How to get your golden ticket for better mental health
Do you know people who, no matter what life throws at them, bounce back and take difficult life events in their stride? Why do some of us instead get over-anxious, really down or very angry? Why do some of us pick up unhealthy habits as a way of coping, when others seem to handle things with ease?
It's no surprise that many people find it hard to understand mental health and mental illness, especially if you, or those around you, appear perfectly happy and healthy. But even the most mentally healthy people can become unwell.
Today I am mentally healthy, but it wasn't always like this. I want to share my story. I want to share how I coped over the years and found my golden ticket, and how you can too.
In short, my history looks a little like this: childhood abuse, a lack of coping skills, addiction, over 20 funerals attended, the death of a parent, bullying at school and work, cancer twice, redundancy twice, the breakdown of relationships, and two broken ankles (at the same time). This is my story. Yet, I see clients with far worse. My fascination is learning why some people manage to cope and some do not.
Human Givens therapy
In Human Givens therapy, we look at three main causes of mental illness.
1. Neglect. If we aren't taught coping mechanisms as children, we may experience issues later in life. We may love our parents, but if there is any form of neglect, were constantly repressed or not taught how to self-soothe, we're likely to develop problems as adults. This may include developing addictions to harmful substances or damaging behaviours.
2. Damage to the neuro-pathways. Such as brain injury, severe learning difficulties or addiction.
3. Trauma. This could be anything, from witnessing (or being the victim of) domestic violence, a car crash, war, terrorism, humiliation or bullying. Any life event that was not processed properly can lead to a person either reliving the event or exhibiting behaviours that are triggered by the trauma, such as anger, upset, fear or phobia.
I ticked a few of the above myself. My anger outbursts and depression began when I was 18, having originated from childhood experiences, and carried on for many years, fuelled with smoking and alcohol and bad decisions.
My golden ticket moment
My golden ticket was given to me as an epiphany 10 years ago when my marriage was on the rocks. It was a light bulb moment and stopped me in my tracks, literally, as I was delivering leaflets at the time. It was absolutely a physical feeling and made me make an immediate decision. I needed help. I wanted to know why I kept making mistakes and more importantly, how I was going to stop doing this and get a better life. It was like a golden ticket appeared from beneath the autumn leaves I was walking through.
By the time I found Human Givens therapy, I had already tried different models, such as CBT. Through Human Givens, I learned how important it was to get my emotional needs met in balance. They are the need for attention, security, control, status, community, meaning and purpose, achievement and intimacy.
It didn't take long to see which emotional needs were not being met, and then, a practical and rewarding few sessions showed me how I could choose healthy ways to self-soothe.
I learned so much about myself. I discovered that during my life, I had done many wonderful things. I had helped others and worked hard at my career. These achievements showed me how I could feel better about myself.
What I learned from therapy
Therapy showed me something even bigger, also introducing me to the Rewind Technique. I had gone through some pretty rough stuff when I was young, yet through the power of hypnosis, and the support of a brilliant Human Givens practitioner, I was more or less "reprogrammed".
We can't unlearn what we have learned, but we can take away the negative emotional arousal that comes when we are triggered by an event similar to our previous experiences. The Rewind Technique took away my fear, my guilt and my anger.
Over time I have learned the following, now that my mind is clear.
- Solace in my higher power which for me is nature.
- Forgiveness, I don't have to forget.
- Patience, giving and sharing.
- Finding positive states of focused attention instead of negative ones.
- Feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
- That there is always hope.
- I am continually learning.
- Death is part of life.
- Being grateful.
- Carpe Diem because Tempus Fugit.
My life changed so considerably and I don't get triggered anymore. Without the triggers, I had no need to self-soothe with booze and smokes, and quitting was incredibly easy.
My emotions are where they should be, and so when I trained to become a Human Givens practitioner myself, I was able to teach the Rewind Technique and help clients with very challenging difficulties without becoming immersed in their emotions, even if they were similar to my own experiences.
We are all different and we have many life experiences. At any time in our life, something can happen that may lead to a mental health difficulty which cannot be dealt with alone. None of us are infallible.
COVID and the economic crisis will challenge many people who, until now, have had a clear path of good mental health. My advice to anyone who begins to see their mental health declining - don't let it go unchecked. If you had a bad back you would go to your GP. For a mental health difficulty, find a mental health practitioner to help guide you back to good emotional well-being. Search for counselling in your local area or online and you will find vetted, ethical professionals who can help you.
I am so grateful that when my golden ticket appeared to me, I grabbed it with both hands. You can too, you just need to know what to look out for.