I want to begin today with an expression of gratitude to the community for sharing their stories; helping to break the stigma and helping me improve the world of mental health. It is all thanks to you that this podcast is where it is today. There is a massive amount that goes into each podcast and I want to express my appreciation to those that are behind the scenes: Heather, John, Greg and my mother, who writes up these blogs,my husband Ari, my children – they are my support team.
This blog is the first in a three part series of in depth review of what I did to attain wellness after my struggle with mental health. In this section I will discuss mindset, gratitude, abandoning the victim stance, and the need to want to heal.
Before I fell into depression and anxiety, I was outwardly a healthy, active, productive person. I was running around, loving life, had tons of friends, always had what to do and where to go. My internal mindset though was not a healthy one at all. Negativity reeked from every corner. My constant recording that I played in my mind was: I can’t do this, I won’t make it to the airport on time, the line will be long, I’ll get jet lag when I arrive, I’ll get sick, on and on without any hope in sight.
My husband, Ari, says that when we were dating I thought a good date was one where I could say, I’m not going to continue dating this guy, which meant there was no thought of marriage, which then translated to there could be no divorce. Negativity to the nth degree!
In reality, negative mindsets attract negative energy and likely negative results. In order to heal we need to do mental house cleaning and get rid of the defeatist thoughts.
There were two books which I read in my quest to heal myself that introduced me to the magical powers of positive thinking, The Secret and The Power. These books gave me the gift of hope. If our thoughts attract what happens and create an energy, I just needed to learn how to rewrite the script that I was playing in my mind non-stop. It needed to have happy endings rather than failure or disaster. It was not easy going. Sometimes I needed to trick myself into thinking upbeat and way lay those pessimistic
prognostications. If I failed, and I did more than once, I would catch myself and drag my thoughts back to center and begin the thought again watching carefully that I didn’t slide back into bleak beliefs. Today, years later, it is much easier for me. I’ve trained my mind’s default setting to an optimistic outlook. The book Mindset offers a step by step program how to accomplish this feat.
Hopeful thoughts bring abundance, joy, good health and prosperity in their wake. It’s the first step to take, whether you are on medication, in therapy or not. It will open doors to a life of recovery.
The next rung on the ladder is Gratitude. When I was wallowing in the bleakness of depression I saw a You Tube about the power of gratitude.
It was transformational. When our minds are trained to seek out the good in our lives, it will attract more good. I forced myself every day to find three things that were positive in my life. In the beginning they were in your face obvious. I’m grateful that I have a brain, eyes that see, a bed to crawl up in when I want to escape the world. With practice I was able to glean the smaller and yet meaningful moments in my day :my older boys playing a game together without competing; my plant sprouting new leaves; the sun shining into my bedroom; a delicious ice coffee. My life was taking on more color. This translated into being less tired physically.
Before going to sleep I composed a list of things I wished for. I was focused on the future and it took on bright shades. Today I belong to 5 or 6 gratitude groups, aside from my original daily practice. I thank G-d for what worked and what didn’t work. I’m able to express my thanks for things that I was disappointed about or even brought me to anger. At the end of each day, after my evening prayer, I ask G-d to allow me to see the ‘why’ behind it. Why did this happen a certain way, when I wanted something else. Years sometimes pass and all of sudden I understand why what I wanted was not good for me at that time, and that what happened served me well. There are multiple instances which are still a puzzle for me, but I keep going to find the good in the difficult.
Write down the gratitude; invite it into your life. There are many gratitude journals available – it has become trendy. It has been proven to empower one’s life. Start implementing it. It’s free and it works!
With adding positive mindset and gratitude in your kitbag there is something that you need to get rid of. – the belief that you are a victim. I’m not going to succeed, I’m in a terrible relationship, I won’t get better, I don’t like my job … these are all the excuses of a victim mentality. Get rid of it.
Focus on what you can do to change your circumstances. The victim’s belief system is: I suffer because there is nothing I can do. Be a fighter – a soldier. Tell yourself: ‘I’m in a state of war with my emotions but I am going to fight this out. I’m going to control my emotions and not let them control me.’ Own your life and choose recovery.
Now is the time to ramp up your desire to heal. You need to blow hard on those embers of change. Discarding the victim mentality is saying I want to star in a new movie. Healing doesn’t mean that one won’t ever fall into depression or anxiety again or have a manic attack. What it means is that you are committed to picking yourself up if you fall and utilize the tools you have acquired to get yourself out of the pit and up and running again.
Healing doesn’t mean that everything is bliss. It means you’re moving the needle slightly away from the pain to a healthier you. We need to want it very badly. If there’s a will there’s a way.
When I was nineteen, I wanted to go for a year to Hong Kong. I knew that my mother was going to oppose it and I didn’t want to go without her blessing. I tried this and that, and when that didn’t work, I thought of something else. I didn’t let up – I wanted to go so badly. In the end, my mother agreed, gave me her blessing and it was one of the most influential years of my life.
Find the right mentor therapist, medication. Surround yourself with the right people to make you more positive. Eat healthy, exercise, sleep more, run – do whatever will increase your chances of recovery.
If at first you don’t succeed – try, try again. And again. There are so many roadblocks and walls that we need to navigate. Keep on trying until there is a breakthrough. And then try some more. Again and again. Without an intense desire to get healthy, one can’t keep trying.
Along the way in this constant struggle, be kind to yourself. Use positive affirmations. If we regress acknowledge that you tried. You showed up. Tell yourself that tomorrow you’ll try again and hopefully have better results. Make a list of things that you did succeed in at the end of each day. It gives hope. These positive affirmations penetrate our psyche and fuel us to go forward. We need to be our own inspiration.
Celebrate the small wins. If it was hard to get out of bed and you did, acknowledge it out loud. “I’m so proud of myself that I did it.” Give yourself credit if you ate when you didn’t have an appetite. Congragulate yourself that you joined a support group or that you are reaching out for help.
Don’t focus on what didn’t go right, but rather on the mini moves in the right direction.
Next episode I will discuss things outside the mind which helped me recover. If this episode does not resonate with you that is fine. Everyone has their own journey. I hope I didn’t upset or hurt anyone.
My intention was to inspire you to try one of these things and see if it works for you. If you implement something it needs to become a pattern, not just a day or two trial.
I’d be thrilled to hear feedback on this. Let’s try to do this together and please share your own insight and experiences with me.
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