Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘mental health

From Nothing

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When I spend my days away from the ranch, not taking pictures, not collecting experiences, the relative somethings get a little thin. Four days a week my hours are tied up with commuting and day-jobbing. By Friday, I have to work a little harder to fill this space with words and pictures. I will often be heard muttering, “I’ve got nothing.”

Thursday nights are what Cyndie and I refer to as my “Friday.”

Last night we celebrated with my bringing home Cyndie’s favorite half-baked deep-dish pizza for dinner. I walked in the door, placed it in the refrigerator and collapsed on our bed, falling into a deep sleep with Pequenita curled up on my legs.

It’s a manifestation of accumulated exhaustion. What a luxury.

One of the things that leaves me feeling like I’ve got nothing to write about, is how incomparable my healthy first-world exhaustion is to the suffering I witness others around me going through. How dare I frame my suffering as particularly arduous, when other’s lives are hovering on the brink, when disasters abound, when life challenges won’t be temporary.

I feel lost within my familiar surroundings, an unsettling perception. It’s an instance when I resort to waiting. That feeling doesn’t last. If I don’t fight against what isn’t really there, balance returns soon enough.

One of the reasons I strive to compose something every day is as a push on my ‘swing’ of daily maintaining my mental health. It’s an interesting conundrum for me when the healthy act of writing meets up with the well-known challenges of writer’s block.

One of my “go to” solutions is to simply post a picture. Sometimes, by the end of the week, I don’t even have that.

Before the point in my life when I identified that I was dealing with depression, a moment like this, with no idea what to write about and feeling lost, would have simply stoked a dangerous fire.

I’m thrilled to be able to report that my perspective and awareness are so completely different after treatment that times like this tend to end up being more of an inspiration than an ominous threat.

It’s so simple, it gets misconstrued as not even possible. It does involve some bigger picture observation, but after that, in each moment, it is simply a matter of thinking differently. The secret is in recognizing what is going on in the moment, and then directing my thoughts in an appropriately healthy way.

Through talk therapy, I learned how to recognize my dysfunctional thinking and perceptions. With practice, I have honed skills in changing my thoughts, which alters my chemistry. Happily, no pun intended, it generates a positive feedback loop that strengthens with each cycle.

One last part of my simple secret to overcoming my depression: trusting it can work.

My healthcare providers were convinced they could help me, and I trusted them.

It worked.

Look at that. When I started writing this post, I thought I had nothing for today.

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Ambience

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

October 5, 2017 at 6:00 am

Think

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

September 28, 2017 at 6:00 am

Emotional Health

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It should come as no surprise that I am a person who sees love as the magic ingredient of our lives. Love is the simplest solution to every problem. Then why isn’t everything rainbows and unicorns? Well, just because we know something works, doesn’t automatically guarantee we will put it into healthy practice.

Why do people smoke when they know the physical consequences? Why do we make poor food choices or over-indulge in mind altering substances? Why do we stay up too late? Why do we sabotage our own intentions to become our best selves?

Nobody said it was easy. I do say it is simple, but that’s not the same thing.

There is one critical ingredient to the art of loving ourselves to the fullest, which enables us to then successfully wield love as the key method of reaching a healthy solution… with other people, with situations, business transactions, relationships, governments, and ultimately between nations of our world.

It is emotional health.

I have recently come upon a couple of articles I’d like to share that nicely frame key aspects of emotional well-being. They express opinions in common with my perspectives about emotional health and love.

The first, by John White, describes emotional intelligence as a skill that can be learned and developed.

“Some of the most admired people in the world have gotten to where they are due to their emotional intelligence.”

The second, is a three-question interview in September’s National Geographic magazine with U.S. former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, where he advocates for emotional well-being.

“I think of emotional well-being as a resource within each of us that allows us to do more and to perform better. That doesn’t mean just the absence of mental illness. It’s the presence of positive emotions that allows us to be resilient in the face of adversity.”

White describes emotional intelligence as having five components: Self Awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Empathy, and Social Skills, and then suggests skills a person can practice to enhance them.

Murthy says we can cultivate emotional well-being with simple tools like, sleep, physical activity, contemplative practices, and social interaction. In his third answer, his words fully resonated for me with his belief that there are two emotions that drive our decisions: love and fear.

I agree.

I hope you will follow the links of the images to read the full (brief) contents of their messages for yourself.

At Wintervale Ranch, we are all about the love, and Cyndie and Dunia offer several workshops that provide wonderful information and guidance about emotional intelligence.

Bolster emotional intelligence and unleash the power of love. The world will be a better place, and the people a happier human race.

That’s my sermon for today. Get out there and share the love!

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Depression Awareness

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My experience with depression involved a long, slow advance that could well be compared to the boiling frog parable. I was oblivious to the illness in my head while it was busy crafting all manner of dysfunctional thinking habits.

When my angst would occasionally lead to curious contemplations, the version of depression I would use as a reference involved the stories about people who hit rock bottom and lost jobs, destroyed marriages, became sick from substance abuse, and eventually suffered run ins with the law.

That did not describe my life, so I figured depression wasn’t my problem.

Ultimately, I was lucky enough to discover that depression was precisely the boiling water in which I was engulfed.

Maybe if I had an easily accessible clinically validated screening questionnaire available to me, I could have become aware of my condition a lot earlier than I eventually did.

I’m hoping the progress with de-stigmatizing depression and all it’s related mental health afflictions, along with efforts like the recent partnering between Google and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to offer an online tool to help diagnose depression, will shorten the suffering for all those who aren’t sure about what’s going on with their health.

Check this out: Learning More About Clinical Depression…

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Natural Medicine

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During my drive to work earlier this week, I heard this inspiring story on public radio about an increasing trend for Forest Bathing, a practice that started in Japan back in the early 1990s.

It’s what we do almost every day at our place. Each time we walk Delilah along the perimeter trail through our woods we are breathing healthy phytoncides emitted by the plants and trees. This reduces stress levels and boosts our immune systems.

Wandering along the trail among the trees while listening to all the bird-calls and the sounds of rustling leaves is inspiring enough on its own, but add in some of nature’s medicinal forest air filling your lungs and you enjoy quite the bonus!

Forest bathing is a perfect complement for the workshops Cyndie leads with the horses and labyrinth. It has always been part of the experience here, but we never described it with as much clarity as the variety of published articles on the subject are now offering.

I believe that giving the experience some specific definition of what is happening serves to enhance the results. Thank you MPR!

In my mind, nature has always seemed the best when it comes to medicine.

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Written by johnwhays

July 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

Being Me

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It’s been a long time since I just let words flow from my fingertips without any preconceived notion of where I was heading or what would come out next. One reason for that is, it doesn’t tend to produce a result that holds much in the way of value for anyone reading other than me; and even I don’t get much from going back and reading the words that have piled up.

However, I’m feeling like lately my writing has settled into a somewhat humdrum pattern of dreary detail about waking up, driving to work, coming home, seeing our pets, clearing some snow, cleaning up after the horses, and lamenting over the news.

Where is my soul in this chronicle of the day-to-day?

When you write and publish a narrative of a personal everyday, there develops a pattern. The longer it goes, the more likely it can become something of a facade.

I suppose regular users of other social media are already well aware of this phenomenon.

mejwhcrosshatchedIt is likely that I am only writing what I want the world to know about me. Of course, there is probably a portion of who I really am that readers glean from my choice of subjects and words over time, which defines me more precisely than I think I am actually doing. But that is happening somewhere beyond words. It’s out there in our intuitive perceptions.

I guess I inherently accept that level of revelation.

I remember actually pondering over how to traverse the long walk in front of the packed bleachers of my high school gymnasium during basketball games without appearing to be the hypocritical fool I was attempting to be.

I was overly-selfconsciously trying to stroll as if I was not the least bit self-conscious about being an awkward adolescent walking in front of hundreds of classmates, parents, neighbors, friends, enemies, and strangers who shouldn’t care, or even notice me in the first place, yet were likely doing that very thing themselves; actually noticing and judging me whether or not they recognize the pettiness of doing so.

Hypocrisy.

I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. Somewhere along that adolescent time period, I experienced a profound epiphany that inspired me to strive toward being the same person in every moment. Regardless of whom I might find myself with at any given moment, I want to be my most genuine self. It’s not easy to achieve, but it is a noble goal.

I believe I have failed probably as often as I have succeeded over the years, but with that as my goal, the failures have been minor. I still judge others more than I mean to. I still say things behind a person’s back that I wouldn’t say to their face.

But I catch myself doing it most of the time, and that is the key to interrupting the pattern and making a correction toward the goal of integrity I ultimately seek.

One tool in aligning words with noble intentions is the art of saying nothing when you have nothing good to say. Another is to think before you speak (or write).

What I’d like to achieve is a place of enlightenment where I can write without thinking or filtering and have the flowing words reveal my pure soul and the narrative of the day to day, hypocrisy-free.

Wouldn’t than be a nice me to be.

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Written by johnwhays

February 4, 2017 at 9:47 am