Many of us are living through the first major global crisis of our lifetimes. There is fear and uncertainty and heightened emotions all around, and yet we are also seeing positive expressions of humanity, heroes appearing where we did not expect them and hope for a better future post-crisis.
In this article, I will share some insights from personal mental health crises I’ve been through and some of the positive changes I’ve experienced post-struggles and try to relate them to the struggles you might be facing during this time.
My hope is that the lessons and benefits I gained through personal crises in the past can help you manage and navigate this current global crisis we are all facing.
Below are some insights from personal mental health crises I’ve endured over the past 10+ years at various moments and some of the positive changes I’ve experienced in the aftermath of the struggles. Keep in mind, this is only my experience and may or may not be relevant to you at this time.
There are many, but one of the main shifts I felt like I was forced to make, or at least decided to make after my initial mental health struggles was to go from thinking mostly of myself, what I could get or gain from myself, other people and the world, and shifting that to what I could give to myself, other people and the world.
This one shift in thinking led to my career path in mental health, improving personal relationships and more peace of mind all round.
I feel in times of crisis and chaos like we are currently experiencing, it’s more important than ever to #BuckTheTrend and focus on what we can give vs what we can take. This is one of the core principles we teach in Week 1 of The EDGE Program
and it always seems to resonate with the students.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t prepare and get what we need (more on that below), but that we all have many things we can contribute to getting through the crisis more quickly and with less struggle.
Another insight picked up from various personal mental health struggles in the ability to accept what I cannot control – which is most things. I will fight my best for things I care about, for my dreams, values, etc.. when things are still possible, but the moment I realize something is truly not possible, I accept that reality and do my best to adapt to it.
This was the case when I was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2007 and decided to accept and embrace the label. And this happened again last week when we got the official word that our Everest expedition had been cancelled, exactly 2 weeks before we were scheduled to fly to Nepal.
Shifting to acceptance right away, adapting to the reality of it and as noted above into a mindset of who and how I can be of service during this time. What is something you can accept and adapt to right now?
The final empowering mindset shift I’ve picked up that I’ll share here is that of enhanced appreciation that comes after times of struggle. We’re seeing this already during this current COVID-19 crisis – the appreciation for health care workers, grocery store clerks, the ability to move about, get fresh air and give something as simple as a hug.
This sense of appreciation will only magnify as things evolve and my prediction is that the afterglow of appreciation that continues when we get through this time will both feel good and make our communities and world a better place.
I recall after my mental health struggles in 2007, the feeling of appreciation being magnified for so many things big and small. And being in that state of empowerment allowed me to move forward, grow, serve and connect like I never had before.
There are many other empowering insights and positive changes I’ve experienced by going through personal crises and my hope is that you will tap into your ability to do the same.
Struggles are hard, and struggles are real, but so is hope and so is positivity. As many people are saying, we’re in this one together and we’ll come out of it together, stronger, more resilient and more empowered.