Neurotics build castles in the air. Psychopaths live in the castles. Psychiatrists collect the rent.
Drugs are good for infections and true sickness, but they don’t cure a negative mindset. Taking drugs to treat a negative thinking process will only serve to numb, slow, and dull the thinking. Regardless of whether you’re taking the drugs, the problems of life are still there. They won’t eliminate your stress, improve your self-image, or heal broken relationships. They can’t heal emotional hurts or take away negative coping mechanisms. The truth is, that the vast majority of people today who encounter depression, anxiety, and other emotional complications are not medically ill. They are troubled and not feeling well, but that is not synonymous with being sick and diseased.
It’s not a popular topic, and I am surely going to ruffle some feathers from every side of every argument with this blog, but I don’t care. I have seen so much in my life. So much death, so much wickedness. I have seen the very dredges of humanity working the dredges of the city as a Paramedic. But I have also seen love, compassion, empathy, hope. I’ve seen the Devil. I’ve seen God. I’ve lived in Hell. I’m not going down without a fight. Listen. Bottom line, it’s not healthy for individuals, or society in general to accept that they have no control over their lives or behaviors. This type of belief robs people of their integrity and self-respect. We can’t just say, “Oh poor me,” and just roll over.
According to the World Health Organization: Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression.What would happen if just 1% of those people refused to accept that as their identity, came off the medication, and became Warriors for a cause? 3 million people. Think about it.
Right about now you may be thinking, “Well that’s a great thought but who the hell are you?” I get it! It’s easy to speak about theoretical things when you aren’t going through it yourself. So, to summarize I grew up in a broken home. As a teenager, I was literally a product of divorce. I had a really bad attitude toward the church and God, because I had been hurt by those closest to me and I didn’t see Christians as people who I cared to be around. After all, I was raised in the church and look at how my life turned out.
This attitude carried into my adult life as a Paramedic. Let’s just say that we have a term in EMS to describe individuals with careers like mine. We say they are a magnet for feces. You feel me? Ten years into my career, I sprained my shoulder. What should have been a simple injury turned into a living hell when I found myself being diagnosed with a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, often referred to as the Suicide Disease.
I can’t even fully describe the attitude of the fellow members of my Fire Department when I received the diagnosis. Have you ever watched a pack of wild animals rip the injured one to shreds until his end trails are ten feet from its head? For a year, twelve months, I was placed on light duty. I was then fired and denied disability. At some point, I woke up and came to the realization that the world kept moving. It didn’t even miss me. I didn’t even feel like my family missed me, nor would they if I was dead. Anyone with a chronic illness can relate to this feeling. At this point, I had a choice to make…
“According to the World Health Organization: Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression. What would happen if just 1% of those people refused to accept that as their identity, came off the medication, and became Warriors for a cause? 3 million people. Think about it.”
Mental, emotional, and spiritual growth come from facing problems instead of running from them. It requires willpower and determination to not give up. Growth involves struggle, pain, and courage. Our character is molded out of the battles we face in this life. Pain is experienced by everyone. When we accept responsibility for our own actions and attitudes toward life’s circumstances, we grow in maturity. As a result, we become healthier because of our ownership.
I had a choice, to accept the hand that I was dealt and become another statistic, or to fight. I chose to fight. Life is all about choices. If I don’t eat, I will eventually get hungry. Money puts food on the table, and unfortunately, I missed the class on currency horticulture that taught me how to grow money trees when I was in college. I didn’t know what to do, so I prayed. The next 4 years would turn out to be, for lack of a better term, the clunkiest years of my life. But they were also amazing. I discovered in those years, that true health rests on three fundamentals. Three pillars if you will.
Pillar Number 1: Physical Health
If you search the internet, there are all kinds of statements about staying healthy. “If you’re eating the right food and keeping fit, your body will be strong and help you to cope with stress and also fight illness.” But, that didn’t really work for me in this case… “Eating well and exercising often when you’re a teenager will also help you stay in good health later in life.” Nope, I don’t need a gym membership when I can’t hold a pencil… “Getting regular sleep is another really important way to stay healthy.” Getting regular sleep is impossible when you feel like your skin is hotter than the magma that spews out of Mount Saint Helens. You catch my drift… I needed a viable option, so I found one. Modern medicine did not have answers, so I went everywhere else. I didn’t care what others thought. Label me, spit on me, call me what you will, I refused to live that way for the rest of my life. Vegas or bust. Do or die. Something had to give, either me or the pavement.
“Health is not valued till sickness comes.”
– Thomas Fuller
Pillar Number 2: Financial Health
Your financial health is important, just like your physical health. Our finances can make or break us in many cases, so having an awareness of where we stand financially is critical. If you’re young, healthy, and have a long time before you expect to retire, I’d recommend that you capitalize on your financial health while you have your physical health in a way that promotes your physical health. Bottom line, find opportunities to invest in yourself with more than health insurance and a 401k. That is all I am going to say on that for now.
Pillar Number 3: Spiritual Health
Spiritual health, or spiritual wellbeing has been defined as the ability to experience and integrate meaning and purpose in life through a person’s connectedness with self, others, art, music, literature, nature, and/or a power greater than oneself. If my life had taught me anything, it was that I was capable of screwing things up pretty freaking bad. I knew that this one wasn’t going to happen out of my own strength. I believe in what I believe. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I didn’t start there, and some days it’s a struggle plain and simple. If you don’t believe in miracles, then believe in love. If you don’t believe in love, then believe in art. If you don’t believe in art, then believe in humanity. Believe in kindness, compassion, faith, and courage. Just believe in something, but promise me that you’ll believe and keep your mind and heart open to the possibilities. To be truly successful in life, you must believe in something greater than yourself. You must care about something other than yourself. You must be passionate about something that you can unconditionally love.
This may sound counter-intuitive to you, but the happiest people are the ones who are adding value to the world, who are building upon the virtuous things in life, the significant things that really matter. The most peaceful people in the world are the ones who are quick to forgive others, and courageous enough to apologize for their own mistakes. The most joyful people in the world live with lesser regret, anger, shame or guilt, because they work towards the values of integrity, empathy, and authenticity.
Change all begins with thinking. If we change our self-talk, we can immediately begin to form new neurological connections and circuits that reflect our new thoughts and emotions. Aspects of the brain and nervous system can change structurally and functionally with the correct input. Given the right internal and external environment, your body can not only heal but it can thrive.
Our thoughts have consequences so great that they create our reality. We are all blessed if we choose to reap the benefits of our constructive efforts and step into our true identity. We don’t have to settle for our present reality, we can create a new one if we choose to. We all have that ability, because for better or for worse, our thoughts influence our lives.