Using Technology to Aid Mental Recovery

mental health, writing

8f5dbd43-8e0b-4fed-92cf-5ce4d0cfc7ed

As someone who places a lot of importance on spirituality in the healing process, I was reluctant to utilise the support of technology in my own recovery. However, after discovering an incredibly refreshing app, I was enlightened in understanding how technological thinking doesn’t always have to have an ulterior motive.

I first began to sense that things were not going so well for me, when I became familiar with the dooming sensation associated with anxiety attacks. The crushing feeling progressively surfaced during work meetings, when I was commuting, whilst in places I couldn’t leave without other people noticing, social situations or simply before I fell asleep at night. The drive for my job promptly depleted and I couldn’t seem to see through the vague cloud of fog encompassing my thoughts and whole existence. Everything that made up my judgements, appeared to be empty, soulless and meaningless.

The utterance of burnout seemed ridiculous at first. From what I’d experienced around me, burnouts were serious and considerably more debilitating then what I was going through. However, when I made the decision to inform my employer that I wasn’t doing too well and I was going to take some time off as a result, it solidified the fact that I needed proper support. What surprised me, was the fact that I wasn’t even able to worry about the shame that I had preempted myself to feel, when asking for this help – frankly put: I could not feel. One thing that was clear: my brain begged for a mental check out. My own capability of understanding mental illness was frozen and I needed help.

During this time, I came across an article that shared ‘the best apps to aid mental illness’. The article suggested an app known as Stigmato gently aid users throughout their mental health struggles.

Stigma, allows you to record your mood every day via a simple, clean cut app. The user-friendly, basic interface allows you to rate your feelings using a list of descriptive words i.e. anxious, sad, ok, calm, happy (which is then colour coded in your monthly overview). If the ratings are too simplistic, you can add your diary entry below. Stigma, also offers a community of peers who may be suffering from mental illness and silently searching for someone to share with. This peer group helps to empahsise that you are never alone in the struggle. As mental health sufferers will know, at times, encouragement and discussion from others who have suffered or are suffering, can be significantly more relatable then talking to friends or family.

The wonderful thing about stigma is the fact that it essentially provides you with an illuminating overview of your moods from the previous days, weeks and months. The app encouraged me to take a step back from my naturally negative or destructive thinking patterns. I became motivated when I saw the green boxes increasing (signifying ‘good mood’ days) and when I noticed the red boxes returning (‘bad mood’ days), I would rationally asses that day at another date, trying to avoid disappointment or placing judgment on myself.

IMG_7227

An example of the Stigma interface

Often, when you are having a dip and your mood only allows for heaviness and darkness, it becomes increasingly more challenging to remember the enjoyable times –  and if you are succeptible, this can effect your entire outlook on life. It becomes almost impossible to remind yourself of the great Friday night you had with your friends where you laughed once – making you feel alive, or the Sunday morning when you awoke feeling less heavy – giving you a moment to catch your breath or the lovely book which took you out of this world for a short while. It is important to remind yourself of the little accomplishments, especially when you are going through something testing and unknown. Stigma enables you to do that – it brings you back to the present and this feels incredibly rewarding.

Tracking and reflecting on your moods and behaviors can be highly productive on your own path towards mental healing. I highly encourage it if you desire a more present and meaningful life – especially one in which you wish to take charge of your own moods.

The greatest reward: seeing your first month filled with only green blocks and clicking through each day, gently reminding yourself of some mentally strong and fulfilling days that did occur – eventually, allowing you to gradually turn your back on the darkness, inviting the light into your life.

 

Advertisements

Meditation: You only miss a good thing when it’s gone

mental health, spirituality, writing
a3e5692f97336ef4ef44c2b30149c1d7

Credit: Pintrest

I sometimes feel that when the word ‘meditation’ is dropped into conversation, it can fall victim to many stereotypical associations: hippy, floater, dreamer, wanderer – or any word that can be coupled with the opposite sensation to being grounded or in control. With a fear of bystanders being misled by these prejudices, I can often become irritated by these conversations.

Simply meditating doesn’t imply that you are ready to descend to another spiritual realm, in preparation for a significant awakening. It can mean many things, but for most it’s simply a method to gain more inner calm and understanding of oneself. The ironic thing is, if I was to analyse my mind before I started meditation, it was more out of control and less grounded than ever before. The stresses, expectations and pressures of modern life, had really started to take a toll upon my mental health. I realised, I’d been forcefully swallowing my worries like they were sick-burps – each time, pushing harder to keep them down. When the stress eventually bubbled up to the surface, I would freak out, suffer momentarily and then dust it off feeling like I’d achieved something. This was naïve.

Around 3weeks ago, I began meditating every single day. I made this commitment to myself in order to see if I could transform my ‘naturally’ negative and anxious head space. It had gotten to a point where I felt vulnerable as a result of my own emotional outbursts. I would wake in the night gasping for air, my hair was falling out and I felt eternally restless in my headspace, victim to eternal mind chatter – it was and sometimes still is, pretty torturous.

In the first 2.5 weeks, I think I missed around 3 or 4 sessions and I felt it – in fact, ‘missed’ being the imperative word here, I missed them. And you do start to notice the reassuring ‘buzz’ fades away after you’ve neglected the practice a couple of times.

The greatest indicator that the meditation had helped me, was how I often fell asleep. I began to notice that I could fall asleep without even thinking about the day that had passed or the night that was ahead – there was nothing on my mind. That was until, I hit week 3. The stresses of work became embedded, deep in my stomach and I lay awake until 4am. I tried multiple mediation sessions one evening, until I eventually fell asleep. However, this burst my bubble – meditation wasn’t able to rescue me or melt me into sleep as I had hoped, grazing over my mind chatter. It had seemingly ‘failed’.

Initially, I felt that this hiccup had diminished all of my meditation progress that I had built up – wiping my slate with a dirty cloth. That was until I realized that it was one hiccup. After I’d been used to having so many hiccups, especially during the night time, one hiccup had to be a victory. Surely.

I am, we are.

life lessons, spirituality, writing

I am standing here In the dark. It is raining and the ground feebly trembles beneath me as a gentle storm appears to brew. The rain catches the edges of my hair, dampening it and darkening the tips in colour. My toes are slowly numbing and I wiggle them in anticipation of  being amongst the warmth of the tram that was due to arrive. The roads are wet and deserted and civilisation represents a scene from a 4am winters morning. I watch nervously as the time ticks past 8:45pm and my intention to reach home in good time gradually becomes threatened. There is no sign of the tram and I gaze towards the lady stood next to me, for reassurance. Knowing that there is a human body of warmth, one that carries emotions and sensations just like my own, provides me with an immediate sensation of connection and familiarity – the wonderfully strange reassurance of the company from a stranger.
It was at this moment that something became evident to me – if I was alone, my thoughts would be pacing, restless. Yet the obvious fact of having another human next to me was proudly comforting. We are social begins who were made to love and explore, thus when we come into contact with others, albeit briefly, their energy force field can penetrate our own, leaving a mark. Every day that we travel from one place to another, we are encapsulated by an energy force field, projecting our subconscious emotions onto those who we pass.
Keeping your soul open, allows you to pick up the sensations of another, even when they are painstakingly attempting to create a particular projection to display to the world. Occasionally the raw, uncut, uncensored, often dark emotions can prevail, painfully communicating this to the person who is staring deeply into your eyes. Most of the time, these darkened, more brutal, perhaps even less attractive emotions, are ignored and layered under a phoney facade.

Every so often you may encounter another soul that touches yours, softly yet intensely connecting with yourself- like two interlaced hands. Suddenly you don’t feel so deserted, you don’t feel betrayed by your mind and any old, reoccurring hurt may gently soften. Your souls reverberate off of one another and in that moment, the notion of time is obsolete and you are reminded, we are one.

The only thing that you can be sure of is your past

life lessons, spirituality, writing

The great thing about life is its ability to be fluid, constantly running like the flow of a river. Each day, something will be different, a new thing will be remembered and another forgotten, yet we still mentally beat ourselves up over the smallest detail which most people have probably forgotten. Why does the human brain act so unforgiving when life gives us so many chances?

This got me to thinking that perhaps this ability to forgive ourselves comes purely from within. It’s not our brain attempting to punish us, it’s ourselves who are doing the wrong doing. However, it’s so much easier said than done to ‘be nice to yourself’ or ‘avoid negative thoughts’, especially when your thought process has a natural likening to a darker side of thinking.

In recent times, I’ve really tried to engage my brain into other waves of thinking, bothering my thoughts with things that are much more meaningful and worthwhile. For instance, I’ve started reading about the moon’s pattern and its power on our minds and bodies. According to a book called ‘Moon Time’, by learning how the moon can inhibit or increase our moods, we can learn to live in a way that makes a lot of sense. I’m trying to give this a go but it does take time to seriously alter your path of thought. It’s intriguing to learn about the different zodiac phases and how these can effect different areas of your body.

I don’t know about you, but I am trying to make a conscious effort to not necessarily be a positive person (this can be exhausting all the time) but perhaps to learn to let the little things go. At the end of the day, with me it’s the little things that start off minuscule in size and snowball into something that appears catastrophic in my head.

So I guess it’s about letting go and moving forward because at the end of the day, the only thing we can be sure of is our past, the current and future holds infinite, uncertain amounts for us. I guess, this uncertainty is what we call life.

If you look to others for fulfilment, you will never be fulfilled

mental health, spirituality, writing

If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy.
Be content with what you have and take joy in the way things are.
When you realise you have all you need, the world belongs to you.

Mastering other people is strength, mastering yourself is power.
If you realise that what you have is enough, you are truly rich.
Stay in the centre and embrace peace, simplicity, patience and compassion.

It is not complicated unless I make it so.
It is not difficult unless I allow it to be.
A second is no more than a second, a minute no more than a minute, a day no more than a day.
They pass.
All things and all time will pass.
Don’t force or fear, don’t control or lose control.
Don’t fight and don’t stop fighting.
Embrace and endure.
If you embrace you will endure.

– A Million Little Pieces – James Frey