Wonders happen when you cease becoming rigid with what life should look like and instead try to see what it has to offer.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ( DSM-5), anxiety and depression are the leading mental health disorders in the world (2017). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in June 2020 after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, about 40.9% of respondents to a U.S national survey reported having “at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition,” with about 30.9% of those cases being due to depression and anxiety. It’s estimated that about 7.3% of the world’s population suffer from anxiety and “more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression.” These numbers do not reflect the entire population and it’s predicted that the actual numbers are higher than those reported. Not to mention that these numbers only cover cases of anxiety and depression. It’s clearly evident that mental health is a serious health concern at a national level and consequently, even at a world wide level.
And what’s arguably the worst part? Many of those who struggle with their mental health often wish things were different. They desire being able to live with more energy, productivity, fulfillment, and joy. They often seek new ways to self-medicate because the pain of not having the life they desire is so great.
In all honesty, mental health is a complicated subject. There’s often the question of where did it all start? Childhood trauma, genetics, adverse life events, brain chemistry? And then, where do we start to heal from it? The nuances of it all can be extremely overwhelming, even for the most seniored psychiatrist.
I’ve struggled with multiple mental health disorders at this point in my life. And I’m happy to say that even though I’ve experienced some extreme episodes of depression, anxiety, panic, binge eating, and self-starvation, I’ve come to a point in my life where I’ve learned to perceive my mental health differently than I did before. I used to consider it as an unfortunate curse meant to debilitate me from living a happy and extraordinary life. However, as I began trying to find new ways to challenge my mind and body, something became very apparent to me.
How we approach our healing. How we approach handling our thoughts and managing our emotions. Our approach to expressing how we feel and what we feel all have an effect on the direction that our mental health takes. If we take the initiative to seek help and find ways to better ourselves, the approach we take and the attitude we carry towards it may have a larger effect than the treatment itself. I say this lightly because evidently everyone is different. However, research conducted by Dr. Joe Dispenza and his team about the power of quantum physics on the path to self-healing explains that where we place our attention will determine how influential and impactful the help we receive and our initiative to being more conscious will become.
The best way I’ve come to acknowledge it is to see every single day as a new experimental trial of a science experiment. Everything we do in trying to improve our mental health, such as trying a new meditation practice or taking up a 4-week long exercise challenge, are new variables to be tested and be experimented with. This approach can be fairly difficult because it requires full-honesty. Did self-medicating with drinking really improve your overall mood over the past few weeks, or were you simply trying to cope? Is running really the right exercise for you, or was CrossFit a better fit? Yet, it allows you to become open-minded to the process and see the passing days as an opportunity to get to know yourself and your body better. Wonders happen when you cease becoming rigid with what life should look like and instead try to see what it has to offer. In allowing each day to be a new trial of your own science experiment, you accept that some days you’ll fail. Maybe you couldn’t commit to calling up an old friend or going outside for an hour. But under a pile of failures, there is always success.
Sometimes it is still difficult for me to keep this mind set whenever I feel overwhelmed by my anxious thoughts or negative emotions. I somehow lose grasp of remembering that every day is susceptible to external variables that I wasn’t accounting for when running my stats. Sometimes adverse events will happen. And the routines and habits that might have worked before no longer fit my new situation. Which is why I like the idea of seeing our days as experimental trials. There’s flexibility in accepting that the model we proposed before requires new tweaks and changes. In reminding myself that every day is a new day to get closer to my ultimate goal of complete healing and well-being, I become more open to accepting the downfalls. There’s this awareness that our mental health and our path to healing will be unpredictable. But that there will always be new opportunities, new methods, and new ideas to choose from while being on our journey.
Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. (2017). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.