"What if I can't make this work? What if I fail? There's so many things that can go wrong." I sprawled on the leather couch, staring up into the ceiling, spewing out these exact words to my counsellor. I let out an exhaustive sigh, defeated before I had even begun.
I'm starting to sweat. I can feel a tiny droplet - a moist, salty bead trickling down from my forehead, clinging onto the very tip of my nose, ready to fall. Anytime now. Truth is, I'm sort of nervous. I've not been one to take many chances in life. Mostly everything's been carefully calculated with the usual analytical questions: should I? How much will it cost? What's the worst that can happen?
I've been feeling a little depressed these days and thought I'd utilize some tools I've learned over the years to address it. I realized we can all get affected mentally by changes that happen in our lives. No one is immune to feeling depressed, lonely, anxious or upset, and it's important to recognize even the slightest of these feelings, and address them accordingly.
Remember when we used to describe a person who was quiet and didn't show much emotion as the strong, silent type? I don't often hear that phrase anymore to describe a someone, and I'm glad. I mean, how strong is a person who is silent, especially when it comes to their mental health? Isn't that an oxymoron? For generations, it was seen as a positive trait, to be the strong, silent type. You're cool, collected and can withstand internalized pain. Movies stars portrayed this imagery very well, often looking cool and sexy in the movies if they were stoic.
Two years after publishing my best seller Living with the Dragon, Healing 15 000 Days of Abuse and Shame, I'm back with my follow up book that takes a complete 180 degree turn in writing style from my first book. It promises to be wittier, quirkier and with chock full of anecdotes to amuse you. The best part is, you won't even realize you're reading a self-help book. I'm super excited to share this latest project with you and even more excited to make you smile, chuckle and laugh with my stories of mishaps, missteps and bumbling mistakes. (For example, what the heck does Mah-Mah Lee's Rice-Wrap Steam Infusion Spa Treatment got to do with finding a relationship?)
It's plastered everywhere now. Thanks to the power of social media and improving tolerance, you'd have to be living underneath a rock to not know that having good mental health is equally as important (if not more) than having good physical health. The two are synonymous when we talk about having a well balanced lifestyle.
Basketball has given my son an outlet for his depression and anxiety. It's given him a focal point to practice something he truly enjoys and provides him with entertainment that pulls him away from his negative thought patterns. I'll always love the sport because of what it has given my son.
Is it even possible? How does one regain their self-esteem lost from childhood abuse and trauma? What I've learned over the years is that low self-esteem in social situations can be common for childhood abuse and trauma survivors. I feel judged and begin analyzing what others might be thinking of me. I feel a discomfort in my breathing and suddenly my mind no longer pays attention to the social interactions going on, but rather on what my exit strategy is going to be. Perhaps it's a mild case of agoraphobia, the fear of feeling unsafe and trapped. Or maybe it's a trigger from my past.
If anyone is struggling in their relationships, family or work life, assess your history growing up and ask yourself how the environment may have shaped your present belief system. Did you grow up with a lot family violence, arguments and shaming? Were you violated as a child and put down often? Were there major transitions such as divorce of your parents, moving to a different region or the sudden loss of a loved one? Dig deep and learn more about how childhood events such as trauma and abuse impacted you.
Aren't you afraid of what people might think of you? Every now and then I get asked that question since I published Living with the Dragon, launched my online courses on mental health management and publicly opened up about my struggles in the past with depression, anxiety and anger. The initial fear of going public has long since passed. I overcame that fear of judgement because I also knew that very same fear is preventing me from making a significant difference to the mental health community, and it is the very same fear that kept my shame alive after all the years. And as everyone knows, when there's shame, we get stuck at a place of resentment, bitterness and external blaming.