I imagine some of you are wondering—well, did she win the lottery like she said she would? The answer is sure to astound you. Are you ready for this? I don’t know, maybe you should sit down.
Yes! I. DID. WIN. Granted, I did not win BIG. I think that is where my concentration failed me. I did not specify frequently enough that I wanted to win a large prize so I ended up winning the mega ball number and thus, two dollars. A win is a win though! I see now that it is important to phrase things correctly and be specific. Guess what I’m going to do with those two dollars? Yes, buy two more tickets. One with numbers I shall come up with on my own and one quick pick. After this win, there is no reason not to believe that I can win BIG next time. It will take some concentration but I will do it. And you all will be gobsmacked when it happens!
This week has been full of an unbelievable amount of synchronistic events. This morning, I was thinking of how I need to organize and prioritize certain things and my amazing friend and coach, Andrew, called me out of the blue. We had a great chat and he set me in the right direction. I can’t tell you how valuable it is to have the support of other people. Usually, we all know in our core what path we should follow and how to get there. Sometimes we need someone else to tell us what we already know. Someone to reassure us what we are doing is precisely what is needed. After speaking with him, I felt energized, excited, motivated and hopeful. Andrew frequently has that effect on me. I started working on making the things we discussed happen. Then, going through an email, I found out we’re in the middle of Mental Illness Awareness Week.
This was interesting because a friend recently posted this collection of drawings on the frustrations of anxiety. It made me think of the first video I created called My Secret. I’ve only showed it to a handful of people. That may change soon. Mental Illness is a subject that many find extremely uncomfortable to talk about and it is slap full of stigma. I know this first hand. I am not going to go into details, just suffice it to say, it is a subject with which I have intimate knowledge. This blog started out with the intention of reaching out to hopefully help others with their Lisfranc injuries. I do not know if it is achieving that or not. It has developed a personality of its own. I write about what presents itself in my life and I want to be open to all subjects. It has become a way for me to express thoughts and delve further into conversations I’ve had with friends and myself. I do this to challenge myself. I do it for a reason to get out of bed everyday. I do it because it scares me.
I’ve always thought it is a good idea to do something that scares you everyday. I’m quite fond of that Eleanor Roosevelt quote: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” I have had many horrors in my life and have looked them in the face. I have found that I am much stronger and resilient than I ever imagined. So I do the things I think I cannot do.
Some days that can be as simple as going out of the house. Other days, maybe it’s climbing the face of a mountain. Today I think it might be posting this entry. I read in a Martha Beck article recently that “…dopamine increases when we face something unfamiliar and difficult: working a crossword puzzle, knitting a complicated sweater. Epinephrine is released when we sustain moderate exercise. When we take a chance (for example, by expressing an unpopular opinion or displaying something we’ve created), we produce more epinephrine. All of these hormones can increase our confidence enough to help us release our old, supposedly protective thoughts and behaviors.” In other words, when I write this blog and take risks I am producing some fantastic neurotransmitters that I most desperately need to function. I am creating new neural pathways by doing new and difficult things.
Neuroplasticity is an amazing thing and achieved in many different ways. It is pretty mind-blowing (Heh—pun always intended!) that we are capable of physically changing our brains! This is something that up until recently was unknown. Knowledge is power, indeed. There is still so much more to discover about how our brains work and what we are truly capable of achieving. I believe understanding this more is key in treating many kinds of illness.
A big concern I have about mental illness is the meager amount of knowledge that most people have on the subject. This includes the professionals that treat it. I believe there are remarkable things being done to treat various mental illnesses. I also believe there are doctors and therapists that do not have a clear grasp on the broad spectrum of mental illness and are, unfortunately, doing harm. There is no single treatment for everyone. Treatment should be unique to each individual and I do not think this is taken into account the majority of the time. I think it is positive there are many more treatments available now and there are more holistic treatments. Just because it is a mental illness does not mean that the whole body isn’t affected. Body and mind are inextricably connected. I believe the entire person must be treated in any disease, physical or mental. Mental illness and the treatment of it are profoundly personal to those that live with it.
There are organizations like The Black Dog Campaign in the UK helping people reduce the stigma of mental illness. I believe we have a very long way to go before people are comfortable with this subject. It is still a secret that many feel compelled to keep. I know I feel quite uncomfortable just writing these last few paragraphs. I believe it is important to share knowledge that I have. I expect that I will have more to write on this subject. Currently, this is all I can share with you. My hope is that this will create conversations in your lives about mental illness and it takes some of the fear and shame out of speaking openly about it. That is what Mental Illness Awareness Week is all about.