Do You Have ‘Bounce Back’ Ability?

I was recently surprised by someone’s actions. One day they were sad, not psyched up to do anything – either feeling lazy or just unwilling to get out of bed; then the next day they were buzzing around full of energy.

It might not be a remarkable feat since many people do that and have done that before. What piqued my curiosity is how some people are able to pick themselves up while others wallow in their sadness till it trickles into other areas of their lives. Next thing you know, they are sucking the joy out of an engaging conversation or they are complaining about how life has been unfair to them.

Which person are you: the one that wallows or the one that picks themselves up? Where do these positive people get this bounce back ability and how can you get this trait today?


Life is full of roses…and thorns!

I have said it before, life can be difficult. You hear all these motivation gurus say that the world is your mirror and if you are being negative then you will attract negative stuff into your life. In truth, life just happens. Even the most positive people get unexpected curveballs in their lives.

For instance, you get a phone call from the office telling you to come and pick up your stuff because you’ve been laid off. Then they insult you by saying it’s not that you were doing a bad job, it’s just the economy is in shambles. How do you respond to that? What if you have a family and they were counting on that pay check? What if you had just taken a loan and now you don’t have the income to pay it back? What if you had a medical condition and being employed helped you tap into the health insurance cover your employer provided. Where do you get the money now?

While all this is hypothetical, there are people who have gone through such problems; probably even worse. It is in stories such as these that you discover whether you have a bounce back ability or not. Some people lie down and complain about the problems they are facing. They go around looking for an audience to hear their sob stories. In time, they refine their stories to the point that deep down they enjoy sharing it. Other people try to get back up as quickly as possible.

Here is how you can bounce back:

  1. Don’t let yourself wallow

I’ve read before that if you are feeling sad you should allow yourself to feel sad and that it will eventually ebb away. Some of us look for every excuse to listen to our favourite sad songs. The musicians just seem to understand exactly what we are going through. But isn’t life too short to spend it being sad? Wouldn’t you rather be smiling?

Recently, I’ve discovered this principle that while feelings cause actions, actions can also cause feelings. For instance, if you are sad (feeling) you are likely to listen to sad music (action). However, if you listen to uplifting music (action) you are going to be happier (feeling). Try it out.

Writers and people in other creative professions understand this concept well. If you don’t feel like writing, you will stare at your Microsoft Word for hours. But if you decide to start writing something anyway, you will start feeling psyched up to write even more than you had originally planned and the words will keep flowing.

  1. Take out the emotion and understand your problem

Simply put, you can’t fight against what you don’t understand. For those who’ve had a big problem such as being fired unexpectedly, it usually comes as a hammer blow. Your emotions are all over the place. What’s worse, fear starts to kick in spinning all types of tales about your imminent demise. It is a bad place to be mentally.

If you can somehow strip away all the emotions you are feeling and confront your problem with solutions in mind, you will be able to come to terms with your situation.

For instance, if you’ve lost your job, here are some ideas of what you can do:

  • Figure out what you are good at e.g. perhaps this is your chance to become a freelancer in writing, a consultant, a businessman, a salesman, develop a product from home etc.
  • If your quality of work led to you being fired, come up with ideas on how to tackle that problem so that it doesn’t threaten your next job.
  • Could you go back to school to improve your credentials?
  • Had you been planning to take a break from work to go on a sabbatical or extended holiday?
  • Do you have a connected network that can help you get a new job?

These are all ideas that can take the emotion out and help you focus on solutions.

  1. Go for counselling

There is a stigma around seeking support through counselling sessions no matter what problem you are facing.

Counselling should not always be used as a last resort.

It helps you get out of your head and see your problems from a different perspective. You get to speak to someone who is concerned about your well-being and wants to see you get back on your feet again. Most importantly, you get to share your thoughts and fears in a non-judgemental environment. Going for counselling can help you bounce back sooner than you would have if you did it alone.

Plus, it doesn’t always have to be a professional counsellor. Maybe you have someone who cares for you and always gives you an ear when you need advice. Seek them out and share with them. As I always say, be there for others also. If you see someone who you think is struggling with a problem, reach out to them and offer to help them find solutions.


  1. Take it on the Chin

Unfortunately, the more you go through negative situations and come out of them ‘alive’, you build character which helps you every time you face adversity. Bounce back ability is a learned trait.

What happened the first time you fell off your bike? You had to get up and try again till you finally got it. That is true of life. You will face different tough situations and each time you will have to decide whether you will shy away or you will take on the problem head on. The more you face your demons, the greater your bounce back ability will become.

  1. Have faith

I am reminded of the story of the origin of the Christian song ‘It is well with my soul’. This man put his family on a ship and was going to meet up with them later but then received word that the ship had capsized. What a devastating moment! But do you know what happened when his ship got to the spot where his family had died? He wept for them and wrote “It is well; it is well with my soul”. You can imagine all the pain he felt at that moment. Yet he spoke from a point of faith that everything will be okay.

It would be a lie if I said that you won’t have scars; that you won’t face overwhelming battles. That is just part of life. The key is to have faith that everything will be okay in the end. As motivational speaker Les Brown says, “It is much easier to have faith when everything is going well.” But it is in those moments when you are afraid, when you are in pain, when you are beaten down that you have to find a way to have faith. Once you lay hold of it and believe in a positive outcome, you are able to cope with whatever you are facing.

All these tips will help you as you develop your bounce back ability. Just remember, even fighters who are champions get hit from time to time. The only difference is they keep coming back over and over again until their problem (the other fighter) is defeated. You can bounce back as well!



World Mental Health Day: Key Points From Social Media

Today is World Mental Health Day!

It is a day to raise awareness on mental health illnesses. For others, it is celebration of triumph over diseases and conditions that strike at the heart of our being.


Many people probably didn’t notice this day or even know much about it. That sounds eerily similar to the indifference observed when it comes to issues of mental health.

But you know what, that’s okay. Sometimes, unless you have been touched by a situation, a person, a condition, or a disease, it is unlikely that you will care a lot (or at all) about a certain issue. That’s why it is important to speak up and let others know what’s going on. Here is where social media comes in.

Key Points from Social Media about Mental Health

The interesting lesson from today is that a lot of people DO CARE about mental health issues. Just browsing around social media, you realize that you are just one voice among many; hoping that other people will awaken to the reality that mental illnesses are among us and there are those struggling everyday with such issues.

Here is a list of some of the key points that people shared:

  1. Mental Health is just as important as Physical Health

One of the greatest frustrations for those who know about mental health issues is that people don’t think it matters as much as physical health. Check your blood pressure; check your heart beat. But no one is wondering about the mind.


The brain can get sick just like any other part of the body.

Just look around the internet and you will see more “work out your body” pieces and few “mental workout programs”. It’s just not as important.

We are here to say “Mental Health is Very Important”.

  1. Mental Illness does not discriminate

It does not matter who you are, what you do, where you are from, who you know or how much you workout, mental illness can affect anyone.


Knowing this should make people stop all the name calling, shaming and stigmatizing because mental illness can affect you as well as your friends and loved ones.

  1. People should stop trivializing Mental Health


Have you ever heard a statement that sounds something like this: “I didn’t have anything to do today; I’m sooo [sic] depressed”? This is just one of the things people do. They don’t understand that there is a world of difference between simply being sad (or bored) and being depressed.

There were other comments on social media such as “Bipolar disorder is not being moody”. These are just a few examples of how people trivialize issues that affect many lives. If people had any idea what others go through – how much pain and sadness others feel as they are struggling with mental illnesses – then they would show more compassion.

  1. You are NOT Alone

I’ve said it before but when you are going through a mental health issue, it is easy to feel that you are the only one suffering; That life chose to punish you.


The reality is that there are many other people from all over the world going through their own version of pain. Like you, they have had to suffer in silence. When they tried to raise their voices, they were shamed. People just don’t understand until they have walked a mile in your shoes.

But fear not; you are not alone. There are many people who have a sense of what you are going through. There are many organizations and groups geared toward raising awareness and helping to find solutions for mental problems.

  1. Take care of your health


Another point was that people need to take responsibility for their health. Go for check ups, analyze your family’s mental health history, take the medicine prescribed to you for your mental illness and educate yourself on mental health.

  1. There is a lot of support out there

Who do you turn to when your life is in turmoil? As I have said before, it is good to have a support system around you.

The beauty of our interconnected world means that you can join support groups online and you can meet people going through similar mental illnesses and exchange ideas.


It was also great to see comments from people who have had mental health problems encouraging others and saying things like “You are not alone” and “Things get better eventually”.

Take heart and believe that you will find a way to manage your condition or cope with a loved one’s struggle with illness. It will not be easy, but you can find a way.


It is great to see a lot of people united in spreading the message of love for those with mental health problems. No matter what problem you have, do not be ashamed; it was not your choice to become mentally ill.

We love you and wish you well.

Changing Attitudes Toward Mental Health?

If you have been following the Germanwings plane crash story, by now you know that the tragic events that occurred were as a result of a pilot who was suffering mental health issues taking his own life in what has been called “suicide by plane”.

As you can imagine, the knowledge that someone you love is in a plane that you are hearing reports of having crashed somewhere is simply devastating. Unfortunately, there were many deaths, many mourners and many heartbroken families. The sheer effects of that day will reverberate for years to come.

Knowing this then, it has come as a surprise to learn that a lady who lost her boyfriend – due to the intentional acts of the pilot – does not lay any blame on the pilot due to reports about his mental health state. You can read that article here.

Does this surprise you?

Could the lady’s reaction be taken as a change in attitude by society toward people who are suffering from mental health issues?

paradigm shift

Only time will tell whether this is a major paradigm shift in the struggle against mental health diseases. There are a lot of people suffering silently and they need assistance.

Do what you can to be there for others and perhaps that will be the stepping stone toward making a real difference in their life.

Is Depression Caused by a Chemical Imbalance?

The human body is amazing. Ask your doctor when he’s not focussing on your symptoms; a surgeon; or any health professional and they will tell you the same thing, “The human body is amazing”. Despite having all these great scientific minds and undertaking research running into billions of dollars, some biological factors of the human body remain an enigma.

Did you know that your eyes can alert you when your body is extremely cold? Did you know that (a mind boggling) 300 million red blood cells die every minute in your body? Did you know that your heart produces enough energy in one hour to lift a ton of steel? I also read in an article on Yahoo (can’t seem to find the link now, sorry) that all the computers in the world would have to be assembled to process the information released every second by your brain. Pretty impressive stuff!

But wait a minute. Could this overly impressive human body be at fault for causing one of the most dangerous mental health problems of our time? Is depression caused by a chemical imbalance? There are various factors at play here:

Role of the Media

Nowadays, people seem to look to the media to provide them with knowledge as opposed to looking to the media for information on current affairs. The role of the media is to set the agenda for the public to discuss. Unfortunately, many people see the news and take the information provided ‘as is’ without questioning its veracity or the intention behind it. It is this situation that has led to the belief that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance.

Role of Advertisers

When pharmaceutical companies analyse data, they look at the data with the intention of converting whatever medicinal drugs they have produced for a type of illness into a best-selling product. It is then the duty of the advertising companies to play on people’s fears and emotions to convince them that a certain drug will help them. The result is an attempted manipulation into believing that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance.

The Reality

depressed man

The truth isn’t really that simple. Depression is a complex mental health issue. The thing I hate about this kind of misinformation is that it deprives so many people of the courage to stand up to depression. After all, how can you fight against your own body? You fail to take responsibility and start wondering whether there is a drug that will ‘fix’ you.

Depression is caused by a lot of factors: our family’s mental health history; genetic vulnerability; the type of thoughts we have; how we relate to our environment; some types of medication; and our reactions to various chronic stresses in our lives.

Brain imaging scans have shown that depressed people’s hippocampus is smaller by about 10 per cent. The stresses in our lives prevent neurons from being produced in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is part of the limbic system, which includes the amygdala and the thalamus. It is this system which is responsible for emotions, behaviour and mood regulation. Depressed people have a high concentration of stress hormones such as cortisol and noradrenaline.

This is where drug companies come in. Here, take some anti-depressant. The medication boosts development of neurons and improves the nerve cell connectivity. However, these drugs also have a variety of side-effects such as: nausea, stomach-aches, heart arrhythmias, hallucinations and loss of coordination.

Is this really worth it? This is the same issue that led actor Rob Schneider to say that the late Robin Williams committed suicide because the medication given to him was known to cause suicidal thoughts.

What about Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy has been heralded as having positive results in dealing with depression. Psychotherapists believe that depression is a learned behaviour. It is based on the behavioural theory of depression that says that a lack of positive reinforcement or meaningful, valued and rewarding activities leads to feelings of depression. These feelings are then multiplied when a person reacts dysfunctionally and exhibits avoidant behaviour, which, in turn, reinforce the symptoms of depression. Therefore, cognitive behavioural therapists try to help people ‘unlearn’ these negative trains of thought that lead to depression.

According to Robert C. Malenka, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine and a Brain & Behaviour Research Foundation Scientific Council Member, “This idea of chemical imbalance has been useful…but in truth, the… idea is no longer adequate.” He suggests trying newer ideas to try to solve problems relating to the brain. Please read the entire post here.

So what have we learnt so far?

The brain is a complex structure and depression is a complex issue. One moment you think you have found the solution, and the next, you realize the solution is not that simple. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. We all have different life experiences. Therefore, everyone suffering from depression goes through their own personal hell. The solution to these issues cannot be applied across the board.

Is depression caused by a chemical imbalance?

From the information I’ve gathered, I believe the message is that our behaviour and reaction to acute stress is responsible for causing chemical changes in our brains, thus, leading to depression. Perhaps, you have taken a different view. Let me know what you think.


There are many people suffering from depression in our world today. As I’ve said before, the stresses of life can weigh on people in unimaginable ways. How you react to an issue is not the same way someone else will react to it. Just because a problem seems easy to you does not mean that your friend, brother, mother, sister, father, cousin or neighbour will respond the same way. It can be overwhelming at times. Some people, even strong men, break down and cry. That’s what life does to you sometimes.

In the point of despair or an inability to react positively to negative situations, depression takes hold and turns our world upside down. It is a great battle. A formidable foe. There are some of you who know someone who is depressed. One of you, perhaps, suspects that someone they know is depressed. As always, I urge you to reach out and stand with that person. Listen to them and try to get them some help.

If there is anything you have learnt from this post, I hope it is this: Get informed on the real facts about depression and mental health. There are people who have selfish motives and they are relying on you to not know the truth. It’s only money that is important to them. But we know better. What value can you place on a life? How much money can replace the pain of losing a loved one or a friend to depression?

Get informed and spread the word!

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.

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.

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