The stigma around mental health has hugely reduced recently and more and more people are encouraged to speak openly about their mental health. This helps us to break down the barriers surrounding mental health problems. In turn, those individuals suffering from problems, feel less isolated and are less afraid to ask for help. The mantra ‘it’s okay not to be okay’ has been voiced publicly a lot and for good reason. Approximately 25% of people experience a mental health problem in the UK each year. Often people simply distil their issues into three words that say more than any book ever could – “I’m feeling lost”.
In cases of mental health troubles, often as soon as a problem is spoken about, the psychological pain it’s causing is significantly reduced. A problem shared is a problem halved – is an old but very apt saying. The minute that we share a problem or whatever is concerning us with someone, a certain amount of weight is immediately lifted from our shoulders. Even if we don’t expect the person we’re telling to do anything about it. As soon as you confide in someone, feeling lost seems less daunting.
Whilst some mental health issues are caused by ‘irrational’ thoughts or fears, it’s rare for the root of these to be wholly irrational. In most cases the thought that led you to feeling lost has simply grown out of proportion or been focussed on too much. You’ve lost perspective. You gain reassurance through speaking to someone and seeing their reaction to your worry. Often this is one of empathy, a hint of ‘tough love’ and some of the rationality that you’re currently missing from your own point of view. An outsider can put your thoughts and feelings into context and identify the perspectives you’ve missed. They don’t withdraw and pronounce you mentally unstable, pathetic or even lost. Often what they’re really saying is, ‘it’s okay not to be okay’.
Order is easier for our brains to process than chaos; our brains love order. And we shouldn’t be surprised – our brains have a lot to look after. If they didn’t have things ‘in order’ a lot could go wrong: the human body consists of thousands of integrated and interdependent biological and neurochemical systems. They’re organised and without them our bodies would disintegrate into chaos. Whilst ‘physically’ and biologically, we function via ordered systems and processes, unfortunately our lives don’t follow any physical scaffolding or structure. Life can be unpredictable and uncertain. Whilst we may want to plan and control our life, this is rarely possible.
The same can be said of our mood and feelings. Both are determined by biological mechanisms such as hormones. But they’re also determined by non-biological mechanisms: our thoughts. The human psyche or mind is a complicated thing. An important part of overcoming difficult or confusing times is truly identifying and acknowledging what the problem is. Sound obvious? Let us explain.
Sometimes no matter how much you reason with yourself, you still feel lost, down or anxious. The chances are you’re not tackling the issue that’s making you feel this way. Take this random example: perhaps it’s not the fact that your friend has got a promotion and you haven’t that’s bothering you. After all you’re happy for them, they deserve it and you certainly wouldn’t want their job. So you’re not jealous. Perhaps what’s making you anxious is that you don’t want a promotion in your current job. It could be that what’s making you anxious is that you’re not sure if this is the right job for you but you also don’t know what the right job is. So whilst you don’t want to go after a promotion where you are, you don’t know where to look for one or a new job. You feel lost.
The solution is not to punish yourself for feeling this way when you should feel happy for your friend. Nor is it to get your head down and work for a promotion. The solution is to acknowledge and accept that you’re not entirely happy in your current job but you aren’t sure why or what job you will be happy in. Once you’ve identified this, you can begin to look for solutions and gain advice from people about it. That’s when to stop feeling so lost.
Mind and body
Whilst it may be hard for us to define or put our moods and feelings into words. It’s important to listen to our minds and thoughts. We need to listen to our thoughts because they determine how we feel. Of course biological factors like temperature also determine how we feel – but on a physical level rather than an emotional level or a state of mind, also known as our mood. Once we acknowledge and listen to our thoughts, we begin to understand ourselves better.
As a psychological treatment, psychoanalysis is a method of modern psychotherapy that can be very useful for individuals who are struggling with longstanding difficulties in the ways that they think and feel about themselves, the world and their relationships. There are short-term treatments that can be better suited for short-term problems such as anxiety and depression brought on by specific stressors, loss, or trauma. But for psychological worries that have been present in your mind for a long time, a deeper treatment is needed. What’s more, whilst short-term problems and traumas can be resolved by alternative treatments, often these treatments or medications can only be used short-term or provide short-term relief. And this is where psychoanalysis comes in: psychoanalysis will ultimately help you to help yourself.
Once you understand yourself better, you begin to identify what’s making you feel a certain way and why, as well as what you need to do to make yourself feel better. Our moods fluctuate depending on a complex cocktail of physical external factors such as life events and environmental stimuli such as light and temperature. They’re also affected by biological factors such as illness or fatigue.
It’s normal to not stay at the same mood level constantly – most of us experience peaks and troughs. Trouble arises when these peak are too high or too low. And this is when you need to know yourself. Then it’s okay to be lost because you know that most people do sometimes feel lost, and that you won’t feel like that forever. This way, you’ll acknowledge the things that are bothering you. Where possible these factors will be resolved. Where not possible, these factors will be accepted and you’ll move on from them.
Our infinite minds
Knowing what your strengths and your limits are, is equally important. If the amount of digital content you’re processing daily is beginning to overwhelm and to numb your senses, it’s important that you step away from it. If the lack of social interaction and leisure time in your life is beginning to make you feel low or isolated, it’s important to get yourself the dose of fun and human interaction that your psyche is craving. Listen to yourself, learn about yourself, understand yourself and know it’s okay not to be okay. But most importantly, when you’re not okay – accept it and find the support you need. We live in a world where we’re surrounded by people and information. It’s wonderful but it can be overwhelming; there’s only so much that we can take in. What’s more, there’s only so much that we can fix and control. This is something that can be difficult to deal with.
Psychoanalysis can help you to understand yourself better. Once you understand yourself better, you can begin to face your ‘demons’, remedy them and if it helps, reveal them to others.
To find out more about the treatments that Psytherapy provide, get in touch or visit our website. Natalija is a qualified psychotherapist Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and Systemic Psychotherapy. The psychotherapy Natalija offers is tailored to every individual’s needs.