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Faint Glow

Mental Well-Being

Faint Glow
Faint Glow

What is Mental Well-Being?

 

Mental Well-being describes our mental state- how we are feeling and how well we cope with day to day life. It can change from moment to moment, day to day, month to month and year to year. Mental health is a person's condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.

Why is Mental Well Being important?

Our mental well-being can affect out sense of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. It can affect the way we see and hear what is around us, our ability to concentrate and cope on day to day functioning, and on our relationships with others. It can affect our ability to reflect, learn and share from and with others and ultimately 'grow' as individuals. 

How does Mental Health affect Physical Health?

The state of our Mind can have a huge impact on our physical well-being. Our levels of mental distress often diractly and indirectly affects our energy levels, our ability to sleep, our appetite, and out perception levels of physical pain. Each of these elements can further have negative affects on our physical well-being and our physical health if we are unable to achieve a good balance. For example if our apetite is affected, we may feel the urge to eat more which can lead to weight gain and increase our chances of suffering from other health problems associated with weight gain such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke risk, lung conditions, cancer etc. If we are more tired we may feel the need to sleep much more, or if we suffer from insomnia or stress- this can affect our immune system and our body's ability to fight infection. The medications that we might be prescribed for mental health problems can also have a direct affect on our physical health due to side effects. 

 

How does Mental Well-being affect Spiritual Health?

If we feel down or anxious, or suffer with anger management issues, poor sleep, high stress levels, addiction problems etc- we are more likely to view the world around us in a 'negative' way. We are more likely to interpret things that people say or do negatively- and more likely to 'play the victim' in our normal day to day activities, at work, at home, in our relationships. We are more likely to feel low levels of self esteem- feelings of guilt and'unworthiness' to be able to develop or concentrate on developing our spiritual health. Low energy levels can make us feel less motivated to participate in meditation, prayer, and therapies that may help our spiritual health. Due to low self esteem we are less able to 'love ourselves' and therefore 'love others.' The less we are able to love others, the less likely we are to want to engage in activities which can help other people- which furthermore affects our own spiritual sense of well-being. In this negative state of mind sometimes person's spiritual ability to 'connect' to a Source of Life- to God, and develop a healthy relationship  with their Creator may also be affected as we become less reflective, less mindful and less able to concentrate and 'focus' on trying to keep positive and hopeful.

 

However, when we suffer from poor mental health- this can also give us the opportunity to become more spiritual in other ways. Sometimes it is the start and part of our spiritual journey. It can trigger us to become more aware of our lives, our purpose and help us to start to become more reflective and mindful. It can highlight important lessons for us about ourselves and about the world around us. Sometimes we have to go down- in order to empathize and understand the concepts of opposites so that we may go up again while being then able to more appreciate the positives. How would we appreciate happiness if we didn't know sadness? How would we appreciate inner peace if we didnt experience anxiety? How do we understand light from a spiritual perspective if we do not know darkness? How do we learn selflessness if we do not experience what it feels like to be a 'victim? or 'self centered?' How do we understand and empathize with others who face beraevement feelings of denial, guilt or anger- if we havnt been through this ourselves? How do we help others who are feeling down and hopeless if we don't know what it feels like to be in that place ourselves? Also by feeling down and anxious and unworthy and guilty- it can help to increase our humility levels. It can help remind us that we are not as self-sufficient as we may assume sometimes, and not in total control of our lives as we might want or think to be. It can help to keep our ego levels down, and some find that through experiencing feelings of low mood, and low self esteem- one is in fact 'more able' to connect to God and establish a purer relationship with Him. If someone has a good relationship with their Creator- and feels able to share their thoughts and feelings with Him and believe that He hears and understands and loves us, it can give people a sense of 'hope' and help them to persevere through their mental health problems. It can help us to reflect and learn from our negative emotions and experiences, help us to empathize with others and help us to find meaning and purpose in our experiences by using them to help others. 

Addiction to drugs or alcohol or any other intoxicant can have a huge negative impact on our sense of long term happiness, fulfilment and mental and spiritual health. Many of us trun to alcohol or smoking or illicit drugs for short term temprorary relief for anxiety, stress or depression- or to help us cope with traumatic events that may have taken place in our lives. However, what we may not realise is that our bodies build up a tolerance to these intoxicants and block our minds and our spirits/souls/selves from healing from within. Furthermore they can exacerbate our symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, stress and depression and cloud our abilities to function, to reflect, to learn, to engage and interact from and with others, and hence our relationships with ourselves, with others and with God. They lead to loss of 'control' that we have over our emotions and actions and can result in us engaging in harmful speech and behaviour towards ourselves and others. When we reach a point that we are 'addicted' to a substance- it is as if we become 'slaves' of that substance and prioritise it above what is actually beneficial for us. Many who become addicted to harmful substances suffer with severe mental health issues that are blocked from being addressed peoperly, and end up suffering and losing money, friendships, family, loved ones, homes, jobs,cars, and often eventually their lives too. For more information on ways to get support for addiction problems see (.....SHARE)

See 'spiritual well-being' on how spiritual health can help and affect our mental physical and emotional well-being. 

 

What can I do to help improve my own Mental-Well-being? 

Having Faith:   

 

Having faith in a Higher Being- in God- and belief that He listens to our innermost thoughts and feelings and knows us better than we know ourselves- can be a huge 'healing' in itself in helping to remove our anxieties from us. When the soul 'surrenders' to 'God' and trusts in Him through times of hardship and difficulty, in a way that person 'gives' all their troubles to Him- When we get the right balance between total 'surrender' to His Divine Will- while using our hearts and minds and souls to seek His pleasure and bettering ourselves- we open up to 'learning' and 'growing' and therefore seeing hardship and struggle as an 'opportunity' instead of a suffering. The way we perceive and judge situations changes from the negative to a positive, and our hearts become humbled by His Presence in everything we do. It removes loneliness from the hearts, and replaces pride and negative thought with compassion and peace. We find through faith in God, that nothing in this physical world can cause us spiritual suffering and loss- and if anything - if we reflect and understand, and seek His Wisdom- then physical struggles can bring us even closer to the Kingdom of God and to success. Let us remember however that faith- when it goes hand in hand with 'trying our best' is most effective- God helps those who help others. Our anxieties can 'vanish' when we recognise the help He gives us through faith and through perception of the spiritual realm. 

Self-discipline: When we learn and develop the strength to become self-disciplined, we learn better how to control and balance our time, our actions, our speech and behaviour and are more likely to be 'successful' in the way that our souls truly desire. Through self discipline one can learn how to control one's sexual desires, emotions- such as anger, lust, greed, so that our behaviours do not cause harm or distress to others around us and then resulting in this negative energy reflecting back onto ourselves. Through self- discipline we can establish a routine where the things which are important to our lives such as- meditation, prayer, spending time with our children, not being late for work, not eating too much, getting enough sleep - anything which we consider important to us that helps us- gets done and not 'forgotten' about. It can help to prevent us from deviating and getting distracted by day to day challenges that we might face, and can help us remain organised. 

Acts of Kindness:    see 'kindness' page

 

Truthfulness:       see 'seeking truth' page

Meditation:         See 'Prayer and Meditation' page

Self-Reflection:        See 'Self-Reflection' page

Mindfulness:       See 'Mindfulness' page

Laughter:  -Having a sense of humour can help :) 

Diet:   Improving our diet and eating healthily can have a significant positive impact on our mental health and energy levels too. For more help with this please see (.....)

 

Being physically active:

When we have low energy levels- sometimes the last thing we want to do is get out of bed and do excercise. When we feel demotivated- it can be very difficult to get out for that run, or even step outside the house. When anxiety levels are so high that you want to avoid being around other people, then even if you want to do more excercise- it may feel a huge deal and effort, and may lead to panic attacks and worsening anxiety levels. 

However it is important to be aware of the positive effects that excercise and keeping physically active can have on our mental-wellbeing. Physical activity can help release 'endorphins'- a natural chemical that is released in our bodies helping to provide a feeling of a 'natural high.'Endorphins are the boy's natural way of reducing pain and enhancing pleasure. Therefore the more endorphins we have in our body- the less likely we are to experiencing pain- both emotional and physical. Endorphins are also shown to help us to reinforce social attachments- ie to connect with others- and this then also provides a benefit to our mental well-being. Release of endorphins can help to alleviate anxiety and depression both directly and indirectly. So gettin ginto a routine and discipline of doing regular excercise or physical activity can help to improve both our physical and mental and emotional well-being. Once we are convinced of the impact and potential it has to help us, we may find the strength to persevere through the initial phase of 'facing our fear' ( see below) and making that initial step. We do not have to  dive right in- we can take it slowly- start by walking around the house, going up and down the stairs several times a day, doing some home excercises if not wanting to go outside,- then perhaps going for a walk around the block, then going to the park for a longer walk, then maybe starting to do some running or jogging- each individual is different and there are many many ways we can be more active by using our imaginations.

Yoga can be a very helpful way to be physically active in a gentle way, while helping to stretch our muscles and release tension that may be caused as a result of our stress and anxiety. 

Facing our fears:  There is a time to migrate away from a dangerous situation in order to benefit ourselves and others- but there is also a time to face what we fear, with courage- in order to be able to 'break free' from a sense of feeling controlled. If a situation which causes us anxiety does not have a logical basis, and we feel that we are doing ourselves and others an injustice by removing ourselves from the situation- our souls may have an urge to 'speak out' against the controlling factor but perhaps our lack of faith can result in fear that we might be harmed or 'suffer' as a result. We find that running away from our anxieties, and not facing them and in fact exposing ourselves to them can simply make the anxiety worse- and when we are anxious, we put up our defences, our weapons- by trying to protect ourselves we can sometimes end up causing harm to others. When we face a fear after acknowledging that it is the most 'logical' thing to do- it may initially cause us some uncomfortable symptoms, but we find that after a while we are no longer afraid, for we become used to it, learn to tolerate it, learn to respect it, and might even eventually learn to love it. When we face what we fear- we are more likely to learn from it. When we learn, we gain wisdom, and the more wise become, the stronger we become and better we are at knowing how to let go of our anxieties... 

 

Connecting with people:  Let us reflect- what should come first- connecting with God? or connecting with each other? 

Some say: ‘The only way to God is through having a relationship with others.’ -However then our relationship with the Source of all existence becomes dependent on the relationship with another human- which as we know can sometimes be short-lasting if it is not based on trust and commitment and everlasting love from both parties. 

Can we not look at it another way? 

Let us Consider that perhaps the way to connect to others is through establishing a relationship with our Creator?  And that through establishing a better relationship with Him, we can then connect more with others of His Creation? This way there is no intercession between Man and God. And all other spiritual connections rely on a direct connection through Him first. The connection is strong and everlasting from His perspective and the only way to break it is if we choose from our perspective. He becomes the tie between man and woman. He becomes the tie between mankind and all other form of Life and existence. 

And how do we establish a better relationship with God? He is the One on The Throne Most High to whom The Most Beautiful Attributes belong, The Lord of the Worlds. He has created us with eyes, ears, hearts, minds and emotions with which to perceive and use to reflect in a way that we can see and hear and understand His Attributes so that we can use them as a guide in our own lives and in our relationships with others. His Spirit is in all those who love, and want to share it. Their speech is good, and their deeds are fruitful. For they are mindful of what it is that Pleases The Most Gracious and use His Attributes as a guidance and an example for their own attributes and behaviour. They see a part of themselves in God, and that is where they get their potential. They become a medium by which His Attributes can benefit others in the physical realm. When they see that their speech and behaviour is benefiting others using the attributes that He has taught them, they become pleased, and He places Peace in their souls, for they know it Pleases the Most Compassionate, The Most Loving- The Source of everything, The Giver of Peace. 

God is the intercession between man and himself, and between man and woman. We see ourselves in one another and are more able to establish a trusting and loving relationship with each other when we shine His Light unto one another with our speech and behaviour. That is why the relationship with God is so important, because without it we would not have long lasting, trusting and loving relationships with one another. If man is alone then where is the joy that comes with sharing experiences? what is the point of love and compassion and kindness and joy and forgiveness without the recipients who can benefit from these concepts?

Medication:

 

Both traditional and modern medicines can be used to help with certain mental health disorders. Sometimes, one may work for one and another for someone else. However often these provide a short term- relief from low mood, anxiety, insomnia, stress etc and a person should ideally address the underlying factors to be able to gain long term benefit for healing. 

When we feel so low, have significantly reduced energy levels, feel demotivated, suffer with severe anxiety and poor concentration levels to the point that we are unable to function and take part in activities that may help to heal us in the long term and help us to address the underlying issues causing us to feel the way we do- medicines such as antidepressants and anti-anxiolytics can play an important role in helping to increase our energy levels and mood, and reduce our anxiety levels to a level for us to be able to function and engage in longer term

therapy. 

We must be careful not to 'mask' our underlying causes for our anxiety and depression and other negative symptoms by use of long term medication such as anti-depressants. 

'Depression' and turning to God

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It can affect how we feel, think and behave and lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. Symptoms can vary between mild, moderate and severe, and we can have good days and bad days- but when we use the word depression- we tend to mean to describe the ‘general’ state of a person during a period of time.  

 

Symptoms of depression include- low mood, reduced interest or pleasure in usual activities, tiredness, irritability, feelings of low self-esteem, feelings of guilt, change in sleep pattern, change in appetite, hopelessness, reduced motivation, reduced ability to concentrate, memory loss, suicidal ideation ( in severe cases). 

Life is up and down. We all have good days and we all have bad days. After hardship comes ease. Often there are events or stressors in our lives that can cause us to feel ‘down’ at times- and this is normal human emotion- it is how our bodies and brains adapt to change and make sense of what is happening around us. Many find that during these down times they can become more reflective and understand more clearly- it can help to give them strength from their experience and help bring positivity from what they have learnt to both themselves and to others. Some examples might be after a bereavement of a loved one, after a stressful divorce, loss of work, financial stresses etc. 

 

However, sometimes we may feel ‘depressed’ and we do not know why. One might be living a materialistically comfortable life in a huge mansion, with his or her family, a good stable job, food on the table, and what many would consider to be a ‘perfect dream,’ but they may still be unhappy. In modern medicine we tend to blame this on ‘chemical imbalances’ in the brain- and although chemical imbalances play a role and there is evidence to suggest depression can run in families- by simply blaming it on this we sometimes avoid taking responsibility of our lives and our emotion and mental health. -there are important factors that many do not feel comfortable in talking about- such as spiritual well-being and the impact it can have on our mental health. 

 

Medication can be helpful in the short-term, e.g. Use of an anti-depressant for those who are suffering with moderate to severe depressive symptoms including suicidal ideation- because they help to synthetically replace the chemicals in our brain which are lacking and provide a delusional perception that we are happy. This can help if someone lacks the motivation to participate and engage in therapy that may help them more long term. However- medicines often do not address the underlying issues that relate to our emotions. Therefore the body can become reliant on them long term- and without the medication or an obvious understanding of the cause of the symptoms- we are not able to heal properly. By not experiencing the emotions of depression- and not being able to reflect on them- by simply ‘masking’ them to be able to function again normally- we fail to look within ourselves, know ourselves better and risk missing an opportunity to develop our spiritual growth and improve our long term mental wellbeing.

 

The role of faith and spirituality during depressive episodes can be very powerful. Evidence suggests that those who have a strong faith in God and an afterlife are much less likely to act upon suicidal ideation. They are much less likely to turn to harmful substances and depend on medication long term to mask their symptoms. Faith can help us to create positive emotions from negative ones if we can reflect on our behaviours, our interactions with others, the effect that our speech and behaviour has on our emotions. Through mindfulness, meditation and prayer- often we can find strength and ‘hope’ in persevering through challenging times, and through ‘learning’ from our past it can help us to create a purpose and meaning for negative experiences and enable us to find strength to forgive ourselves and others, and therefore ‘moving on’ from difficult and challenging times, and ‘letting go’ of feelings of anger and guilt. ‘Repentance’ for those who feel guilty about something that they may have said or done that had a negative and harmful effect on either them or others- and in those who believe in an oft- forgiving God- can help us to move on- let go, and mend our behaviour in order to better ourselves and not continue with negative emotions associated with that behaviour. It can help with feelings of low self-esteem, loneliness, anxiety and give us strength in getting through our challenging times

'Anxiety' and turning to God

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. It is also sometimes defined as a strong desire or concern to do something or for something to happen. The feeling of apprehension and fear, is often characterised by physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating and feelings of stress. 

Anxiety tends to stem from the human natural incliniation to 'fight or flight.' The 'fight or flight' response (or acute stress response) is a reaction that occurs our bodies in response to a percieved harmful event, attack or threat to survical. Our bodies produce hormones and substances during these reactions- which can help us to either face our percieved threats or try to escape from them. Individuals with higher levels of emotional reactivity may be prone to anxiety and aggression- and this can change from one indivual to the next, and be affected by other factors such as previous traumatic events or experiences which havnt been addressed, mental, emotional, physical and spiritual sense of well-being. 

The fight or flight is an instinctive animalistic response that our bodies have which is meant to be 'protective' for our survival. It can be helpful if balanced and occurs in the appropriate circumstance- but can be very disabling to individuals and their mental well-being if occurs in the wrong situation and affects our ability to function as we wish to. 

 

The best way to deal with anxiety- is to face it- try to understand what it is that makes us anxious- and instead of avoiding the situation- gradually exposing ourselves to it ( as long as it is not directly harmful to us or others). This enables our brains to 'rewire' itself so that it recognises the situation and labels it as 'not a threat' and our bodies then stop producing the hormones and chemicals which it would normally do in a 'fight or flight' response. 

Ultimately- the sense of anxiety stems from underlying fears or worries that a person may have. If someone has experienced a situation at one point in their lives which has triggered the fight or flight response- this can be a traumatic experience and one which our brains tends to remember. We then tend to naturally avoid situations which are in some way related to that event.

Turning to God for help with our anxieties can be life changing. By connecting to our Creator- we can sometimes find it easier to 'let go' of the need to control a situation. By knowing that each day we are trying our best with whatever we have to lead a good life, and to worship Him, we can leave the rest for Him to decide while trusting that whatever happens will be for the good. A great way to be able to let go of our anxieties, is to simply 'give it to God.' When we believe in a Higher Power or a God, who is All-Knowing, knowing what is good for us and what is bad for us, and to Whom we 'surrendered' ourselves completely- why then is there a need to fear? why is there a need to worry? why is there a need to be afraid? When we truly unite our souls with His Divine purpose- and turn to Him for repentance, for help, and for guidance while trying our best to lead righteous lives often we find that our anxieties will be healed. This may not be a miraculous event over a short period of time- it will depend on several other factors, and may require help with medication etc if someone is suffering from severe anxiety and does not consider themselves to be spiritual, or with Faith in a God- but is a longer term healing option for those who are interested to explore. 

'Insomnia' and turning to God

 

Symptoms of insomnia include- finding it difficult to fall asleep, waking up several times in the night, and feeling tired during the day. Common causes of insomnia include stress, anxiety, too much noise at night, feeling too hot or cold, too much caffeine consumption and alcohol. 

 

Stress plays a major role in the prevalence of this symptom in our lives. Worrying about work, school, health, finances, family, friends, global issues, day to day activities and errands- can keep our minds very active at night, making it difficult to sleep. Stressful life events or trauma, such as the death or illness of a loved one, divorce or a new job, or the loss of a job may also lead to insomnia. 

 

Insomnia, anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. Symptoms can overlap and many of us who feel anxious also struggle to sleep. Insomnia can also be a symptom of depression and go hand in hand with other emotions such as feelings of guilt, anger, low mood etc. 

 

Acute insomnia- is a brief episode of difficulty sleeping.

 

Chronic insomnia- is a long term pattern of difficulty sleeping.

 

Comorbid insomnia- is insomnia that occurs with another condition.

 

Onset insomnia- is difficulty sleeping at the beginning of the night.

 

Maintenance insomnia- is the inability to stay asleep.

 

Treatment- The following may help with symptoms of insomnia:

 

  1. Cognitive behavioural therapy: CBT-I is a structured program that can help us to identify and replace thoughts and behaviours that cause or worsen sleep problems with habits that promote sound sleep. It teaches us to recognise and change beliefs that affect our ability to sleep and therefore help us to eliminate negative thoughts and worries that keep us awake. The behavioural part of CBT-I is sleep hygiene and helps to develop good sleep habits and avoid behaviours that keep us from sleeping well. Improving our sleep hygiene includes: Establishing a regular sleep schedule, using naps with care, not exercising physically or mentally too close to bedtime, limiting worrying, limiting exposure to light in the hours before sleep, getting out of bed if you do not feel sleepy while in bed within half an hour, not using bed for anything other than sleep or sex, avoiding alcohol as well as nicotine and caffeine and other stimulants in the hours before bedtime, and having a peaceful comfortable and dark sleep environment.

  2. Medication: In severe acute or chronic insomnia that is affecting our ability to function in the day due to lack of sleep- sometimes a course of sedative medication can help. If the insomnia is comorbid (related to another condition) then treatment of that other condition can obviously help- e.g. obstructive sleep apnoea, or depression. However, many treatments used to help us sleep can be addictive and our bodies can develop a tolerance to them so always best avoided in the long term if possible. Obviously they also come with side effects. Herbal teas and therapies can also be beneficial.

  3. Keeping active during the day can help us to feel more tired at night time and hence help us to sleep better. Exercise during the day (not just before bed) can therefore have a great impact on our direct and indirect sense of physical and mental well-being. 

  4. Meditation and prayer- can help by helping us to reflect and become mindful about the underlying worries and troubles we may have, and can be a release of anxiety and tension which can therefore have a good long term effect on our ability to sleep. 

'Bereavement' and turning to God

 

Bereavement is the process of grieving or bereaving over the loss of someone or something that was special to us. We can bereave over the loss of a life, a relationship, a friend or a lover amongst many other things or people that we have cared about and lost. - It is a concept that we must face at some point in our lives. The more loved ones we have, the more likely we are to have to face bereavement over and over again. The more we love, the stronger our bonds tend to be, and the greater the sense of ‘loss’ can be when we lose our loved one. 

 

It is important to ‘prepare’ ourselves and others for loss because it can happen any time, anywhere and to any of us who has a heart and feels emotion. Everything in this life is ‘temporary’ and will one day come to an end. Our own lives will one day come to an end too- causing the pain of loss and bereavement for those who love us. 

 

Those who tend to cope best with bereavement are those who have prepared themselves and reflected about the concept of ‘death.’ By reminding ourselves each day that we will not live forever in this world, that everything is temporary, and that one day we will all die- can actually be healthy and help to ‘normalise’ the concept of loss and bereavement by reminding us all that we are not alone, we all have to face it, and can make it easier to accept it when it happens to us. Those who do not prepare their souls and minds to ‘loss and bereavement’ are more likely to suffer with shock and ‘post-traumatic stress’ symptoms if it happens to them unexpectedly. It is healthy at times to ‘expect the worst but hope for the best.’ By reminding ourselves that our loved ones may suddenly be taken away from us- can also enable us to be more grateful for the time we have with them in the present, making it more likely to enjoy every moment with our loved ones and be happier in our relationships while overlooking and pardoning their faults. Those who do this are less likely to suffer with the process of bereaving over the loss of a loved one- because they know that they have parted on good terms. Losing a loved one during or after an argument or conflict that has not been resolved can be an extremely difficult experience and bring about feelings of anger, guilt and long term post-traumatic depressive symptoms.  

 

The process of bereavement can be like an emotional roller-coaster ride but tends to involve mostly the following four stages, not necessarily in this order:

 

Denial 

Anger 

Bargaining- turning to a Higher Power

Depression

Acceptance 

 

For more information about the process of bereavement- please see: MIND, … etc

 

It can take a good while sometimes for people to get out of the denial phase of bereavement- especially if the loss occurred at a time that they least expected. This is why everybody reacts differently to loss- some of us don’t cry or let out our emotions for a long while because we may still be in the stage of ‘denial.’ This is very commonly seen after relationship breakdowns- when one or the other party is in ‘denial’ about it coming to an end due to the subconscious fear of how their body and emotions will react or cope with the reality of the situation. In a way it is our bodies and minds ‘preparing’ itself until it is ready to finally face and deal with the loss. During this stage- it is important not to turn to substances like alcohol or drugs to ‘block’ our ability from moving to the next stage because then our brains are even less able to move forward and face the reality of the situation. This can therefore lead to ‘escape’ and ‘addiction’ which can then and often do- lead to other problems in our lives- making it even more difficult to be able to deal with the loss- due to other relationships and support mechanisms also being affected. 

 

Many of us feel the emotion of ‘anger’ after loss of a loved one or a relationship that was precious to us. Sometimes we have anger to the other party, sometimes to ourselves, and sometimes to the Higher Power that we may believe in. It is often useful here to remind ourselves that we do not have all the answers. Sometimes negative things might happen to us, but we later find that something positive has come from it- however difficult it may seem to see this during the time of loss and anger- and for those who believe in God- to remind ourselves that He knows best what is good for us, and what is bad for us, and also for our loved ones- just because we don’t understand the reason something has happened, doesn’t mean there isn’t good that will come from it. Many events happen in our lives where which seem unfair e.g. suffering of children, loss etc. to people who we feel ‘do not deserve it,’ and often it is this thought which makes us ‘angry with God’ and can be very testing for our faith. 

 

Bargaining is often a stage of loss and bereavement that we all go through. Often this involves turning to a Higher Power- to help give us strength and hope to move forward. Many of us pray for our loved ones, or pray for justice for both ourselves and them, or ‘bargain’ in one way or another with The Higher Source e.g. ‘if you help me I will do this… or that…’ or ‘if you help our loved one I will do this or that…’ 

 

The stage of bargaining or turning to God often comes after we are humbled by the reality of the shocking experience of loss of something special to us, especially if we had forgotten that this life is temporary or if we are experiencing feelings of extreme suffering and emotional pain, or guilt in one way or another. We tend to bargain before we finally ‘accept’ a situation of loss or bereavement. Sometimes believing that we have made a ‘covenant’ with a Higher Power can help to give us strength to move on, as long as we stick to our side of the deal. 

 

Other may not feel they are in a place to bargain or feel that this is wrong- either way- turning to God can be extremely helpful and help us directly connect to our Creator, and give us strength and meaning and hope and peace so that we can move on to acceptance and learning and growing, despite the loss of a loved one or something precious to us. 

 

Often those who believe in an after-life and in God Forgiving and Merciful nature- find strength in the thought of being able to see their loved one again in the next life one day, and so accept that the loss is only temporary, and that their loved one is being ‘looked after’ by Him- making it easier to deal with it. 

 

Acceptance can take a longer time for some than others. Our level of preparation beforehand, our avoidance of alcohol and drugs during the bereavement process, the amount of support we have around us, our level of faith in a Higher Power or God, the strength of our relationship with our loved one whom we have lost before they were taken from us, and a multitude of other factors- can influence our ability to ‘accept’ the loss of someone or something we hold dear to us. 

'Post-traumatic Stress disorder' and turning to God

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that is caused by previous traumatic experience. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety and having trouble sleeping. In the medical world, current treatments for PTSD can include; antidepressants, talking therapies, and EMDR. 

How can the 'surrender to a Higher Will' help with PTSD? 

When we have 'faith' in a Creator who we believe is Present with us through all of our negative experiences, and Who we believe to be all Good Kind Forgiving and Merciful- it helps us to our trust in believing that nothing happens for no reason in our lives- and that even traumatic experiences have a Higher purpose, they happen for a reason and can 'teach' us something. When we believe that traumatic experiences can 'teach' us something, we may become more willing to face these experiences through self-reflection, so that we can draw out 'wisdom' from that experience and then use this wisdom to help develop ourselves and also to empathise with or help others. 

So the anxiety and depressive symptoms that can be caused by our past trauma, is in fact able to be transformed into 'empathy.'  Because how can we truly know and understand that 'we should not do unto others what we ourselves do not like to be done to ourselves- if we ourselves have not experiences any trauma/negativity? The human being has the ability to 'choose' not do do unto others what has been done to them if that experience was traumatic. The 'empathy' that we develop through experiencing pain and struggle due to traumatic experience can be used to better relate to other people who are going through similar traumatic experiences, to offer them a helping hand. The act of doing this helps to give us a better understanding of the Higher Purpose forum suffering, and therefore we become more able to 'free ourselves' from the control it seems to have over our mind and body. Empathy helps us to learn Compassion, and compassion frees us from our inner slavery to negative thoughts, anxiety and depression caused by previous trauma. 

When we 'turn to God' after a traumatic experience, and we surrender to a Will that is Higher than our own understanding, we become more able to let go of our anxieties and worries, and 'give it all' to Him to deal with. We know that all we can do is our best, according to our unique abilities, gifts and talents, and then we put our Trust in our Maker, that everything happens for a good reason, even if we do not yet understand the reason, and even if we never get round to understanding it. 

Often post traumatic experience PTSD is related to an incident where the person was a 'victim' of some kind of physical, or emotional abuse by another person. Turning to God can help us become more likely to want to work on our  ability to 'Forgive' in our hearts others that have caused us pain and suffering, and pray for God to have Mercy upon them and us. Because Faith in God comes with trying to see the 'good' in others, make excuses for people, and trying to understand negative experience by seeing the 'other side' of the story. When we become more able to forgive, we become more able to 'let go' and less likely to hold on to the negative triggers or experience feelings of 'guilt, anger, vengeance, fear, sorrow.. etc' that often come with remembering traumatic events. 

Sometimes PTSD is related to an experience where the person themselves feels 'guilty' for doing something that they regret doing to another person. Turning to God can help this person by offering a 'way out' of regret and guilt through turning for 'Repentance' to 0ur Creator, asking for forgiveness from the person harmed ( if able to ), turning away from doing evil (not doing unto others what you wouldnt want done to you) ), and then doing more good (treating others how you want to be treated) .. if the harm caused was non-intentional and done out of ignorance, then this is more forgivable- and the believer need only to repent and stop doing that harmful behaviour. If the harm done was intentional (while knowing that it was harmful and wrong) then the believer still has the ability to clear his or her conscience through doing more good deeds, which cancel out bad ones ( as well as turning away from repeating that act which caused harm to another. ) 

When a person has Faith in a Creator, it is more likely that they will work on their ability to 'show gratitude' to their Creator. Mindful Gratitude itself is a Healer, and helps a person to move on from previous traumatic experiences, because it teaches us to live more in the Present, rather than in the Past. 

'Suicidal Ideation' and turning to God

'Suicidal ideation' is the thought process which involves having ideas or ruminating about the possibility of ending one's own life. 

Sometimes life with all its challenges, and hardships and loss can make us feel that we have reached our capacities to be able to continue anymore. Sometimes we see that life is full of blessing, but that we just do not find enjoyment anymore doing the things that we used to enjoy doing. Sometimes a person feels hopeless, ungrateful, full of bitterness, full of fears, full of sorrow in their heart, and the pain just seems too much to continue to bear. Sometimes the guilt, anger and pain of being triggered by previous traumatic experience  is so strong that we feel worthless, and as though we do not have a higher purpose in this world, and that we are not 'needed' anymore.

Suicidal ideation is often a result of our inability to get out of our depression and anxiety. Sometimes it is because we do not feel 'patient' enough to wait for negative experience to pass. Sometimes it is because we feel we have no longer anything left in this world to 'live for', and no 'Hope.' Sometimes we try and fail, and try and fail, and we lose faith in ourselves to be able to ever get up again. Sometimes the bitterness and anger inside us is so strong against another person who has hurt us, that we feel we would even be willing to end our lives only to cause them guilt and misery as a type of 'vengeance' - because of our own inability to let go of our past and forgive. 

 

However many of us do not have the courage to take our own lives, due to the fear of the unknown- unless we are under the effects of intoxicants such as drugs and alcohol which cloud over our ability to self reflect, and over our ability to judge 'right and wrong' in a given situation. 

Over 80% of people who take their own lives, do so under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Turning to God can give us Hope and Courage, and help us believe in our abilities to break free from our addictions to and reliance upon intoxicants, our PTSD, our depression, and anxiety, can therefore significantly help reduce our likelihood of feeling suicidal and acting upon fleeting thoughts. 

Studies have shown that rates of suicide, suicidal ideation, PTSD, depression and anxiety are significantly lower in people who 'Believe in God', and in an Afterlife, than those who do not. A part of this might be that according to Abrahamic faith it is believed to be a sin to take one's own life- so many believers who feel suicidal, do not take it that one step further by taking their own life unless they lose control of their ability to 'Remember.' But a Major part of this is that  with 'Faith' from an Abrahamic perspective, comes the need to take responsibility for one's own life, for the lives of others, and to Be Loving, Kind, Compassionate, Grateful, Forgiving, Humble, Just, Truthful, Patient, and always seek Higher Knowledge in the form of wisdom and understanding through study, prayer, meditation and Giving. When we work on developing these Attributes in our lives, it leaves little room for negative thoughts, and any negativity that is present- becomes transformed into good by the expression of these other Attributes. When we hold on to our 'Higher Self' we are able to 'rise up' from the ashes of death itself by the permission of our Creator. 

'Addiction' and turning to God

It is easy to get tempted into trying to forget our troubles or seek a relief from our pain, sorrow and anxiety by indulging in addictive substances which cause us more harm than good in the long run. Many of us turn to alcohol, illicit drugs, or even prescribed medications to help mask over the emotional, physical, and psychological pain associated with our perception of past and present trauma, loss and suffering. Before we know it, we are addicted- and rely on these substances to make us feel 'normal' again. 

Addiction can be to anything, or anyone. Spiritually, the state of physical addiction 'enslaves' our Spirit to our Bodily Desires. We become slaves of this physical world if we allow ourselves to become addicted to anything that has a physical substance. Sometimes this is in the form of another person- eg being addicted to the presence of another being, in order to feel 'happy.' Sometimes it is in the form of something we ingest into our bodies such as food or drink, smoking or alcohol for example. The danger is that the addicted individual loses his or her 'power' to that person or substance which has 'control' over him or her. The addicted person keeps needing more and more of the substance or being, in order to return to their state of percieved 'normality' and without it they go into a state of 'panic' or 'despair.' So any type of addiction to a physical substance or being is dangerous in that it can lead to a downward spiral into a deeper depression and state of anxiety and loss. The addiction does not ever 'cure' the person from within, but only provides a temporary covering, relief, delusion, or distraction from the True underlying cause of his or her distress. The addictive substance or individual often prevents that person from 'reflecting' and 'addressing' the underlying issues related to their past trauma, and prevents them from extracting the necessary 'wisdom' from that experience in order to truly put it behind them and move on. The person who is addicted, loses their ability to control their own intentions, desires, thought, speech and behaviour- and often ends up causing harm to others, and leads to relationship breakdown. This breakdown of physical relationships leads to more mental crises and emotional breakdown.

One could argue that the whole world is a 'distraction' from Higher Truth, and that we are constantly surrounded by temptations to indulge in our physical desires which provide us a temporary feeling of 'happiness' or relief from the struggles of the human experience. 

But from a spiritual perspective, Our Higher (godly) Self is our Intellect that naturally wants to rule over the bodily lower self. Our lower self ( animal nature) on the other hand urges us to indulge in the immediate desires of the temporary physical body. There is often a constant battle between our intellect/conscience and our physical desires- and it is our 'choice' to choose which to allow to rule over the other. The more enslaved we become to our physical desires fuelled by our ego, greed, lust, sloth, envy, anger, vengeance, sorrows, fears, anxieties etc... the more difficult it becomes to 'break free' from our addictions and take Responsibility for our behaviour. 

When we turn to God, and 'surrender' to His Will- we acknowledge that none has the right to be 'worshipped' other than our Creator, and we give back the 'power' and 'kingship' to our Higher Self in order that it should rule over the lower self. We sacrifice our temporary desires that are fuelled by our ego (greed, lust, sloth, gluttony, envy, vengeance, hatred, etc ) in order to fulfil The Higher Will of the Intellectual and spiritual ( instead of the will of our animal nature/lower self). Surrendering to God and acknowledging that our Creator Alone is worthy of worship also helps us to 'Trust' that all of our troubles, sorrows and anxieties will be taken care of, and be transformed by our Creator into goodness and wisdom- because the one who has Faith, relies on their Creator, and is less likely to be in a state of despair or doubt. With turning to God, comes the desire and will for  'Patience' to help us persevere through our troubles, and through loss of life, wealth or health that every human being faces at some point in their lives. This 'Patience' is the Best prescription for getting though the hardships in life, and leads only to physical emotional and mental strength, and spiritual Ascension rather than the physical pain, emotional and mental despair and spiritual downward descent that comes with reliance on physical addictive substances.

What can we do to help others through their mental health problems? 

We can help others through their mental health problems by offering compassion, and showing a genuine empathy and concern for their distress. Often, just having someone there who 'cares' enough to 'listen' is enough to give that person the strength and desire to not give up on life. 

By sacrificing our time for others, and by sacrificing our own sense of 'importance' or ego to make room for others to feel valued and appreciated can have a huge positive impact on their mental health. 

Directing people to others that might be able to help them more than we can, is also a huge help. Sometimes people may require some physical help in the form of a medication, or other medical therapy in order to get them to a point where they have the motivation to look deeper within themselves in order to reflect and resolve underlying issues related to their poor mental health. Offering a simple small act of loving kindness, a good word, even a loving smile or holding their hand through their distress can have a massive positive impact on another. 

People want to feel 'needed' in this world. People want to have a Higher Purpose  in this world in order to feel the desire to want to keep on living, despite all of the hardships and struggles and loss that come with being Human. 

We can help others by inspiring them to be more kind, humble, compassionate, forgiving, patient, loving, brave, grateful, Just, authentic, honest, committed, hopeful, joyful, gentle, faithful.... and the most powerful way to do this is to take responsibility for our own thought, intentions, speech and behaviour, and use our own blessings gifts and talents to help others in any way we can, while inviting to the Ways of Peace of our Creator. 

Encouraging one another to faith,  patience, gratitude, forgiveness, and compassion as a healing for our depression and anxieties can be very helpful as a reminder. Reflecting also on Scripture and the stories of the prophets and their personal struggles can help us to gain the strength and wisdom to find a Higher Purpose to the pain and suffering of Humanity...

 

 

 

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