Throughout my life I have met a lot of people who swear by using tablets and medication to deal with problems. My father is probably the number one example on the tip of my tongue. He takes every tablet under the sun. Okay, on the one hand I understand that if you have a illness, infection or pain of some kind that requires a certain medicine you should absolutely take it provided a doctor was the one who told you you need to take it (and not some website that has promised a miracle cure). But, the mind is different. You cannot just cure your mental problems, especially not with prescription drugs. The only way to help your mental situation is to build on your actions.
This might start with making your bed, and if that is all you do to help yourself that day, its okay! As long as day two you take another step forward. Mindfulness is not a miracle cure, it is hard and it takes time and it can be very difficult for a lot of people. I knew this one girl, back when I was just starting university. She had moved to university from a broken home and struggled with bullying throughout her teens due to a mixture of weight problems and her sexual orientation. Just like me when I first moved to university, she thought the world owed her something. She thought that if she could escape the situation she was in that the world would reward her with a better, easier and more fruitful life. Of course this was completely false. The world owes you nothing and no matter who you are there will be tough times. Anyway, about mid way through the first term of university she wen to see a doctor because she had been feeling depressed and anxious and generally unhappy. The doctor gave her tablets to control her depression.
So day after day she would lie in bed only getting up to use the bathroom or get food. She spend all day lying in bed watch television and wondering way she felt depressed. Now, I am no doctor, but no amount of medication is going to fix an attitude. I complete support people who need to take certain tablets to control certain things that might help them along in their process but you cannot take tablets and expect a massive impact on you mental health if you are not willing to do something about it for yourself.
In complete contrast to this person, I also knew a girl who went through something similar. When she got her tablets to control her depression she also built a plan (and I still remember most of it because I thought it was a great idea ). She made out a chart of her weekly meals, I might have some of these mixed up but the main body of it was: Soup on a Monday (which would be whatever soup she decided that week. My personal favourite was mushroom), goats cheese salad on a Tuesday which was so good (I often ate with her as we lived together).
For Wednesday and Thursday she would have a variation of meat and potatoes with a different kind of veg. Friday, she would get a treat, maybe a small pizza or something (but she always bought an oven pizza, not a takeaway). This was particular good for me because my diet is and was iffy at best, I consider it to be one of my biggest challenge because I love food. On top of her new diet she had an exercise plans which I don’t remember so well. It was however, a combination or walks, running and gym days coupled with days off which are just as important.
She completely turned her life around that year. Her school work was improving, she was reading more, looked healthier and most importantly, she felt healthy! The reason she was able to accomplish these amazing things is because she got up and took the first step. She refused to rely on medication to get her through dark patches, instead she created a healthy lifestyle. Don’t be afraid, you do not have to make these huge changes all at once like she did, you can make them subtly and over a number of weeks, as long as you are taking steps to change. Tablets will only help if you are willing to make the personal changes.
Around this time I also had some problems, I had quite bad insomnia which I have had my whole life and I was also in and out of feeling lonely. I can’t describe what having someone like that does for your own moral. If you do not have friends that motivate you, that inspire you and that make you want to be better than you might need to get meeting new people because energy is real. The people you spend your time with have a huge influence on the kind of person you turn out to be wether you like it or not. If you are spending most of your time around people with a negative attitude and a negative energy then it will pas on to you, as much as you try to fight it it will find a way to bring you done. Luckily, most of my friends have been particularly positive about their life and its direction.
Just before I moved to university I had some extremely high achieving friends. I have never really like school all that much. I didn’t hate to the point where I caused trouble nor did I care enough to participate, I was just kind of there! While others were out drinking and taking who knows what my friends were doing what they needed to do to get were they are today and I have always used it as a motivation. The difference is they are academics and I was creative and at the time I didn’t really understand what that meant. So I would just barley pass my Mathematics and English exams while they would get the highest marks of the year. For some reason I focused on this rather than the fact that I had achieved a 120/120 in music. It’s only now, maybe 6-7 years later that I realised its better to use these situations to motivate yourself rather than put yourself down. We all done great, they went to great universities to study good topics and I have managed to get to one of the United Kingdoms best schools for music.
I myself was also prescribed drugs to help me deal with personal problems and I took them for maybe a month or so before I realised that they would never be a long term solution and in the end is that not what we are looking for? The ability to cope with ourselves long term is what we need to learn to do and that is what mindfulness can help with. Mindfulness can give you the means to pause, and reflect on what you are doing in the present! Not what has happened in the past and not what is going to happen in the future.
My point is, and if you read back over the last 3 article has always been, you can take all of the prescribed drugs you want, you can compare yourself to everyone around you, you can spend hours scrolling through social media looking at people who “have it better than you” and you can spend all the time in world feeling sorry for yourself but nothing in your life will change unless you are willing to be that change. Embracing mindfulness, embracing a healthy positive attitude, embracing a healthy way of living is the only thing that will ever make things better for you.
Like I always say, I am not a professional and I have no qualifications but you can trust me when I tell you, you are the most powerful influence over yourself and your own body. We all need two learn how to control this power and if we do the possibilities are endless. We would have control over our emotions and our body. We could all sit and reflect upon that which makes feel how we feel and rationally plan an approach to dealing with our problems. We would be able to better cope with this fast paced, technology driven society in which we live. We would be happy. All we have to do is take the first step.
Published in MinfulDevMag issue #6 – Back to Issue TOC