Poke the Bear

Before I begin, I feel like it’ll be important for me to put this warning in here. The picture I am going to paint is merely one part of an entire picture. It’s something to consider. It’s not something that is going to fit for everyone or every situation. This thought is kinda like a pair of shorts. They might be the right choice and the right fit for certain seasons of your life and not others. You may have to take this approach on and off; wear it when it’s appropriate and take it off when appropriate. You will be the one that will have to judge for yourself where, when and if it fits.

Have you ever sat down after a nice summer day and noticed a mosquito bite on yourself? It never fails, the minute you notice it, it begins to itch and drive you right up the wall. If you dare to scratch it you just know it’s gonna get worse. Or those little paper cuts or scrapes? Didn’t bother you one iota, till ya saw it. Then it was nothing but aggravation!

Mental health used to never be talked about. It was something that was ignored, ridiculed, demeaned. If it was severe you got locked away. For many, I’m sure, the only escape was suicide. Nowadays, there’s a lot more awareness and that awareness has helped a lot of people. More and more workplaces are giving the time and attention needed to support their employees to stay healthy and to get healthy. People are talking more openly about it. Many that are afflicted with mental health challenges are finding people they can talk to and connect with to help them through their journey. There are medications, counselling and support groups. There are more studies done on mental health, which leads to more knowledge and better treatment. All of this is good. I want to make sure you hear me – this is good!

Buuuuut, just like with that mosquito bite, sometimes the very act of focusing on our mental health increases the level of irritation, or disruption, it is giving us. Now hold on a minute before you get all out of control with your indignation. A  mosquito bite is a lot less serious than a snake bite. Not only should you notice a snake bite, you should also do something about it! The same is true for mental health. It can present itself in varying degrees and it depends upon the severity in how you’re gonna approach it. I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about or treat mental health, but I also think there needs to be more attention in a treatment plan to refocusing.

If you’ve ever had to take a young child for a needle what is one thing many people do? They distract the child with a toy, or a song or something that the child will focus on to hopefully keep them happy while they are getting poked with that needle. We’ve likely all seen a movie or show where someone is getting some emergency medical care on, let’s say, a broken leg, and someone puts a stick in the person’s mouth for them to bite down on and focus on while they’re treating the leg.

So, is it good that we’re focusing on mental health and on the treatment of it? Of course. It is saving lives. But at the same time, the more we see it, the more we see it. Get what I’m saying? How many of us can say we ourselves have a mental health challenge, have had a mental health challenge, or know someone who has a mental health challenge? I’d risk to say all of us. Or at least in North America and other developed countries. It almost seems like it’s at epidemic proportions. Is that because it’s always been at epidemic proportions, or is it because we’re focusing on it? I’d say a bit of both. It’s likely always been there, at some level, for most people, at some point in their lives, if not perhaps their entire life.

If you’ve ever had a broken bone or a sprained muscle, it hurts. And if you sit there, with your cast propped up on a stool, sitting in your chair and think about that broken leg it really hurts. But if you’re sitting there with your cast and watching a funny movie, visiting with a friend or playing cards it sometimes helps dial that pain down a notch. I think it’s important that while we’re treating our mental health that we also treat our wellness at the same time. We need to put a lot of attention into our wellness. That could be increasing our social calendar in some way, increasing our physical health in some way, focusing on a healthy eating plan. We can’t just sit down with our broken emotions, focusing solely on them and hope to not feel the pain of it until medical treatment makes us better.

Basically, I’m saying, put a plan in place so your mental health doesn’t define you. It might be part of who you are for a season or a lifetime, but don’t let it be the only adjective that describes you. Mental health is only one tree in the forest of your life, don’t forget to look up and enjoy the other trees, even if that one happens to be in your grove of trees.

 

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