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I am depressed. Poor concentration, distracted, irritable, no motivation, extremely fatigued, sad.
I am coping by:
1. Accepting my feelings and state of mind.
2. Sleeping when I need to.
3. Reminding myself of all the times I felt this way before and got through it.
4. Asking my family and friends for help by being honest with them about my current symptoms and what I cannot do at this time.
5. Accepting and loving me for me.
Speaking of me…I found this the other day, and being the introvert that I am, it really spoke to me. (Source unknown)
Can you relate to this?
“The challenge we all face is how to integrate after loss or conflict and return to a greater wholeness of self. This is accomplished through social supports, coping, and other resources. This we call the process of emotional healing…” – from People Can Recover From Mental Illness, an article by Daniel Fisher, M.D., Ph.D. and Laurie Ahern
When it comes to mental illness what can I say that has not already been said? Not that it matters. Maybe it does. I don’t know. All I know is that I have it and so do others – others like me, who are stigmatized by the ignorance of those who don’t have it; by those who have it but don’t know it; by those who have it but act like they don’t.
How can one understand an experience if they can’t experience it first hand? I don’t believe they can. Intellectually they may be able to comprehend the phenomenon, but bodily, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, they cannot.
In my experience, except for three people in my life (one being my therapist), others do not even want to understand. It is so far beyond their comprehension that they don’t even ask questions, research, or read about mental illness. Only one other in addition to the above three shows sincere concern for my symptoms and experiences with mental illness. I am grateful that I at least have four people who care. I probably have more but they either don’t know how to show it or don’t know enough to know they should show it.
I don’t think the stigma of mental illness will ever go away outside of those who actually have it. If people could only open their minds and their hearts to see beyond the craziness, the depression, the manic behaviors, the anger, the insecurities, the social anxiety, and the disssociation – all of which most people have to some degree or another, though they’d never admit it – then maybe they would see a soul; souls who just like them are doing the best they can within the physical limitations of their bodies and minds. Maybe then they would learn how to validate rather than ignore or worse, shun or even worse, judge. Maybe then they could become allies to our healing journeys rather than obstacles.
My last post included a video about how those with mental illness have a body/mind sickness, not a “self” sickness. After reading some of the comments, I had some follow-up thoughts which I wanted to share here as well, for my own mental reminder and hopefully, for the benefit of others out there in Blogland.
What is our make up as “beings?” I believe the human or mortal part is made up of the mind and body, and the spiritual or immortal part is the “self” (a.k.a, the Divine, God, etc.) Thinking of it in terms of God, our Creator, connects all the pieces of the religious/spiritual puzzle for me. I can’t quote the bible verses, but phrases like “the Great I am,” “be still and know that I am,” “what you do unto others you do unto me,” and “made in His image” all point to this “self” – the part that isn’t sick, the only part that really matters, because it is forever while the mind and body are temporary.
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” ~ Teilhard de Chardin quotes (French Geologist, Priest, Philosopher and Mystic, 1881-1955)
As the Universe would have it, another blogger posted some relevant information just yesterday, from The Upanishad (introduced and translated by Eknath Easwaran.) The Upanishads are the oldest and one of the most universal of messages which inform us that there is more to life than the everyday experience of our senses – including our physical and mental illnesses!
Some excerpts from Indian Spirituality:
“The Self is one, though is appears to be many. Those who meditate upon the Self and realize the Self go beyond decay and death, beyond separateness and sorrow. They see the Self in everyone and obtain all things.”
“Control the senses and purify the mind. In a pure mind there is constant awareness of the Self. Where there is constant awareness of the Self, freedom ends bondage and joy ends sorrow.”
“The Self, pure awareness, shines as the light within the heart, surrounded by the senses. Only seeming to think, seeming to move, the Self neither sleeps nor wakes nor dreams.”
“When the Self takes on a body, he seems to assume the body’s frailties and limitations; but when he sheds the body at the time of death the Self leaves all these behind.”
“Brahman is the infinite, supreme soul. Brahman is all-prevailing, and the visualized world is a tiny part of the same. Whatever we see or feel with other senses (as in Biology) is Divine Illusion or Maya, and is Asat or untrue. The Only Truth or Sat is Brahman. We, or our souls (Jeev-Atma), are infinite small parts of Brahma.
In Hinduism, Brahman (ब्रह्मन् bráhman) is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being. Brahman is conceived as personal (“with qualities”), impersonal (“without qualities”) and/or supreme depending on the philosophical school.”
That last sentence is what makes me completely baffled by so-called “religious wars,” because really, we seem to all believe in the same thing. So, what are we fighting over? Semantics??? How sad!
Anyway, back to the “self.” I have heard people greet one another with the word “Namaste.” I always thought it meant “peace to you” or something along those lines. Yesterday, however, when I was watching a video on The Light Way blog about Rapid Eye Technology, I learned the true meaning of namaste, which made for the third time in three days from three different sources that the same message of this “self” was delivered to me. I love when that happens. It’s like God frantically waving His arms over His head saying, “Are you hearing me??? Are you paying attention?”
According to Organic Spa Magazine,
“the literal translation [of namaste] is a little more nuanced and suggests that it is not a superficial gesture or word but has deep spiritual significance” such as:
“All sacred in me greets all sacred in you.”
“Honor the peace within.”
“The light in me honors and respects the light in you.”
“I bow to the divine in you.”
“The light in me recognizes the light in you.”
In order for these truths to help me cope with my mental illnesses, I have to continue searching and learning more about them. It’s a never-ending spiritual journey that doesn’t always “feel” good. I also have to talk about it with others, who understand, daily and honestly. And finally, I write a lot and create a lot of digital art (and some paintings) that reflect these truths, so that I am constantly reminding myself. (btw, the digital art in this post is not mine but listed on elfwood.com as public domain. Thank you to those creators.)
What beliefs do you have that help you cope with yourself as a person with mental illness? How do you keep these beliefs in the forefront of your mind? I would love to know. Please share!
photo by gravel
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. ~ Dalai Lama
In my last post, I wrote about the DBT term “radical acceptance.” Just to recap, radical acceptance means, “These are the facts…. This is who I am right now and it is possible that these are the reasons I am the way I am….” Radical acceptance is the realization that due to the events of my childhood, I could not have developed in any other way. Therefore, I need not be so hard on myself.
After my first radical acceptance experience everything changed for me. (I say first because it isn’t something you do one time and you’re cured. You have to radically accept things over and over again in order to change your thinking patterns.)
By radically accepting myself just as I am, I started seeing myself differently. I was no longer a sick, abused, damaged, beyond-help child-victim but rather a strong, smart, creative survivor-child who made it to adulthood doing the best I could with little to no support from those who were responsible for me. I feel compassion for the little girl me rather than self-pity for the adult me.
We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. ~ Dalai Lama
How amazing are we to not only have gone through what we did but to also to have come out on the other side of it, to have survived it! We don’t give ourselves enough credit. We are survivors!
Great but now what? How can this knowledge lead us to peace of mind and to a joyful existence? How can it help us improve our quality of life and our relationships with ourselves and others?
In realizing who I am (a ten-year-old stuck in an adult body), why I am (childhood post-traumatic stress), and what I am (a survivor still operating in survival mode) I began to discover options that I didn’t have as a child.
• as a child, I had no say in what I would or would not tolerate. I depended on my parents for food, clothing and shelter and therefore, had to tolerate their dysfunction in order to survive.
• as a child, I had one source teaching me how to cope in the world – my parents. Unfortunately, they could only teach me unhealthy coping skills because that is all they were taught by their parents who were taught the same things by their parents and so on.
Today, as an adult, I can remove myself from intolerable situations. I can seek out resources, learn new and healthy ways to cope and choose to use them or not. Most importantly, I can nurture my children’s emotional development at the appropriate ages and stages of their lives which will help break the cycle of dysfunction – Yippeeee!
I am no longer that ten-year-old little girl stuck in a nightmare. I am a thirty eight year old woman who has choices – choices like whether or not to walk away from the nightmare and create new a dream for myself and ultimately, for my kids. I am humbled by this entire process and so grateful to God for the knowledge He has revealed to me and for the gifts of radical acceptance, self-compassion, and choices that I now have.
What choices do you have now that you didn’t have as a child? Do you choose to make healthy choices or are you stuck in the survival mode of your child-self?