Stuck inside

Sometimes it is about using whatever tools that will work. Say you have a child that is trapped inside a building in a war zone. You want to get the child out but the child is so afraid that he has locked himself inside. He has locked the doors and put barricades over the windows. You will use any tool necessary to get inside.

I think the same thing about mental-health help. I’ll use any tool to get inside. When we are suffering with grief, anxiety, and addiction we are in a war zone. We are so afraid to leave our houses, which are all of our familiar habits. We won’t leave, even if it is the familiar habits that are harming us. The devil you know is better than the one you don’t, right?

So when you are afraid you will retreat to the things you know best. Even if it is the things you know best that are causing you pain. More accurately, they are only relieving the surface of the pain, and not the source. They aren’t addressing the cause of the pain. So the problem just builds and builds.

People who are suffering from grief, anxiety, depression, or addiction all need help, but sadly we think they need to ask for it to get it. We let them struggle alone in silence. The last thing they are going to do is ask for help, because that kind of thinking is beyond them. In fact, thinking that a) there is a way out and b) they are worthy of help – would be the way out. The fact that they think their cause is hopeless is how they got stuck in that hole to start off with.

When people are having heart attacks, we don’t wait for them to ask for help before we take them to the hospital. Why do we wait for people who are having soul-attacks to ask for help?

I envision a place where people can learn how to break themselves out of their own houses. Perhaps we have to slip instructions through the windows. Perhaps we have to play music so they can hear it through the cracks in the walls. Whatever works. If it is a book on child rearing or something from Rumi or Lao Tsu or Buddha or Jesus or AA Twelve Steps, I don’t care. Whatever works to get them out of that house.

Because that house is killing them.

People trap themselves inside addiction and bad habits out of grief. They feel a sense of loss over a divorce, over moving, over a death. Grief comes in many forms. And if not dealt with, it manifests itself in as many forms. You can’t ignore grief and loss. It has to be processed.

But so many of us get stuck inside our grief and we don’t know how to get it out. In fact, we don’t know that we should get it out. We think it is normal and it keeps us safe, while meanwhile it chokes us.

I will use any lock pick, any sledgehammer.
I will cut open the roof.
I will go down the chimney.

We have to free people and teach them how to be alive.

Studying for life.

Health isn’t like a test you can cram for. It is something that you have to “study” for every day or you will fail.

So many people want to get in shape but they don’t want to do the work. So many people wait until they have a serious diagnosis before they start to take their health seriously. Really, they want to be in shape, but not to get in shape.

It is too easy to blame someone else. Your parents didn’t exercise, so you don’t. Your friends all eat unhealthy food, so you do. This is such a passive way of living. They don’t feel your pain when you can’t walk around the block, or you can’t get out of bed without help. You have to live your life, and by living, I don’t mean just exist.

There needs to be an entire sea-change in the way we think, but until then we have to do it for ourselves.

I have a dream that hospitals and rehab centers will teach people how to be healthy rather than treat their sicknesses. People will learn that health is more than just about diet and exercise.

They will teach people how to care for themselves through food and exercise. People will learn how to cook for themselves and what are healthy choices when they are out at a restaurant. They will learn how to grow their own food. There will be no caffeine or refined sugar, and no tobacco.

They will learn about healthy boundaries. They will learn how to protect themselves and how to respect the boundaries of others.

They will learn how to share their thoughts and how to listen to other’s thoughts. They will learn dialogue versus debate.

They will get in touch with their inner child.

They will explore different ways to express themselves. All arts will be shared and people will be encouraged to pick as many as needed.

They will learn the value of getting enough sleep.

They will get career counseling to find a job that fits their abilities and beliefs.

This movement starts with each one of us, right now. It isn’t a top-down way of thinking. It is a bottom-up. We have to be the change.