What do you believe to be true about your mental health? Where do you see yourself on a range of wellness and disorder? Do you feel yourself wavering at times? Do you trust in your mental health? How do you feel you process your emotions? What about your stressors? Do you trust in yourself to “rise above” life’s challenges or re-find your footing after a perceived set-back? I think one of the main reasons I want to be a clinical mental health counselor is because I’ve come to recognize that when we are not able to stand strong in our mental health it impacts, not only our own lives but that of others.
So often I share with you the glorious aftermath of learned lessons that have impacted my life and helped me to grow toward a stronger sense of self that is more aligned with who I envision myself to be, but honestly, there is usually some real muck in those lessons that doesn’t glisten with spiritual awareness or strength of being. Sometimes, despite my continuous efforts to stand as tall as possible in my mind, body, and spirit, I only come to that position because my mental slumping has led to either my suffering or my causing of suffering. Over the years, my personal measure of mental health is no longer about being fully freed of mental, emotional, or spiritual wavering, but rather, how long it takes before I decide that I’m not going to keep slumping along. How long is it that I’m choosing to lay in the muck of ungrounded reactions, with a depleted sense of self; questioning my purpose or sense of worth, before I chose to get up, wipe off as much muck as I can, and stand tall again. How intentionally will I insist, even if it forces me to address my suffering; even if I feel justified in my shame and sadness; even if I feel like I’m lifting the Titanic from the depths of the ocean… I demand of myself that I muster the energy and do it.
Now, this demand, I’d like to say it comes from some internal well of amazingness but in all honesty, it’s more about a recognition that when I linger in those spaces that do not serve me, they are often hurting not only myself but others. It’s that inner awareness that tends to be my hand up to a mindset of strength, resilience, and resolve. Those situations that were eating at my spirit – I choose to let them be diffused with self-compassion, as well as empathy for those I’ve caused suffering. Perhaps what I’m suggesting, to rise above those times in our life where we feel ourselves stumble is as simple as taking ownership of one’s mental state. Perhaps it’s about allowing compassion to flood us with forgiveness for our consumed mental state. Perhaps it’s about believing in the life we desire so deeply that we will grab our own life preserver and start kicking our way back to shore. Perhaps it’s acknowledging that when we are in a state of mental dissonance that we are not able to be of service to others, because our presence is diminished and our wealth of love hidden in the shadows. Perhaps because the muck of despondence leaves us uninspired, solemn, disconnected, clouded, and unable to find our deeper essence of gratitude. What draws you up? What restores your mental stability?
I also understand that for some, their mental health challenges go beyond choice; but here is what I would like to propose for those with a diagnosed mental disorder or illness – what aspects of your mental health do you have control over? If you’re taking medication, that is a conscious choice on how to have control over your mental stability. So, where else can you gain control? Perhaps you seek professional help or attend a group to consciously choose to address your mental health stability? Perhaps you’ve contemplated your triggers that worsen your disorder? That certainly takes courage to allow one’s self to make those acknowledgments. There are options for all of us to claim our mental health and learn ways to best help stabilize it for the sake of our own suffering or that which we might cause to others.
Offer yourself a gentle hand as you examine these parts of yourself. Self-compassion is essential to allowing ourselves to recognize those aspects of ourselves that are riddled with muck. Know that there is not one of us who does not know that muck and you are not alone as you investigate yours.