Words by Psychotherapist Jane Faulkner
So many of my clients are presenting with either depression, anxiety or panic attacks. These are highly successful people at the top of their careers, trying to keep lots of balls in the air and they are finding that inevitably, some of the balls start to become more difficult to manage.
Unfortunately, for most of us, we put other people and our careers ahead of our health, relationships and our well-being. These 3 things then suffer greatly and we keep driving ourselves until something breaks; whether it is our health or our relationships. For many people it is their mental health – they become depressed or incredibly anxious; getting on a train causes a panic attack or thinking about work causes them to break into a sweat and they notice that they can’t handle the little things anymore. They are easily overwhelmed and tasks they used to be able to handle become difficult and stressful. They find themselves withdrawing from socializing or relating to other people and they seek refuge in their work. They often neglect their health and don’t make time to see friends or exercise. Their lives become like an emotionally barren wasteland, they wonder what the point of it all is and realize they are totally lost.
Let’s talk about it…
Unfortunately, in our world, we don’t often talk about real issues and share our problems with friends and family. We shoulder our burdens alone and get stuck in the thought that we are the only one that is failing and crap at our lives, careers, relationships etc. Yet as humans we are wired to relate; it is a need along with eating and sleeping, without it we become sick, emotionally, mentally sick. We are not meant to live on individual islands going through the motions of life, we are meant to help one another and be there to support one another through things. The good, the bad and the ugly!!
One of my clients is a successful businessman, he loves his work, he can do it with his eyes closed and yet his emotional life and how he feels about life and himself is a mess, he feels totally alone. He shared that he often look’s at his friends and other couples and they look like they have it all sorted, he often wondered if any of them was going through what he was going through.
Re-wire your brain…
I shared with him that we all have our stuff and how liberating it can be to share your stuff with friends, it gives your friends the permission to do the same. To be real and to talk to someone about your problems actually helps you solve them. Talking about your feelings helps you move from the limbic (fight, flight, freeze- black and white thinking- look for the negative in everything) part of your brain to the prefrontal cortex part of the brain (the part of the brain that helps you to see the bigger picture and to come up with solutions for your problems).
This is where talking to friends, therapists or joining a group is invaluable, not only do you help re-wire your brain, talking to someone normalizes what’s happening for you. You know when you tell someone something and then they say it happens to them too and you feel an enormous sense of relief because you suddenly realize maybe what’s happening to you is common, other people go through it as well and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Groups are powerful because you have the opportunity to learn a lot about yourself and you also learn a lot from other group participants- they might share a story about their life that you can relate to and it helps you observe your own situation from a different viewpoint.
We all need a place to belong; we all need connection and community. If you don’t have a place to seek one out, get curious about what you’re interested in, join a club, meet your neighbors, call your old friends, contact family members, its life saving when it comes to your mental health. It takes courage to share your problems as it often raises lots of our stuff around failing, yet sharing your stuff with others may save your life, it may even save your friends life; when you become vulnerable and share where, how and when you are stuffing things up you give your friend the freedom to do the same.
Some helpful resources if you aren’t OK…
Jane Faulkner started her career as a Registered Nurse and has worked in hospitals in Australia and overseas. During her career as a nurse, she supported people through the difficult transitions of illness, grief, death, trauma, mental health issues and childbirth.
Jane has a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy, a Bachelor of Nursing, a Certificate in Initiatic Art Therapy and is certified in Equine Assisted Psychotherapist. Yoga is an integral part of her life, she is a Certified Iyengar Teacher and continues to study and teach in the Iyengar yoga tradition. She is an accomplished teacher, therapist, and facilitator and has led many women’s groups and Day Retreats, presented seminars and workshops, and worked with many different community groups and individuals.
Jane is the founder of Equine Assisted Therapy Australia, an organisation that provides training, retreats, programs and individual sessions that aim to provide individuals with a new and authentic ways to grow and learn more about themselves. Connect with Jane HERE.