Example that Choosing to Live is Better!

I was combing through the BBC Website when I came across an article that caught my eye. It was something familiar to me, in a sense, because I had heard a little bit about this man who does amazing things despite what most people would call “A major handicap”. You see, the man in question is Nick Vujicic; otherwise known as “The man without limbs”.

If you’ve ever had an injury to your arm or leg, you know how helpless you feel and how you constantly want to curse your bad luck. You just can’t wait till the day the doctor declares that you are healed. Now stop for a second and imagine having never had those hands or legs. How would you even survive?

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Nick Vujicic’s Story

Nicholas James Vujicic was born with a physical disability which doctors admitted was very rare. He has therefore lived the whole 32 years of his life without arms or legs.

Not many people would have made it through all those years without – what many people feel are – the necessary tools for survival in an already difficult world. Indeed, not even young Nick expected to survive with the reality of his life. He was born “different” and despite all the love he received from his family and friends, he already felt disadvantaged. This cloud of negativity hung over him for a long time and he became depressed. At only 10 years of age, he attempted to commit suicide. Thankfully, he failed.

The struggle to cope with his physical, mental and emotional struggle took a great toll on the young man as it would for many of us. Though life offered him moments of joy, it was the bad moments which really weighed heavily on him. Therefore, he tried to commit suicide a few more times. Thankfully, again, he failed each time.

At age 17, he was inspired to become a public speaker and it was during his first attempt that a sobbing girl’s gratitude changed his outlook on life. As Nick says in one of his websites attitudeisaltitude.com, “I realized that we all need love and hope and that I was in a unique position to share that with people around the world”.

Choosing Your Attitude toward Life

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Nick now has several organizations such as LifeWithoutLimbs and AttitudeisAltitude which seek to help people in their lives through inspiration and by providing perspective. It is by no means a stretch to say that Nick Vujicic has helped millions of people. After all, how would you respond if someone handicapped was doing more in his life than you were with all your limbs and faculties intact? Yet, here is Nick, who can swim, type, speak in front of thousands of people, and even goes sky diving. He is happily married and has a child, just like any “normal” person.

Nick’s circumstances would have overwhelmed many people but he chose to have a positive attitude even when negative thoughts threatened to derail his life.

Many people give up when life continually throws obstacles their way. No one can stand in another man’s shoes and claim they would respond positively to any negative circumstances. The interesting thing though, is that positive attitudes and unshakeable willpower trump life’s obstacles any time.

It is difficult when dealing with depression and thoughts of suicide. But as Nick Vujicic shows, your life is important. Just like him, you can turn your negative circumstances into a story that can inspire others to choose life over death.

Just from following Nick’s example, you can lay claim to the attitude that the future holds something positive for your life. So choose life today!

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Coping With Depression

It’s not easy dealing with depression. At times, you don’t even know you are depressed until you get to the point where you believe death is your only solution to life’s problems.

For those who have experienced depression, it is a memory that brings a tinge of regret at having fallen way off on the goals you had set for your life. No one ever imagines themselves being in such a desperate situation. Yet, it happens to many of us. Not even the high and mighty in society are immune to it. It is an insidious foe that leads our lives to despair.

dark world

Symptoms of Depression

Depression starts slowly and can even develop over a couple of years. What’s important to note with mental health issues is that, some problems are genetically linked while others are due to external circumstances. There are some symptoms one needs to look out for to identify depression before it takes root in our lives:

  • excessive stress;
  • constant fatigue even when you have not done a lot of work;
  • changes in our sleeping patterns e.g. oversleeping excessively;
  • indifference to day-to-day life issues;
  • irritability;
  • wanting to be alone more often;
  • experiencing loneliness even when you are around people;
  • feeling hopeless and miserable;
  • reduced productivity at work;
  • inability to concentrate on any task;
  • loss of enthusiasm;
  • lack of appetite or interest in eating;

Some of these symptoms become significant once depression has started taking shape in our lives. Depression manifests when our world is out of balance; when we feel (even without realizing it) that we no longer have control over what happens in our lives. It is this lack of control that leads to suicidal thoughts.

Unfortunately, we only ever research such issues once they have affected our lives; sometimes with drastic effects. Before we become mental health victims or know someone who is affected, none of these issues are ever relevant. Nevertheless, we can learn to cope with depression once we understand how it affects us.

How to Cope

There are a couple of things you can do to help you cope with depression:

  1. Establish a support system

We all need a confidant; someone who we can share our life’s goals, dreams and problems. It can be a family member or a friend. Having someone you can talk to about your problems gives you a different perspective of what you are going through. Sometimes we just need to get something off our chests to help us feel better. Having someone you can trust, who will listen to your problems without judging you, will enable you to understand issues better and perhaps even help you get a solution faster.

Depression pops up because we bottle a lot of problems. Life is not easy. Everyone is going through some sort of struggle in their lives. The more you keep unresolved issues inside you, the more likely you will get anxious about it. Once you feel you are losing control over your life, you start getting stressed. It is vicious cycle. Find a group of people who care about you and want to help you resolve your problems. It will keep you from suffering a relapse into depression.

  1. Address Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety and stress always tie in with depression. When you are constantly anxious and stressed, it might feel like the walls are closing in on you. You have nowhere to run and no one to help you. The people closest to you can even make you feel worthless. They might not understand what you are going through and therefore they can put pressure on you to resolve whatever it is that is troubling you.

What people on the outside might not understand is that you feel helpless in your situation. Depression is the same. You feel all alone; all your problems are yours to solve. What can you do to get yourself out of this mess? Should you even bother anymore?

Once you get out of a depressive state, you learn about all the triggers that brought you this mental health issue. Therefore, from now on, you have to learn to resolve any problem in your life that is causing you a lot of anxiety and stress. Get your support system to help you tackle everything quickly and move on.

  1. Get outside

One of the key issues that leads to depression is not getting enough sunlight. It is strange how important the sun is to our health. People who are depressed spend all their time indoors wallowing in their suffering. Getting some sun rays and a breath of fresh air outdoors has a massive impact on our health and overall well-being. So go outside more often and take walks near parks and rivers. You will feel rejuvenated.

do something

  1. Exercise Regularly

Exercise is important, not only for those who are fighting depression, but also for every other health problem in our lives. Exercise contributes to our well-being by releasing beneficial chemicals into our blood stream and helping our bodies combat illness. Exercising also keeps the mind fresh and active thereby boosting mental health.

  1. Sleep Well

Sleep deprivation is now linked to a host of health issues in our lives. Depression is one of them. Solving your sleeping problem will go a long way in helping you cope with depression. Poor sleeping patterns lead to other health problems such as diabetes and heart disease, which will in turn cause you stress and anxiety. Everything is cycle. You have to cut off all problems at their root before they cause other issues that can reignite your battle against depression.

Nowadays, there are sleep monitors and sleep tracking devices that can help you figure out the changes you can make in order to get the most out of your sleeping time.

  1. Seek Professional Help

People often turn to professionals when they are overwhelmed. Depression is an overwhelming problem that requires patience and assistance from others in order to manage it fully. A medical professional can prescribe medication that can help you with this problem. Doctors and therapists are also adept at giving advice and guidance that can help you to cope with depression and move on in your life.

Thoughts

Dealing with depression is not easy and it will require great effort from you in order to cope with it. For those who have not experienced it, you can try to keep it at bay by following some of the ideas listed here.

Please remember one thing: You are stronger than you realize. Many other people have faced depression and overcome it. You can do it too. Accept that despite all the challenges you face, life is still beautiful. Find your purpose in life and go out boldly to try to achieve it. Remember to give to others. What you give, you will receive tenfold. Be there for other people who are struggling in life and it will give you a better perspective of your own life and what you need to do to improve it.

2015: The Keys to a Healthier You

The new year brings a sense of pride in having survived 2014 and a sense of optimism for what the future holds in store in 2015.

There are those who are excited about what they are setting out to accomplish, whereas others are merely trudging along, dealing with situations in their lives as they arise. For those with mental health issues or know someone with a mental health problem, life is looked upon with different eyes. There are challenges that seem more daunting than they really are while others are simply overwhelming.

Looking to the future

This year, 2015, provides a great opportunity to utilize all the information we have gathered in the previous year to set ourselves on the path of being healthy. Here are a few things you can do:

  1. Go for a medical check-up

With sky-rocketing costs of medicine and healthcare insurance premiums, it is easy to avoid visiting the hospital when you are ‘feeling fine’. There are many diseases which don’t exhibit any symptoms until your immune system is fully compromised and overwhelmed. Going to the hospital for a check-up has helped a lot of people to spot life-threatening diseases before they took hold over the body. So, no matter what the prices look like, remember that you are saving yourself more money by knowing the status of your health.

As recently mentioned, you can ask your doctor to test for the MTFHR gene mutation which will give you a heads up on whether your family will be beset with mental health issues. While some mental health issues can be linked with one’s lifestyle, the key cause of mental health issues lies within this gene mutation. You can spare your family a lot of heartache by getting tested and knowing your status, so that you can live responsibly and also so that you can be better taken care of. It is always better to know the monster you are facing.

  1. Learn to Manage Stress

Stress is an essential component of our lives. It makes us more aware of our decisions and choices, and it also helps us identify problems and solve them. In our society today, stress can become unmanageable to the extent that one’s quality of life deteriorates. Stress affects relationships, hinders personal development and even weakens the body’s immune system thus making people prone to diseases such as heart disease and high blood pressure.

You need to find ways of managing stress. The first thing you should do is identify the stressors and take charge. If you are always reacting to the stress that means you are not in control of your life. Be more assertive and don’t take on more than you can handle. But most importantly, you should approach any problem with a positive attitude and perspective.

  1. Keep depression at bay

Depression is a silent killer. Many people never know they are depressed until their lives break down completely. Other people never know that someone – including a loved one – is suffering from depression until that person shares their problem or attempts to commit suicide. Everyone is going through some sort of struggle and it is easy to suffer in silence because no one seems to care about you.

Stay healthy and free from depression by managing your stress better. Ensure that you maintain your social life and interact with other people. Go outside and get some sunshine and some fresh air. Find a purpose in life that excites you and pursue it. These are just some ideas to tackle depression before it ruins your life.

For more information on how to keep depression at bay, you can read my article here.

  1. Help others. It will help you.

We spend our whole lives focussing on ourselves: our problems, our relationships, our happiness etc. There’s just too much going on in our lives to focus on other people. Life however shows that by helping others, we help ourselves. Once you shift your focus from your life and struggles and focus on someone else, you begin to see life in different eyes. You get a new perspective on what is important in life.

One issue that I highlighted last year was that, people don’t ask others how they are doing. Sometimes people struggle in silence and it takes someone who cares to understand them and uplift their spirits by sharing in their pain. Aim to be that person this year. It will work wonders on your health as you will have different approach to life. Empathising with others also gifts you a mental fortitude to help you in your life’s journey.

  1. Keep your mind active

Parkinson’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease. These are all mental health diseases that have brought fear and pain to our society. Some mental health illnesses can be kept at bay by constantly keeping your brain active. This year, choose to become a reader. Read a lot and gather a lot of information. Analyse things in your mind and challenge your brain to solve complex issues and recall information.

There is a fear amongst people that as you get older, your memory wanes. Well, if you don’t exercise your brain, this issue will become your reality sooner rather than later. Exercise your mind. It will protect you from diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Staying healthy this year and beyond, is important not only for you but for the people who love you. Keep yourself healthy and have a positive outlook on life. Things are not always as bad as they seem.

Happy New Year. Have a Blessed 2015!

Keep Depression at Bay: 8 Ways to Cheer Yourself Up

Sad moments can creep up on you when you least expect it. You were feeling ecstatic a moment ago but now you are not in the mood to celebrate. We all experience this feeling.

Sometimes we just get overwhelmed when the pressures of life weigh us down. You wake up and you don’t feel like doing anything. Making breakfast is a chore and you are looking forward to the moment you will sit down and just be. You can’t seem to shake the feeling so you allow yourself to wallow in sadness. All attempts from people to raise your spirits are met with anger and irritation. “Why won’t everyone just mind their own business”, you say.

There are many articles online saying that you should not try to get out of your slump; rather, embrace the slump as a reality and it will go away. While this course of action might sound deep, there is also a risk that your mini mood slump can quickly evolve into depression. Now you have a big problem!

Perhaps a few of these methods below can assist you to get back the joy in your life:

Happy woman with headphones

  1. Listen to Music… and Sing

There is probably a song for everything. Think up any topic and a musician has probably sung about it. When you are sad, you’ll naturally gravitate toward sad songs. It seems that this guy or that girl gets you. That musician understands exactly how you are feeling. Perhaps it would be best to listen to uplifting music. Singing will make your mind active and responsive to mood changes. If you really let the music sink in, you might even start dancing. It’s a form of exercise and we’ve already seen how exercise can be great for your body.

  1. Get perspective

As Dan Gilbert says in his ‘Surprising Science of Happiness’ Ted Talks speech, human beings tend to overestimate the pain or pleasure they will experience. Thus, it is important to get some perspective as to why you are feeling sad. Try to get an objective view of the situation you are in rather than a subjective one. By doing this, you remove the emotions that cloud your judgement as to what really happened to you to make you feel sad.

For example, sometimes people can hurt us unintentionally. Letting that pain fester in your mind can keep you from focussing on the fact that the person who hurt you loves you deeply and they would never do anything intentionally to bring pain to your life.

You have to find out exactly what it is that is making you feel down. Normally, when people are sad, they tend to make blanket statements that their whole life sucks. In truth, before getting into a negative mindset, these people were thinking their lives were amazing. What changed? Focus on what’s wrong and fix it.

  1. Exercise

Working out brings more benefits to your life beyond the physical. As you know, exercising makes the body release endorphins, which are neurotransmitters from the brain that make you feel good. If you want to feel good, exercise.

  1. Share your problem with someone you trust

A problem shared is a problem half-solved. Confidants can help you make sense of issues and find solutions for them. You have to surround yourself with people who will give you sound counsel. This will get you on your way to resolving your problems and being happy again.

Trusted friends can also give you the support you need if you require a shoulder to cry on. Another interesting thing is that if you manage to get a couple of hugs, your mood instantly changes. Try it.

  1. Find a source of laughter

You’ve heard this before, but laughter is the best medicine. To get out of your bad mood, you need to find someone who can make you laugh or watch a comedy show. Laughing makes you feel alive and grateful for your life. It will make you feel happy

  1. Remember that you are what you eat

There are a couple of foods and snacks that should be included in your diet, which act as mood boosters. Top on the list is fish, which gives omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 raises the levels of a brain chemical called serotonin, which boosts our mood. Another booster is chocolate. Chocolate not only tastes good, but also acts as an anti-oxidant and as a serotonin stimulator. You need to eat the chocolate in moderation though, as eating a lot of it will leave you feeling queasy and ruin your mood even further.

  1. Volunteer to help other people

It is said that, “If you think you have problems, just visit the hospital and see for yourself what other people are going through”. This is just a way of bringing perspective to your problems. Volunteering has a two-fold effect of not only helping other people, but also giving you a sense of gratitude and joy. There are so many people going through a lot of issues that sometimes you just need to ask them whether they are okay. We all need each other. We can lift each other’s spirit by simply being kind, caring and generous.

  1. Get some fresh air by going for a walk

Going outside can do wonders for you. It has been theorized that staying indoors causes anxiety and depression because the body is not getting enough Vitamin D from the sun nor taking in fresh air into the lungs. Walking is a form of exercise as well and it allows you to clear your mind as you analyze everything that is making you feel sad. Being outside is soothing and it rejuvenates your spirit as you take in deep breaths.

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Take Action

All these methods have one thing in common; they all involve taking action. People focus too much on their feelings and talk about not “feeling like doing anything”. In truth, feelings follow actions and not the other way around. Notice how when you don’t feel like doing something but you do it anyway, you stop ‘feeling’ like it was a bad thing. It’s all about taking action.

Wherever you are right now, you can choose to be happy. Life will throw all kinds of problems your way. In times like these, you will need to summon your willpower and take action to be happy again. Realize that happiness is a state of being and embody happiness.

You can choose to be happy right now. Don’t wait for the sadness to overwhelm you.

Suicide via Skype. That’s not the Shocking Part!

In life, you will never know the depths people are able to sink to. It truly beggars belief the kind of vile things human beings do to each other. Then I saw this story of a 26-year old man from Russia called Sergey Kirilov, who announced that he was planning on killing himself. As if that wasn’t shocking enough, he told people to link to his Skype account and watch him go through with it.

photo: DailyMail

photo: DailyMail

Now, at this point, you already have some expectations in your mind. Someone will step up and ask him whether he is okay, and another will offer an ear to listen to whatever problem this young man has and do their best to help him solve it. Perhaps, someone will be concerned enough to call the police and express their concerns that this young man doesn’t sound like he is joking no matter how casually he announced his impending suicide. It’s no secret that people are considering suicide for a variety of reasons. It could be stress, depression, or chronic mental health issues. The list is long. The opportunity was there for someone to make a telling contribution on another man’s life by saving him. No one did (one tried).

Admittedly, there is the social psychological issue called the Bystander Effect. It is a concept proposed by John Darley and Bibb Latané, and it states that people are less likely to assist you when they expect/assume someone else in the vicinity will volunteer to assist you. Yet, in the case of Sergey Kirilov’s suicide, that concept couldn’t be further from the truth.

In a vile, revolting, apathetic manner, the ‘people’ who had linked to Kirilov’s Skype account cheered him on as he took his life. I read that part and I was heartbroken. I took a long pause. I could not believe what I had read. But it is there, as clear as day. People celebrated the suicide. In some excerpts from the article, it says there were “dozens of spectators” and one of them said, “Come on, are you ready yet? Go on – do it” while another added that, “If a man says he’s going to do something, he needs to do it”. We exist with people like this in our world. I honestly don’t want to believe it. It is a great shame.

A spokesman (the article doesn’t mention who he speaks on behalf of, but I’m assuming it’s the Police or State Prosecution) called Leonti Zubarev, said that the people who encouraged the suicide could be charged with “negligent homicide”. The definition is explained here. I’m not sure that is enough. Those spectators broke the moral and ethical code of humanity. What is the punishment for their evil? Would you trust these people to be in your life?

In all this commotion and investigations, one thing stood out for me. Nobody asked what the young man’s reasons were for committing suicide. No one queried the mental health of a person who not only boldly announced his death, but also followed through with it in the presence of an eager audience. I have not seen any other articles following up on this story. Perhaps I haven’t looked well enough. There have been no further statements concerning this suicide. Perhaps it’s my fault I have not seen them. What’s striking for me then, is that this is a non-story! Not many people care. What’s done is done.

This is our truth, this is our reality. There are those who claim that this suicide was only possible because of the advancements of the internet. I DO NOT agree at all. Yes, let’s blame the internet for the actions of human beings. While it played its role in facilitating the viewing of such vile actions, no one should excuse the actors in this shocking story. This issue can only lead to calls for invasion of privacy through monitoring our actions on the internet. But that’s a different issue.

So what are we to do then? I guess we can just try to change how people view issues dealing with mental health and suicide. As for those spectators, I’m truly saddened by their actions. No man should ever wish ill on another.

Let’s help each other and heal our world.

Interesting Quotes on Mental Health

As one of you pointed out recently when I posted the quotes on life and suicide, I did not mention mental health and highlight its importance. Many people are suffering silently in our world. The major stresses such as work, relationships, and access to basic needs, have pushed many into depression. But there is a more sinister threat, though, one that is rarely mentioned when people turn to suicide to alleviate their suffering: Mental health.

freerangestock.com

freerangestock.com

Here are some quotes on mental health:

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

World Health Organization

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.”

Bill Clinton

The problem with the stigma around mental health is really about the stories that we tell ourselves as a society. What is normal? That’s just a story that we tell ourselves.

Matthew Quick

Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It’s the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with.

Adam Ant

Self-esteem is as important to our well-being as legs are to a table. It is essential for physical and mental health and for happiness.

Louise Hart

If you look at suicides, most of them are connected to depression. And the mental health system just fails them. It’s so sad. We know what to do. We just don’t do it.

Rosalynn Carter

We take our kids for physical vaccinations, dental exams, eye checkups. When do we think to take our – our son or daughter for a mental health check-up?

Gordon Smith

Mental health is often missing from public health debates even though it’s critical to wellbeing.

Diane Abbott

I was one of those people who put too much emphasis on work and career and material possessions, and it took its toll on all my relationships, on my physical health, my emotional and mental health.

Tony Shalhoub

There are so many clichés associated with mental health – such as the ‘fine line between lunacy and genius’ – which are, on the whole, a load of rubbish.

Jo Brand

“About a third of my cases are suffering from no clinically definable neurosis, but from the senselessness and emptiness of their lives. This can be defined as the general neurosis of our times.”
C.G. Jung

Here is an unlikely one from Shakespeare’s book:

“Macbeth: How does your patient, doctor?

Doctor: Not so sick, my lord, as she is troubled with thick-coming fancies that keep her from rest.
Macbeth: Cure her of that! Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, raze out the written troubles of the brain, and with some sweet oblivious antidote cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff which weighs upon her heart.
Doctor: Therein the patient must minister to himself.”
William Shakespeare, Macbeth

“What does your anxiety do? It does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but it empties today of its strength. It does not make you escape the evil; it makes you unfit to cope with it if it comes.”

Raymond Cramer

I have long recognized a link between fitness and mental health and I think we need to encourage young people to take part in sports and team activities because we know it has such positive results.

Tipper Gore

The last two quotes give a call to action and highlight what role we can play (very important):

“It’s up to you today to start making healthy choices. Not choices that are just healthy for your body, but healthy for your mind.”

Steve Maraboli

I’m convinced that we can shape a different future for this country as it relates to mental health and as it relates to suicide.

David Satcher

Feel free to add any quote on mental health that has touched you in some way. And please don’t shy away from asking someone close to you whether they are okay and if there is anything you can do to help. Sometimes people feel like nobody cares and they have no one to share their problems with. Be that person. A few minutes may help someone get the help they need. It may be a word of encouragement that changes their lives for the better. Or they may really need to go to the hospital to see a specialist. Trust me, getting all the money in the world will not feel as rewarding as saving someone’s life.

You are all welcome to comment on and share this post.

Sources

https://www.brainyquote.com

https://www.goodreads.com

http://www.quotegarden.com/

http://www.searchquotes.com/

http://www.changingthepresent.org/mental_health/quotes