Mental Health [101] in Schools & A Personal Story of Addiction, Mental Illness, Recovery, Wellbeing

Mental Health [101] in Schools & A Personal Story of Addiction, Mental Illness, Recovery, Wellbeing


Jacob and Jesse these two dudes helped
us set this up so let’s give them a quick round of applause! The amount of people it takes just to
organize this it shows us that you need a community to do things. Anyhow, so how’s
this sound yeah and you guys can hear me in the back okay so my name is Mike and
I’m a lived experienced mental health advocate I’ve been through a variety of
mental health mental illness addiction challenges and I’ve come out the other
side of a happier healthier and more resilient human being I think situations
like this conversation is one of the best ways for us to learn what mental
health is what it looks like and how it affects people in their daily life and
not long ago these conversations didn’t exist people like me certainly never had
these opportunities so we’ve come a long way and the Lord a lot of that is
because of the great work of teachers and school boards and government and
young people like yourselves a whole host of inputs have led to this moment
right now and I think it’s really helpful to honor that and be grateful
for it because it’s really important all the
research and the data shows how important it is
so personally I value this tremendously and it’s an honor to be doing this be
the change you wish to see in the world starts with me it took me a long time to
really grasp what that meant but people like Gandhi don’t become heroes because
of the words that come out of their mouth they become heroes because they
back up their words with their actions and one thing that is missing from the
world in my opinion is people doing less talking and more action and if we can
somehow incorporate that into our lives the world will be a better place
and so we’re so will your life we’re going to do a quick three-minute silent
meditation if you will you don’t have to do it okay you don’t have to participate
and if you don’t want to that’s totally cool just please do your best to be
respectful it’s okay to laugh it’s okay to giggle and be uncomfortable that’s
sort of part of the point but I think it’ll be just nice for us to ground
ourselves before we get into this so hopefully all of this works we’re gonna
find out right now okay there was a few seconds there real deep silence did
everybody feel that yeah that was really nice
Jesse you want to talk okay let’s see what happens you’re not trying so I think that does a good job of
bringing some lightness to the conversation and it sort of goes to show
the difference we have when we see somebody struggling with their body
parts if you will one way to say it is their physical health and just the gap
there so that gap seems to be shrinking our perception of physical versus mental
health and if we can start to close it then when we do have moments where brain
if you will is having a hard time we might be more inclined to ask for help
the same way we would be if our arm hurt or our heart hurt or whatever it is and
it doesn’t always have to be such a serious conversation and the more
comfortable we get with it the better so personally this all began for me around
twelve years old and what started to happen was this can you guys see it from
over there yeah it’s okay can I just pull them
myself No thank you sir okay it’s not all that important so I wanted to be so
I we got here a bit early and there was anybody out here running around this
morning outside right on so I wanted to be that kid or those kids but I could
never do the things I wanted to do and I was always doing things I didn’t want to
do and how that started to cause me pain as I would look at people around me and
I’d say those people look like they have something that I don’t have and I want
that I want to know what it is those people
know that I don’t and I’m gonna do anything I can to get it or to figure it
out and because things like this weren’t happening there was no mental health
awareness my family certainly didn’t talk about it I found my way to
experimenting with drugs I had an older brother who was 16 at the time and he
thought it was a good idea to give his 12 year old prepubescent brother magic
mushrooms and so I had a I know it sounds funny and it’s kind of hard to
believe in a way but in the context of all this it’s actually quite reasonable
so I had a drug-induced psychotic episode basically the worst experience
of my entire life and what was a clear sign what we call warning signs was
after a couple days when I sort of came out of the madness I said to myself I
want to do that again I just don’t want it to be that bad and that is a sign of
somebody who is desperately looking for some solution to their internal pain but
has no idea where to find it and because the experience of the drugs allowed me
to have some type of control over how I felt inside that’s what I grasped for
because I didn’t have any other options I didn’t have any other coping skills or
tools or whatnot so I said okay maybe I’ll try something else
and I started smoking marijuana and because that worked so well at the time
I mean it wasn’t a good strategy but again I didn’t have any other ways of
handling myself I was high on marijuana for every single day of my life until
the age of 30 literally 24 hours a day you know I had a couple
breaks here and there but not very much and so if you think about when you make
a salad bowl every single day I would put the marijuana in and then I would
sprinkle other substances and alcohol in there and I said wow I can be high on
marijuana 24 hours a day and not die and that was my justification for that
behavior so that’s another sign of somebody who’s not well we rationalize
justify and minimize the things that we are doing because it allows us to sort
of stay in denial don’t even notice I am lying that’s the acronym for denial and
it somewhat shelters the individual in my case me from facing the reality of my
life so if you guys ever maybe last night you’re watching Netflix you’re
like oh I should turn it off I’m tired I need to go to bed like one more one more
one more right or maybe you’re scrolling on the
Instagram it’s like oh five minutes later you’re like what am i doing oh my
god I should stop or maybe it’s I want to get some exercise or I want to go do
something that I know is good for me but you don’t end up doing it that was my
life constantly this gap I want to be doing this I want to hang out with the
healthy kids I want to do my homework I want to go to class but all I can
think about constantly and obsessively is how am I going to get high because
I’m so uncomfortable I feel so awful and so miserable I want a solution but I
don’t have it and so my my goals so when people are having a hard time and
they’re looking for answers and they don’t know where to find them their
intention is good right my intention to feel okay and my own skin was you know
Noble if you will but my means of doing that were inherently backwards and just
paused more and more and more suffering so all of us want to feel love and
connection and meaning and etc just sometimes we get off-track and we
end up looking for it or finding it in places that aren’t helpful so it’s 16
because of this behavior I was arrested and convicted of trafficking marijuana
and again there was no acknowledgement of maybe this kid is really messed up
maybe he needs some help so I don’t know we’ve come some ways in that water but
we haven’t figured out the intricacies of those situations and and approached
it in a more helpful compassionate manner but that’s what this is part you
know this is part of that and it’s not that people shouldn’t be held
accountable for their actions because they absolutely should but when you’re
young like you guys life is complicated the world is complicated got so many
things going on that maybe a little more compassion and understanding would be
helpful and I think if we can all do a little bit better job with that again
the outcomes will be more positive and more things like this will happen and
we’ll have less people that end up in situations like myself so shortly after
high school my brother oh ok let’s talk about these people quickly so when you
have a family history of any health related matter it’s helpful to know
because when the signs arise you can say oh that looks like that’s right so if
you have heart disease in your family or maybe diabetes or whatever it is you
know generally an intervention can happen earlier or the negative effects
of that illness or whatever it is developing might be mitigated again
because the stuff wasn’t happening when I was growing up the signs of myself and
my brother weren’t clear and my parents talk about it until my grandfather on my
dad’s side died by suicide shortly after this picture was taken my dad was five
and on the other side my grandfather lived with alcoholism and my mom had
seven sisters so she grew up with eight girls the chaotic household and there
was all kinds of things going on so when my brother and I were behaving in
strange ways you know it was just thought of us oh there may be just kids
or they’re just experimenting with things or whatever it is but knowing
what I know now if I see that in my own children I will be much more aware and
skilled at helping them or when I see it in people like yourselves or whoever it
is so that’s me at 12 when it all began and I squeak this is literally me in
high school I mean who here got a good sleep last
night right so you know there’s all these
things going on in your life that if you’re not you know honoring
some of these right things can get messy quick and I mean this I don’t even know
you know we were always told don’t do drugs and get exercise basically easier
said than done but you know we are really delivering some better approaches
and understandings of all this kind of stuff and it’s exciting and helpful so I
squeak into University I cheated my way into University and lied
so one coping skill for people like myself when we’re really sick is that we
lie because we don’t know how to be honest and we’re scared of the
consequences and so lying is a coping skill it’s not necessarily a moral
failure or a purposely chosen way of living it’s
that you don’t know how else to deal with the uncomfortable feelings so you
lie and I was asked to leave my first high school after the conviction and I
went to a high school where if you showed up you would pass if you did a
little bit of work you would get a C and if you did a tiny bit more you’d get a B
and I remember one day a teacher looking me in the eye and saying Michael there’s
no way you wrote this paper and I said my mom and my sister helped me and he I
guess the school that I was at was a little more lenient because there are a
lot of people like me there and he just sort of let it go whether that was a
good idea or not I’m not sure but that was my experience I I wanted to write my
papers I wanted to do my homework but I was such a mess that I didn’t know how
and I didn’t know how to be honest and say I’m a mess I need help and that just
continued to cause me more and more pain and in university the 9/11 attacks
happened then my and I was studying politics and economics so I started
getting really obsessed about the world and politics and I grew up without the
internet too so I don’t know if you guys know I CQ that was like the first ever
messaging service and when we went online it was like – and the the the
images would load so slowly and if someone picked up the phone
we had phones does anyone here have a home phone holy smokes
amazing so if somebody picked up the home phone in your house the whole
internet would shut down so you can just imagine if you have siblings you know
who here gets annoyed with a sibling every now and again yeah so think about
that you’re trying you’re like it’s loading and that’s I was like bitch
and you just want to strangle them so I again I went to university I had this
very idealistic version of what the world was I grew up in Canada it’s this
wonderful place blah blah blah which is true but there’s also a whole
nother side of the story of the world and so I started getting really angry
and resentful to way to the world and how it worked and then my brother had
his first psychotic episode and was diagnosed with schizophrenia so all of
these things are bombarding me so to speak and these words that we use in the
mental health clinical world like depression and anxiety and obsessive
compulsive disorder all of these things started to really become part of my life
and my world got smaller and smaller and the hole in my stomach got bigger and
bigger and I had to put more things inside myself to numb that pain and all
it did was make things worse and worse and worse and because nothing was
changing I started to try to run away from my problems in a sense so this
saying wherever you go there you are is so beautiful and simple it’s the title
of a book from a really well-known mindfulness doctor who’s really the
pioneer behind Western mindfulness or medical mindfulness and the idea is that
you are the center of your life and so it doesn’t matter what you do around
yourself if you’re not addressing what’s inside nothing’s going to change and I
ran off to Columbia I said oh I met this Colombian girl and like yes I’m gonna go
to Colombia I’m gonna follow this romantic fantasy that
my life’s just gonna be perfectly fine so off I go to Columbia and of course
that doesn’t fix me because I’m the problem
not what’s around me and so I ended up coming home and through going to see my
brother in the hospital or in jail I became sort of his primary caregiver one
of the symptoms of schizophrenia is paranoia and hallucinations so people
have you guys ever seen someone walking down the street yelling and screaming at
nothing it looks like they’re just pointing at things and yelling and
talking to themselves yeah if you go to downtown Toronto you’ll see it a lot
yeah I bet downtown Hamilton too so that person is experiencing a psychotic
episode or a hallucination and normally that’s a disruption in their senses if
you will you could call it that and those people are actually hearing
voices that are 100% real to them and so when I would go and see my brother a lot
of these things would be happening and for whatever reason I was the only
person that he did not think was out to get him so that’s another symptom of
being really sick is you get really paranoid and you think everybody is out
to get you a lot of it sometimes is along the lines of law enforcement right
so he would think the CIA is coming to get him and he would smash holes in the
wall in my parents house because he says there’s like a camera back here and
they’re watching me and they’re recording me and all these kind of
things so I was always you got to go talk to your brother got a and
eventually I ended up living with him which was this isn’t the environment to
tell you the insanity of those situations but it was not good and at
this point there was something that started to happen which actually was
relatively helpful and good and my brother and I
start the only thing we could do sometimes was play cards because he was
not in a position to talk or want to talk and so we started playing cards and
through that process I started to get really good we were playing poker and it’s a weird mix of experiences because
it gave me some confidence that I wasn’t a complete disaster and that Wow like
I’m actually using my mind to do something and I’m good at it
and I started making money sort of beating all my friends and then because
I was incapable of getting a job I didn’t want to really leave my house
unless I had to or my apartment I could do this and
pretend that I was okay so I sort of obsessed over it I read every single
poker book and I worked as hard as I possibly could and I became sort of one
of the best or most successful online poker players in the world and then
again I started traveling around thinking if I can just fix the world
around me maybe I’ll be okay inside and of course that doesn’t work but because
I had money I could delude myself even more into thinking that I don’t have a
problem and by chance I was at a friend’s wedding
I was emceeing a friend’s wedding and there I met a girl and I always said to
myself you know girls when I had girlfriends I could be a little more
honest and open about what’s happening inside of me cuz generally you know
girls are better at that and through that relationship I started to have to
confront my problems because when you have somebody reflecting back to you the
truth of who you are it’s a lot harder to run and hide from what’s going on I
had my brother there most of the time so that wasn’t helpful because I would say
things like at least I’m not as crazy as he is
you know we do that a lot you compare yourself to other people you compare
yourself to whoever it is and then you either say I’m better than I’m less than
or whatever it is and that’s what I did with my brother which was unhelpful so
through this relationship I started being forced to look at myself honestly
and I had always you know there was a little voice you know our self-talk
saying Mike you need to stop doing this it’s bad for you it’s not healthy like
that was going on from about 16 all the way to the day I stopped but it got a
little bit louder and I was a little bit more aware of my family history and
suicidal thoughts and things of that nature were scary enough that I said wow
there is really something wrong with me I don’t know what it is
but I need to do something about it and my girlfriend was willing to try to help
and so I tried on my own in a sense to change and the definition I like of
insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different
result so I was trying all these different things I wasn’t able to change
my last straw was I know what I do let’s let’s get married so me and this girl
decide to get married because of course that’s gonna fix me right I’ve tried
everything nothing works but maybe marriage will work so we got
married and of course that didn’t not fix me too bad no so shortly into the marriage
it was very clear that it wasn’t gonna last if I continued behaving how I was
behaving I would end up dead in jail in a hospital alone and I didn’t want that
every single one of us whether we can put words to it or not we want
connection we want love we want to be part of something we need support from
each other and I knew that that was slipping away from me and I may
never who knows what would happen to me before I got another chance at this so
it’s so hard to describe but I was I decided to stop digging is one way to
put it we all have our own threshold for pain and for etc and that’s why it’s
helpful not to compare yourself to other people and for me I was at a bottom
which is when I decided to stop digging and I did something that for some reason
was so hard to imagine I asked for help you know my god what an idea that one is
and I called a friend who I used to do a lot of partying with who was now an
addiction counselor at a treatment center and I thought to myself if that
guy can do it I might have a chance so I called him and he said he got all sort
of formal armies like okay well we got to meet up and do an assessment and
tether da da da so we meet up I’m going through the checklist it’s like Jack
Jack Jack Jack Jack Jack Jack yeah Mike I think you have a problem really no
kidding I was kind of funny so he said call this number you should go to this
program at a hospital and good luck basically and that was the first time in
my life that the sack of bricks that I’ve been lugging around you know
forever started to loosen said oh my god this might actually be the first
opportunity I’ve ever had to do something about my craziness called the
hospital and they the lady said Michael you have to be sober for 72 hours before
you come here and I thought to myself wow if I could be sober for 72 minutes I
wouldn’t need to call you and she said okay well you can check yourself into a
detox here they had a detox or you can do it somehow so somehow I managed to do
it and from that point on my life really started to change
there’s the hug that we all want you know so I started learning how to do
that or embrace that and slowly but surely I started meeting people like
this this represents this person that I met shortly into this process his name
was Jeremy and I owe my life to this guy Jeremy he’s like my Yoda okay he helped
me understand how to be a human being he taught me about respect being
accountable following some sort of routine checking in with another human
being he had been through a lot of the things that I had been through and
without this man I don’t know where I would be today and I talked to him he
said call me every day and I literally called him every single day for about
three years didn’t matter why he just said call me every day I would call him
and say I don’t know what chocolate bar to buy like I was such a mess that I
couldn’t make decisions and and so through that process I just started to
heal and along with that I got a psychotherapist I got a psychiatrist
I got a marriage counselor I got a mindfulness doctor and all these things
were covered by OHIP it took a while you know there’s a big thing about waiting
lists and etc so part of all of this movement is making things more
accessible for people especially young people because the wait times are
terribly unhelpful and that sort of built you know this team around me where
I could rely on a bunch of different people for the plethora of problems that
I had and one thing that Jeremy said to me that sticks with me to this day is
that you need to dig deep and build a foundation so
when the earthquakes come you don’t fall over and you need to make this the most
important thing in your life because if you don’t then everything else will fall
apart around you and that really really stuck with me and it made perfect sense
if I’m not taking care of myself and taking this so seriously then I’m just
gonna end up how I used to be and nothing scares me more absolutely
nothing scares me more than going back to how I used to be just want to do a
time check we have until about 950 is that right okay I forgot my watch so you
know if you told me to get down on the ground and lick the floor and that will
reduce my symptoms of mental illness I would do it yeah literally would do it I
will do anything I possibly can to put a gap between me and the pain drugs are
not a good solution I have all these other tools and I use them like my life
dependence on it and so I like these I’m not going to go into too much detail but
the first thing that generally needs to happen in my situation is to get honest
right I’m a mess I need help I can’t do it on my own and when we become honest something changes where we begin we sort
of believe that something can change and that’s hope right and through hope the
word faith isn’t the best word to use but you begin to believe or have faith
in this process that if I just do these things something will change and I’ll
get better especially in the times of deep misery and suffering we need
something to look towards or to believe in that makes it worthwhile to not go
back to the old patterns of behavior oh I’m gonna mouth is so dry hmm and
when that starts to happen we build up courage and we learn to act with
integrity and a willingness to do whatever it takes to change so one thing
that had to happen for me to face my past was build up the courage and belief
in myself that I wasn’t a despicable human being and that I actually had
value and that I actually could live by these values or I don’t know what I
called them a tool set here but whatever it is and then I could start to make
amends so there was a couple people in my life that I needed to say sorry to or
make amends with and it’s really important to understand that saying
sorry doesn’t mean anything if you don’t back it up with your actions right sort
of goes back to the thing with the Gandhi quote so until I knew that if I
said sorry and tried to make amends that I was going to honor that with my
actions there was no point in me saying sorry and that took a lot of work and
therapy and healing to get to the point where it said you know what I’m not like
I used to be I can take responsibility for what I’ve done and I can fess up so
to speak or try to make amends and after that happens your for me I was freed of
the last bit of my past that was holding me back from being whole or being part
of the world and that was incredibly liberating and one thing about someone
like me is my whole life I had this mild paranoia in the back of my head that I
was doing something wrong well I was and I was always scared of
the police even though as an adult it’s not anyway
and that sense of impending doom years to leave me but now that I’m
acting with integrity I’m honest I’m doing helpful things for the world I
don’t have to live with that impending doom or fear anymore and that is so
beautiful and that’s what sort of leads me here today to the last sort of thing
of purpose and service I was also told if I don’t give away what I was given so
freely from others like Jeremy that I don’t get to keep it and so part of me
doing this or part of me doing this in other environments where I’m helping
people for the sake of helping them not because I get anything in return for
that it allows me to keep what I’ve learnt and help others do the same
and that’s part of this here it says give back right the same thing as
service if we’re not engaged in helping others then we suffer and they suffer
and that’s what makes the world go around and it actually can bring you so
much meaning and you know zest for life so to speak that’s a huge buffer against
all the pain and all the suffering and all the crap that we have to deal with
right life hits you in the face all the time it’s sort of how do you respond to
that and how do you help others respond to that that is what really matters
right life’s not supposed to be easy we all make mistakes it’s what we do with
it that matters and so I got two little people in my life now one sort of funny
story is right after I got sober my wife said you know we should try to get
pregnant because who knows what you did to your sperm and sometimes a lot of
people it takes a long time to get pregnant sometimes and she was 2 years
older and so of course I’m thinking oh I don’t do drugs anymore everything’s
gonna be fine just so you know when you remove the drugs you’re left with the
problem which is meat and I didn’t understand
that right so anyway I’m like yes let’s do that she gets pregnant right away and
six months later as I’m detoxing and like the clouds are parting I wake up
one day and I like feel this thing on my finger like holy moly I’m married
I am in a house that I helped pay for and oh there’s my wife in the bed and
she rolls over and her stomach’s out to here and I just do the home alone of uh
and not it wasn’t that I didn’t want to be there or that it wasn’t special it
just said it was I’m 30 years old and I still feel like a 13 year old kid right
I woke up as a 13 year old kid in a 30 year old man’s body doing like what the
bleep am I doing here and how did this happen
it’s like Oh anyway so over the years it’s been about six and a half almost
seven years since sort of that day that my life changed and I get to be with
these people and it’s pretty nice and opportunities like this you know are
just so very special and that’s about it I have I’m gonna get into the mental
health side of things but that’s my story you know I could go on forever but
we got about 13 15 minutes so let’s get on with the show a beautiful quote you
can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf right life is going to be like
this but if we focus on these five things here or similar ideas then we can
learn to surf and we’re gonna suffer and we’re gonna have bad things but we can
be okay so I work with all these different organizations and that’s sort
of what brings me here I talked about this a little bit
mental health is not as important as physical health it is physical huff
right the brain is an organ it’s in your body which means it is physical health
so yes it is as important but no it’s the same thing so your health is
important the brain the one of the main functions of the brain is to produce
thoughts okay fifty to seventy thousand thoughts a day
run through your head most of them unconscious but if you just
think about that right it’s like a word machine buh buh buh buh buh buh non-stop
and so the same way that your liver cleans out your blood or whatever it is
same way your heart pumps that’s the job of the brain and it’s an organ it’s a
part of your body it’s not different than your physical health okay this is a
clinical concept but this is accepted by the medical world it’s called the dual
continuum model okay so this axis is the x axis I think somebody up front goes
yet man I’ve done this like easily a hundred times and why it’s like I gonna
write it on the slide so stop screwing it up so everyone has mental health
right if you have a brain you have mental health sorry I was just looking
at the monitors every time I get over here it starts to so you have a brain
and your mental health can go up and down right sometimes maybe around exam
time or other stressful times in your life your mental health is under stress
and maybe you’re not as well as you might otherwise be the other axis is the
mental illness axis so to be diagnosed with them
to illness that has to be done by a doctor her right not by Google not by my
friends said I’m this so I’m gonna go on Google and figure it out and then like
half an hour later you’re like oh my god I’m whatever it’s by a medical doctor a
psychiatrist or a psychologist and it means that you fit into a cluster of
symptoms that are connected to a diagnosis like depression or anxiety or
obsessive-compulsive disorder or schizophrenia or bipolar or whatever it
is but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a good quality of life so that’s
what this sort of axis is trying to say you can have a mental illness that is
minimally affecting your life or not at all so sometimes in my daily life today
these things don’t affect me at all as long as I’m doing these this thing’s
great I like pointing to this so if I’m taking
care of this then the symptoms of my mental illness aren’t affecting me but
as I come under stress and when life gets hard sometimes my mental health
diminishes and then the symptoms of my diagnosis start to be unmanageable or
start to be difficult and then everything kind of gets yucky if you’re
not taking care of these things you might be on the other side of the axis
right if you have a diagnosis so when my brother is psychotic now taking his
medications and not taking care of himself his mental illness is severe and
his mental health is poor when he is taking his medication and taking care of
himself and doing all the things he knows he needs to do then his illness is
not bothering him very much or not at all and his mental health improves is
that clear all right don’t need to talk about that
so again addiction is still somehow disconnected
from you know the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health I don’t know why that
is but anyway I think addiction is often misunderstood so there’s a famous or
well respected and known addiction specialist gabbar Matta he’s written
some really amazing books and done some incredible work in Vancouver and one way
he describes it is addiction is somebody who is trying to soothe an internal pain by putting things into their bodies or
through their behavior right so whether it’s shopping or sex or exercise or
whether it’s alcohol drugs food whatever they’re trying to soothe an internal
pain and regardless of the negative consequences of that behavior they can’t
or won’t stop so when you cross that line for me it was almost right away
there was nothing I could do to stop that behavior until I found a solution
or I got help and and when the person is stuck in that place it is so incredibly
hard to help them understand what’s going on with them because you get
defensive and it’s hard so addiction is not a choice is really
what it boils down to historically so when my grandfather was mentally ill
back in the 50s he had a lobotomy which is they cut your
head open and do surgery on your brain so that was not that long ago and that
was what the medical community thought was the best way to treat your illness
and they looked at it very much as a sort of a disease if we could just find
the place in your brain where the problem is and fix it then everything
will be okay what’s now is this idea of a recovery model so
when someone is not well they try a more holistic approach what are all the areas
of this person’s life that we can help them with and when we help them with
those areas the symptoms of their illness are reduced and it’s really
quite simple we just go back to this thing again right doesn’t mean it’s
gonna go away it may but the pain and the struggle can be hugely reduced and
also it doesn’t the first psychiatrist and saw my
brother told my mom that he was gonna be basically screwed for the rest of his
life that was 16 years ago and that was from the medical model of he’s got a
disease in his brain and he’s screwed the the holistic the recovery model is
yes we have these problems but here’s all these other things we can do to make
your life better and it’s really helpful to as we’re sort of getting towards the
end what are some of the things that you can do for other people or maybe even
yourself and it’s tricky right but when we can I have a volunteer yeah there is
okay stand right there put your hands up okay okay he’s not resisting okay thanks what’s your name
Kevin thanks Kevin okay so the idea is that when you approach somebody else who
maybe not well or who may be having a hard time there’s generally two
responses one is they just sort of back up or the other is the instant pushback
right and neither of which are generally very helpful right in one of the I guess
therapy clinics that I work in we have a group group therapy with kids and
parents and we call it wild child or turtle so either you sort a turtle and
you turn away or you freak out and you push back what can avoid that situation
cuz it’s not helpful right if somebody’s struggling and you want to help them and
you come up to them and say you need to do this or why are you doing this or
stop it just it creates a tension that’s not helpful so to validate someone’s
experience with your mouth shut is really helpful someone’s having a hard
time and their you can tell that they want somebody they’re just saying simple
things like wow it looks like you’re really angry or wow I can see that
you’re having a hard time using I statements is important right because
the person might say no I’m not you’re like oh okay story I thought you were or
whatever it is validating their experience right we’re so bad at
allowing other people to be the way they are especially when they’re struggling
so simple as wow it looks like you’re having a hard time do you want me to go
away do you want me to stay here but validating them and honoring that
and the next thing is it’s kind of tied in but it’s the acceptance right I may
want so when my son’s having a meltdown because he doesn’t get a candy or
whatever I may want him to stop doing that and I may want him to act
differently and etc but that’s my problem not his right so I could see her
upset I’m not getting you’re not getting the candy that I get it you’re angry it’s sort of the hot potato it’s like
this isn’t my problem this is his problem
and if I allow him to experience his pain then he learns to work through it
and that’s something that we’re not good at either right I can help him work
through it but it really we have to allow people to experience their
problems or their joys and allow them to work through it and the last thing the
presence is being there right when you give somebody your attention or your eye
contact and they know you’re there with them it’s so incredibly powerful but
often were oh yeah man yeah I get it yeah yeah yeah what’s that well yeah
okay sure yeah you okay yeah okay right whatever it is but if you can give
someone your eyes and your attention that’s incredibly helpful it’s not
always possible and when it’s not possible you can say things like you
know now’s maybe not the best time I would like to help you I can see you
need my help but can we talk about it later that’s also a really important
skill and sort of this idea of boundaries we can learn to respect each
other’s boundaries and also create our own so it’s not that you don’t want to
help someone maybe it’s just not the right time maybe you’re too busy maybe
you got your own things going on and it’s important to honor that and it’s
okay to honor that learning to say something is is important I kind of
talked about that the hearing and the listening and we’ve sort of beat this
point to death over what are the things you can do to stay well for
me I practice meditation I again I have a psychotherapist I have a psychiatrist
I have a marriage counselor I have Jeremy I have peer support groups
and I’ve figured out what works well for me so you don’t have to do what other
people do but you do need to do something and you need to figure out
what that something is listening to music running
I don’t know writing reading I mean there’s so many things you can do but
you got to do them that’s the other thing we get lost in this narrative that
because I say it means I do it and that’s just not true at all thank you
guys so much! yeah

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