Saturday, October 29, 2016

Physical illness and Mental Health

I have been sick for over a week now with flu like symptoms and It has been physically exhausting. Normally when I contract a virus I am quite fortunate that my body fights them off quickly, but this time it seems to want to hang on.  I am not looking for sympathy, I am using this to make a point about perception and mental health.

My physical self is obviously trying to tell me something, and how I choose to view it will make all the difference to my mental well being.  My perception of my physical illness will help me to determine the state of my own mental health.  Being sick in bed gives you a lot of time to think (and watch TV of course), and it gives me the opportunity to view my own state of mind.

 Although I have spent the week at a very low point, it has not dragged my mood or emotions down with it yet.  This is my first indication that my mental health is at least somewhat resilient right now.
I try to focus on the things I am thinking about naturally and whether they are positive or negative in nature.  I am still creating positive perceptions for the most part so I have passed the next stage.

I then decided this morning to take a look within and ask myself how I feel about the illness itself.  Certainly the first thought that comes to mind is that 'it sucks'.  Once I get past my immediate response I look closer at what it has done to my thinking processes.  I begin to think about my ongoing illnesses on top of this new one and gauge the difference in how I am being affected.  Believe it or not I came out with some positive views.

Because I spend each day with physical issues, I have learned to strengthen my own mental health so that I can remain positive in thinking while not 'feeling' the same. The new illness has done something helpful for me but thank goodness this one is only temporary.  Often we take for granted what we do have and focus on what we don't have.  The new temporary illness reminds me that if I can still function in this state, then I should be thankful that I don't have live like this all of time, and that I should appreciate my normal state.

There are millions of people who live in a worse state of health than I do all over the world.  I have been reminded that I will be thankful for being able to get up each day and function at a somewhat 'normal' rate because it could be so much worse.   Being sick this week has reminded me to be thankful for what I have and to not take small things for granted.

Perception is everything when it comes to looking at ourselves (which is my next article), and how we 'choose' to view our situation and problems has everything to do with our outlook on life.  Our feelings will persist always, but taking control of whether to create positive or negative views about ourselves has everything to do with our mental health, and whether we can begin to choose happiness over sadness.

I hope you have a nice weekend with many peaceful moments!\
Be well

Friday, October 28, 2016

Invisible Illnesses

For the most part, all mental health issues are invisible.  We can't see them but we know that they are there.  We can determine them to be real by the symptoms they produce in our behaviors and physical self.  We take those symptoms and work backwards to find the problem, or do we?

It seems that much of the time, the symptoms are identified by a health care provider or self identified, and we find out what treatment is required to ease and relieve those symptoms.  Much of the time the treatment stops there because we feel better and can get back to functioning in a more 'normal' state.  

As I wrote yesterday in regards to CFS and Fibromyalgia, there is still a root to the problem that is causing the symptoms in the first place.  We can now use MRI's and other new age technology to take a better look at the brain and its functioning, but we still have so much to learn yet.  Doctors can determine imbalances in the dopamine or seratonin levels in our brain, yet they can only guess at what is causing the imbalance in the first place.

If you are suffering from an invisible illness, you know that there are times that others judge or look at us skeptically because they can't see it.  If others can't see it then often they believe it not to be real. This is one of the most frustrating things for a mental health sufferer.  It has taken me a lot of years to get to where I am in this harrowing process, but I no longer care what others think, I only care what I think when it comes to my illness.  I take steps to fix myself rather than wait for someone else to do it for me.

I am not saying that I don't use health care and mental health education sources to help me, I am simply saying that I have become my own advocate for my own mental and physical health.  I share my experience so that you realize that you can do this too.  If you have an invisible illness, it is your job to help yourself, but also use any supports that you can find, whether it be health care providers, friends or family. 

Your illness is invisible and I will tell you that most of the people around you don't truly understand, but much of the time those who care about you the most certainly do want to understand.  If you begin to identify your symptoms or have a mental health professional assess or diagnose them, you will have a starting point to start educating yourself about what is wrong.  The more you educate yourself, the more steps you will find that you can take to improve your health and quality of life.  

The more you know, the more you can share with your support system and the more they will understand that your issue is very real, and they will begin to see it more clearly.  When suffering from an invisible illness, sometimes all we want is for those we care about to understand rather than thinking they are looking at us in a negative way.  

We live in a world where we all have access to helpful information, and rather than wasting our time on social media, we could be researching and learning more about what is wrong with us,  We could be creating a better life for us and those around us.  Start increasing your Mental Health Literacy levels and move forward, no matter which invisible illness you own. 

 I still work on mine daily and still remind myself of the horrible state I was in before I began this journey.  I am hoping to help you do the same.  I hope you all have a wonderful day and find a few peaceful, happy moments for yourself.

Take care and be well!

Learning To Learn

The intent of my blog is not to teach, it is to help you learn.  Although I have some education in this field and a good amount of experience in the things I write about, I do not consider myself an expert in any of these things.  I simply want to share what I do know and help you onto the path of learning for yourself.  I don't expect anyone to take my words as law, I hope that you will question everything you read along the way and form your own opinions.

I have worked through many issues on my own over the years and have found a lot of good knowledge that helped me get onto the positive path I have taken, but I will continue to learn as long as I am able to.  If you are reading this post then you already have the ability to read, or at least have a way to receive the information.  The information I am providing is my own insight into mental health issues, and its purpose is to make you think and to start your own learning path.

I have  no intent to give advice since that is not my purpose.  I will share information and make some suggestions, but what you do with the information is totally up to you.  I know that you can learn the information to help you move forward onto a more positive path in life no matter where you are at in your life.  I do hope that you will ask questions along your journey and find the best possible information which will help you to improve your quality of life.

I simply have an inner calling to help others where I can and this is my way of doing so.  After working with many young adults and youth over the past few years, I learned that the best way to help them was to help them learn for themselves.  There is an old say that 'you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink'.  I am going to do my best to lead people to learning but you will need to teach yourself.

I will say again, question everything, because this is what provides the passion to keep moving forward in your learning.  I hope that the words I write are helping you find your way to better mental health, and as long as people keep reading, I will keep writing.  My hope is that others will eventually want to share parts of their journey here on the blog and that more helpers will emerge.  We all have experience and knowledge of things that others need to improve their lives.

Inspire others to inspire others is a big part of my premise.  We are living in a time where mental health issues are rising to epidemic levels and we all need to play our part if we want to stop this growth.  This is what I am doing to play my part and I am hoping to inspire you to either do the same, or at least improve your own quality of life.

Have a peaceful day and be well

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Mental Health and Medications

We are all aware that we live in the age of prescription drugs, and although there are many benefits to these new medications, there are also an abundance of drawbacks.  Of course some of the negatives to prescriptions are dependency, addiction, lots of side effects, and abuse issues, the point I want to share today is different from the obvious ones.  What are the medications actually doing to improve our condition and situation?

There are 'miracle' drugs that are helping people cope with numerous mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and mood disorders to name a few, but are they doing any more than helping us cope with the symptoms?  After being prescribed these medications for over 20 years, I can offer my opinion that they only help us cope with symptoms, they do not fix the problem.  I am not saying that they cannot be quite helpful in fixing the underlying issue, but without proper direction during use, they do nothing to solve the problems that created the symptoms in the first place.

What I learned once I quit taking prescription medications a few years back was that all of the symptoms that the pills we helping with rushed back in a wave once I no longer took them on a daily basis.  I quickly learned that I was using them to suppress and hide the issues but was never shown how to work on those problems while I was in a better state of mind.  I was constantly told by several doctors that I required the medications and likely would need them for the rest of my life, and I would like have had some sort of liver failure or something by now. (this was a listed side effect on many of the medications I was taking)

To get to my point, I see both the benefits of properly administered prescription drugs, but also the downside to taking them without any counseling to go along with them.  These pills, in my opinion, are not meant for long term use.  And if they are used long term, we only grow a tolerance to them anyhow, and then there is a need to switch to different ones.  If you have ever taken an SSRI (selective seratonin reuptake inhibitor)  for many months and then have to switch to another, you know that it can be a very harrowing experience, causing a barrage of negative symptoms during the switch-over process.

If you are taking these pills or are thinking about it, be smart about why you are taking them  Yes, they will help you ease your symptoms and improve functionality, but you must remind yourself that the underlying cause of the symptoms has not gone away.  You are supposed to use the time while you are in a better state of mind to deal with the underlying issue.  I could be wrong but I will state that most of the time the underlying issue is a mental health issue or inner conflict.

If you are taking medications for depression and they are helping you to feel better, I think that is wonderful because you deserve some relief.  Use this time to understand why you are depressed.  See a counselor or a therapist who can help you get to the root of the problem so that if you eventually want to be medication free, you will be in a better mental state to do so.  If you are suffering from anxiety issue and are using a benzodiazepene to ease your discomfort, use the 'good' times to better understand why you are suffering from the anxious feelings in the first place.

I am not advocating for either side of prescription drug discussion, I am simply suggesting that you be smart and educated about how they are helping and hurting you, so that you can take better care of yourself.  I have my own opinions on this but they are irrelevant.  If your doctor or health care provider thinks you should be taking these types of pills, by all means do so, but do it in the means to get you better.  Understand that the symptoms they ease are the cause of something else, and that you still need to repair that 'something else' while you are in a better state of mind and at ease.

If you are looking to help yourself, do a little research on self reflection and learn how to begin sorting out the things in your past and in your mind that are causing you the suffering.  Self reflection is much more helpful when you are in a positive state of mind though.  If you are trapped in negative thinking you may be better off seeking help from someone who is professionally trained to help you safely through the process.

Wishing better mental health for all!
Be well

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Anxiety Versus Depression

I tend to write about things that come to me at some point during the day that requires some reflective thought.  I have no agenda other than doing what I can to help those who are suffering with things that I have gone through myself. I will not provide advice, only information that I believe may help others to better understand themselves.  I spend time thinking through the questions that I ask myself, have logical arguments in my mind and draw conclusions.

 An intelligent friend of mine said something to me a while back that resonated with me, and during some deep thought on anxiety and depression, I put some concepts together that I would like to share.  He said to me, "There are two parts to life, the first half and the second half, but we don't realize this until we are well into the second half."  It may not sound like a profound statement if you are not in the second half of life, but it made complete sense to me.

The first half of life we spend much of our time looking into the future and trying to determine what it could look like.  We then spend the second half of our lives remembering and reflecting on our past. What this simple realization did for me was put anxiety and depression into a different light.  Anxiety comes from fear of future events whereas depression comes from unresolved issues in our past.  I see many articles where anxiety and depression are talked about together, yet they are polar opposites.  

In my opinion, they are linked together not because the symptoms are the same, but because the treatments can be quite similar for both.  I am huge fan of Eckhart Tolle who is a very enlightened man who has written books explained how to live in the "now".  The treatments needed for anxiety and depression try to bring us back to the present moment, or the 'now' so that we can deal with our past or future here in this moment.

A profound statement is 'we only have the present moment, the rest only exists in our mind'.  We live a lifetime of present moments in this reality but spend most of our time letting our minds take us to the past and future.  The past is gone and we can not change it.  The future can not be predicted so any image we create in our mind is simply our brain trying to base possibilities of future events on how we are feeling at the present moment.  I hope this doesn't sound confusing but I do understand that it can be a confusing concept.

I am sharing this thought process to give you a slightly better understanding of why we are so affected by anxiety and depression.  They are very real afflictions, and they can be absolutely crippling at times.  Anxiety comes from our most primal of instincts in relation to our mind.  We think about something that 'could' happen, and we have a fight or flight response in our body in reaction to that thought.  

We create fears within ourselves that can bring up a response of anxiety or panic, yet these are not problems in reality, only created inside our brain.  Removing these fears within ourselves will reduce the anxiety and panic.  This is not an easy process but anxiety can be overcome by learning to control our fears.  For now I suggest to start with one smaller fear at a time, and as your confidence grows, start to tackle the larger ones.  Quiet reflection and meditation are the best and safest places to get started.

As for depression, this comes from our minds being constantly dragged into the past because we have unresolved issues that our brain has still not made sense of, so we are left in negative or depressed state until we resolve it.  The more unresolved issues we have, the more depressed we become.  I realize that dealing with depression is a very difficult process and I do not mean to make it sound simplistic in any way because it is a horrible thing to have to live with.  

Understanding these statements will help you to realize that you do have unresolved issues, and if you don't begin to resolve them, your state of mind will never truly improve.  When we are focused on negative thinking our lives become negative as well.  It is the same for depression as it is for anxiety; you need to begin dealing with these issues one at a time.  Don't be afraid to ask for help from those that you trust if you are too far down to start on your own.  There are highly educated and experienced mental health workers out there that can help you get started in a safe environment.

If you are stubborn like I am and have difficult asking for help, then I suggest working on these unresolved issues only when you are in a good state of mind.  Take one issue at a time and slowly try to focus on it, and ask yourself why it is still bothering.  Continue to ask why and other questions until you get some answers.  If it begins to put you in a more negative state of mind, put it aside until you are having a better moment.  We need inner strength to resolve these issues and your strength will increase the more you try.  

Become the master of your own mind and learn how to bring yourself back to the present moment.  Become mindful of everything around you so you feel more grounded throughout the day.  Find some quiet time each day to work on yourself without distraction,  You deserve the self care required to solve your issues, so take it when you can.  Baby steps lead to giant leaps eventually.  You won't fix your issues over night and it could be long process, but you are worth the effort.  You matter, your life matters and peace is your right.  If you want inner peace, start taking steps to find it.  

Your journey to happiness has to start somewhere.  

Take care and be well

Mental Health Stigma

What does mental health stigma mean?  Basically it refers to negative feelings or connotations about mental health issues.  We have been conditioned to have all kinds of negative thoughts about mental health issues and most of them come from our own ignorance and lack of understanding.  The stigma part comes from our belief that we have the right to judge others, as opposed to understanding them.

It is easier to call someone crazy or erratic than try to understand what truly lies behind their lack of ability to live within the social 'norms' of society.  There have been many attempts by groups and governments to remove the stigma by changing the words that we use.  For many years people with mental health disorders were 'crazy' or different and referred to as such, usually with very derogatory words.  As our understanding increased, we started using terms like mental illness, but the word illness still had a negative stigma attached to it as well.

Presently, the preferred term used in mental health disorders, but unfortunately the stigmas are still there.  I am going to provide you with my take on what needs to be done, from my own experiences with mental health issues.  In the professional and medical world we are taught to keep these things hidden and everything is filled with confidentiality clauses which lead us to believe that we should keep these things quiet and to ourselves.  I am here to tell you that I believe we should be doing the exact opposite of that.

Because of our fears of being judged by others, we follow these suggestions and hide our mental woes from the world, and nothing could be more detrimental to our mental health.  How are others going to learn to better understand us as a person if they don't know that we have underlying issues.  I share my issues with others all the time!  Certainly not for sympathy because I don't want anybody feeling sorry for me.  My issues are mine and have been given to me so that I may learn to be a better human being, and I would not trade that.

I have grown more as human through my own inner conflicts than through any other form of learning I have experienced.  Does it suck sometimes?  Of course it does, but I regret nothing and no longer live in my past, only in the present.  I will warn you though, if you are not confident enough or lack self esteem presently, you may not be prepared for the judgment of others and this can truly drag your self esteem even lower.  I have learned that what others think of me is irrelevant to my life.  All that matters in the end is what I think of me!

This is a tough article to keep brief but I am doing my best to get the points across as quickly as I can.  If we give others the chance to understand us as opposed to judging us, we have a chance to make better connections with people.  I am not afraid to tell someone in a job interview that I have a well controlled anxiety disorder because although I can control the emotions, I cannot control the physical behaviours that are often manifested from it.  I tend to perspire under stress and if the other person does not understand why, they may have the perception that I am being dishonest or nervous, as opposed to something I cannot control.  If the person lacks empathy and understanding, then I don't really want to work for that person anyway.

Don't hide in the dark away from others because you are embarrassed by your issues, be honest about them.  Most people will continue to judge you but that is their problem, not yours.  It is not like you asked to have these issues or wished them upon yourself.  The issues are there and we can only deal with them in the best way we can.  Our mental health issues are part of who we are whether we choose them or not.  How we deal with them and other people is our choice!

Begin understanding what lies behind the odd or erratic behaviours of others so you can better understand them, and you will begin to better understand yourself as well.  We can only remove the stigma by bringing the issues out into the open.  Start by trying it a little at a time and begin with people you have some trust for.  You will find that more people will be understanding as opposed to judgmental than you think.  In this day and age, I can not find a single person who is not suffering from a mental health issue, some just hide it better than others.

Hiding our issues is like suppressing bad memories, they are still there and getting worse all of the time until they are dealt with.  Let's start removing the stigma from mental health issues through honesty.  The more people that are honest about their issues, the more 'normal' we all begin to feel. Life is Suffering, and we are suffering together.  We just don't know it yet!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Inner Peace: Synonymous With Good Mental Health

Having good mental health means that we are in control of our mind, not being controlled by it. Inner Peace is a state where we have taken control of our own mind and are letting it be in its natural, quiet state.  When our mind is in a peaceful state, we make better decisions and simply feel better about our lives in general.  I wrote this article as the second part of my Free Will article a little while back and I hope it helps you gain a little understanding about where to search for inner peace for yourself.  I  use religions as examples of philosophical premises and do not mean to offend anyone's beliefs in any way.

What is inner peace?  Inner peace is simply the quiet space within us devoid of fear and worry.  Finding it is anything but simple though.  We live in a world which gives us little time to look for it.  But don’t kid yourself, there is nothing more important in the world, even though few of us spend time looking for it.  I first want you to imagine what it would feel like to be able to spend even 5 minutes in a place of pure safety, where peace becomes part of who you are rather than just an experience.  Think about your busy life and how wonderful those 5 minutes would feel.  Now imagine feeling like that all of the time.

Although I will discuss ways to overcome fears and remove worry, the most important part of this is to understand that inner peace can only be experienced when we live in the ‘here and now’.   We often deceive ourselves into thinking that the world going on in our mind is real, and it is anything but that.  Everything that goes on within our mind is something that we have created and is not real, only imagined.  So if they are not real, then why do we create these thoughts?

Most of these thoughts come in response to our sensory input and the fight or flight instinct that comes along with it.  The thoughts are our way to understand what our senses are trying to tell us.  Whether there is danger or pleasure to deal with, our thoughts will do their best to help us understand what they mean.  When we experience these thoughts, they are put to the test of values and other comparative thoughts so that we can create a better understanding for future occurrences. 

When we don’t stop at times to work away at and process these thoughts, they eventually overwhelm what our processor can accomplish, and our inner peace is taken away.  Depending on the frame of mind in which we are in, many of those extraneous thoughts will be processed on how we feel at that time, as opposed to being based on facts and pure truth.  These overwhelming thoughts block our ability to use our free will in a proper way.  Free will is not only a gift given to us, it can be wielded metaphorically as one would wield a sword.  Free will gives us the ability to inject change into our environment, whether good or bad, and the more powerful our will is, the more powerful the change will be.

Once we have found inner peace, wielding our free will becomes much clearer and much more decisive in its actions.  Fear keeps us from finding inner peace, so therefore a more thorough understanding of fear will help us find it.  Most of you have heard of the term ‘fight or flight’, but very few people truly understand its meaning.  When we are presented with any situation, we have instinct built into us that tells us immediately whether we should stand and fight, or that our best chance for survival is to run away.  We will discuss the fight concept more thoroughly since it is the one that will help us dissolve some of the fears that we currently hold.

Humans for the most part have become very good at following the flight instinct and it is helping to weaken us a species.  Times where we would have stood and fought in the past, and now we run away without a second thought.  We do the same thing within our minds and brains, and this is why people live with so much fear and anxiety.  Part of my reason for writing this essay is to inform people that it is time to once again stand up and fight for good once again.  Don’t shy away from everything or you will be doing it for your whole life.  This includes the fearful thoughts that envelop our minds on a daily basis, and give us anything but inner peace.

The flight instinct is helpful when our survival is threatened but can be very unhelpful when it compounds our fears instead of facing the ones that we are very capable of dealing with.  It is time to pound on the fight instinct inside our own minds.  Take control of the fears that overwhelm us and face them one at a time.  Once fears are faced and dealt with, they tend to stop plaguing our thoughts.

Give it a try, sit down in a quiet spot and try to concentrate on nothing for 5 minutes.  If anyone can accomplish this without distractions from within, well you don’t really need to read this in the first place.  For those that cannot, try to focus on one or two of the thoughts that will not leave you alone.  If it is helpful, write them down.  Once we identify these thoughts we can begin to identify why they are troubling us, and how we can quiet them once and for all. 
Why is inner peace so hard to achieve?  The relationship between inner peace and enlightenment makes it easier to explain.  Most of us have heard the term enlightenment and many of us will equate this to understanding Buddhism.  The Buddha achieved enlightenment and then taught others how to achieve it as well.  Enlightenment is true and pure inner peace, also known as 'Nirvana'.  It is a quiet spot within us that is like nothing else we will ever experience.  When we find it, we find a place of silence and beauty that we could never truly experience in the physical world.

That's right, inner peace and enlightenment are found within the mind and body, and transcendence is found within our spiritual realm, our connection to the energy world.  If we cannot quiet this spot, then the other two connections of mind and body will not be able to be truly calmed either.  Scientifically speaking, we can discover many quantifiable facts from both the body and the mind, but trying to understand the parts that we cannot describe with our 5 senses is much more difficult, and often unbelievable. 

We talk about the ideas of enlightenment and transcendence as though they are magical or words from a fantasy book, but they are much more real than most of us give them credit for.  Because these terms are harder to understand and prove than things that are tangible and material, science tends to brush them aside as though they are meaningless because they provide little to no fact.  This is where we need to open up our minds so that we can better understand what other connections and attachments we have within the physical world.

Whether people want to believe that these things are possible to understand or whether they are real does not matter.  I will tell you directly to keep searching for them because there is no doubt that they are there.  Some people pray, some people meditate, while others simply sit quietly asking their silent questions to some unknown being or energy.  We all know there is something we are trying to reach within us, but few are able to identify what it is.  Because we know it is there, we never stop trying to find it, and if that is not proof of something tangible then I don’t know what is. 

Billions of witnesses will describe this in differing ways through their religions and beliefs, but each will do their best to discount the beliefs of others who see things differently than they do.  We are all searching for the same thing and the world would be a much nicer place if people would simply realize this.  Each one of us is looking for that pure comfort within ourselves where there is no worry or fear.  Some call this God, some call this our spirit or soul, and thousands of religions have different names for what this is, not who this is.  So if there are all these witnesses to this invisible entity, then why can we not consider this to be factual information.  Scientists certainly do not like dealing in qualitative evidence but they must see the pattern here and epistemology of it.

So that is where we begin!  Creating a realization for ourselves that the invisible thing we are searching for within us is the same for every one of us.  If you cannot consider this to be real and factual you may want to stop reading this now.  Without that understanding we cannot realize the truth that is hidden here.  And yes, I do use the word hidden.  It is not easily found so therefore it must be something that we are either not supposed to find, or it is something that we are meant to find but it is the search for it which is important.  If we are not strong in our search and our results are not sustainable then we will not be successful in our long term journey.

So now that we have accepted this as fact, let us now delve into what that fact is and how we can develop a deeper understanding of it.  First we need to find it, because once we find it, the hard part becomes holding on to it.  Finding it is the easy part and we can all do that within a few seconds of stillness.  What we will work on is how to hang onto it longer and longer each time we try.  Once we can grab on to it and hold it at will, we will live in a state of enlightenment, and will be able to transcend this noisy world we live in.

It is amazing how often I sit with someone and try to teach them math or English, and how they do not have the ability to focus on me or what I am saying to them.  I like to explain to them how their brain and mind work through metaphors and analogies.  I use the concept of a computer having a browser window open in their brain which in turn has several and many tabs open.  Each one of those tabs is another invasive thought that has not been dealt with and how each one slows down their processing system, just like on our home computers. 

“The nature of your mind is quiet; the nature of your being is well. “ (Neill, 2013)
Pause and think about these statements for a moment.  If we are doing anything other than simply being well, then we are going against the force of nature.  So why are we not well?  I can assure most readers that if you truly look around yourself and observe others, you will see few people who are completely well.  As stated above, “the nature of your being is well”, and therefore most people are going against the grain of their natural state of being.  We can see the effect so now we must identify what is causing this.

If the statement above is considered to be true, then the cause of unwellness could be directly linked to the noise our minds.  If our minds are not quiet we cannot truly be well.  So we end up back here where we need to figure out how to quiet the mind in order to be well.  Humans have been searching for this answer for thousands of years so I don’t offer and magical answers to this issue, but I will add as much insight as I can to aid in eventually finding it. 

Inner peace is what we find once we have quieted the mind and settled our internal energy.  There are thousands of methods that have been created in books, blogs, journals and other writings and they all seem to involve some sort of meditation.  Many people will try meditating but few seem to reach a state of meditation.  There are too many distractions in the world but the worst ones are right there in our own minds.  We can block out sounds around us in different ways but blocking out the sounds in our own minds is where the difficulty is.

How do I quiet my mind and which methods do I use?  I am doing one of them right now, writing.  This is a proven method for clearing extraneous thoughts from our minds.  Once the words are inputted somewhere the mind can take a break from thinking about them for a while.  We can input them on paper, digitally, by voice, or the biggest of them all, we can put them into our personal memory banks to be sorted later.  This is the one we are all trying to do every day but most of us remain unsuccessful in this endeavor.  This is where meditating becomes so very important to our personal state of wellness.

This is where we need to begin in emptying out our minds.  Emptiness becomes much stronger with the help of concentration.  As we empty our minds we become calmer and our feelings of inner peace become much stronger as well.   We begin to focus on those quiet moments between our thoughts and realize that they never seem to stop without effort.  Make the effort, practice and you will begin to find these moments more easily each day.

I suggest writing in a journal to get those thoughts out your head, or maybe talk to someone close to get those issues off your chest.  I recommend this to my students so that they can better focus on what it is that they need to learn.  It is an excellent short term solution that can also become a good long term solution as well.  

We will talk about mindfulness, breathing techniques and other healthy ways to focus your mind on the present, as we move forward.  If I can help you find 5 minutes of peace each day that you did not have before, then you are already successful.  It becomes a good addiction.  You will want more peace and more control over your mind, and good mental health will be the result!

Be Well 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Psychological Abuse

This is tough one for me to write about, but for my own mental health, I need to share.  I consider myself fortunate that I have never had to deal with physical abuse in my life, but I know many people who have, and that is why I consider myself fortunate.  I have been psychologically abused long term twice in my life, and I can tell you that it is horrible.

The biggest difference between physical and psychological abuse is that when you are being psychologically abused, much of the time we have no idea it is even happening.  We usually find out when it is too late, and we have had some sort of breakdown.  We can feel our self confidence and self worth depleting slowly over time, but it is very difficult to understand why it is happening, and much of time we blame ourselves because that is the design and manipulation of the abuser.

The three abusers that I want to expose are sociopaths, psychopaths and narcissists.  Some of our most educated and intelligent mental health workers have a difficult time identifying these abusers, and that is what makes them the most dangerous abusers of all.  These abusers are most often charismatic, intelligent and very friendly on the surface, and you often have to spend time behind closed doors with them to see the 'Mr. Hyde' to their 'Dr. Jekyll'.

So when they have finally used up everything they needed you for, they will have no problem disposing of you and making everyone around you believe you were the problem.  If any of this sounds familiar to you, then you likely have been abused as well.  This form of abuse is so very hard to identify and even harder to deal with once you crash.  Personally I had to do a lot of research to better understand what happened to me because I have spent the past years strengthening my inner self, and someone was able to break that down.

I share this with you because there we are surrounded by psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists and they will do anything to use you up and spit you out.  If you think 'it won't happen to me', think again.  These abusers use deception, manipulation, lies and any other negative tool in their kit to lower your self confidence and self worth, and to get what they want.  If mental health professionals have a hard time identifying their behaviours, then this is why it is so important to do some research and protect yourself.

I will be writing more about this topic moving forward because it is detrimental to the mental health of any individual who comes in contact with these abusers.  My goal is to help set you on a path of learning and it is your responsibility to do some research for yourself.  This abuser could be a co-worker, a boss, a friend, a relative, or any other person in your life.  This person will lack empathy and this is the first and best way to identify the abuser.  See if they actually care about you, or whether they are just pretending to care, to get what they want out of you.  If you look closely enough, you will be able to see the difference.

I will add more tips and strategies in identifying psychological abusers over the next few weeks because I hope that I can keep you from dealing with the emotional abuse and scars that I have had to.  I apologize if I was unclear at all, I am dealing with the flu and by brain is a little extra fuzzy today.

Have a mentally healthy day!
Be Well

I found a link with a well written article on narcissism with 8 helpful ways to deal with the narcissistic behaviors.

Free Will

It is my belief that the concept of Free Will is at the very center of mental health issues.  Anytime we are presented with a problem that takes away from our free will, conflict begins at the core of our being.  I wrote a few pages on this concept a while back and I am posting them below.  I was unfortunate to pick up a flu bug and simply do not have the ability to write new stuff today.  The next two concepts I will tackle this week are Depression and Empathy.  Let us know if there are other issues that you would like to read some matter-of-fact information about.  I hope you all have a great week!  Be Well

Free Will
What is the greatest and most abused gift given to humans?  Free Will.  We also must ask ourselves what the words free will actually mean.  Free will is simply the ability to make choices for ourselves.  What an awesome thing, to be able to make any choice we desire!  According to the Bible, this is the gift given to us from God (just a statement of fact, not a religious statement).  I agree that it is an awesome gift to be given.  So why do we abuse it so?

If all humans are given the ability to make their own choices, what causes so many of them to constantly make bad ones, especially ones which harm others.  This is a point of understanding in which there are many beings in the world who simply do not understand this behaviour.  It is my opinion that these people are born or infused with innate goodness, and I can tell you definitively that these beings are terribly confused right now with the current state of ‘humanity’.

Humans who make bad or unethical choices seem to be functioning at their best these days.  They have found ways to use others in society for their own benefit and have learned how to thrive within the society which has been created for them.  These humans would fall under the blank slate or original sin theories of conscience.  I will add more to this as I go and provide you with a better understanding of these theories, but I will mostly use these as comparatives to the theory of innate goodness.

It is difficult to look at the world and have any hope for humanity these days, especially when you truly observe how they treat each other.  I suppose that if one is not an innately good being then they would likely not even recognize those actions for what they are.  I can tell you though, innately good beings see all of it and it horrible to watch.  Most of us watch with pure disbelief as it is happening and if you are not one of them, you cannot understand the anxiety and disgust that we feel each and every day as we attempt to navigate the social systems.

Back to free will now.  Free will, as I state above, is simply the ability to make choices for ourselves.  We can choose to go left or right, up or down, West or East, and we can choose the path for each and every situation we find ourselves in.  I understand that we can be forced or coerced into other choices than we would make for ourselves, but I am referring to the ability to make ‘possible’ choices we are faced with.

I began with the concept of free will and followed up with a brief thought on the theories of conscience for two reasons: 1. We all have the ability to make the choices we are faced with, and 2. We are not all following the same set of rules when it comes to making conscious and rational choices.  The alternate purpose of this writing is to create an understanding for those confused individuals out there who truly cannot grasp the concept of negative human behaviour.

I will separate the innately good beings from the others from calling them beings, or human beings, as opposed to the single word humans.  Humans, as I see them, are the animal being from which we were created, who is out for their own survival and selfish purposes, and also see the value in groups as well.  Human beings see the higher purpose of humanity above all else and strive for a better world.  We would like to see the value in society and groups but many of us remain on the outside looking in most of the time.

Here is the first bit of help I can offer to those that are confused.  If you are having a hard time understanding why humans treat each other the way that they do and you are constantly trying to offer more to the world than you take from it, then there is a good chance that you are an innately good being.  The best advice I can offer at this point is to continue to make good choices each day because that is all we really have.  I understand the temptation of making bad choices just as anyone else does, but don’t make them just so you can fit in or feel accepted. 

If you are reading this and you don’t believe yourself to be an innately good being, there is hope for you as well.  All of us have the ability to make good or bad choices, but we all follow a different set of rules at the base of our value system.  Although innately good beings follow these ethical rules naturally, you can create these rules as well.  Each religion has a set of these type of value systems and can be a great place to start.  You don’t need to follow the religion, just use their rules as a guideline and place to start becoming innately good within.

Being innately good does not make you awesome or perfect, it simply gives you the natural ability to make what we would consider to be solid ethical choices based on humanity as whole, as compared to making decisions based on your own selfish desires.  Being innately good takes a lot of work since we are surrounded by so much suffering and pain in the world.  I am asking you at this point to not give up.  There are many others out there looking for each other so that we can all better the world together.

It is simple to be tempted into destroying these value systems that we have because the glitz and glamour of the world can truly be exciting, and there are times when we all want to be part of it.  We sometimes need to look past all of that stuff to truly see what is hiding behind there.  The whole system is based on pure selfish desires, and if you are not at the top of the pyramid, you will never have all you want, but you will always strive for it.  This is not where happiness lies people, and you certainly will not find inner peace there either.

If you are looking for happiness and inner peace but do not want to accept this statement above, then this is not the right read for you.  The innately good beings in the world only want happiness and inner peace, and not just for themselves, for everyone.  Here is where things get a little tricky in the understanding.  Without experiencing happiness and inner peace, we cannot truly share it with others, but to experience happiness and inner peace we will appear to be selfish of our own desires.  Therefore we spend too much time trying to help others be happy and forget about our own happiness in order to appease our ethical rules.

Just as we need to breathe, consume water and food, and socialize with others, innately good being ‘need’ to be happy and to have inner peace in order to live well.  Would you say that it is selfish to drink water when you are dehydrated?  Of course not!  It is not selfish to have happiness and inner peace when you need it.  The more of these things that an innately good being has the more effort and good energy they will be able to give to others.  The more strength we have, the more things we can do.

So where does happiness and inner peace lie?  Inside us of course!  We spend so much time looking for it with our eyes and other senses that we miss this one completely.  Happiness is a feeling or experience, not something we will find outside of us.  Inner peace comes with happiness as well because there is less fear.  Fear and worry steal our inner peace, but when we are happier these things fade away.

I plan to ramble on about inner peace and places to find happiness for a while so please bear with me.  There are many ways to find these things and I am sure that we have all spent time searching and researching ways to achieve them.  I can tell you that this will be the most difficult battle you will ever go through, but also the most rewarding by far.  It is hard to understand how awesome it feels to achieve inner peace unless you have stopped looking outside yourselves and begun to look within for the true answers.

Yes, they are all in there!  This is not something you can research but it is something you can look for.  Inner peace is simply the quiet spot within ourselves where nothing matters and no fear exists.  Imagine that, a place where no fear exists.   I can tell you that I know of this place and I hope to visit it again soon.  It is in one word ‘awesome’!  Are you getting excited yet?  Well you should be if you aren’t already.  This is the answer to the question that we have all been asking.  I wish I could say that finding the answer will solve everything, but it is truly just a starting point in which we can work backwards from. 

I won’t deal with happiness yet because we cannot experience true happiness unless we find inner peace first.   I will do my best to provide ways to find that inner peace by working backwards from fear, worry and anxiety, to a place where destroy all of these and emerge more content.  Have you ever sat quietly and tried to understand what fear and anxiety are?  Not only what they are but how they are affecting you?  I will take a guess and say that if you have tried this, while you were searching for an answer you found that fears and worries kept coming up and getting in the way.

I can tell you that inner peace is hidden beneath all of those fears and worries.  Yes, that is exactly where it is.  Now all you have to do is lift them off and the inner peace and happiness will appear.  This is where I am supposed to put a ‘lol’ in I believe.  I will begin to lay out ideas and steps you can take to strengthen your inner peace by slowly removing fears and worries.  This is not for the weak of mind as some of these things will be quite difficult and may require a lot of concentration.  We will use our free will now to make choices to remove fears.

I will add more of the pages to this article throughout out the week.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Linking You To Mental Health Learning

I went through my own personal database of websites I have used in the past for my own research. Each one of the links below will help you to get started in learning about these disorders and help you to increase your mental health literacy levels.  I suggest you look at several sources when searching out information on the internet since we all know that there is an abundance of bad information out there as well.  If you can find similar information on several sites, there is a good chance that the information is good.

Mental health disorders are an ongoing learning experience for everyone, including mental health professionals and researchers.  I just know that if you begin learning about your own disorder, or about a disorder that someone close to you may have, that your increased education in that area will help you to deal with the issues in a much better way.  Most of these sites have self help strategies or links to them.  These sites are not here to help you diagnose yourself, they are here to help you improve yourself and your quality of life.

There are sites such as which help to provide you with a simple assessment but only use these sites as a starting point.  These are simple assessment tools that help to set you on the right path to learning and finding the professional help you may require.  There are experienced and well educated professionals and paraprofessionals out there who can give you a much greater understanding of mental health disorders.

I don't promote or endore any of the information you will find below, but I can tell you that I have used them in my own research and I was able to find some excellent information in increasing my own mental health literacy levels.  I hope they will help you as well!  I wish for good mental health for us all!

Copy and paste any of these links into your address bar:

Anxiety Disorders/Social Anxiety

Depression/Depressive Disorder

Mood Disorders,P00759/

Psychological Abuse/Emotional Abuse

Panic Disorders