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Mind mechanic: You’ve got to get through it to get over it

Many turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like emotional suppression, projection of our feelings onto others or substance abuse to accomplish this. Unprocessed, these emotions can cause physical stress to your body and wreak havoc on your life. They can also lead to a multitude of health and other issues. Sound familiar?

How are you doing?

It’s okay if you’re not okay, especially right now. A longstanding, dangerous mentality exists in our society: We should just think positive thoughts when faced with painful emotions. I am here to tell you that is simply not true.

Anger, frustration, grief and sadness are good information, not bad emotions, but we try to rid them from our lives as quickly as possible. 

Many turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like emotional suppression, projection of our feelings onto others or substance abuse to accomplish this. Unprocessed, these emotions can cause physical stress to your body and wreak havoc on your life. They can also lead to a multitude of health and other issues. Sound familiar?

I vividly remember when my brain changed at age 13. I’ve been figuring out how to “change” it back ever since. I was diagnosed with depression while still in middle school, anxiety shortly after college. In the time between, my intended life trajectory took a drastic turn and I lost quite a few things I loved.

 And I gained well more experience in my years than it appears. It took two decades of me hearing that I needed to “get over it” and attempting to do just that through unrelentless research and various forms of therapy to finally get to the root of the problem: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). More on that another time.

So many of us struggle in silence. We don’t understand what’s going on with our minds and we blame ourselves for not getting better. So many others unknowingly suppress difficult emotions and focus on the positive. 

None of that is healthy. It’s much better for us to get the uncomfortable stuff out of our bones than to let it seep in and lead our lives. Luckily, we are living in a time when mental health resources are evolving rapidly and becoming more accessible.

Our brains are the command center of our bodies, yet so many of us neglect to care for them. If an engine stops working correctly, we don’t ignore the problem, hope it goes away or blame the car. We work on the engine.

In “Mind Mechanic,” I’ll share the research dots I’ve connected on topics like loss and grief, unhealthy relationships, surviving breakups, types of mental illnesses, types of abuse, types of therapies, coping mechanisms and how to help loved ones who are suffering.

Check back here weekly for insight into how to become your own mind mechanic.

Are you a Delaware mental health professional interested in sharing your expertise for an upcoming Mind Mechanic column? Email me at mindmechanicoped@gmail.com.

Need mental health help and don’t know where to start? Contact the NAMI Helpline at (888) 427-2643

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