“NO! My mind screamed. My heart turned cold. With `characteristic calmness under stress,’ I listened as my supervisor asked me not to come to work for the next two weeks. ‘There is an investigation regarding some complaints by staff of your performance.’
I hung up the phone.
I NEVER want my children to go through what I have gone through–the hell, the shame, the fight for sanity.
With controlled tremor, I said to my husband, ‘I need to talk to you.’ Tears welled. My brain felt as though it were being pulled apart as I fought old familiar feelings.
Fortunately he was understanding and supportive. He offered to intervene in my behalf, but I said ‘No. I want to handle this myself.’
If he had not been supportive, if he had blamed me, I probably would have lost control and retreated into that old familiar pattern I had fought so long to change.
We returned to our guests. With difficulty, I told them about my phone call. I was grateful for their concern, their hugs and warm handshakes as they left.
You know, it’s odd. I’ve been praying for a way to leave the job so I could give more time to the family. But, I never expected this!”
As I said before, mental health problems, especially when a “break from reality” (psychosis) occurs, can be frightening, very painful events, both psychologically and spiritually.
This woman had experienced previous mental health “breaks.” She felt a physical sensation in her brain, like it was “tearing apart,” as she agonized over her dilemma. She and her family were acquainted with the process of seeking help and “the hell, the shame, the fight for sanity” was eased.
For others also, it can be easier, though it isn’t “easy.” Not everyone feels a sense of shame, hell, and a fight for sanity.
Fortunately, many therapists are able to show their clients that the break with reality was a consequence of stress which can be overcome. By learning new ways of relating to self and to others, by engaging in healthy mental and physical habits, by walking the path of sanity, the shame and hell can be overcome or eliminated from the beginning, and the client can proceed on life’s path.
The couple in the above would not have been able to tell their friends if it had occurred a few years earlier. Each of them would have stoically suffered alone, and in silence. They would have missed the supportive concern and well-wishes of their friends that helped them through this event. Gradually they had developed trusted friends with whom they felt safe and became more open about problems.
Using examples from real life, I want you to learn, and practice, what you can do to support one another in growth–as individuals, couples, groups, and families–regardless of your current health level. I want you to develop lifestyles and healthful habits that will keep you on the path to Eden.
Some people may require medication to obtain their optimum level of health. Some people are extremely sensitive to potent modern medications and may find relief in other therapies, including nutrition and self-manage methods I teach here.
I know that we can prevent many illnesses and we can reverse much damage that occurs from many illnesses with the right treatment. I know from personal experience in the valley of the shadow of death, with suicide urges while speeding to my psychiatric appointments 60 miles away, that we can grow through difficulty to higher levels of health and wellness. God will guide you in becoming your whole self!
“I’m surprised I slept the night my supervisor called. Over the years of restlessness and sleeplessness I’ve learned to turn off thoughts about things I can do nothing about. I can put things in God’s hands for safekeeping now.
It has taken me a long time to realize that my constant worry showed a lack of trust in God. I’m paying more attention to my concerns in the daytime, here and now, when I can actually do something about them. I let fewer things ‘go by’ because ‘it’s not enough to make a fuss over.’ It isn’t always necessary to make a fuss in order to make a concern known. Courage and trust are enough if we take the time to work things out together.”
As you take the time to work things out, I want you to be able to maximize the benefits of problems, even mental health problems.
“Benefit!?” you exclaim. Yes, I say “benefit”, by learning better ways of “being and doing,” and by putting the ideas you find here into practice in your own life.
Through personal growth we may return to the Garden of Eden…the place of peace and calm and confidence.
Watch for the next section about Principles of Well-Being