Having a mental illness does not mean you need to be fixed! You are simply out of balance. These few words are so important to anyone who has been suffering long-term anxiety, depression, stress, or PTSD.
Any mental illness is debilitating and can take control of your self-confidence, energy levels, and definitely your sleeping. It is hard to get motivated. Just thinking about planning for the future becomes impossible. Every day You may feel as if you are climbing a sand dune – 2 steps forward and 5 backward!
What is the solution?
When a person is suffering from anxiety, underlying is a feeling of fear, or of ‘not feeling safe!’ Typically, this person would be imagining things that ‘might’ happen or occur in the future. This is a sub-conscious, or unconscious feeling – not a deliberate thought. Strangely the event that fear may happen may not be a memory of something that has happened to them. It can be something they have heard about, read, or seen. 9/11 is a typical example of this. People across the world became traumatised by the event in the USA even though they never knew anyone involved. The constant re-watching the news videos, which were so horrific and unbelievable, locked in the emotions, anger, and fear, into the viewers’ minds as if it was happening to them.
We do not have to experience events firsthand for them to traumatise us. News reporting with videos that replay over and over again, becomes real to us. Our subconscious mind does not know the difference between fact and fantasy, true and false and so these ‘fears’ can embed in our subconscious mind as memories. These then can trigger emotional reactions, some of which may seem irrational, to comments, actions, or events that happen in daily life. Over time this may create unfounded fears.
Anxiety is created by a person fearing events they imagine may happen in the future. So, a person is living in the future, tense up in – flight fight freeze mode – ready for the imagined action. This tension can cause stiff muscles in the neck and shoulders, stomach complaints, headaches, tiredness and lack of motivation.
This person can live in this state, on high alert for years. The person generally feels unsafe and the smallest things can trigger a panic attack or irrational reaction.
We all have stress in our lives. We need it. Stress activates hormones in our body and mind to deal with challenges, to allow us to excel, and do more than we thought possible. That is good stress. However, sometimes a person may experience an event that is so horrible, so incomprehensible that the mind cannot deal with it. The person’s survival reaction is one of three things – fight – flight – freeze! The body’s hormones jump into action based on the response. The person deals with the event and moves on. Occasionally though, the person cannot move on. They get stuck in the moment and it becomes a ‘never-ending story’ on constant rerun. Everyday things – smells, sights, sounds, people, etc – trigger off the FFF reaction. This leads to PTSD, prolonged stress, and depression.
All of these reactions are normal. They are debilitating but they can be resolved. Their Mind is just unable to release the right chemicals to process the event and move it into a memory. It is ‘as if’ the event was still happening now.
The Mind and the Body needs two things:
1. The person has control over the evert, and it is over
2. The person is safe.
Bringing the person back to balance is the key. No-one is broken, its just sometimes we get out of balance.