Writing about mental health triggers within me equal parts joy and dread. I feel privileged being blessed with an opportunity to generate more chatter about mental health issues, but fall quickly into a pit of impending doom.
I feel exposed before even sharing any of my own difficulties. I feel ashamed if I’m not brave enough to at least experiment with being vulnerable. I feel insane as this conflict begins. Eventually I laugh at myself and put my fingers to the keys. I reflect with a smirk that first day I sat opposite my GP and suggested that I might be a bit f*cked in the head. I giggled… he frowned… but it was a most important ice breaker.
On that day just over four years back I sensed that my mind was distorted. Mutated if you will. A growing dissatisfaction with my reality and a numbing disconnection with those who I loved so dearly. I was self-medicating with booze and cigarettes. These days I eat more Maltesers than is strictly good for me, but self-medication is no longer an issue. The journey over the past four years and adaptation to fresh lifestyle choices has been so profound that I am excited about this commitment to sharing the positive news from a growing culture and awareness of emotional, mental and spiritual health. Let me hear you say ohmmmmmmmmm. Just kidding. Chanting is weird.
Tip number one. There is sooooooo much help available. There are psychologists and psychiatrists and counsellors and holistic health coaches and spiritual gurus galore. At least one of these fine folk is sure to be of benefit (maybe group sessions are your calling? That’s a whole other article). This is a money back guarantee. Like teachers at school, some mental health professionals – though well qualified and of good intention – simply will not ever reach us. I have tried and moved on from such individuals. But there will be one who remindes you of that one teacher everyone can remember who seemed to have a certain gift. I’ve sat with at least one therapist who I shall forever remember fondly for the self-awareness I was able to accomplish under their care.
So how do you know if therapy is for you? Well most people will probably grow tired of a niggling physical ailment and eventually see the doctor or physiotherapist. But how many are likely to grow tired of a niggling emotional knot? You know the type: the girlfriend you can’t stop yearning for. Maybe the family dog which passed suddenly from this life? Or maybe you just don’t feel right. Whatever the cause, the first step seems where most of the conflict occurs. A question most likely pondered is “Am I weak or a failure if I see a shrink?” Why not act first? Seek the help and decide for yourself after a few sessions what you believe the answer to be (Did you know that a lot of these professional services are free?)
Tip number two. You don’t have to live this way. There are solutions. In describing a recent bout of depressive thinking and behaviour to a friend, he shared with me the sunshine analogy. How it is to walk outside and see the sun but not to be able to feel its warmth. Or the infuriating fact that everybody else seems to be joyfully basking in the sun. They are asking you why you can’t just “cheer up”. Sound familiar? Don’t panic. Therapy is the new black. As people once shared stories at the water cooler about their favourite personal trainer, now they are sharing details of their favoured mental health care worker. My guy is nicknamed Jesus. He smells like clouds. Peace.