Before going forward in my life, I needed to understand more about the things that held me back. I needed to understand the reason why I behaved because the reason why I behave as I did were more important to the behavior itself.
I think of it like this, when we’re sick and go to the doctor, the doctor asks about our symptoms.
Do you have a sore throat? Is there any headache?
Do you have a fever?
They ask simple questions like this. But the headache or the runny nose are only symptoms. Although uncomfortable, the symptoms are not the problem. They are only evidence that the problem exists. We can alleviate them. We can soothe them. But to rid us from the symptoms, we have to treat the underlying problem.
I know the strongest part of a tree is the root. I know this is essential for the tree to stand firm, grow tall, and live to its fullest and most prosperous potential.
I know that plants and flowers have roots as well. So do weeds, in fact; however, weeds cause problems in basic gardens. They grow faster. They absorb the nutrients. They take up room and become invasive. As a result, they leave the ground sparse. Aside from the addition of basic care, remove the weeds and the grounds and gardens will be green and lavish.
Life is this way too.
And what do weeds do? Weeds can be parasitic. They can be invasive, harmful, and take up space and rob the rest of the garden by overly competing for nutrients, spoiling the grounds and overtaking the landscape or essentially, starving life until all else dies. Right?
The weed is the problem. However, the symptoms and pre-symptoms come after the problem introduces itself.
This is how life is.
Think about the way we are. Think about the way we react. Think about the feelings we have and the ideas we come across when our ideas become irrational.
These are the pre-symptoms that come before the symptoms of our behavior.
Below the overlying issue, however, there is a cause to all of the above. For some reason or another, as I see it, we have become a society that treats symptoms instead of problems.
We have become more interested in financing symptomatic solutions instead of vaccinating the underlying roots of disorders and mental illness.
What is a symptom?
- A circumstance
- A sign
- A result
- A behavior
- A reaction
- A phenomenon or pathology
- An indication of a sickness, or disorder
- An overlying piece of evidence which indicates underlying issue
I have symptoms of my own, which I use to gauge my mental health and wellness. There are stages to this.
Same as there are stages with cancer that range from less problematic to most life-threatening, my symptoms range the same way.
Depression is a very real thing; however, I am not sure that we give depression and the effects of depression that attention this deserves. We spend millions treating addiction, alcohol dependencies, substance abuse, and other debilitating responses; however, it seems more accurately stated that we treat try hardest to soothe the symptoms instead of rid us from the mental weeds that starve us and keep our internal gardens from ever being colorful or lavish.
When I see my pre-symptoms arise, I know there is something in the works. I know that I need to direct my attention to me.
When I find fears becoming more and more paranoid and when my insecurity grows and when my anxiety is high, I know this is my depression flaring like a cavity.
I realize that my thinking becomes inaccurate. I know this is a result of the mental weeds that suffocate my best interest.
In reaction, I am at risk.
This is when I behaviorally change. This is when I react. And I am not mean or angry. I am not self-absorbed, egocentric, or narcissistic.
I am depressed. I am afraid. I am insecure and paranoid of an impending doom. I act out in defense of my irrational thinking.
And my thinking is not the problem. Neither is my behavior or emotion. No, these are reactions. The problem is underlying below all of the above.
To understand myself, I had to learn more about my own internal worth. This is my garden.
I had to learn about the soil I use. I had to learn about the foods that interact with me best. I had to learn more and understand the way I interact with my habitat and my landscape.
However, in some cases, I needed extra help. I needed professional help; otherwise, I would never know how to rid myself from the mental and external weeds that suffocated me and kept me from flourishing to my best possible potential.
The best description I have ever heard about depression is that depression is not a problem with our character. This is a problem with our chemistry. Our chemistry is internal. We respond to this. At least, I know I do.
I know that when I eat better; I know that when I exercise more and when I physically take care of myself that I am at my best. I know this is me. This is my trinity: Mind, Body, and Soul. If cared for, the symptoms can become benign.
I am at balance when all three are at equal lengths and mutually connected.
However, if there is a break in the chain or when any of the three points of my trinity are questioned or compromised; this is when my symptoms start to react.
I have been arguing at great lengths that drugs and alcohol or substance abuse are a symptom. If we do not address the underlying issue and resume the wellness machine to a state of peace or at minimum, if we cannot reduce the underlying sources into a state of remission; the mind will always have the need to respond or repair itself.
Our mind wants peace. We are always trying to achieve a state of homeostasis or balance; however, when we feel pain, when we experience heartache or betrayal and when we experience a sickness without a face, like depression, or like panic attacks, or social anxiety disorders—if either go unaddressed, the symptoms that come our way are the mental weeds that leave us in a constant state of unrest.
This is why people medicate themselves. This is why people tweak their character or change their personality. They do this to protect themselves from pain that has no face or physical identity.
So what can we do?
I had to learn how to take care of myself. I had to learn that if I allow symptoms to grow, it only becomes more difficult for me to pull myself out from the emotional tail spins, and at that point, if I allow this to go too far then all I can do is ride the downward spiral until I crash and suffer the casualties.
keep in mind, education is key. The more we learn about ourselves and how we feel, think, and interact, the more capable we are to counteract the imbalances that send us off in poorly chosen directions.
There is more ways than one to feed, keep, and maintain a sense of wellness, mindfulness, and personal balance. We just need to find what suits us best.
I learned that fast foods and processed foods have an effect on me. Sugar is a drug! So is the shit they put in fattening and temporarily gratifying foods. And I mean, yeah . . .eating feels good, but the aftermath can be downright degrading.
I learned that when I am noticing myself becoming slothful or careless and irresponsible, there is something going on. I need to pay attention to myself. This is a time for personal inventory. This is why personal maintenance is always paramount.
When my panic levels are high, I need to assess this immediately; otherwise, panic attacks increase in every sense of the word, which means in length of time as well as intensity.
When symptoms become overwhelming, it seems nearly impossible and mainly unthinkable that I can ever get out of this rut, which is why I have to be mindful.
Toxic relationships are also a symptom. More important than my relationships are the reasons why I entertain them or stay when I can leave. If I find myself entertaining any relationship that is not beneficial or rewarding, then the issue is underneath and not on top.
I began learning how to graph myself.
I learned how to compartmentalize each individual symptom, which allowed me to make the connections and understand the reasons beneath my behavior.
I learned ways to unplug my thinking and reconnect into new and beneficial outlets. I learned to replace thought with action, which is what helped me most
When it comes to medication, I learned that although we are similar in nature and regardless to how equally people may relate to one another; I am indeed unique, which means I have my own unique chemistry—therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment when it comes to chemically and medically assisted treatment.
I used to argue against medication; however, I was wrong. It is impossible to counteract and emotional outburst when there is a chemical imbalance. This is where the failure comes in. This is where the problems in self-help application come from. It’s not the knowledge that’;s the problem; it’s the lack of ability to apply the understanding that causes the problem.
The mind is in need of repair; hence, the mind overreacts; hence, we respond; and hence, we find ourselves returning back to old, default settings so that we can repair ourselves and create a sense of temporary ease. Put simply, we treat the symptoms with another symptom
I know it is
hard to get out of the rut.
I’ve been there.
But if we only deal with the symptoms, the mental weeds still grow, which makes it impossible for our gardens to flourish.
This is why I say reach out now.
Don’t wait until it’s too late.