Literal words from a new Client a little more than halfway through his second appointment.
Working with a Therapist is not at all unlike making a new friend; you need to be able to get along with each other, there needs to be an element of trust and safety and ease. All of these help to create an atmosphere that makes it easy to talk this new person in your life. Many times, at five minutes before the hour is up people will look at the clock and go “Whoa! That was the fastest hour that I’ve ever spent!”.
We’re all human. It isn’t always that easy, but oftentimes it is.
Tamika, 26, was raised in a home with parents who were deeply religious. She was adopted and she was aware that she was adopted from an early age.
A part of her always wondered about her birth parents, but she subconsciously felt trying to learn more about them would be a betrayal to her parents. Regularly, people said things like: “you’re so lucky you got adopted” which reinforced the belief that she should feel nothing but gratitude. She never felt fully emotionally connected to her parents, but she did know that they loved her.
When she meets Aaron, she’s smitten. They move quickly. She knows her parents will approve because he shares similar religious beliefs. But as they get closer she can’t help but feel a lack of trust. She regularly goes through his phone. She questions him consistently about where he’s been. She pushes him to propose to prove his loyalty.
The voice in her head and the alarm in her body speaks loudly: he will betray you.
Aaron doesn’t know how to cope with her insecurity. In his mind, he’s done nothing but be faithful. He’s feeling exhausted and worn down by allegations. He starts to pull away, which only activates Tamika’s abandonment wound.
She doesn’t have the words to communicate the impact of her adoption trauma — and even if she did she fears she’d hear what she’s heard since she was a child; “you should be grateful.”
She also can’t explain why she’s never felt safe in relationships and that her controlling behavior stems from an unconscious fear that people who love her will eventually leave her.
This is where a third party with a trained ear can be of service; to listen, to interrupt at key points during the conversation and ask questions, and gently guide the client towards seeing if the unconscious is influencing the conscious. There is absolutely no shame or embarrassment about looking at oneself and wanting to live more consciously, changing the course of one’s life for the better.
Although its getting better, there is still an enormous amount of stigma and shame wrapped around the subject of mental health and seeking out help. Often times its viewed as embarrassing and/or shameful when the reality is that its no different from talking to your physical doctor about a pain in your knee or taking your car in when the check engine light comes on. Zero difference. Anyone can benefit from talking with someone when the need to unpack comes up.
Every year, one in five adults experience a mental illness.
One in twenty adults experience a serious mental illness.
Fifty percent of mental illnesses begin by age fourteen.
The average delay between the onset of mental illness and treatment is ELEVEN YEARS.
People experiencing depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic disease than the general population.
In 2020, 32.1% of adults experiencing mental illness also experienced a substance use disorder.
October 10 is World Mental Health Day, asking for attention to be drawn to what has historically been known as a silent struggle for generations of people.
Seeking out help from a Mental Health Professional is NO different from going to your physical doctor for your checkup or taking your car in for service when the check engine light is on. Yet, social and cultural stigma has plagued and embarrassed those that experience mental illness for decades.
Some easy things to do to help yourself are:
Move your body. Exercise. Ride a bike. Go for a walk. Our bodies are designed to be mobile, not to sit at desks all day. It’s good to break a little sweat each day if you can.
Spend some of that exercise time in nature. Go for a walk in the woods or in a park. Sit under a tree for a while if you can. Just be quiet as you walk or bike through the woods and see what you can hear.
Eat well. That doesn’t mean a Big Mac. That means eat seasonal and locally grown foods as often as you can. Avoid dairy, especially as you age. Experiment and see for yourself, how you feel when you eat heavy and how you feel when you eat lighter.
Its time to end the stigma and the struggle.
Emergency Contact information is below:
Crisis Text Line
Text MHFA to 741741 to speak with a trained crisis counselor.
The month of May has been Mental Health Awareness Month in the US, so lets review some facts about Mental Health.
One in five adults in the US will experience a mental health challenge at some point during their lives. One in five. And over forty percent of people suffering from a mental health event will take over a year to seek out help.
Stigmas around mental health and its treatment can include shame, embarrassment, ego and pride, discrimination and even culture. Many “isms” go hand-in-hand with mental health: substance abuse, food, and sex are common ways that people can avoid themselves. People can overwork, over acquire possessions and people in their lives to numb themselves so that they won’t have to feel what they do when there’s no action around. Simple logic dictates that we see a doctor when we’re physically ill. Working to treat our emotional health is no different.
What is Mental Health?
Mental Health is a state of emotional well-being in which an individual:
Realizes their own capabilities
Can successfully mange the normal stresses of life
Can work productively
Can contribute to their Community
What is a Mental Health Challenge?
There is a major change in someone’s thinking, feeling or behavior that interferes with the person’s ability to live their life.
The interference lasts longer than typical emotions or reactions would be expected to.
How to observe Mental Health Awareness:
1. Take care of yourself. Sometimes life’s ups and downs can seem to be heavy and burdensome.
2. Check up on your friends and family. Often, all people need is a non-judgmental listening ear. Support and encourage your friends and family if they are being treated for any mental problems.
3. The more mental health is discussed, the more accepted it will become. Learn about what behaviors and language to watch for in your friends, family and also in yourself.
The feeling of disconnection and numbness that afflicts so many people’s lives comes from habitually absenting ourselves from our difficult experiences.
Like a mountain climber that is stuck on their rope and would rather die there that way, we’re terrified of sinking down into those places within us that we refuse to inhabit. The grief for what we’ve lost or never had, the longing for a worthiness that we don’t feel, the unknown of it all threatens to swallow us whole. So instead, we insulate in the form of alcohol, drugs, sex or material objects; or we find a way to exist in an anxious suspension above our fears and loneliness.
We can undermine our own efforts to move forward, remaining in fear of becoming self; because to walk the maze towards our next selves means we need to face all that we’ve neglected or abandoned, and relinquish that which no longer serves us.
Sacrifice is a show of trust in the unknown. Like quitting a job only to have a new opportunity appear that very afternoon, or ending a toxic relationship only to meet your true love two days later, there is magic in sacrifice. Life is calling you, and the severance of the tethers that bind you to outgrown thoughts/ideas/reactions is you answering that call.
The idea of a thing, situation or person is often what is fallen prey to rather than experiencing the thing, situation or person itself.
We can see this especially at play in matters of love; in our lives, in our friends’ lives and in fictional characters on TV and in movies. However, very little of what is offered actually leads up to us having an authentic experience of love. It can be that when we grasp for what we think we want and fail to find it, we bring suffering to ourselves and to those around us. We can feel that we’ve not found love, but something else…
Often the feelings of anxiousness, nervousness, and thrill in the area of love are actually romance, and not really love itself. Romance can be a lot of fun as long as we don’t try to make too much out of it; if we do, it could become painful. Romance may lead to love, but it can also fade without growing into anything more than flirtation. If we cling to it and try to make it more, we might pine for a fantasy or worse; find ourselves stuck in a situation that was never meant to last or be to begin with.
Real love is identifiable by how it makes us feel. Love should feel good. And its important to realize WHERE these feelings come from; from within ourselves – NOT from an outside source. True love activates this. Authentic love doesn’t ask us to appear in a certain manner, drive a certain car, live in a certain zip code. When someone really loves you, their love for you awakens your love for yourself. Its SO much deeper than just romance. We realize that we have to trust ourselves, and not somebody else. They remind us that what we seek outside of ourselves is a mirror of what’s already inside of us. Real love is empowering; reminding us that we always were, and always will be, completely enough just as we are.