When it comes to mental health, for the last few years, I’ve been rather unhealthy. Depression and anxiety have crept in, stealing my joy, my sleep, and almost my life on a few occasions.
I’m a doer, so instead of just mulling, I’ve been working VERY hard at figuring out how to combat both of those unwelcome mental guests. My obsession has easily reached that of an Olympic level athlete training for their big day. I go to therapy every other week, I have currently 9 different mental health/meditation/”calm yourself down, child, things are a little crazy right now” apps on my phone. I’ve read most of the trendy self-help books, like the one that suggests you hug your lamp to see if it brings you joy (if not, into the garbage it goes) or the ones that use the word “fuck” as a way of being charming.
I’m a twenty-something in 2017–mindfulness has become like a second job.
But honestly, all those self-help tools are like quick fixes. I listen to a podcast, read a book, have a great therapy session & it’s an awesome rush…for about two days. Then I’m back to where I started, dealing with mega anxiety and my frenemy depression.
I even went the medication route for a while: one drug made me have horrendous nightmares every night (Freddy Kruger style) and the next made me forget simple vocabulary words. It wasn’t great. I tried smoking for a minute and found I am very bad at smoking haha. I tried drowning my anxiety in boxed wine and while that was a little more fun, I hated the headaches. I tried just eating my way to happy; now my pants don’t fit. I tried sabotaging my relationships and isolating myself in a way of “I’ll just fix myself and then get back to them,” but that just let the dark voices get amplified.
(Spoiler alert: unhealthy methods don’t fix what’s broken. They just make you worse.)
So, I’ve come back to writing. I know that hey–I’m a twenty-something in 2017–we are ALL struggling right now with mindfulness and mental health issues in some capacity (and if you aren’t, that’s really awesome!)
One thing I’ve learned is that I have to kill my inner John McClane. My thought mentality is basically like every single Bruce Willis character (minus a few, like “Look Who’s Talking” so thus, I had to call this John McClane. Plus I didn’t want Bruce googling himself and finding what he thought was a random blogger murder manifesto out for him. You do what you gotta do.)
Paranoid, angry, defensive, easily provoked, always wearing wife beaters.
Not the type of person ANYONE wants to be and mentally, that was me all the time. I was always assuming the worst. Welcome to the party from hell, pal!
Okay, so imagine your mental process as a person. Do you have a Bruce Willis archetype conducting your thoughts? All you need is a machine gun and you’re ready to go, even though you always end up alone, majorly hurt, and reliving the same mental horrors again and again, sequel after sequel?
Yeah. That’s why we have to finally kill John McClane.
Imagine the qualities of someone who is the opposite of that: trusting, kind, patient, even-tempered.
When you feel like a Die Hard sequel is happening in your brain about a situation, imagine that opposite person (who, by the way, is really you. You were not made to be a paranoid, angry, defensive person; that is learned, not original behavior) taking over the reigns (a la “Inside Out”) and telling old John McClane to go take a vacation day.
Studies show that when you change your high stress mindset, your mental AND physical health improves, including positives like “better health, greater life satisfaction, lower cortisol reactivity (the “stress” hormone), and are more receptive to performance feedback by others.”
Paranoia is a self-defeating mindset, but we don’t have to choose it anymore. First things first, kill John McClane.