Friday, January 17, 2014

Making It Count: Preventative Mental Health

Yay Therapy!  "I got 99 problems and 86 of them are imagined scenarios in my head that I am stressing about for no reason."

In the past, I have been guilty of going to see my counselor only AFTER my anxiety shut downs. Usually by this time, it had been about three months between our visits.  I would like to call this little behavioral gem, "Reactive Therapy,"  OR in my world that means, I would only go see my counselor after I had lost all control of the thoughts in my head.  Reactive therapy sessions provide very little emphasis on the root of the challenge because my counselor and I spent so much time trying to look at the topic of the anxiety that it provided very little time for us to dig in and get to the root of the problem and develop long term goals. I know I can be better then that. I think God wants more from me then being reactive to illogical anxieties.

In 2014, I made a promise with my therapist that we would be all about preventative counseling sessions.  These are like regular mental health check-ins where we sit down and evaluate my behavioral responses to the things that used to divert my attention into self-defeating thoughts and we create monthly mental health and behavioral goals.  This is what we call "Pro-active Therapy" sessions.  It is about being an advocate for your mental health instead of playing the role of the victim. The hardest part, I am learning, is that it takes prioritizing our finances in favor of mental health.  This month, I am currently sacrificing my clothing budget in favor an extra counseling session. This is hard work.

It is currently trendy in our culture to talk about "preventative health care" for our physical wellness.  For many that means eating whole foods, mixed greens, taking supplements, seeing your health care provider for well checks, regular exercise, etc.   We talk about it so much that is borders my definition of obsession.  In fact, I think we over talk the physical and completely miss the mark when it comes to mental health! I have to wonder if the stigma of mental health would go away if each of us started looking at our own mental health as a part of our spiritual and physical well being.

What if we started talking more about the benefits of counseling and psychotherapy? What if our insurance companies supported more of us who need that level of support (you know I do) in our insurance plans?  What if more us were capable of feeling God's presence and experiencing joy because we felt more comfortable seeking out the people who can help us understand how our mental UNhealth gets in the way of our ability to connect.

Speaking of mental health, below are some self-portrait shots I completed for an upcoming mental health and arts related photo project. :

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