Toxic Stress Starts at The Beginning
By Brian Nadon
Recently I was asked, “How far should you go back in life when dealing with a mental health issue and how much time is needed for recovery?”
My answer: To the beginning and as much time as required.
Mental health shouldn’t be a quick fix. Not when you’re a developed adult. As an adult, it’s going to take longer to rewire your brain than a child just starting out in life.
Question: When your car doesn’t start, do you first check the alternator, starter, or battery? If your ceiling has water damage, do you first check the taps in the bathroom, water pipes in the wall, or the roof for leaks?
In these two scenarios, the answer is simple because you’d start at the beginning and then check everything until the problem has been resolved. We would troubleshoot the issue, figure out how to solve the problem, bring in a mechanic or contractor if help was needed, complain about the price, and move on.
But for some reason, when it comes to our mental health, we only look for the quick fix. I see this a lot with individuals with addiction issues. Self-included! Whether your addiction is work, alcohol, drugs, sex, or even shopping; In most cases, we only focus on the issue-at-hand and never dive deeper to explore the root cause.
We will often tell people: I started drinking heavily when my wife left me; I find it more comfortable to sleep around with various people because I’m not interested in long-term relationships. If I don’t work seven days a week, I can’t pay bills. I’m not a drug addict because I can smoke marijuana responsibly and it doesn’t affect my personal life or family. I shop online and return what I don’t need to the store.
All of these statements above are the lies we are willing to tell ourselves versus travelling further back down the road of life to honestly find the “why.”
I’m not trying to say there is anything negative about identifying an issue. I know firsthand that drinking is one of my problems, but that doesn’t mean I stop drinking one day and say, “I’m cured.” No, instead I spend the time to figure out “why.” Personally, I feel we should spend as much time as possible reflecting on the issue-at-hand.
Once you’ve addressed a problem, you need to continue your search and dig deeper to figure out the cause. By not doing a further profound search is the number 1 reason a majority of individuals with addiction-related problems, either replace one habit for another or a few years down the road start the cycle of addiction again.
Asking yourself “why” during a time of weakness, becoming vulnerable, and continuing to ask yourself “why” is a progressive mental health strategy that you can do to help yourself and those around you.
*Statistically, 1 in 4 mothers have mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder before starting a pregnancy.
My question; Do you agree what a mother feels emotionally during pregnancy can affect the child?
My answer: Yes, of course, it can.
Even highly functioning, fully liberated, well-established members of a society have problems. The important thing to remember is you’re not alone. When identifying what’s causing you stress or anxiety, take as much time as you need. If a program doesn’t exist – create one. And recognize that healing is a process that takes time.
‘The only person in life you’ll meet, who does not have any problems, is the person you don’t know.’ – Dr Lauren Zanussi
*Study published Jan. 4 in the British Journal of Psychiatry