Mental health is a 20/80 balancing act.
- 7 April 2020
- Joanna Rusling
Mental Health is a 20/80 balancing act
When you have lived with or through a mental health experience your attitude towards self-care really changes. The best perspective on what this really means will come from someone who’s experienced the downward slide, the inability to connect the dots, the fear, the stigma, the shame, and then the recovery. I’m really excited to be taking a deep dive into my personal experience and sharing with you, the process of dealing with and enacting change.
It was 30 years ago when I started my journey into adulthood. I had a pretty definite picture of how life was going to be.
Turns out life had other plans and I’ve encountered quite a journey to reach a place of holistic health and wellbeing.
In 1990, there was a major economic shift in the mining industry and my parents where no longer able to assist me with university and living costs. Life had thrown me the first curve ball, and I had to make some choices. I could quit, head back to the Goldfields, get a job, and get on with life. OR I could find another way to continue my studies and keep a roof over my head.
With my determination and resilience firmly aligned, I decided to stand on my own two feet and managed to solve both issues with one stroke of luck! I became a live-in Nanny to five children and was able to continue with full-time university . I managed to pass and learned I had the grit and determination to figure things out.
After struggling with sleep dysfunction and insomnia for years the stress of my PhD studies and the need to finish my thesis had me living in a pressure cooker, and I broke.
I attended my local medical centre and was fortunate enough to find a young graduate doctor who took an interest in my overall wellbeing. She took one look at me and diagnosed Major Depression. I asked her how she could see it and, she listed the top 10 signs and symptoms. The relief I felt from knowing there was a reason why I was feeling like I was losing my mind was overwhelming. Especially as attempts to receive medical help for insomnia years earlier had fallen on deaf ears, and I was told to 'stop being lazy and snap out of it!'.
After several years of trying different medications, appointments with psychiatrists, psychologists and being emotionally numbed by drugs, I was told by a senior Psychiatrist, “Don’t plan on becoming a mother, you wouldn’t be fit". This! This moment in my life I am now extremely grateful for. This was the spark that lit the fire in my belly to question everything. If there was one thing I have been certain of accomplishing in my life, it was becoming a Mum.
During this period of time, my brain simply wasn’t functioning. I needed a lot of sleep to manage menial tasks. If I over did it I would struggle to remember basic things, such as why I had walked out of one room to go to another. It took me years to be able to drive past my work places without extreme anxiety and feelings of shame for having let people down and not being good enough.
Although I wasn’t able to understand what this meant at the time, research into “alternative” and conventional science has since been able to provide some reasoning for the breakdown. I learnt Buddhist meditation, yoga, whole body holistic practises that address the mind, body and spirit.
Our brain structure is connected by neural pathways which are formed when energy passes between neurons each time we have a thought or choose an action. Inflammation in our bodies caused by diet, environment, toxins, stress etc have a detrimental impact on these connections. We’ve also discovered the Lymphatic system is within the brain, not separate meaning if your Lymphatic system is under stress through infection or inflammation in your body, your brain is also going to be inflamed and struggle to function properly.
Our ability to navigate our way out of stress is much weaker when we’re in this chronic inflamed state and hence, Depression could be described as being like an auto-immune disease of the brain. In light of the research, we now know that by reducing inflammation and by removing toxins from your body and brain, you are better equipped to deal with the up’s and down’s of life’s journey. I can hear you thinking “if it’s that easy, why are so many people struggling with mental health?”
It’s critical that we know how to look after not just our physical body but also our mental, spiritual, energetic and emotional bodies. We are complex beings, and we need to address the whole body and work with the different organ systems together to achieve a sustainable, healthy, happy, and functional existence.
There are many factors that have a direct impact on our physical, mental, and emotional state. Nutrition, exercise, reducing stress and overwhelm, finding better ways to do things, learning about your body to know how to work with it, informed self-care, seeking out help and implementing your Souls’ Purpose into your daily life. Quite a list!
Before you dismiss it and label it “airy fairy”, “woo woo” or ‘spiritual’ please read on.
As someone who’s recovered from a breakdown and having been through years of self-discovery, I know the importance of ‘Purpose’. If you're walking around the planet not knowing what lights you up, what gives you joy, what brings you love, and what you're here to do in the world you will eventually reach a crisis point. Your mental health will be compromised if you try to ignore it, deny it, hide or numb it with addiction and avoidance.
Your passion, your purpose, your joy, your love which comes through you and into the world will guarantee and ensure that you never have mental health issues arising from self.
Often we don't realise that when we're upset, sad, annoyed or overwhelmed it’s because we’re getting off the path we’re meant to be travelling and heading further away from where we're supposed to be.
There are periods of growth or change during our lifetime that we simply cannot avoid. You could fight it, but you will make your life much more difficult. Your perception and expectations will determine whether your growth and change are positive or horrendous experiences. You have to lean into transformation and understand that we continue to change and we continue to grow throughout our whole life. It can be a very profound experience. The biggest struggle a caterpillar undergoes when becoming a butterfly is the fight to resist changing into it’s future self. Having children is one of these experiences! There’s no going back.
Many people think turning 18 marks a milestone for growth. You’re an adult, you’ve made it, you know everything you need to know. This is not the case. Turing 18 is just the beginning! We never stop growing and although we reach adulthood and our physical growth is complete we never stop growing new cells every day. The growth continues internally, by looking inwards and developing and growing our wisdom.
Life is an Inside job, we heal from the inside out. Here are some ways to keep your mind healthy, in connection with your body and your spirit:
The Circle Of Life
I learned about this fabulous tool when I became a health coach. I recommend re-visiting this a few times to a year to kindly judge yourself, and ensure your life is flowing in the direction you want it to.
Small amounts of exercise can provide major mental and physical health benefits. Research suggests just 40 mins of exercise 3 times a week is enough to reverse brain shrinkage and improve your memory.
Without accessing Delta and Theta frequencies in the brain, we can’t access restorative and reparative sleep. If your brain is experiencing inflammation through toxins or stress, your ability to reach these frequencies is reduced.
Essential oils are an excellent way to assist with achieving good quality sleep. By diffusing oils you’re directly influencing the limbic system, your fight, flight, freeze response. Each essential oil carries unique benefits and while Vetiver is a great one for inflammation, the dōTERRA Adaptive range will help you to feel noticeably calmer and on point.
Ask yourself. What are you thinking? What thought-loops are you having?
What we think about, we bring about.
What we focus on, expands.
Your mindset will determine your outcomes and if you wake up with a negative outlook you’re guaranteed to have negative experiences throughout the day. It’s very difficult to undo these habits, but you must start. You can change the directory of your life and outcomes by what you choose to think and the perspective you choose to have.
Meditation is an excellent way to bring your thoughts in line with where you want to be. Breathing, visualising, and slowing down through scheduled time outside of business, will allow conscious thought and deliberate change in your thought patterns.If you’re thinking you’re too old to change your mindset, you’re wrong! Our habits can be re-wired and re-trained at any time in our lives.
Lavender – rest and digest
Frankincense – mood support
Vetiver – relieve stress
Lemon - uplifting
Peppermint – stimulate
Rosemary – memory
Break the fast. Consume good fats and ensure you’re not starving yourself. If you’re not eating wholesome food regularly, you’re starving your brain and your ability to focus, retain, and recall information will be inhibited. Stay away from bad sugars, drink water, and maintain good gut health with supplements such as dōTERRA PB Assist.
Reflection and Thankfulness
Our daily lives are determined by every choice we make. Pareto’s principle has shown me how to pre-determine the things I can control in my life by re-wiring my brain to be thankful for the things I have to live for.
We can change our brain, but we need to allow time to heal and for our neural pathways to rewire and fire new networks as we change our thoughts, beliefs and emotions to reflect a life we want. It’s much quicker to achieve change working with the sub-conscious mind versus our conscious mind which is why I trained to become a Rapid Transformational Therapist. I wish I had known this 20 years ago! I am now able to help my clients get to the root cause so much quicker.
Focusing on these main areas has enabled me to achieve a state of wellbeing that I was told would never be possible 20 years ago. My journey to eliminate toxicity and underlying self-beliefs that don’t’ serve me continues. However, I choose to try and live life to its fullest potential and, like me, I want you to know the secrets to living well.