Mere days before the day of all days, Christmas, I was exposed. “COVID, you can go away anytime! Now, I remain behind closed doors as those I love, wake up to the joy of the season. I am happy for them.
With that said, it’s an exceedingly difficult predicament for one who lives life apart from the world. PTSD has destroyed my life, my relationships and much of my purpose; that’s bad enough, but this damn virus! It’s the icing on the cake – almost!
Wait! Before you decide that this is too depressing a read for the season, read on!
While my situation has been a personal battle of mental illness and disability, I am acutely aware that pain is universal. And while I don’t normally subscribe to the notion that “Someone always has it worse,” it’s context-dependant.
Indeed, it’s true, that some have it worse. For instance, I am warm, have access to drinking water, and have an amazing support system. Millions, sadly, do not. This is simply one of the world’s colder realities. In this respect, I know how lucky I am.
So, you see, while Christmas of 2021 is not my best Christmas ever, it pales in comparison to the painful holidays of many others.
I am sad and feeling detached from those I love, and I know that this is okay. But what I feel isn’t okay is getting consumed by it. Despite that I know it’s okay to feel sad, I have friends who are thousands of miles away from their families; some of whom are sick with worry because of a natural disaster in their home country, have friends in war-torn areas, while others are overrun with COVID etc.
So, on this Christmas day, my thoughts are with those who are desperate with worry, who are living in squalor, and yes, those who are battling mental illness alone.
Your life matters, and so do those who love and support you. So, go, be with those you love. Call them, video chat and tell them that they are loved. If you can’t, they are with you in your heart.
Lastly, I encourage everyone reading this to find a way make the world around them a better place. Please be kind and work on repairing the global division that has sickened our minds, our communities, our world. #weallmatter.
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Omnicron, the new variant that is wreaking havoc all over the world. Not good news as we are trying to fight off the overwhelming fatigue that has also plagued us. If that weren’t enough, we are seeing a surge in mental illness. An instance that its hardly a mystery.
Yet, despite this, the world seems to be in shreds in other ways too. Most concerning is the lack of person power; a phenomenon that seems to be across the board. But why? One can only imagine the sure complexity causing a crisis of occupation. It’s no simple matter.
However, I feel like we can look at from two angles: ignorance and greed. Not only do I believe them to be at the root of our crisis, but I also find them as scary as the pandemic. So much so in fact, a pang of desperation bounces around in my guts.
“Make time to connect, make room in your life for those you love, and find a personal meaning. You can find peace among the chaos.”
Anyone who walks in the Western world today knows that the wealth gap is on is worse than ever. And what we are seeing as a result is more money for the riches people and less for the rest of us. Additionally, we are seeing a willful ignorance of sorts. So, let me elaborate.
With all that said, we have seen an interesting behavior emerges from the mentality that money creates. In a word, entitlement. Let’s expand on the sense of entitlement idea. As I feel like it’s at the heart of the matter.
While we all need money to survive in the world, that does not mean that is good for us. In fact, I would argue that the need for money has rapidly propelled us to the climate disaster we are also facing.
I feel like all of humanity has come under monies addictive power, or at very least, been victimized by it. Still, can you picture an alternative? I sure can’t. At least not one that can easily take its place.
What I find most alarming about money is that one can justify just about anything in the name of accumulating it. Need oil? No problem, we’ll just flood the ocean with it trying to transport it. “That’s ok, we are making billions, aint nothing wrong with that.” And this attitude isn’t limited to the wealthy, may if the middle class have caught the fever of entitlement.
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For example, say the average Joe is working on an oil rig. Joe can justify the well documented damage the oil industry is causing. But…. Because its making: “HIM” a good living, he complies. Our short sightedness is going to be our downfall.
Moreover, the wealthy are more concerned with their shareholders and feel not an ounce of gratitude for the people who have created the wealth. The little people – you and I. As a result, unions have been decimated, benefits slashed, and hours cut. “It’s ok, look at all the money we are making.” Somehow, this mentality has made its way into the public sector.
I pay close attention to the world around me and am often thinking about what’s best for everyone rather than the needs of any one person. That’s not to say that you or I should be ignored, rather, we would benefit from a “for all model.” A concept that we have moved away from. I can’t help but feel that we have increased the rates of mental illness in our quest to focus on the individual.
For example, pre pandemic, governments were making cuts to everything. Yes, even health care. Additionally, they would refuse to pay nurses and doctors what they are worth. It doesn’t take a genius to see that they will go where the money is. Why would you? So, if there is more money to be made elsewhere, you will effectively end up with shortages.
Health care, for example, was in crisis long before we recognized health care as the biggest line of defense for our world. A revelation that screamed at us when COVID-19 swept across the world….. OOOPS! Didn’t see that coming – but they should have. Their ignorance and greed, even in government, has killed many and caused countless mental illness cases.
Public health is the answer to ensure everyone gets treated and thus mitigate the spread of disease and mental illness. Denying people care because they can’t afford it, is divisive and inhumane. Anything other than a robust public health care program is a worldwide threat to the health and safety of every human on earth.
Fear, uncertainty, loss of control, a sense of doom. All these greed and ignorance has great what I like to call The Great Angst, a collective and increasing fear of anxiety that has led to the development of many mental health conditions. For example, an ICU nurse working during the hight of COVID may develop PTSD, a parent falls into a depressive state because of increased prices in food, clothing, and shelter.
While it’s difficult to think about, much of this greed and ignorance has, in my opinion, gotten us here. And it’s not good; for us, for our mental wellbeing, for our world. Still, the quest for wealth continues. A flaw in human character? Whatever, the cause, I can’t help but feel like we gave the keys to the kingdom to a three-year-old. I mean, those who steer the ship don’t seem to understand the consequences of taking it wherever they want.
Life isn't a steady state. Thankfully our pain will be met with …
In closing I leave you with this: While things look bleak, the worker bees have always learned on another for support. If you and I and the rest of the world can get back to that, we win. So, make time to connect, make room in your life for those you love, and find a personal meaning. You can find peace among the chaos.
Today, it’s not uncommon to hear people say, “I hate people”. Heck, I’ve been guilty of uttering it a time or two myself. But I have decided that I would start my new year’s resolution early. “I am no longer going to say, ‘I hate people.'”
My decision to stop saying this came to me when I asked this question; “Is it really true that I hate people?” Sure, there are individuals that I really can’t stand. But hate all people? I quickly concluded that I don’t, far from it.
Moreover, I would be a hundred times more hateful if it were true – not something the world needs more of. I believe that words matter, all of them. Therefore, I, we must refrain from using such sentences – and seek out more reasons to love one another.
So then, if words matter and we can’t possibly “hate all people” why do we say it? Well, I think we are plain tired. Exhausted from all the division, the virus, the rise in mental-health crisis and more. It’s a collective phenomenon I like to call the great angst.
The great angst can be characterized by the global feeling of fear and anxiety created by the above and more. Other examples are: rising prices for everything and a constant barrage of bad news blasting from everywhere.
In conclusion, we are constantly living in “threat mode.” Still, I reject the “I hate people.” tagline. I have to if I want to do my part to make the world a better place.
I know, it seems like the world is full of hateful, out-for-themselves characters whose mission is to be your enemy. In reality, we are all battling to keep our heads above water. Furthermore, we are all being conditioned to believe that everyone must pick a side. But do we really? I am inclined to believe that no, we don’t. Okay, so I lied a little. I think we should be on the side that benefits the majority of people. This can only be achieved by, you guessed it, kindness.
Move over, you and I could unite rather than fight. Admittedly, this is no easy task in the age of misinformation, nonetheless, we need to try. To put it another way, we need to shift towards a movement of global healing.
So, we don’t really hate people; we hate the state of anxiety and fear we are in. While they may seem like they are inseparable, they are in fact, two different things. We have little to no control over the grand scheme of things, especially while we are so divided but….. We do have some control. In fact, more than we think.
It all starts with you!
So then, what can we do to ease the mental pain that wreaks havoc on us? Firstly, we can stop saying “I hate people,” and move towards seeking out the millions of loving, caring individuals who inhabit the planet from one end to the other. How?
I believe that it all starts with one word….. Kindness. Remember, we are all just trying to survive, so what you see, might not be what you get.
Additionally, if you’re walking the earth guarded and in self-preservation mode, you will not see the good in others. What’s more, they will not see the kind and loving person you are. A shame, really.
Therefore, it’s up to you. Remain in defensive mode or take a change and get to know others. I think what you’ll find is that the “I hate people” statement doesn’t always apply.
Hey folks, I hope you all are doing just fine physically, mentally, and emotionally. I hope you are sailing through just nicely in a roller coaster called life. I have been busy accepting and adjusting to a new chapter in life called a new city, new beginnings! My last two months have been pretty much tiring, exhausting.
But all on a good note because I started to live again. An everyday life full of routine, to-do lists and the idea that let’s sleep now because tomorrow you have to get this work done. I missed this part of life for a good amount of two years. This whole idea of a day full of work and then having a peaceful sleep is something I never thought would be this precious of a feeling. I guess that’s what life teaches us. When I was battling, I craved a night of good baby sleep. Sometimes we learn such things when we lose it big time. Life in general, I think, works like this; this is how it teaches us the value of something we take for granted.
The whole idea of life is to guide us, teach us, tell us that whoever you meet in your life teaches you something or the other. Like the idea of being loved, the idea of letting go, the idea that you are not alone. These are such small and valuable lessons of life that, with time, I am learning and working on.
When I was a kid, I thought I had my life figured out. I knew where I was going. I was sure of whom I was and what I was. Boy was I wrong. See, life is a journey of twists and turns that mould who we are; however, it is not the twist and turns that mould us but how we take and handle the wrench and turns thrown at us. It was not until life threw me flat on my face that I discovered who I am and what I am. I am a perpetual work-in-progress. And you know what? I am pretty all right with that. Because aren’t we all work in progress?
I never knew I would use this analogy. Still, here you go whenever I travelled, there used to be a signboard on the construction site saying, “Work in progress” As a layman would articulate, it would mean a building/house/metro/mall/shop is being constructed; right? But being a very keen observer, I always thought of it as a sign saying little by little becomes a lot.
You have to keep moving forward and keep going no matter what because if you want to experience significant progress towards your goal, you need to be intentional about the work you’re doing every day, right? So that’s it we need to accept that everybody’s a work in progress. I’m a work in progress. I mean, I’ve never arrived; I’m still learning all the time. I learn something from an instance or my pet every day because it’s all about the perspective you see! Everything is perspectival. In other words, it all depends on how you think and want to frame it.
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I am a firm believer in the fact that one’s strength doesn’t come from winning. It comes from struggles and hardship. Everything that you go through prepares you for the next level. Life is this, my friend, each day, it teaches you something you have to widen your perspective, see, and breathe through. So currently, my feelings regarding my new chapter is a mix of happiness, fear, joy, numbness, everything a human can feel, I guess, but what matters is I can recognise it and channelise it accordingly.
This is a crucial factor in accepting how you feel and then working on it eventually because our lives are a work in progress. We can’t rush into changing our habits. Take a few steps at a time and enjoy the process. A life lesson learnt with time. There will be other days and other feelings. Sometimes all you need is to trust the magic of new beginnings.
Parika is a depression survivor who is on the mission to end the stigma around depression and normalise it in the best way possible. She writes blogs by writing about her depression journey, how she overcame it, and all lessons she learned in her journey with time. She believes writing is the best asset to educate people about mental health. And let them know that they are not alone.
In addition, she advocates for mental health by writing blogs on Medium. Her blogs have been published on different mental health sites, and she has done some notable collaborations with some amazing individuals/organisations
As a parent of two beautiful children, I can say that it’s no easy task. However, it’s the most amazing thing I have ever done. While this is true, equally true is the 24/7 worry that comes with it.
And as if that weren’t enough, built into parenting is a constant fear that you are fu@#%ng them up. For me, personally? It keeps me up at night. More than that, I’m sure it has shaved time off my life.
That said, I honestly believe that most parents do their best. There are, however, mistakes made and one of those I find is when parenting from the “Me” principle is employed.
So, what does parenting from the Me principle mean? Well, it’s a term that I use to describe a type of person who parents with their own wants and needs in mind.
In a nutshell, the selfish parent. However, to be kind, many parents struggle with their own mental health (myself included). Therefore, an undesirable impact may be unintentional. If this is the case, a shift towards personal healing and a move away from self-blame can help one to thrive. And in turn, be a better parent.
Yet, there are those out there who just want control over everything, including their children. They are the type who yell or belittle their children, no matter what the child does.
For example, when a child makes their bed, but “It’s not good enough, is the response. Consequently, the “adult” tears apart the bed and remakes it, right in front of their child. This is of course, demoralizing and clearly wrong. Whereas a focus on skills development is best, the parent is convinced that their way is the only way. They are right about one thing. If they adopt this method of “parenting,” they will succeed at damaging their kids.
To expand on this example, say this parent is like this with everything their child(ren) does. What does this tell them? In my view it will build a less resilient child with an inner narrative that says, “I can’t do anything right.”
And who can blame them? Never knowing if you are doing any given thing correctly? Tough stuff. More devastating is the damage it leaves in its wake – the feeling that you are “stupid” or that “you’re not good enough.” So then, what makes me most sad about the outcome?
Well, when children are little, all they want in the world is to please their parents. Unfortunately, however, the most heartbreaking aspect for me, is the life-long fear that selfish parenting instills. Moreover, this brand of fear makes the adult version (inner child), afraid, unsure and more resistant to pursue their passions. It’s as though they have been paralyzed by the accumulation of fright they have experienced; too afraid to move one way or the other. “I CAN’T DO IT!”
All children want is to please their parents, therefore, I feel as though this can be a catalyst for an anxiety disorder. On the extreme end of parenting from the Me principle, adults may weaponize this need to please.
For instance, a selfish parent may use their child’s desire to make mom/dad happy against them. Because little ones are more than willing to do a task over and over. Looking for praise, validation and their parent’s love, the child fails in their eyes to be “the good kid.” Thus, anxiety builds, then self-esteem goes undeveloped, and fear takes over.
How to Overcome.
While battling the aftermath of such an upbringing as the parenting from the me principle is undeniably tough, it can be done. Anxiety disorders are treated with all sorts of methods; two of the most common being medications and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Moreover, diet and exercise have wonderous effect.
However, when we get down to the nitty-gritty of the problem, learning to be uncomfortable will help. How? Well, want to be a rocket scientist? The first question one should ask themselves, “What do I have to do to be a rocket scientist?”
Learning to build self-esteem – Love the uncomfortable, embrace its fear.
1.Gather facts about what’s required to be a rocket scientist
2.Physically go to the school and ask about it – this will get the excitement and courage burning inside you.
3.While you have momentum, go apply for funding. – seems real now, doesn’t it?
4.Research what will be required. Go get the backpack, the binders, the pens, the pencils.
5.And finally! When your loans are approved, you’ll find, it’s more likely than not that you are goanna show up. “I’ve come too far now; I have to go – this is exactly the level of ‘uncomfortable’ you want. A level that compels you to follow through.
It’s not unlike jumping into the pool for the first time on your own. Eventually, it becomes so easy you wonder what all the fear was about.
And finally, remember, this dream is for you and no one else. Selfish parenting doesn’t have to define you…. It’s okay to want this! It’s okay to stumble. The accomplishments will build your confidence and with that – a brand new you.
Yesterday, I ran into an old work colleague of mine, and it was a moment I am grateful for. How the gratitude came to light after I, as always, made a plug for my book The Road To Mental Wellness. (See what I did there?)
Whenever I mention my book, PTSD inevitably comes up in the conversation. And while many simply don’t understand the complexities of trauma, my former colleague was an exception. He has gone through his own challenges. Chief among them is being a supporter of someone close in his family.
Upon hearing his story, I felt it necessary to check-in with him: “How are you doing with it all? I know that many people who are the supporters get lost in the wave of trauma. Much to my delight, he said he was doing well, thanks to therapy. “When you love someone, you do your best to work through it.” he said happily.
When he said this with the upmost love and conviction, I immediately became conflicted. On one hand, it warmed my heart to see this tall, imposing figure of a man stick by his partner’s side; on the other, I was hit with a tidal wave of sadness.
Even though I tried to fight it, the sadness emerged the victor. Despite doing my best to be attentive, I found myself blurting out, “I don’t deserve that!” I quickly followed it with, “I’d only ruin it.”
What happen next set me back a bit. He looked at me, straight in the face and said, “Don’t ever say that it’s not your fault you have PTSD.” Despite his attempts to make it clear, I remained unconvinced. Though I struggled to believe him, he continued, “You didn’t ask for PTSD, it’s something that happened to you.” An amazing perspective considering the challenges trauma can present to the uninfected partner.
While I may be waking up to Christmas in quarantine, I know that there remain millions who are suffering far worse than I. I remained humbled
“You didn’t ask for PTSD.” This seemingly insignificant sentence has plagued me ever since it left his lips. As a result, I keep hearing me whisper, “You know, he’s right.” I mean, he’s factually correct. My PTSD was earned with distinction.
Mainly, the trouble with trauma all started in the years I spent as a firefighter. I know this to be evident, moreover, I know, on a logical level that it’s not but…… but I’m hurting too much for the visible part of my brain to win out.
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