Living honestly in a dishonest world

We’ve all heard the term “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”.

How many people actually do this? This creates three very distinct dilemmas for me.

Firstly, if everyone of your friends thought like that, who’s to say that YOU are even a friend of that person? This then becomes confusing as to who’s who within a friendship circle.

Secondly, you need to continually lie to that person (or those people) to maintain the disguise of friendship, yet this has become, for most of society, an expected and accepted form of “normalised” behaviour.

Thirdly, once found out that you lied (and you will be found out) this absolutely kills trust!

Unfortunately this seemingly innocent act of lieing has become so widely used by society that lieing is now accepted by most as normalised behaviour. If a lie saves someone from embarrassment or being found wrong, hurting someone’s feelings or even disliking something or someone, we lie.

We see it every day in the media from news readers for ratings, right through to politicians for votes. Lieing has become such a part of human interaction now that we live in a fake world where only the liars succeed (the fake it until you make it types) and the people who question everything, only believing in the truth, get shunned, usually by the people who’s feelings always get hurt by the truth.

Now, opinions aside, from a mental health standpoint. Every time we lie we think no one is getting hurt right? WRONG! Every time we lie we are hurting ourselves by suppressing in our brains the knowledge that we just did a despicable act. And despite what you may think, your brain won’t forget this, so two things will happen here.

You will slowly, over time turn into the liar you aspire to be (and yes, your friends and colleagues will figure you out to be a liar, it’s not that hard, and you will no longer know if you are the friend or the enemy), or you will have a continuous struggle with your brain over the fact that you are a liar and you may very well succumb to a mental illness.

But don’t despair, there are things we can do to keep our mental health in check and on balance! The first being (and this is a no brainer). Be truthful, firstly to yourself and then to others around you.

If people get hurt by the truth then that is a perfectly normal emotion that the affected person needs to learn to deal with.

As the person sending that truth, maybe it would also help the affected person to understand the truth if it was not delivered harshly, and if the time was taken to explain it to them along with the reassurance that you aren’t picking on the person or that you don’t hate them, you would just rather not lie to them.

You would be surprised at how well people begin to respond positively when you are honest and remove an abrupt scalding tone of “you’re wrong” and replace it with “ I’m not sure that is correct, and here are the reasons why”. Most people don’t care if they’re wrong, as long as they are shown why and even learn the truth about it, this honesty will also help to build trust.

Hate, hurt, pain, anguish, despair, heartache, these are all perfectly normal emotions to be felt and shouldn’t be covered up by lies to save anyone’s feelings.

We need to be able to feel these emotions from time to time to grow to be fully functional able minded adults who are able to manage, and conquer our emotional state.

Honesty may not be the best policy in business and politics, but if we hope to live a life of good mental health we need to stop lying to ourselves.

GOOD MENTAL HEALTH

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What is mental illness and why is there such a need for good mental health?

Mental illnesses are also called mental disorders. They are extremely common in the Australian population and stem from poor mental health. This could be due to many factors such as lifestyle, diet, work and social stresses.
1 in every 5 Australians — about 4 million people — suffers from a mental illness in a given year, and almost half the population has suffered a mental disorder at some time in their life. The most common mental disorders are depression, anxiety and substance use disorders.
There are many different types of mental illness. They can range from mild disorders lasting only a few weeks through to severe illnesses that can be life-long and cause serious disability.
Mental illnesses can affect people’s thoughts, mood, behaviour or the way they perceive the world around them. A mental illness causes distress and affects the person’s ability to function at work, in relationships or in everyday tasks.
Mental illness can attract stigma and discrimination, which can be two of the biggest problems for a person with these disorders. Up to 1 in 10 people with mental illness die by suicide.
Although mental illness is treatable, about two thirds of people with mental illnesses do not seek any treatment. Psychological therapy, medicine and lifestyle changes can be effective for mental illness. If you suspect that someone may have signs of a mental illness, the first step for them is to visit a doctor or health professional.

What is mental illness stigma?

Stigma occurs whenever there are negative opinions, judgments or stereotypes about anyone with any form of mental illness.

Stigma shows when someone with a mental illness is called ‘dangerous’, ‘crazy’ or ‘incompetent’ rather than unwell.
Stigma can lead people with mental illness to be discriminated against and miss out on work or housing, bullied or to become a victim of violence.

Why does stigma exist?

Stigma exists mainly because some people don’t understand mental illness, and also because some people have negative attitudes or beliefs towards it. Even some mental health professionals have negative beliefs about the people they care for.
Media can also play a part in reinforcing a stigma against mental illness by:
portraying mentally ill people with inaccurate stereotypes
sensationalising situations through unwarranted references to mental illness
using demeaning or hostile language.
For example, if a part of the media associates mental illness with violence, that promotes the myth that all people with a mental illness are dangerous. In fact, research shows people with mental illness are more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violence.

How does stigma affect people with mental illness?

A person who is stigmatised may be treated differently and excluded from many things the rest of society takes for granted.
People with mental illness may also take on board the prejudiced views held by others, which can affect their self-esteem. This can lead them to not seek treatment, to withdraw from society, to alcohol and drug abuse or even to suicide.

Warning signs of suicide:

Listen

A person who is thinking about suicide will usually give some clues or signs to people around them. The best way to prevent suicide is to recognise these warning signs, take them seriously and act on them.
This article covers the warning signs of suicide you should look out for and how to respond to them. If you notice any of these warning signs in a friend, relative or loved one, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling and to share these concerns with a member of their healthcare team.

Urgent help:

If you think there is a high risk of a person dying by suicide before they can get the appropriate professional help, call the person’s doctor, a mental health crisis service or dial triple zero (000) and say that the person’s life is at risk. Do not leave them alone, unless you are concerned for your own safety.
If the person agrees, you could go together to the local hospital emergency department.

Things to look out for:

Almost everyone who has committed suicide will have given some signs or warnings, even though some of these signs might be subtle. A person might show they are considering suicide in how they feel, talk and behave.

How they feel and talk — signs include:

  • feeling sad, angry, ashamed, rejected, desperate, lonely, irritable, overly happy or exhausted
  • feeling trapped and helpless: “I can’t see any way out of this”
  • feeling worthless or hopeless: “I’m on my own — no one cares. No one would even notice I was gone”
  • feeling guilty: “It’s my fault, I’m to blame”

How they behave — signs include:

  • abusing drugs or alcohol, or using more than they usually do
  • withdrawing from friends, family and society
  • appearing anxious and agitated
    having trouble sleeping or sleeping all the time
  • having sudden mood swings — a sudden lift in mood after a period of depression could indicate they have made the decision to attempt suicide
  • having episodes of sudden rage and anger
  • acting recklessly and engaging in risky activities
  • losing interest in their appearance, such as dressing badly, no longer wearing make-up or not washing regularly
  • putting their affairs in order
  • making funeral arrangements

High-risk warning signs

A person may be at high risk of attempting suicide if they:

  • threaten to hurt or kill themselves
  • possess or have ways to kill themselves, such as stockpiling tablets or buying equipment that could be used to harm themselves
  • talk, draw or write about death, dying or suicide

Responding to warning signs

It can be challenging to talk to someone about their suicidal thoughts, but if you have noticed warning signs and are worried, the best way to find out is to ask. You might be the only person who does ask.
beyondblue has tips for how to start a conversation about suicide and questions you could ask.
Where to get help
The person’s doctor or acute care team can provide a range of options for treating and managing mental health issues. The emergency department at their local hospital will also be able to help them. Alternatively, if they are in Australia, you or they can ring the following numbers for 24-hour help, support and advice:
Lifeline — 13 11 14
Kids Helpline — 1800 551 800
Suicide Call Back Service — 1300 659 467
MensLine Australia — 1300 78 99 78

Mental Health

What Is Mental Health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

Mental health problems are common but help is available. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.

Early Warning Signs

Not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be an early warning sign of a problem:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school

Learn more about specific mental health problems and where to find help.

Mental Health and Wellness

Positive mental health allows people to:

  • Realize their full potential
  • Cope with the stresses of life
  • Work productively
  • Make meaningful contributions to their communities

Ways to maintain positive mental health include:

  • Getting professional help if you need it
  • Connecting with others
  • Staying positive
  • Getting physically active
  • Helping others
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Developing coping skills

Learn More About Mental Health

Understanding Depression.

The term the black dog has been used throughout the centuries before being made famous by Winston Churchill’s chilling account of his own battle with the black dog of depression in the 1930’s.

We quite often find ourselves in times of self doubt, self pity, hate and uncertainty that we seem to focus more and more of the negativities in life and forget about the positives. I myself discovered I was suffering depression due to family abuse and break up dating back as far as 1976.

I had grown up in a family affected by sexual, physical and emotional abuse with both a father and a step-father that had unfortunately left me psychologically and emotionally scared to the point that I trusted no one. I inherited this self destructive behavior from my own family, and for years found it hard to communicate and even deal with people.

I ended up homeless on the streets of Kings Cross Sydney in 1985 at the age of 15 where I was surrounded by street kids, bikie gangs, drug dealers, sex workers, drag queens, transvestites, corrupt cops and extreme violence.

I had gone through life working jobs short term, this isn’t because they were short term jobs, this was mainly due to my attitude. I would work for months and sometimes years with no problems when all of a sudden, out of the blue something would go wrong and I would not let it go. I would always blow it up to be bigger than what it was. I would attack not so much other workers but senior employers, I would challenge them, talk down to them, intimidate and often fight them.

I could see that I was putting my loved ones through hell, particularly my wife. In April of 2017 I wrote a short 15 page story to myself about my life and some of the things I had been through to see if I could make any sense of my life. After quite a bit of soul searching and internal conflict I decided to let my wife and my mother in-law read it. My mother in-law cried while reading this as she had always seen me as this hard person and could now see why.

My wife convinced me to expand on this as she knew there was a lot in this story that I had not said and she believed it would help me to understand everything I had been through a lot better, both the good and the bad if I wrote it down. I decided to do this and I was blown away by not only how much I remembered but how much detail and how all these situations made me feel. I grew up feeling alone whilst in my family, I felt scared, overwhelmed, anxious, hateful, but mostly I felt hurt. Not because of the abuse, I grew used to that but I was hurt that I had absolutely no protection by my mother from any of this.

I know there are a lot of people out there that know exactly what I am talking about from their own experiences, but there was one thing I could also see by doing this that it wasn’t all bad times, there where some good times as well, and although I may not have been able to help what happened to me as a child I now see that the negativity I was so focused on while growing up certainly dictated where my life headed as an adult.

Everything we do in life, every decision we make is based on emotion, how we feel about a situation or someone, previous things that have happened to us. How we react to these situations determines the direction our life will go, once we understand this basic principal we can make the fundamental changes within our lives needed to achieve positive outcomes.

Everyone is different when it comes to the amount of abuse they have endured or the amount of time spent suffering from depression, My hope is to help people discover that although life may not be going your way at this point in time, and let’s be realistic here, things are always going to go wrong from time to time. We don’t have to stay stuck in that moment because of our emotion towards a problem. As Tony Robbins once said, a problem is merely a question that hasn’t been answered yet, If you can’t find a solution to a problem, ask better questions.

You certainly don’t need to beat yourself up about it, acknowledge what has happened by seeing it as it is but not worse than it is and allow yourself to move on, at the end of the day the only thing preventing any of us from being happy is ourselves. I will share with everyone the tips and techniques I have been using to stay focused via blogs, links and apps in future publications.