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Day 9: Your Mental Health Matters

“Don’t let your struggle become your identity. (Heal)!” Unknown – Posted by Anna Pack

Many of us know about the famous biblical story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were and came out unscathed. In describing this miracle, the bible says, “…these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on the” – Daniel 3:27. I had an epiphany when I got married that if you go through a proverbial fire of any sort, you are bound to come out with a part of you damaged by the fire. If not your hair, then your clothes, and at the very least, you will have a smell of fire. If you don’t, then you are a living miracle up there with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

What does this mean? It means that the experiences we go through, especially trauma – mainly if it is trauma that happens over an extended period – will have some sort of impact on our lives that we will need to heal from at a later stage. Yes, miracles happen where our trauma shapes us into better human beings. Our traumas leave us with wounds that can fester and negatively impact our lives if not attended to.

When I got married, I realized that I had trauma around finances. I had so much fear around ensuring that I didn’t die with any debt. If I passed, my children and dependants would be well cared for. Any seasons of financial instability almost debilitated me, filled me with anxiety, and affected my overall health. Being married to a risk-taking entrepreneur, I realized that if I didn’t fix this, my attitude towards finances would be detrimental to my husband’s ability to take risks and explore his entrepreneurial potential. I needed to heal. Over time, I would be aware of other trauma I had carried with me, which surprised me because, for someone with my background, I had done very well for myself. But upon honest introspection, I realized that I had been walking around with an unhealthy amount of fear, anxiety, insecurity, anger, and bitterness that threatened my well-being and kept me from building healthy relationships.

In my journey of going through counseling, I discovered the importance of healing as a foundation to good mental health. I realized that an inability to deal with any present or past trauma could limit our ability to exceed our current levels of success to reach our true potential. Even when we have developed coping mechanisms that may have gotten us through difficult seasons, healing is still needed because the exact coping mechanisms can be very detrimental to our development as adults.

As Will Smith puts it, “the same angry, aggressive persona you cultivated as a child to protect yourself from bullies and predators will destroy every relationship you have if you’re unwilling to let it go.”

For example, in dealing with my financial trauma, my relationship with finances changed, and I was able to build the financial life I desired and grow into an enterprising risk-taker myself. Childhood trauma has been reported to affect our brain development, emotions, physical health, behavior, relationships, mental health, and cognition (Bartlett and Steber, 2019).

Therefore, the first of our mental health goals should be to deal with our childhood or adulthood traumas to give us freedom in setting goals in other areas of our lives. I sought counseling in my healing journey because I realized that I couldn’t go through the journey alone, and I had so many blind spots that I couldn’t have possibly healed without the help of a professional. One of the most important things to establish as individuals is that we don’t have to have mental health issues (anxiety, depression, etc.) to enlist the help of a therapist. Just the knowledge that “I have been through some things in life” should be enough to encourage you to speak to someone who can help you unearth how those things have impacted the person that you are and to help you go beyond simply coping to thriving in every area of your life.

Secondly, our journey of good mental health is a life-long journey. This doesn’t mean that we will have to see a therapist all of our lives. But it does mean that we will have to continuously invest in prioritizing our mental health and doing activities that will help us manage stress and manage our conscious and subconscious responses to the experiences life will throw at us. This means that self-care should be part of our 2022 goals. My idea of self-care is to give myself time to understand how my experiences impact my emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. Keeping a journal of this; spending time to cultivate a positive mindset through reading wholesome books, listening to podcasts, and writing affirmations; practicing gratitude – choosing to have an increased awareness of the things that are going well in my life; doing things that make me feel happy like traveling and writing.

Additionally, don't be afraid to take medication when your doctor prescribes some. A friend of mine who had just been prescribed antidepressants expressed to me how relieved she felt to know that what she was dealing with finally had a definition and that she could find healing in the medication. Medication for mental health issues have received a bad rep. Sometimes for good reason as doctors can misdiagnose, or cause patients to become overly dependent. Other times because they do have side-effects that can feel overwhelming. However, the best thing is to inform ourselves so that we know what's good for us and to be open-minded enough to explore different treatments with one's doctor until something works.

Furthermore, it would be inauthentic of me to not share how I have found my spiritual health and my mental health connected. One of the things my counsellor helped me with is being able to differentiate when I'm having a spiritual challenge (which is when my core beliefs and my faith are challenged and as a result I develop a negative idea or I feel overwhelmed in specific area), versus when I'm having a cognitive issue that needs therapy. We have to understand that we are not just mental / intellectual beings. We are also spiritual beings, and a key part of a healthy mind is a healthy spirit.

Lastly, it was interesting for me to learn that goal-setting has an essential impact on our mental health and can help us overcome depression and can, in some cases, help with rehabilitation related to mental health issues.

Ideas on setting mental health goals:

· Examine ways you can practice self-love and self-compassion

· Take care and be kind to your body

· Make time for mindfulness and meditation

· Find new ways to manage stress, anxiety, and depression

· Seek support (family and friends or therapy)

· Set boundaries

· Pay attention to and respect your feelings

· Read books or listen to podcasts on specific mental health topics that are relevant to you

*Remember to apply the SMARTER Goals principles in setting these goals.

Journal reflections

1. Depending on your understanding and exposure to mental health, reflect on what you think you need to do more research to inform your goal setting in this area.

2. Interrogate how your mental health affects other areas of your life (academic, business, work, finances, etc.) and draft a path to healing or maintaining good mental health.

3. Identify two mental health goals for the year and write them down.

4. Identify people you will walk your mental health journey with and develop a plan of action to reach out to them.

1 Comment

Pinki Manong
Pinki Manong
Jan 15, 2022

I will never forget a post I saw last year that prompted me to go for therapy, "if you don't deal with your traumas, your relationships will" this changed me, I sought therapy right away because I was at the brink of destroying some of the best relationships I have and I realized I had so much baggage from my childhood that hasn't been dealt with. It was the best decision ever, I am a firm advocate for therapy now and I tell everyone to do it. Thanks for your honesty in this article.


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I am a passionate leader, accomplished professional and a mentor. I believe that nation-building depends on how well we build people. Therefore, my mission is to contribute to the personal, professional and leadership development of people to empower them to reach their highest potential.

I do this through a mentorship program that I founded and through this blog where I share principles I've applied and insights I've gained in the past twelve years of my career and leadership journey.

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