Thursday, 4 June 2015

Mental health and spirituality .. honesty, openness and willingness are important

If we follow our hearts, light will follow us.
There is arguably an unwritten rule in spirituality (and religion as well) that you should be able to get your life fixed and live happily ever after. This rule is made up by us. A lot of people, myself included, have turned to spirituality because they feel broken inside and want to get better .. and whilst it certainly can do this, being spiritual does not necessarily preclude you from mental health challenges. In fact, it can make things worse, because you feel like you should not have anything like this happening, and it can make it perhaps a little bit harder to open up to people.

Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and sadness are not a sign that there is something wrong with you. As the saying goes 'Depression is not a sign of weakness. It's someone staying too strong for too long.' I think you and I would be surprised at what people go through. What if I were to tell you:

- Even though part of me desperately wants a tomantic relationship, I am scared, perhaps terrified, to enter into one for fear of rejection, making a fool of myself and getting hurt.
- The thought of ever getting a woman pregnant and having children scares me shitless and I hope it never happens. This is another reason relationships scare me. I'm not sure if I fancy having a vasectomy and I don't particularly want a whole heap of short term relationships.
- At the same time, I'm scared of being on my own for another 10 years or even the rest of my life.
- I hate going to the doctors for fear that they'll tell me I have cancer or another serious illness.
- I have been too scared to go into therapy even though it might well have been what I needed.
- I have truly been through more than enough emotional pain to last a whole lifetime and beyond, and have a limited pain threshold.

Do I think that my 'problems' seem worse than everyone else's? Yeah, sometimes. Are they? Well, I would certainly hope that you haven't been through some of what I have. But I've never been through things like sexual abuse .. and I think we all know that there are a lot of people suffering in silence. Some of them, you wouldn't even know or think. Even people who have happy families and a good job can be suffering terribly. And yes, even spiritual people can be falling apart whilst trying to keep it all together.

To be honest, it can be a bit of a relief to admit that you haven't got it all together, that you're not the super spiritual, enlightened person that you wanted to be. Even once you realise that you are not what your mind thinks you are, these mind patterns that have driven you nuts over the years don't just magically disappear immediately. You just become more aware and able to face your fears. Once you become more open and honest about the things that hold you back, you take a step forward.

It can be scary facing the unknown. As mentioned before, many of the fears I've had relate to intimacy and relationships, but anxiety and depression and fear can come in many different guises. It's taken me ages to even begin to face these things, so for God's sake don't beat yourself up if you seem to be making slow progress. Blogging about these things seems to work for me, and if I can make just one person realise that they're not alone and not flawed even when going through absurdly difficult stuff, then it will be worth it.

At the same time, it's important to be as open hearted as you can and be willing to unlearn negative thought patterns. The spiritual journey I'm on right now is helping me a lot. It is taking me a while to open up, and I am still, to an extent, unwilling to fully surrender at this moment. This doesn't make me any worse than anyone else nor any better just because I admit this. Being open, is being willing to go beyond the mind, to face your biggest fears, to know that depression, anxiety, or whatever, are not who YOU are. The fears that I mentioned earlier are not ME. It doesn't mean they'll necessarily go away, however, being as open hearted as I can be will help me to face them rather than run away from love.

I hope this helps. Any questions, fire away ..

Sometimes it feels like we've been hit by a steam train. We must feel
our emotions rather than fight them.

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