I began professional counseling a few weeks ago, and I’m learning about meditation and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It started out of the grind that the pandemic created, and I’m really glad I went through with it. Vanderbilt Health has been a constant source of help through some of the darkest days in my depression, and this is no exception. I’m deeply thankful for all my healthcare providers there.
Healthcare is a two way street because it gives you an opportunity to help others help you. Working through any health related issue is complicated even if it’s just a cold, but when you can verbalize your experience I think whomever is providing care can be in a better position to offer the right kind of care. No two people are the same, and even though the common cold might have some common denominators there are still varying factors that might cause the nurse or doctor to prescribe a different medication. I’d imagine mental health is even more of a “paradox” to diagnose. When I’m meeting with my counselor I take notes because so much of what she has to share is rich, and I’m not smart enough to remember it if I don’t write it down. Taking notes is a good habit to get into anyway because as we age our memory deteriorates. It’s hard to believe it’s been double digits since I was in undergrad and grad school, but lifelong learning is important.
Meditation is largely focusing on your breathing. It’s centered focus that slows all your systems down to concentrate on the present. In our consumer, get-things-done society we are constantly thinking about producing things, and so many of us need to shut down in meditative thought to realize how important rest is. Research after research project has proved this many times over, but it doesn’t do any good if we as individuals don’t do it. That’s one aspect to this pandemic that no one alive has experienced before. It’s forced many of us to slow down whether we wanted to or not.
As a man of faith this philosophy has been entwined in my theology over the years, but even then people of faith can get caught up in the grind for years on end without contemplating the presence of God in their lives. Jesus himself went away from the crowds to recharge. It’s definitely a biblical concept.
I’ve been on vacations that weren’t really vacations because I thought to myself I need to rest when I get back home from vacation. What does that tell you? I’m sure you’ve experienced the same thing. There are toxic people, but there are also toxic situations we put ourselves in from which we need release.
Recognizing the signs that our lives are off track is important, especially in times like this. Maybe this pandemic will prepare us better for those off track times in normal times. I like the mantra about if something doesn’t kill us it’ll make us stronger, but do we have to get within death’s door to wake up? I hope not. But we can’t always plan ahead as COVID has shown us.
Ultimately you are in charge of your health, and not even your doctor can make you do what you need to do. That decision rests in your own mind. They can be a strong advocate to empower you to get back on track, but you have to be willing to give them the information they need to offer their expertise.
Writing like this helps me tremendously, and when I go back and read past drivel I can learn what worked, and what didn’t. If you’ve thought about starting a blog, or buying a Moleskin notebook to long-hand it do it. You won’t regret it.
Grace and peace dear ones.