Unsticking Yourself and Getting Well

| March 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

My friends always said, as I searched for wellness when I was feeling low, “your intelligence will pull you through.” They were right: your intelligence will pull you through…when you are on the mend and feeling better. So how do we feel better and let our mind and intelligence pull us through the dark days? That is the mystery of life. Some people can shrug it off, get up and get going. Anyone who has suffered with depression or a mood disorder knows the reality of doing all the right things yet still remaining stuck in the cloud that will not lift.

Every situation is different, every individual is different. Society’s understanding of mental health and mental illness is so important; it needs to radically shift in a more positive supportive way. Change has started but I feel the momentum has dwindled. We cannot say this enough: those who suffer from any mental illness do not choose the suffering and the damage done. When wellness strikes and the dark cloud lifts we wonder WHAT was going on for the last few weeks/months or even years. It is hard to explain but you just know when you come out of the clenching grips of the dark place.
Some people can just “snap out of it”, “it” meaning a low day, sad day or period of despair such as after a relationship break down or death in the family. For many people, however, we must go through the pain and feelings many times over. This is also great experience on educating our emotions. Many people remain primarily “thinkers” and never learn to feel their feelings. “To everything turn, turn, turn, there is a season turn, turn, turn…” and so there is a time for each feeling to come, be processed and let go. As we mature, we learn to feel our feelings. This helps us in getting to a place of wellness.

To get to the ultimate place of wellness, here is what worked for me, eventually, in summary form:

1. You hit rock bottom and realize that you MUST change now. This is the lowest experience you will ever feel. My relationship Catalyst, Cat, was the one who really saved my life and eventually understood that the real Paul White was not who I was presenting. It really feels good to feel good once again. Pay attention to past patterns and make the decision “NEVER EVER AGAIN will I go through that”. The illness can get you stuck in a dark fog, but your choices over a period of time will once again equal success or failure. Choose to not go back to the dark place by getting and staying well.

2. Self-help is the key. You see your Dr for one hour every week or month, yet you are with yourself 24/7, so get used to liking yourself and acting in your own self-interest. Be your own advocate. Accept reality (it is an illness, not some flaw that you chose). Read and learn as much as you can. Set life goals. Keep a journal of your daily moods. Do the daily things that matter.

3. Team approach: Medical team (doctor, clinician etc), family/friends support team; find those non-judgmental friends who will be there for you no matter what. Never be afraid to reach out and ask for help. We are so good at helping others and reaching out when they are in need, yet we “feel bad” when we ask for help! Let us work on changing this. It is OK to ask for help and our friends and co-workers are often more willing than our minds “think”. Of course, always consult with your doctor with issues of medication and never be afraid to ask for a second medical opinion. Find what works best for you and commit to doing this. Just do it.

4. Daily plan of attack: changes in diet, exercising, following a ritual. We need to be flexible in our day to day living, but we must also push ourselves when we need the push, to do the basic health and wellness rituals. We never feel like doing some things in life, yet we must. Procrastination is a major part of depression. Sometimes you feel like not getting out of bed, and showering can be another pain in the butt when you do not feel well. Do these anyway and get plenty of sleep. Push yourself just a little. Sometimes when we act and can shut off our racing thoughts for even a few seconds, change happens.

5. My therapeutic training is in CBT (cognitive behavior therapy). This is the premise that by changing our thinking, we change our feelings, and thus our actions. I like to reverse this at times. Act first to get the juices flowing, then when you are in the motion of cleaning or washing dishes, or showering, you automatically feel a bit better just by taking action. The stinkin’ thinkin’ is what gets and keeps you stuck in a low mood. Break this pattern with a new approach – act first, think and feel later. Try it.

6. Fake it until you make it. Yes you have to go to work and mind the children as well as many other tasks. Do the best you can, with what you have and are feeling, one moment at a time. The stigma of mental illness also keeps people stuck. In the larger quest for acceptance in society, we must help break this societal shame because as we know every family is either directly or indirectly affected by mental illness and addiction issues. Do your best and keep up the fight of faith to get well.

7. Work on self-forgiveness, daily. Practice “letting go” of your past junk and mistakes. We all make them. We will continue to make them. Those who suffer from a mood disorder need this regular gentle reminder, as do all of us. Make amends and do it sincerely. Do it often if you must. I chatted with a well respected international business guru one time and he was beating himself up for “judging others.” After our chat, he realized that he had thought like any human being would and that was OK. He was keeping these judgement thoughts to himself, so the real problem was in comparing himself to others. With a little self-forgiveness, he got over this hurdle. We are all human, no matter what our external life successes reveal. This means that we all need the internal work daily, on self-forgiveness.

More on the daily rituals in the next blog, to help you get back your daily mojo. Focus on the things that matter and you cannot go wrong. This often means ignoring the political drama on TV as this really can be depressing in and of itself.

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Paul White, Work-Life Balance and Mental Health Expert Helping You Catch Life Balance and Create Greater Results!

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