#MentalHealth Day Thoughts…

#MentalHealth is trending today on Twitter and I thought it would be a good time to follow up on a post from a couple of years ago and share my thoughts and remind those that are struggling that they matter.

In the Finding Myself post, I went public with the fact that I had been dealing with some severe depression and was going through a divorce. It was a hard post to write, but at the same it was cleansing and I saw it as an opportunity to reach out and help someone else who might be struggling in silence as I had.

Since that time, there have been a lot of changes in my personal life and as time goes on each day brings a clearer perspective. Things start to make sense that didn’t before, and you gain more confidence in the choices you’ve made.

Was it worth it? I’m sure there are folks that would question why I would give up a long term marriage, the farm of my dreams and a whole herd of nice horses.

Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

My response to that is isn’t life more than material things? Doesn’t trust, honesty and truthfulness, integrity, support and empathy mean more? To me it does, so yes it WAS worth it because in the end I gained those things that mean more, along with self-acceptance and love.

The whole time I was going through all that, the people that meant the most to me told me that I was making a mistake. In the low place I was at the time, it was absolutely devastating. Now, I see it for what it is.

People either pull you up or pull you down. Tony Robbins and any other well-known motivational expert will tell you we are the result of the three to five people we spend the most time with. For someone struggling to get healthy mentally and physically, relationships have a huge impact on whether we succeed or not.

Every day I wake up, I’m thankful I made the decision to change my life and I know I made the right choice. With everything that comes with starting over and just life in general, there are still days that aren’t easy but I make it through. The trust and honesty that I have surrounded myself with helps to make that possible, along with the actions I take to stay healthy. I live more intentionally than I did before.

If you’re struggling, you ARE important and you matter. Remember that – tell it to yourself every day if you have to! You’re important enough to make whatever changes you need to make to get healthy – whether it’s physically, mentally or both. Do what you have to do to get healthy because you and your life are worth it!

Not everyone will understand your actions or decisions. Pay attention to their reactions – it reveals a lot. Just because you’re struggling it doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing, that you’re crazy or narcissistic, or whatever other tag people that truly don’t wish you well will put on you. Don’t let it stop you or make you question what you know you need to do. Remember they don’t have to live your life – you do!

Hang on to the fact that you matter. Hang on to the fact that you deserve to be healthy in every way. Hang on to the truth that nobody can live your life but you so make the most of it — and know what you CAN make it through to a healthier life.

We don’t go through the darkness to stay there. We go through the darkness so that others can see the light.

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Feeding Your Brain

We’ve all heard the saying, you can’t have a positive life with a negative mind. 

I have found that to be true time and time again. If I focus on the things that scare or worry me, the next thing I know, my over active imagination runs rampant with worse case scenarios.  I’m all worked up and worrying about things that may never happen. Instead of enjoying and living in the moment, my mind is busy elsewhere in turmoil. I’ve wasted time and energy on a realm that doesn’t even exist at that point instead of fully enjoying being alive at that moment. 

How much time have I spent spent in that worry and anxiety? Too much to count — decades — when I should have been counting my blessings right then. 

The last couple of years have been a journey of working on changing my thinking. I really do believe if you want to change your life, change how you think. Start with your mind, the rest will follow. I have seen the proof in my own life.

Interestingly enough, I ran across a recent study that shows complaining (negative mindset) actually re-wires your brain to be susceptive to depression and anxiety. 

Getting a little further out there, epigenetics is the thought that our consciousness changes or regulates our biology. A recent article in Success Magazine delves into this a little further. Because at the base level we’re made of atoms and molecules, and because our brains are constantly re-wiring and are not set, then our bodies react to our thoughts – positive or negative. 

As the old saying goes, junk in junk out. So how do I put the good stuff in? 

For me, faith is my go-to. When I feel lost, when I feel like I have failed miserably, when I need hope, I seek out God a little harder. 

With everything that happened this last year, I stopped going to church for several reasons I won’t go into now except to say that divorce and depression are two areas of ministry that a lot of churches miss. It’s those two times in life when people desperately need the church most. 

Recently I decided to visit Lifesprings Church in my town. The message was actually on tithing, but it talked about setting aside things for God FIRST. That got me to thinking about setting aside time for God first. 

Years ago, I went to a business seminar and the motivational speaker gave one of the most non-business talks I had ever heard. He talked about reading Psalms and Proverbs…..in the BATHROOM! 

It was a talk about filling your mind with positive things, and he said he read his Bible daily and that was his daily habit. He kept his Bible in the bathroom of all places. 

When he explained why, it made perfect sense. Especially after you reach a certain age, where is the one place you go – sometimes in a rush – first thing every morning? Yep, you guessed it, the bathroom. 

The following year, his friend Connie Podesta was the speaker for the same conference. It was then I learned that the speaker the previous year had just received a cancer diagnosis the day I had heard his message and that was the reason for it being such an unusual message for that setting. 

That whole story had such an impact on me that I came back and started reading my Bible in the bathroom. I kept that up for several years, but it was a practice that had lapsed this last year. When I heard the message at Lifespring, I decided it was time to start setting aside my first moments of the day for filling my mind with God’s promises.

I don’t have a lot of room in the camper, so I’ve been reading from my phone first thing in the morning. And yes, in the bathroom because that’s where I go without fail when I get up!

This article by Debbie McDaniel on 33 Verses on fear and anxiety to remind us that God is in control is one of my favorites. 

“But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1



Another good article is 5 Psalms For People Who Struggle With aAnxiety. 

It only takes a couple of minutes to read a few verses and start my day by filling my brain with something positive. I have to say, since I started back I have had a better mindset. 

Whether you fill your mind with Tony RobbinsJoyce MeyerJoel Osteen or some other self help / motivational speaker, making the effort to focus on positive thoughts will empower and change your life over time. Each day can be a new start. 

What are some of the ways you work on your mindset and your focus? What changes have you seen from that? Are there areas of your thinking you need to improve? What are some ways you can work on your thinking and focus?  

Supporting Those That Struggle

With all the changes this year, it’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog….After getting the farm sold and doing some serious soul-searching, I’ve decided to keep it going if for no other reason than the fact that I’m passionate about horses and being healthy with them – inside and out-  and I enjoy sharing that with other people. It’s therapeutic in that it keeps me going and motivates me as well.

View from halfway up

Earlier this week, I shared some progress pics on the CWC Facebook page that I took during a swim break at the campground we’re staying in. A couple of months back, I purchased a bare piece of property and we have been staying in a fifth wheel camp trailer at a KOA Campground nearby while we slowly build. While most folks would consider that roughing it, one of the big perks is having a nice swimming pool to use!

Camper living

The post talked a bit about not only maintaining my weight loss, but more importantly it talked about my mental well-being. That although there were still some “bad” days, I’m never ever as low as I was before and that faith, changing how I ate, how I think, and having genuine honest supportive people had helped.

 

Not the same person!

I want to talk very candidly about the support part. 

This last year was rough with a lot of loss. Not only did I lose a fourteen year relationship and marriage but I also lost a family that I loved as my own. People think step parents don’t love or don’t grieve, but that’s just simply not true. I also lost friends and my own family through all of this.

In the midst of dealing with depression and a marriage that was falling apart, it was said by family to my ex that I was crazy and that I needed to get back on whatever it was that made me sane, and that I was going through a mid-life crisis. In the immediate throes of a separation argument, and a lowest point, I was told I was so crazy I didn’t know what day it was. (Gaslighting, anyone?) That same argument I was told that all those people who I thought were my friends were laughing at me and pitying me because I thought I was some twenty year old cowgirl. Narcissist and cheater were thrown out there too. Keep in mind this came from two people who said they loved me.

For someone with depression going through that with no support system, no family to turn to, and only a few good friends to confide in, that was an extremely hard time in my life. I don’t know what I would have done without my co-workers, my neighbor, and my best friend and “Superman” Austin Foust. Those were the people who wouldn’t let me forget they were there for me no matter what and I will never forget that as long as I live. God gave me those folks to get me through that dark time. I really believe it.

Any time you go through something like this you reflect on the past and try to figure out what happened, where it went wrong. Sometimes in doing so, things start to make perfect sense. For me, that’s exactly what happened. Only after I gained some distance was I able to clearly see the depth of the lies and their purpose, and the gross years of manipulation that had occurred and what I had let it do to me.

In looking back at comparison pictures, it’s clear to me that this was a downward spiral years in the making. This didn’t happen over night. These are not easy to look at, and most definitely not easy to share.

 

These pictures are close to ten years ago and they speak volumes. Yes, I was heavier but it’s not just about the weight. I was not healthy, physically or mentally either one. I couldn’t see it at the time, but now looking back I definitely can, especially when I look at comparison pictures.

I was exhausted because I wasn’t getting enough sleep (not by my own accord), and my body was riddled with inflammation to the point that I had a place on my face that didn’t heal for over a year. I was miserable and you can see it!

There’s a saying that if you’re struggling and your people are just watching then maybe they’re not you’re people. That’s true. If you’re going through depression and/or health issues and the ones that say they love you are not being proactive to help you get healthy (not supporting you to get healthy!) then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate who your people are and how important your health is and do something about it.

Don’t be afraid to cut ties if that’s what it takes. Sometimes removing yourself from toxic people is the only way to get well if they’re not going to change their behavior. You can only control your behavior, you can’t control theirs.

If you love someone who is struggling with their physical health, and/or their mental health what they need most is your support.

Sometimes people don’t need to hear what you think they should do, or whether or not you think they’re making a mistake. Most often they just need support in the form of listening while they come to terms with what they’re dealing with. They don’t need judgement, they need a place to talk. They also need to know you’re true (and loyal) to them behind their back, not just to their face. They need to know you care by your genuineness.

Aside from mental support, sleep has more impact on health and mental well-being than anything else a person can do. If someone you love isn’t sleeping well, support them by encouraging them to get to bed earlier. Let them know their sleep is a priority to you too so that they don’t feel any pressure to stay up to get things done, or spend time with you. If you’re watching TV, turn the TV down so they can sleep, and make sure  you watch it in another room. Be considerate by being quiet.

If you truly love someone and want the best for them, you don’t want to be an enabler by rewarding them or showing them love with unhealthy food, especially if they have a health condition that’s impacted by food.Don’t set them up for failure by making it harder to eat healthy – They’re already struggling with that. 

Instead of showing you care by bringing home a gallon of ice cream, bring home something healthy that they enjoy. Take the time to find out what that is.

Instead of dangling temptation in front of them by eating that double burger with fries while they eat a salad, you could eat a salad as well. Sometimes when you care about someone, it means sacrificing a little bit yourself. In the end, not only will they benefit, but you will as well because they see your support and you will have had a healthier meal.

It’s true that we’re responsible for ourselves, and our own happiness and we shouldn’t let someone else dictate our happiness. However, if we’re struggling with getting healthy we have to put ourselves in a place of success and part of that success is having support.

If you care about someone who is struggling, what are the most important ways you can support them?

If you’re someone struggling with health issues, what changes can you make to make progress?