|Carl Rogers, the founder of the humanistic or client-centered approach to psychology, once said: “A person is a fluid process, not a fixed and static entity; a flowing river of change, not a block of solid material; a continually changing constellation of potentialities, not a fixed quantity of traits.”
I recall reading this quote during my postgraduate degree as I prepared for one of the lengthy and detailed papers I would be required to write during this time. I read the quote again and again, thinking to myself how true and powerful it was to consider human beings, and perhaps all living creatures, as capable and almost destined, to change.
As a counsellor, I hold on to this idea of change as truth, and encourage clients and those who enter my life to consider ways in which this inevitable change can bring about positive and enduring pathways in our lives, and how cultivating self-care and growth practices in our lives can make things a lot easier on ourselves.
As such, I am always eager to hear about the journey that others have taken to create this change in their own life. This article is no exception, and I am delighted to share the personal anecdote written by an individual who has not only walked alongside others struggling with mental health, but has also experienced these concerns herself, and has been able to find a tool that has helped to loosen the hold mental health concerns can have over her.
Thank you for sharing your story on the blog this week, Sara!
Here are the two pieces of information you should know about me before I tell my story:
Working in the mental health field has given me many new skills to help cope with my own issues. It has also brought a lot of past issues to the surface that I had been burying for several years. It is an ongoing process that I will probably be working on for a long time, but I have to say that it has truly changed me in a great way. During my 3 long years as a counselor, I was given an 8-week course on mindfulness. This led me to dive into this practice even more and start doing my own research on mindfulness practices. Mindfulness Meditation had become a huge coping method for me when my mind got the best of me, but unfortunately, hard times hit and I began to lose my motivation.
When I was at work in my “zone”, no client or coworker ever knew what I was going through at home or what I had been through in my past. I know I am not alone! Was I becoming a new strong person? Or was I just hiding my other-self while at work? These types of questions rolled around my head all of the time. “Am I a fraud?”
Once I quit the counseling job and set out to accomplish some long overdue goals, mindfulness stayed strong in my life, but slowly started to fade away as I was unable to keep all of my projects and ideas running smoothly. Even though things in my life have been falling into place lately and I am generally happy, there is still something missing. Maybe it is self-sabotage but I definitely got myself into a hole somewhere along the way during this past couple of weeks. I became unmotivated to do anything other than the things I knew I HAD to do to survive. I felt it, and I knew it was happening, but couldn’t even bring myself to try and do anything about it. My negative self-talk was louder than it had been in years and I felt like I was watching it happen in slow motion.
"My negative self-talk was louder than it had been in years and I felt like I was watching it happen in slow motion.
I knew what I had to do, but anyone that has dealt with or regularly deals with these types of issues knows how hard it is to take that first step. I literally had to force myself to do something, and it was not easy. I pulled up a guided meditation podcast that I had found a few months prior and looked for something specific to the way I was feeling.
So I sat at my desk a couple of nights ago and listened to a guided meditation for “renewal.” I could have chosen the one for “anxiety” but for some reason, the word “renewal” really caught my attention. I got through the entire thing and felt a little bit better, but was still uncertain about my emotions. I promised myself that I would wake up the next morning and do the “morning energy” meditation and see if it motivated me to take a walk. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself because that is when I just don’t do anything at all!
Sure enough, I woke up and did the guided meditation. I pushed myself to take a short walk afterward, and it felt great. I used mindfulness the way I know it works, but I have never been in a situation where I need to use it on a regular basis just to get up and do things for my own mental health.
"I pushed myself to take a short walk afterward, and it felt great.
This isn’t a story that ends with, “and now I’ll never be depressed again” or “It was so easy, I can’t believe I didn’t do this before.” As I said earlier, this is going to be an ongoing process, and I am still fighting my way through it. The one thing I forgot was how amazing mindfulness meditation can be for the mind.
We so often forget how important our own self-care truly is. Everyone copes with their “stuff” in their own way. Some people self-medicate, some people Dr. medicate, some people keep themselves too busy to deal with it at all and some people do a combination of all of these and more.
Disclaimer* Mindfulness isn’t going to make mental illness go away!
Mindfulness is simply a tool that can become a skill that will help you take care of yourself when you don’t have the motivation to do it. It is 10 - 20 minutes of your day that you are taking for yourself and nothing else.
The moral of this story is that everyone has their own “stuff” and you are not alone. Even the professionals have to find ways to cope with their problems when they come up. It’s not about who has it worse, it’s about how we respond to the issues when they arise. Don’t forget to take care of yourself!
Thank you so much to Sara for sharing her journey through mental health and for highlighting the fact that mental health does impact everyone at some point in life.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, there is support available. Reach out to friends, family, or volunteer and professional supports in the community. You don't have to go through this alone!
Below I have listed some resources to have support around mental health, as well as a few other articles focusing on the topic of self-care and taking care of yourself. Be sure to also share your comments in the space below and let us know your own personal self-care and wellness tips!
Mental health resources:
More self-care reading: