The Hero’s Journey
As the state gets back to normal, we are seeing a lot of people coming in for treatment. Perhaps it is the shock of being out in the public again. For whatever reason, it is good seeing so many people making the effort to improve themselves.
For many, working on themselves is foreign. Unlike having regular doctor or dentist appointments, our mental health is very important because how we are feeling has a major impact on our relationships. Growing up in my family, we didn’t talk about our feelings. I was taught to put on the “I’m fine” mask and pretend that everything in my life was okay. But it wasn’t. I suffered from anxiety and thought that everybody else did. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep it under wraps and it soon developed into panic.
I recall the day when I was working my way through school, cleaning swimming pools, parked my car in front of a house, stood up and thought I was having a heart attack! I literally sat on the hood of my car, unable to take care of myself, and hoped that if I passed out someone in the neighborhood would call 911 to help me. That was my bottom. I never wanted to ever go through that again, so I began going through therapy.
When I began therapy, I didn’t realize it would be so natural. I had fears that they were going to do something to me, and all my fears were on high alert, only to discover that the therapist I went to was loving, interested, and knowledgeable. None of my family or friends knew about this stuff and soon I was feeling a lot better.
Mental health management is a mystery. I was taught to make believe I was fine. That was the extent of what I learned from family and friends. I started to get into learning more and more about self-help treatment. Soon I was involved in personal growth seminars. Individual therapy is one thing, but going through therapy with 100 people in the room is nuts! At first, I was on the edge of running out of the room. I felt trapped and exposed. It took me a few days to unwind, realize that the people weren’t going to kill me, and learned way more life skills.
I wonder if virtual sessions would be as impactful. Seeing somebody on a screen is one thing, but sitting side by side, or face to face with someone pretty much shook me up. This was just what I needed because I wanted to rid myself of these feelings and was putting myself in the line of fire. Yes, many in the seminars had anxiety like me, but many didn’t and had other ailments. It seemed like after a while everyone I saw suffered from something and that was okay. I learned compassion for others. I felt their pain because for the first time I was allowing myself to feel my own. It was addictive.
To heal, I discovered that education was the key. Actually, that is the second thing, I believe the first key is feeling safe. Feeling safe enough to talk about what fears you have, the bad experiences that happened that I hoped would fade – but never did. I have learned that our mind is pretty amazing that it can tolerate so many traumatic experiences. Learning about how to process through them and rid yourself of the problem once and for all was an incredible experience. This, once upon a time drug addict, had found his new high! Each time I released an issue, I would feel an incredible buzz.
Now it is my job to conduct therapy and I don’t take that for granted. Many that I treat have never experienced therapy before, and the ones that have, are obviously looking for something different than what they experienced. Let’s face it my method of treatment is drastically different. Addressing problems physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, sets my approach apart from the rest. Let’s call it experiential. Exercises are given and if avoided the clients remain where they are at. That’s okay. I am patient if they need to go slowly because I had to do that myself. When people follow through on the assignments I can see the difference and so can others.
Years ago, I worked at the first Mental Health Urgent Care in the country and saw thousands of people there. It wasn’t uncommon for a person in a crisis to leave euphoric and the staff mention that even their face had literally changed. When a person learns and practices the tools in the session, a bliss shows up. What we refer to as empowerment.
Instead of avoiding the problems, clients are asked to go into them. For me, it was the first time I actually felt my feelings and I was fine. One client stated years ago that they would rather die than feel their feelings, but when they did, it wasn’t bad at all and it caused them to chuckle. Relax, we don’t push people into addressing hurtful feelings right off the bat – it takes a little time to prepare for the zingers, but once the method is mastered, incredible healing takes place.
This is why I am an advocate of mental health. Even if people don’t have the classic symptoms of depression or anxiety, they can still heal – and that is what is so amazing about psychology.
Compassionate Care is Always Available
There are many more tools and strategies you can use in your pursuit of happiness. Here is where we come in. Contact us at Basic Steps Mental Health and let us support and educate you on this journey back to your loving heart center. Imagine living a heart-centered life, regardless of what is happening externally. We’d love to be of help.
For 25 years, Dr. Scott Alpert, the clinical director of Basic Steps Mental Health, has treated over 7,000 people with mental health and addiction problems, using a Psychological approach that mixes and matches ten of the top approaches used in the industry. We are here virtually and in-person to help you get through this COVID-19 pandemic and many other difficulties you may be experiencing.
May you have good mental health.