Beyond the Labels

Many know that I am writing my book and in this process I have been reviewing my journals. I’ve discovered many poems that I forgot I had written, fun times with friends that were long forgotten and the pain of enduring the mental health challenges that I have now, thankfully, overcome. For those of you that haven’t seen my book excerpts on Facebook, I am including some here to give you more insight into what I am writing about.

Excerpts from Beyond the Label:

“Since all these encounters are more than a coincidence to me, I find the concept of soul contracts gives me peace of mind that I am here for a purpose, for a reason. I also feel that if I am to die of suicide, that my soul will not “graduate” and in my next lifetime I will have to repeat the lesson until it is understood.

And the lesson for me is to learn to love and accept myself. I was at war with myself for the first 25-35 years of my life. I have put my sword down and raised my level of consciousness by making my mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health my number one priority in my life. Not my job, not my career, not my house or my car or where I vacation – but health of me and my family is the most important thing to me.” – Dr. Chris

“If you are a 20/10 depressed, then your judgment and perceptions may be clouded or distorted by depression. It is important to understand that this is not you. This is what depression does TO you. You can change your thoughts. You don’t have to believe every thought you have. We have to learn to become objective about our subjective reality. When you are stuck IN it, it is difficult to see the cloud of depression in front of your eyes. The cloud is so thick that you become the cloud. It is important to understand that on a soul level, you are still there. You are behind the cloud. And that cloud will lift and the sun will appear again in your life. ” – Dr. Chris

“I have lived in extreme shame since being diagnosed with a mental illness. The irony is that shame kept me locked away from owning all aspects of myself which gave power to my shadow sides and energy to the illness. The energy was fuelled by fear. An important shift in my recovery was not focusing on what might go wrong in the future (ie my fears), but moving toward what is going right in my life now, in the present moment (ie my faith). Just like if you want to have a toned bicep muscle, you would go to the gym and do exercises to strengthen your bicep, it is the same concept when working with the mind. I had to learn to build the “muscles in my mind” so that I have useful tools to work with in a skillful manner that move me in a positive trajectory towards health rather than a fear-based direction that is clouded in negativity.” – Dr. Chris

“When you start working with and observing your thoughts you need to ask: Where am I? Typically – there are 3 places one will be: 1) in the present moment 2) in the past – typically ruminating about past events or 3) in the future – typically worrying about an event that hasn’t happened yet. If it is the past, remind yourself that the past is over. Done. Finished. There is nothing you can do about the past except change your relationship to it in the present moment.
And if you find you are ruminating about the future or worrying about your loved ones or life regarding future events, then the prescription is the same – you have to bring yourself back to the present moment as the event hasn’t happened yet. Most people tend to live in the past or future in their minds – but all that actually exists is the present moment. All you have is this breath. This moment. Now. ” – Dr. Chris

“What saddens me to my core is the inability of my family and friends to forgive events/actions that have happened in the past – especially things that have happened when I was unwell. I have often felt that those with any other health condition – ie heart disease, cancer, auto-immune disorders, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, etc – are not blamed for being sick/unwell, misunderstood, ostracized or gossiped about. It is like people think that it is in our locus of control – like a switch – and we can automatically turn depression on or off; turn psychosis on or off – if only it were this simple. It is absolutely not. I am not saying that we can not do things to prevent ourselves from getting sick – as that is the point of my book – but I am saying, when we are sick, it is unacceptable to place blame or cast judgment. This has to stop now if we are to make any progress in shifting the conversation about mental illness to mental wellness. The action needed and required is love and compassion – just like you would give a loved one that has been diagnosed with cancer. A quote from Joseph Campbell that I love is: “The psychotic drowns in the same water that the mystic swims”
**Journal exercise: How do you judge people with mental illnesses like schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder? In what ways can you bring yourself to see them through the eyes of compassion and the lens of love?” – Dr. Chris

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