These are tough times, obviously. Some of the toughest days many of us will face are occurring now and are still to come our way. After the first-order physical health threats, there are the second-order financial health threats. And with these come the third-order mental health threats. If you are feeling blocked in your personal and professional growth or lack healthy avenues to express yourself, the precursors may be in place for a steep decline in your mental well-being. But there are ways through...
I am not a mental health professional but I am greatly concerned with and support the overall wellbeing of the people in my ecosystem: fiscal and physical, relational and emotional. During my 23 years as a coach, I've had ample exposure to people suffering from both nonclinical and clinical depression. I am quick to bring my therapist partners into the mix if I detect the latter.
Feeling sad, lonely, empty and lost can be precursors to depression.
Years ago, I helped a colleague and friend design a sabbatical experience. He had been on a growth plateau for some time and was looking to connect with and get excited about a renewed vision and purpose for his life. Brian rented a cabin on a lake, got several weeks worth of food and left his wine and his technology behind. He spent his days largely removed from the distractions of the world as a way to force a level of constructive self-confrontation.
When he came back from self-imposed isolation, we debriefed on the experience. Brian had touched the voids of loneliness and boredom and found some new strength. This opened up a much larger window for both him and me. As he spoke, I imagined these flat and empty experiences as veils that he had found a way to pierce. The boredom membrane separated the life he was living and his potential to express more of himself constructively in the world. Puncturing that artificial barrier allowed fresh air to rush in. His reward was a renewed feeling of being alive and a much more expansive vision of what was possible. In breaking the isolation membrane, he made much deeper connections with his reason for being, higher purpose and the life force that he had locked away.
Persistent boredom and isolation place a veil over our vision and purpose.
I've talked my share of people off ledges and into therapy. They get access to the resources they need to repair long-standing emotional wounds and faulty brain chemistry. Developing a prosocial way to operate in the world and excavating important dimensions of their unrealized dream life is an important component of both mental health and wellness. In the years since my experiments with Brian, I've added uncertainty and disappointment to my understanding of the emotional states fertile for the development of a depressed experience of life.
The current situation in the world is rife with boredom, isolation, disappointment and uncertainty. If we support each other through this unusual collision of circumstances we can pierce the membranes between these experiences and genuine excitement, connection, power and clarity–the mental energies required to redesign and recalibrate.
There is plenty of support available to breakthrough the grips of depression.
Family and friends, professional therapists and coaches, coworkers and neighbors. These people and a multitude of on-line resources are ready, willing and able to help you off the plateau and through the void. This is a good time to stay close to your people with a watchful eye mental wellness risks. In the words of Robert Frost, "the only way out is through.
photo courtesy of Denise Karkkainen, all rights reserved