Tag Archives: mental health

The War Against Ourselves

As we enter a further three weeks of lock down in a national and global effort to halt the spread of coronavirus, people are beginning to wonder if there is any end in sight. Loneliness and isolation are having an impact on people’s mental health, so too is close proximity to spouses, children, parents and siblings for longer periods of time that in normal circumstances. The lonely, long to be near friends and family, and those in family groups or dysfunctional relationships, long to be left alone. Being alone with our own thoughts and the shadows they throw across the mind is a daunting prospect, something I can attest to but so too, is living in close quarters with a person who is controlling and manipulative. In both scenarios we must either face up to our thoughts and feelings about the situation or be consumed by them. The war against the virus has become the war against ourselves.

One thing I know for sure, life is transient and this current situation will pass. It is our underlying thoughts and belief systems that can leave us feeling victimised and overwhelmed. Depression casts a long shadow across our inner light duping us to believe life is unfair and hopeless. But despair not, there is a way through the darkness. When I found myself in such hopeless circumstances eight years ago, surrounded by damning thoughts, which in turn attracted hostile living conditions, I realised no one could save me but myself. Having a victim mentality only gives others power over you, particularly a controlling personality. No matter what the intentions, whether to exploit or to advise, giving someone control over your emotions leads to high emotional anxiety and mental agitation. The way out for me was by owning my emotions, the anger, the grief, the guilt and the despair. The underlying unfelt emotions fuelled a barrage of difficult thoughts which in turn darkened my view of myself and those around me. Owning my feelings, no matter how painful, led to a release from my emotional and mental imprisonment, which in turn set me free from a toxic living arrangement.

Depression goes undetected in many people, it is only when there is a threat to life that it is diagnosed. The unfortunate effect of depression in some cases is the alienation of family and friends. In many cases, the person is unaware of what is happening to their mental and emotional state, their fear of pushing away loved ones causes them to bury their feelings. Tragically it is only after a suicide attempt, the gravity of mental illness is highlighted to family members.

In many ways, we are all trying to flee from our damning thoughts through our busy lifestyles. When that is suspended due to the current worldwide pandemic, we have nowhere to run. We can try to fill the extra time with chores, gardening, Netflix, alcohol and food. As the time drags on into further weeks of lockdown and possibly months, anyone affected by dark thoughts and anxiety will have to face the cause. The cause is unfelt emotions lurking in the subconscious from past fears and trauma.

Set your intention for healing and awareness, for mental and emotional well being. Spend quality time alone, try not to avoid loneliness, rather try to understand why you are lonely. Listen to the inner voice as you would a loved one. Putting someone else at the centre of your world through dependence leaves you weak and vulnerable. It takes time to change a habit of a lifetime. Take small steps toward your liberation, by sitting for ten to fifteen minutes each morning in a meditative state. Thoughts will come and go, some mildly looking for attention, others aggressively trying to take you away from inner peace. Let them be. Sink deeper into the feeling body, feel where the sensation arises in your body, this is the fuel that causes thought. Be with the emotion as long as you can, by giving full attention to the feeling it will be released. This may be experienced as deep sobs or a sharp sensation, either way by releasing the emotion, it can no longer fuel shadow thoughts.

By putting ourselves at the centre of our world we can best be available to others. Be kind to yourself. How you treat yourself sets the bar for how others treat you. In the words of Ram Dass, ‘We are all just walking each other Home.’

Collette O’Mahony 18/04/2020

Image; Brooke Shaden

The shadow virus

There is a parallel rate of infection happening as we move through the global pandemic caused by coronavirus. Moving along one line is the infection rate arising from the virus and also alarmingly, is a shadow line indicating the mental infection in the population from fear and anxiety. The fallout is enormous.

Being denied basic rights such as freedom of movement and a job to earn a living causes a restless and potentially eruptive energy in the general population. Lock downs around the world are in place because there is no known way to immunise or treat covid-19. However, there have been several warnings, since the SARS virus in 2002, of a serious threat to the global community should another coronavirus make the leap from animals to humans.

According to the World Health Organisation, one person dies every 40 seconds from suicide. Several governments across the world say they are committed to improving mental health and reducing the number of deaths from suicide. Yet, these are the countries who ignored the World Health Organisation’s warning about another coronavirus pandemic, failing to put in place a contingency plan. When the prediction finally materialised as covid-19, their only response, given the lack of planning, was to enforce national lock downs. While this is proving to slow the rate of viral infection, it adds to the anxiety and stress of the population, particularly the most vulnerable. Even the mentally robust individual is wilting under the hot house of social distancing and being shut off from their loved ones living in other households.

The tide of coronavirus came like a massive tsunami across the world making it too late to run for cover. The measures being taken to stop the spread of the virus are having severe impacts on the most vulnerable sections of society, the elderly and those with mental health issues. So while we receive death tolls as graphs on a page, each life that adds to that line is someone’s wife, father, mother, son.

The invisible line that shadows the death from covid-19 is the rate of deaths from suicide. The child who can’t take another moment of being cooped up with his abusive parent, the young girl who is continually sexually abused by the man who is meant to protect her. The husband who slips further into despair as his wife hurls verbal abuse at his inadequacies, or the woman who uses make-up to hide her black eye from her children.

There are many questions to be asked about the inadequate preparation for a global pandemic, but more importantly we have a question to ask ourselves, individually and nationally; Can we continue to ignore our mental health and well being? We must invest, not just money, but time and effort into mindfulness, inner peace and meditation. Spend a few moments on conscious breathing. The more we watch our breathing, the deeper it becomes. Feel gratitude for this simple process that keeps us alive. Our immune system depends on it. Our well being depends upon it. We never know how much we depend on something until it is taken away, in some cases we find new ways to adapt. But that is not the case with breathing. There is no substitute for it, if we stop breathing we die.

Have you someone to talk to?

Stay at home. Save lives.

Have you a safe home?

What about the woman

who fell onto a closed fist?

What about the boy

who cries himself to sleep as

his parents hurl wine soaked abuse?

Staying in saves lives.

Have you someone to talk to?

We need to listen to unsaid words –

Long silences before ‘I’m fine.’

As much as we need to isolate

We also need to reach out

By phone, by text, by gut feeling.

Stay at home. Save lives.

But also stay awake. Stay open-hearted.

Your heartbeat is the sound of a million

loved ones gasping for air, and a million

silent screams waiting to exhale.

Collette O’Mahony April 2020

Finding inner calm in a time of crisis.

What can get us through this time of fear and isolation?

It is true that worry never amounted to a solution, and fear never nourished a single heart. There is a lesson to be learned in our current situation as we wall ourselves off in our homes for fear of catching the virus, or to save others as we wait for our immune system to fight off an infection.

How can we access our eternal being when the mind is crowded by fearful thoughts as ego struggles to make sense of its crumbling world?

It is important to remain informed of new developments in our nation and globally but avoid being saturated by it. Take in the essential information and leave the rest. The ego thrives on fear just as the virus thrives on human contact. Ego and self are comparable terms in spiritual texts. Self isolation (ego isolation) can lead us to a deeper understanding of our eternal being if we take the time to tune into our ever present, underlying peace. This inner peace is generally obscured by mental noise caused by anxiety and stress, never more so than in the current financial and global uncertainty. Yet, when you can take a few moments to check in with your feeling body and allow emotions to pass like waves across deeper still waters, a space opens up where everything is calm. Sure, the waves of uncertainty continue to crash upon the surface but this is not who you are, it is merely a current created by the fearful ego.

We all play a part in the unfolding universe. Mental well being is crucial to our experience in an ever changing world. Clinging to foundations built in sand leads to drowning. Our seemingly solid world, our expectations, hopes and dreams all seem to crash against these fragile foundations creating more fear and anxiety. If your house was about to be flooded, you would evacuate. The ego is the house with shaky foundations, we are being asked to evacuate, to move to safer ground. Thankfully, this safe place is not outside of us, it is within. Go deeper into your inner space, let that safe place envelop you and reassure you that all is well. Flow with the universe, let it lead you to safety, trusting that everything is unfolding perfectly.

Collette O’Mahony

26/03/2020