Why do I suffer over and over again? It seems that there has been more suffering, more struggling, than there has been joy in my life. I believe that the mental health system has failed, western medicine has failed. It’s a chemical imbalance they say; let’s put you on medication and that will help. Maybe there is a chemical imbalance, but that is not the cause, or at least not the sole cause of my suffering because I have been on various medications since I was 17 and yet the problem resurfaces. Maybe it is unresolved pain and trauma from your past. Let’s give you talk therapy so you can process your experience and move past it. Dozens of therapists, dozens of approaches and while there is some relief, it is only temporary. Why do the same stories, the same pain, that I have processed resurface over and over again? Even Eastern approaches, meditation, mindfulness...they have been immensely helpful. But still the same problem persists. It leaves me to believe that the mental health system is broken. They don’t really know or understand what the problem is; and if they don’t know what the problem is, they don’t know the solution. I am determined to find out.
The one thing I haven’t consistently applied that has been helpful in the past and has been largely ignored by mental health practitioners is lifestyle factors. We are human beings, an organism that has life sustaining requirements. We need nutritious food, clean water, exercise, relaxation, sleep, interaction with nature and with people. Do we check all of those boxes? Not in this sedentary, competitive, money hungry, technology obsessed, over-performing society. No wonder mental illness diagnoses are increasing. We are not taking care of ourselves.
It’s probably the hardest thing to do because it’s not easy to change and it requires you to make a choice over and over again with little accountability. Would I put forth all of that effort to overcome all of the mental resistance for myself, to feel better? No. So, I need a reason, one that is bigger than me. My dad suffers every day with paranoia, in fear that his daughters are in danger. I want to be well for my father. So that I can tell him that I am okay, that I am safe, that I am living a good life. And more than that, I want to give other people with mental health challenges hope that they too can get better and live a life that has more joy than suffering. That it is possible. I want to inspire others to take action to care for their human bodies the way they are supposed to be cared for. But I need to be right; that improving lifestyle factors dramatically improves one’s well being and dramatically reduces ones unnecessary suffering. The only way I will know is if I commit to this course of action. So, today I am going to make a commitment that I will choose what is best for my future self than what is comfortable for my present self because my dad, other people who suffer and the future of mental health care depends on that choice.