Mindful thinking is something I’ve only recently started getting into, yet it’s something I’ve been skirting around whole life. The first thing to note is that I am in no way a doctor. I can tell you what’s helped me, but a real doctor can advise you on what can best help you. I also think going to see professional help should be required, at least in college. In college (in America at least), psychologists and counselors are free. With college being the most stressful time of your life, what better time to talk to someone about how you feel? That disclaimer out of the way, I think mindful thinking would be good for everyone. I know it’s helped me, much more than any of the medicine I took ever did.
When I was in elementary (about 2000) my teacher told my parents I needed help. Turns out I was Bipolar, or maybe ADHD, or maybe OCD? Whatever the diagnoses was (there were multiple), I was on drugs for the next 14 years, then 3 more on and off. They tried to teach me how to think about my mood swings as a way to control them. They tried to get rid of them with medicine. Honestly, none of it really worked. I still had mood swings, I still hated taking medicine, and all I did was learn what the doctor wanted to hear. I didn’t appreciate doctors until I recently; though, I still refuse to take medicine even today.
As someone who was ADHD, OCD, and Bipolar as a kid I get a lot of flack for saying labels don’t help anyone. They sure never helped me. By calling me OCD I had a stigma. By calling me bipolar, I was weird to the other kids and even the teachers. Telling me I was ADHD? My energy became a problem to get rid of rather than an attribute to be harnessed. I was different, yet, I don’t think I was ever special needs. There’s no doubt in my mind that my brain works a bit different than the way most others do. What I question is our drive to use drugs to make it “right.” What’s “wrong” with my brain?
As I got older, I realized that the labels I was given were doing nothing for me. Being labeled bipolar did nothing for my mood swings and when I pushed the button in my head, I realized that not being labeled bipolar, also did nothing. The labels were completely useless.
Being A Happier Me Versus Being A Normal Person
What have I gained from disregarding my labels? Freedom to be me. I’ll never fit in the “normal people box” and I am okay with that. I’ll always change moods faster than my friends, that’s just who I am. I may always have a harder time focusing on what I think is boring, I’m okay with that. I may even get sad more than everyone else, that’s fine too. Accepting who I am made me realize that maybe normal shouldn’t be my goal. Maybe I should make my goal to be happy being me. Maybe I should ignore everyone else and focus on how I feel. I took to Google. Google seemed like a fine place to start.
After a bit of Google searching, mindfulness came up. I liked the idea behind it, but I wasn’t so sure it would work. After all, I had been forced to take medicine for years with everyone citing that “medicine was good for people like me.” Never the less, I wanted to give it a try. I began taking 10 minutes a day to just sit. I thought if I could do this, I could prove everyone wrong. I was in for a long ride.
I learned quickly that just meditation was not going to cut it for me. I would have to learn how to really be mindful all day. I began training myself each day. Accepting when I was sad, determining why I was mad, enjoying when I was happy, and focusing when I had a task. I made real progress.
Today, I’m still learning. I still go through days where I don’t want to get out of bed (and some days I don’t). There are still times when my mood swings 30 times in one day. There are other times when I can’t focus at work and barely get anything done. There are even still days that I hate myself. But I know, I’m much better than I was on medicine. I’m me.
How can any of this help you?
You know my story, probably even more then you cared to know. How does that help you? Have you been labeled? Do you get really sad sometimes? Are there things about your mind that you would like to fix? Your moods, your mindset, maybe just your memory?
As it did with me, mindfulness can and will help you better understand, accept, and change who you are. Mindfulness helps you understand that feeling sad is okay, that being depressed is alright. Yet, it also teaches you to get back up. It teaches you to think past the mood and to your situation. It helps you remember what you need to do and what you have going for you. Mindfulness most importantly, helps you be free.
Where to start?
The easiest way to begin is by thinking, just think about your emotions and thoughts. I have also written about ten easy ways to add mindfulness to your day, here. A great tip for those dealing with emotion is to take five minutes to meditate any time you begin to feel extra stressed or upset. It may seem hard to stop when you are stressed and rushing around, but I promise it will actually make you more efficient in your task. When you stop, think about why you are getting sad/mad/emotional. Determine if there is anything you can do about it. If there is, do it. If there is not, accept your emotions. Accept that you are sad. Maybe, call a friend to just talk. Take a walk in the sunshine. Read your favorite book. Do something that makes you happy. It might not work at first, but it’s not easy to retrain your brain, keep at it. You can even begin training your mind when you are in a good mood. For the rest of the day be aware of your emotions. Try to only do one thing at a time. Try to only think positive thoughts. Try to accept yourself.
Where to go?
My best advice is to think as much as you can about how you feel. Stay aware of your body. Always try to do one thing at a time. Not just about yourself, always listen to others and have deep conversations as well. The road to mindfulness is long. Step one is just being more aware. If you want deeper talks about mindfulness or just want to learn more, check out this link. It will have more on my story and links to all other articles that I have written as well as other blogs that write about mindfulness as well.
A smoker knows smoking is bad for them. They even know it could end up killing them. Yet each time they try to quit, many have a hard time and give up. This is not true for all smokers though. Some, the ones that have TRULY decided to quit, might find it hard, but they make it. Some might even quit cold turkey, though most have to persist through withdraws and cravings before emerging on the other side. Many, even after really quitting, have to fight the occasional urge every so often.
How does this relate to depression and bipolar, to OCD and other mental issues? You have to want change. As someone who went to a therapist for 16 years not really committing to go, I know first hand that if you aren’t 100% into change, change will not happen. Even if you are committed, it still not going to happen instantly, even with meds in the mix. Mindfulness is not an instant fix by far. It takes time and you will still be sad even after you’ve gotten a lot better. There will be days where you won’t want to think or do anything, but if you really want change, you will have to push through it anyway.
Like I said before, there is nothing wrong with going to a doctor, and I am not one by far. This is my story and how I have dealt with my mental health. If you have depression, go to a doctor, ask about meditation as a fix, and ask about other options too. Find what is best for you. Mental health is just as real as physical health. I might not ascribe to labels, but I know just how important it is to be mentally happy and healthy.
Have you used mindfulness to deal with emotions?
Do you have any advise for those beginning on their own journey?