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.
When you reach a certain age and look back over your life, it seems to have had an order; it seems to have been composed by someone.
And those events, when they occurred, seemed merely accidental and occasional and just something that happened, turn out to be the main elements in a consistent plot.
So, who composed this plot?
Just as your dreams are composed by an aspect of yourself of which your consciousness is unaware, so your whole life has been composed by the will within you.
Just as those people you met became effective agents of the structuring of your life, so you have been an agent in the structuring of other’s lives. And the whole thing gears together like one big symphony; everything structuring and influencing everything else.
Its as though our lives were the dream of a single dreamer in which all the dream characters are dreaming too, and so everything links to everything else, moved out of the will of nature.
You wanna make a resolution? Then start a revolution. Within yourself.
Instead of the morning bathroom mirror pep talks and mantras, tell the person in your mirror that you love them and that you’re proud of them.
Take a walk in the woods. Notice the trees; all the different kinds of trees. Big ones, small ones, tall straight ones, smaller crooked ones. Oaks, maples, and who knows what other kinds. Notice all these trees and then notice how you just accept these different kinds of trees for what they are. You don’t get all hung up about the crooked ones or the pines if the maple trees are your favorite. You just accept them as they are and walk on.
Now try that with the people around you and see what you notice. Can you really accept them for who they are or do you get hung up on something?
Go back to the mirror for a minute. Instead of lashing yourself and telling yourself you can do better, just admit how hard you’re being on yourself. We’re all human, and we’re all gonna make mistakes and we’re all gonna be way too hard on ourselves. Nobody here is an enlightened master. But here’s a spoiler; even enlightened masters screw up. Give yourself a break. For once. Can you really do it?
It’s just three things but it’s so much, isn’t it?
A long time ago, Khalili Gibran wrote “And God said to love your enemy. And I obeyed Him and loved myself”.
Let’s make 2022 so much better than 2021. I have faith in us.