Understanding the Mind

It was Mental Health Week recently and I want to take the opportunity to share more of my story with you.

One of the things that used to annoy me most was the word Depression.
He’s depressed, she’s depressed, “YOU are depressed”. That was the one that really got to me.
I hit rock bottom a while back, I would sit on the sofa and end up in a space that was unfamiliar to me…a negative mindset.
A feeling of not having the energy, motivation or desire to even move some days, a lack of interest in anything especially going out or being around people.

A few things happened that drove that situation, all happening over a sustained period of time.
A back operation, parental break up, work disciplinary and a second back operation which sent me over the edge.
The fact that I was no longer living with my children everyday was the main issue for me.  I had spent the first 8 years of being a parent doing pretty much everything each morning. Get the kids up and dressed, feed them breakfast, prepare lunches, drop them off at nursery, pre-school & school. Now I was alone (my own doing) and it hurt.

One day I had a bit of a breakdown, the point where everything got too much and my brain didn’t know how to cope. It actually shut down on me – it was a horrible moment but one that I am now eternally grateful for.

Since then everything has changed and for the better…

I called out for help and ended up going to see my doctor. I think I had been to the doctor twice in 20 years, both for the same reason – my back. Illness with the lower back is said to be due to a feeling of lack of support and that was certainly something I had been feeling all those years. Now though, I know it was all in my head and it was only me who was making myself ill.
I went to the doctor and after a consultation he wrote on his screen in big, bold, capital letters “DEPRESSED”. I was horrified, how dare he.
I immediately got defensive about it (which is what we do when our Ego is bruised) but after a while I relaxed and had a moment of clarity, the doctor was only acting off the information I was giving him. It’s easy nowadays to moan about how work is stressful, how money is tight, how everyone else is to blame…we all do it.

If I go back to what was coming out of my mouth no wonder that’s what he diagnosed me with. I had said that I used to be a positive person but now I just sit on the sofa each night moping, moaning about how I’m unhappy, how I don’t have this or that.
As he was telling me that he thought I was depressed my mood changed, kind of an acceptance that if I’m depressed then that’s ok it’s not my fault.
As soon as I acknowledged the feeling it lifted and my inner wisdom kicked in and said “ok, now you are aware you can choose how you deal with it”
The doctor (and people around me) had suggested tablets to correct the chemical imbalance that was going on in my head. A pick-me-up to help me get through the day. It would have been so easy to say yes to that but those days would have quickly turned into weeks and months…possibly even years.

He said he would prescribe me a course of tablets to help take the edge off and we could see how they went and adjust if needed.
My inner wisdom kicked in again. “No thank you” I said. I believe that all I need in life is to eat right, get some exercise and laugh a lot.
He was taken back but smiled and agreed.
I left with the phone number for Relate, a way to get some help by finding somebody to talk to. The next challenge was to take action and call.

Finding the energy to communicate with friends, family and colleagues was draining so most of the time I would choose not to and just retreat to my personal space which in turn led to more thoughts about how I was doing the wrong thing. My mind had me right where it wanted me.
For everyone around me this was a particularly difficult time, loved ones tried to interact with me but it was impossible. I saw any attempt to do that as further confirmation that I was ruining their lives.
Instead of sharing my thoughts with them I would attack them by saying things like “you make me feel like I’m worthless”. In truth nobody could make me feel like that apart from myself, it’s difficult to see that clarity through the grey clouds that constantly follow you around when you are in this situation.

At work I had no choice but to admit to my manager that I was struggling, this was difficult because you consider things like “how will this impact my career”, “what will they think of me”, “is this showing weakness”.
It was hard to hold back the tears, further proof that I was in need of help.
Fortunately he was great, took the time to listen and then suggested I contact the occupational health resources available to me.

For the next few weeks I went to a converted house in Southampton and met with a lovely woman called Jo. It was the only place that I managed to get peace and quiet from my mind. When I walked into the room it was like there was a universal understanding that the voices had to wait outside. It was great and once I got over the initial uncomfortable feeling of actually opening up it really did help.
Sure enough though, waiting outside for me when I was done were the voices. Each week we would walk out together and head back to the sofa…I knew I needed something different and I was determined to find out what it was.

There is a buzz around Life Coaching, even people off the TV are turning to it. The more you look into it the more you realise it makes perfect sense.
Counselling is ok and serves it’s purpose but it’s not going to get you a new life, for that you need someone who can help you improve your relationship with your mind and help you focus on creating the life you want. That’s when Carolyne appeared in my life…so, so grateful.

Mental Health issues do not all lead to suicidal thoughts, something as simple as not wanting to get out of bed in the morning can be a sign that things aren’t right.
Being aware of this feeling and taking action to prevent it growing into something more serious is key to maintaining a healthy mind which will support you to achieve all the things you want to achieve.
Nobody wants to live feeling like that and the good news is you don’t have to.
The feeling is temporary and with a little help you can learn to focus on the present moment and remove those thoughts that keep us trapped in the mind storm that is negativity.

Just like with real storms, mind storms can be beautiful too if you can become aware that it’s happening. Channelling the feelings to work for you will see you make major steps in growing yourself and lead to great achievements. This is possible, believe me.

I posted a video on twitter recently “Living with a Black Dog” it’s about depression and well worth a look to understand this illness a little more. Whether you feel like this or someone around you is affected it’s worth taking the time to watch.

I’ve come to the conclusion that in a lot of cases depression is an opportunity, an opportunity to learn to open up and share which in turn builds stronger relationships. An opportunity to say out loud “I want to change” The very thing that traps us in depression is the same thing trying to protect us. Listen to the Negative Wolf story Carolyne and I talk about in this show

Soul Shift Radio
Legendary Cherokee story of the Two Wolves

I am a strong believer that it’s our mind and how we choose to believe what it tells us that shapes our experiences in this lifetime.
We have a daily battle to live in the Now, a constant battle of positive vs negative but if we take the time to understand our Black Dog, Negative Wolf, Naughty Monkey, Ego – whatever name you have for it – we can take control of our mind and therefore our life.

If any of this resonates with you…you know where I am, just reach out.

Mark

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