my mother and grew up hearing it over and over. A phrase that emphasizes the notion of prevention. What’s the equivalent saying you have in your language?

In regards to mental health and lifestyle choices in particular, what would be some things that are culturally appropriate in your background and others that perhaps hinder the process when it comes to prevention and looking after ourselves?

In some cultures for example, women are not particularly encouraged to swim or engage in strenuous activities. Riding may be discouraged and so does jogging or any public activity. In others, obesity can be seen as a sign of happiness, prosperity and health, especially in women who are married. How do these notions and cultural expectations and pressures affect a person’s health and especially their mental health? How does body image for instance, influences the way a person views themselves, their confidence, choices, relationships etc.

What can we do to prevent illness and particularly mental illness and what notions, beliefs and cultural or religious traditions do we have to fight against to reach our goal? This could be pertinent to exercise, eating, gender roles etc but not only.

What limitations and false or negative beliefs did you had to shed before you could start your own recovery journey?

How do we ‘cook before we get hungry?’.

2 Replies 2

Community Member

This is really interesting.

It's cliche to say "a label is damaging", but I think in some cases it has the potential to be damaging in an unsuspected way. With mental health awareness, has come a social curiosity also, I think. I think it is one of the many great movements that humanity is making at the moment; becoming more accepting of mental illnesses (it's something that should have always been accepted!). But i think for teenagers especially, there are definitely elements of a trend within depression and self harm.

Tumblr, on some threads, can be a community of people to help each other, or, be cultivating the notion of 'beautiful sadness'. I'm not in any way denying the existence of mental illnesses within teens, but is it possible that our susceptibility to mental illnesses has increased with our knowledge of them? Unintentionally prolonged or deliberated emotions simply because we know what it 'could' be. A curiosity, an accidentally incorrect self-diagnosis, a desire to have something unique? Everyone's lives are circumstantial and specific, so nothing can be true for us all. But are some people 'cooking' before they are truly 'hungry'?

Community Member

Hello Maddo,

Welcome onboard! Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. Great points! I haven't thought about it from this perspective. Reading your comment made me think about all this differently.

It's true that with more information available, more awareness around mental health is created and more people talk about their feelings openly. It's a bit of 'the chicken or the egg'. Do we have more people nowadays struggling with their mental well being or are we more aware and open/encouraged to talk about it?

It is also true, that more people may confuse mental illness with sadness or other normal emotions. I often hear the word 'depressed' used in contexts that another word would be more appropriate. E.g. 'I'm so depressed cause I missed the bus', or 'Feel depressed cause I burnt my dinner'.

As we know mental illness doesn't need a cause. We may not be able to pinpoint an exact event or trauma that has contributed to the development of our depression or anxiety (and any other mental illness).

Adolescence is a time of discovery, hormonal change, experimentation and a fascination with the self and preoccupation with notions of eternal love, loss, death etc. Romanticizing struggles and hardships, trauma and inability to fit in is a normal part of being a teen. At the same time young people today are faced with choices about their future at a time where the world seems to becoming more and more unstable and uncertain by the minute. In an era of climatic changes due to human presence on this earth, economic and political instability, collapse of traditional values and ideals, globalisation etc and a future very uncertain it's not hard to not feel down. However, in a healthy person these factors by themselves won't develop an illness. But they may contribute, especially, if there is some predisposition or inclination towards mental illness which can be exacerbated by drug and alcohol abuse, trends, peers, music, movies and literature etc.

Or it could also be related to ingredients in the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink, the pesticides, preservatives, GMOs etc. Maybe it all comes down to cooking after all. Research suggests that there is a link between our stomach and our brains. Our immune system is located in our stomachs and if our diet is poor in nutrients needed for the maintenance of a healthy brain, then depression, anxiety, mood swings and other illnesses could develop.

Prevention is better than cure for sure!