The journey to mental wellbeing can be an isolating one. It can feel that we are the only ones climbing the mountain, the only ones slipping back down as we simply try and place one foot in front of the other.
But sometimes someone, or something, manages to catch us up and hand us the tools we need to scale the cliff face a little bit faster.
The tools for attaining mental wellbeing
By Lisa Parkinson Roberts, PhD.
Author Lisa Parkinson Roberts has compiled a lifetime of academic research and lived experience to deliver a comprehensive guide to the root causes of an unwell mind and the tools one needs to overcome them.
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Below is an edited extract from A Well Mind: The tools for attaining mental wellbeing, in which Lisa discusses her own struggles with mental health and the reasons she felt that other people could benefit from a book like this.
An edited extract
It is possible to achieve wellness in your mind. I should know: I have lived it
My first encounter with an unwell mind occurred when I was just fourteen years old. I had a vague understanding that my mind wasn’t ‘normal’ because often I couldn’t keep track of my thoughts, and would imagine the most dreadful, frightening things. Things I was sure never set foot in the minds of my friends.
I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of fifteen. I had visited a doctor because I thought I was pregnant. During the consultation he picked up on symptoms (apparently I wasn’t making any sense and babbling about things he didn’t understand). I believed the doctor was telling me I was crazy: and I was sure he was the crazy one.
For most of my life, a well mind was a foreign concept to me. I felt I had no control over my mental health and simply had to play the cards I was dealt.
As an adult I became interested in the idea of mental wellness, as opposed to mental illness, as a result of my personal struggle to attain a well mind (and it has been a long, hard-fought struggle).
An important point to share with you is that before I could get to a place of being able to invest the effort required to change my mind, I had to believe that the effort would pay off. And I had to reflect on why the health of my mind was so important.
This is similar to a person embarking on a weight-loss journey, or a lifestyle overhaul to create a healthy body. It takes time, reflection and effort, as well as a large degree of experimentation. I had to get to the point where I believed that a healthy and well mind was a possibility. The small ember of hope that my mind could be considered well caught fire as I observed the changes in myself over time. That fire is growing, and I want others — you — to feel the same.
One of my aims in this book is to drive home the idea that we don’t have to be ashamed about feeling hopeless, overwhelmed, sad, unmotivated, irritable, angry, depressed, flat, lethargic, anxious, panicked or crazy (or any other adjective you care to apply).
I’d like to ask you to consider for a moment if your mind is well. Do you have emotional and mental health? Or do you feel that because you don’t have a ‘mental illness’ like I have had, you have no need to think about your mind?
Think about this: just because you’re not suffering from heart disease, you still have to take care of your heart. The same is true for your mind. Do we really need to reach rock bottom before we do the work required to achieve a healthy and well mind? Not always, but mostly yes. Why do so many of us need to be beaten into submission before we realise we need to find a way to feel better?
Perhaps we need to hit the wall enough times to start looking for a door — one door is the tools I share in this book.