Mental Wellness Challenge – 2020, February 27

Recapping from my challenge from last week…

I challenged you to:

  1. Think about your life to this point. Look to see where mental health issues have touched your life.
  2. Learn something about the mental health issue that touched your life. Be intentional about this.  Actually take some time and do some research – not hours and hours – you don’t need to write a thesis.
  3. Share what you have learned with 5 people. Be mindful to not share intimate details or break any confidences.  SHARE HOW MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES have touched your life.  Share your understanding.  EVEN IF YOUR UNDERSTANDING ISN’T 100% correct – if you are coming from a place of sincerity and authentic caring – you will be doing something to help educate the folks in your circle.

I sincerely hope that you were very successful in my challenge from last week.  The way forward against STIGMA is education, awareness and acceptance.  I did OK with my challenge last week.  I was certainly able to “check off” all three parts of my challenge.  I was able to learn some new pieces about depression and ADHD.  There’s always more to learn… and I was able to share that learning with 5 (or more) people.

I have a need to apologize for my abruptness in my blog post last week.  I was pretty raw from having given a presentation that was followed up with a next steps conversation and – well – I was honestly frustrated.  My way through that frustration is to keep on – keeping on…

This week I am going to share my schtick about my wellness model – or my road map.  What it looks like and a real quick discussion of what each of the 8 facets of the model represent.  I am going to start by sharing about my first model — a basic pyramid shape — that I used to help me “think my way” along my path… well – let’s go…

In just finishing writing this up, I do note that this is a long piece.  I tried to think of a way to abbreviate it, but I didn’t have much luck.  Sorry for the length, I hope you find the piece applicable.

One caveat before I go any further.

This is MY model.  I built this to be MY roadmap out of MY darkness.  I am sharing it here for any who might see a value in it.  It’s not a panacea.  It’s just a tool.  It helps me stay focused on my recovery.  If you like the idea but it doesn’t work for you, use the idea and leave the rest.  If the model has things that work for you, use those – leave the rest.  If it’s not you – don’t use it.

My Wellness Model aka My Authenticity Model.

1. My original model (thinking tool).

In looking at my mental health – what I know and what I work with, I realize that my old model has been more or less just my understanding of the process that is CBT. With the new insights that my medical and mental health professionals have lead me to, I recognize that CBT alone isn’t the solution to my puzzle. Working with the pieces that I am aware of now, I continue to look for a new model/system that will help me improve my prospects for improvement, my prospects for recovery. I am still happy with my old model, and – I have included it into the “THINKING” that I am putting into this new one.  In fact my understanding of my recovery shows me that I need to take “ALL OF ME” into account so that I might have a better likelihood of a successful recovery.

My Original Model

I need to include the pieces that my diagnosis of ADHD has brought forward. The need, in my life, to acknowledge that “ALL THIS ISN’T JUST ME” , that there truly is an organic piece to my past actions. I have to work towards figuring out how to include the bits that relate to “it’s not just a character flaw – my impulsivity, my inconsistent attention, my striving, my self-esteem issues, my procrastination, my penchant for not finishing what I start, my constant need for external reinforcement, etc., etc., etc.” are attributable to ADD or ADHD.

I recognize that I must include the ADHD piece in, alongside the parts of my life that I identify as depression, anxiety, obsessiveness and compulsion. I need my model to represent a “thinking system” that I can use to not just guide myself out of depression, but also to help me stay on a path to mental wellness.

I need to include, in my model, that I’m NOT going to be able to get through this without help – without medication of some sort – be they continued anti-depressants, stimulants or what not or other short- term treatments. I need to include that I am not going to be able to just push through this on my own. That I am going to have to rely on some sort of supports to stay safe.


My new “Wellness Model” – “Authenticity Model”

The 8 facets of the model – in two dimensions.             

A three dimensional rendering of the model.

There are 8 facets to my model:
Values, Connections, Supports, Action, Acceptance/Understanding, Purpose, Persistence/Commitment and Awareness/Vigilance.

The facet’s colours don’t currently have any assigned meanings…. currently.. but I am seeing a value in having certain facets in certain colours and the model continues to evolve.

I have taken a great deal of time to think about each of the facets and the importance that each of the concepts of the facets has to my mental wellness.

The following paragraphs are brief outlines of what the facets represent to me and how I apply each facet as a tool to work my way out of my darkness and towards wellness.

Values – represents my root/core/personal values. Creativity, love, hard work, respect, tenacity, empathy, commitment, etc. My values are more than just words. My values represent the “real me”. If I stay connected to my values, I stay connected to the part of me that “IS” my truth.

There are overlaps everywhere in my model, and this is exactly the way it should be. My values should guide my actions, my values should bolster my awareness, acceptance and understanding.

Awareness/Vigilance – represents the “knowing” that, for my physical health, mental health, my “well- being” to improve/continue to improve, and for me to start moving to a happier/healthier being, I MUST be aware of my intentions in pretty much all parts of my being and I MUST be vigilant in “minding” myself. I must watch for depression, self-deprecation, perfectionist standards – and guide myself back to a more wholesome sense of self. Not a simple thing to do all the time.

This piece is like the CBT Triangle – where assessment of perceptions or cognitions temper emotions or feelings. However it goes much further than just identifying cognitive distortions as thoughts without reality.

The awareness/vigilance piece of the model can be arduous. Being intentional of every step, action can be exhausting. There are places in my depression that demand this step by step level of awareness.

Action – represents my need to DO. Represents the need for me to be sure that my actions are in line or congruent with my values and purpose. Simplified – “Actions really do speak louder than words” is a colloquialism that describes the purpose of this piece.

This piece is like the CBT Triangle – where actions can help to align or temper emotions or feelings.

I take this piece of my model further. Not just re-aligning cognitive distortion through changing actions, but to being mindful that MY actions need to be congruent with my values and purpose.

Purpose – represents the “real reason” for what I am set to do. The purpose piece of this model is a gut check. “Why am I doing what I am doing, why am I thinking what I am thinking, how do my thoughts and actions work together to represent my values and what is best for me?”

This purpose piece can be thought of as the “rubber on the road” application of the CBT Triangle

Acceptance/Understanding – this represents the truth that I have flaws, that I am not perfect. This represents that I do have and will, likely, always have work to do on not just my mental health, but my physical health, relationships, etc. This piece is also about recognizing that my brain isn’t like most folk’s brains. That I think/work/interact differently – and that’s OK.

This piece is about really understanding and accepting that the depression, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, PTSD and whatever else I have, aren’t all negative things. Ya, I’m not a fan of any of that – In first understanding and then accepting how all this works together in my life, I can learn to appreciate and apply the understanding of the “racing mind”, the “being an idea guy”, the “being in charge of everything-control freak”, the energy, the intuition, and “all that” to my benefit. Acceptance and understanding are really looking at “me” from a view of abundance rather than deficit.

Supports – this represents acceptance that “It’s OK to get help. It’s OK to NEED support.” I struggle with this piece a great deal on the interpersonal piece. This is a piece that I must spend more energy on.

I accept that I might (likely) need medication support, well – on and off, for the rest of my days. I try to compare my situation to that of someone with some other chronic disorder – like diabetes, or hypothyroid or heart disease or arthritis – where medications are a fact of life. I try to participate wholly in “talk therapy” and I totally understand the value in it. I must sincerely say that the talk therapy piece is my most difficult piece. Sure, it’s easy for me to talk. In my talk therapy I can discuss the “topics of the day” – however I feel there are still pieces and places in my life that I feel that I have locked up, have hidden or walled off. There are places that I intentionally disregard. I “feel” like there are bits and pieces I am not even aware of.

Certainly, accepting that there is help, that it is OK to look for help is what Supports is about. Family, medical and mental health professionals, friends are good things.

Connections – this represents the threads that connect the ME with the world. I have discovered over this past odyssey of illness that I don’t typically cultivate enduring, deep, meaningful connections. My wife and daughters (perhaps my brother as well) are, in no doubt, my closest connections. All of those people are family, so I am not certain that they count. (Well yes, they certainly “count”, but other than these three people, I don’t tend to invest in relationships.) I don’t really understand this piece very well. I know, intellectually, that I could exist very easily on my own. I sometimes feel like all I really need is the companionship of a good dog. I know that sounds silly, but it is a truth.

I know/understand that connections are important for my wellbeing. I really do not have many (any?) true, closely connected friends. There are people that I work with and while one or two of those folks are perhaps more than acquaintances, I know that I am not connected with them very deeply. I do have one sincerely solid friend – one person that doesn’t judge me, cares enough to hold my feet to the fire and does her very best to understand me.

Persistence/Commitment – tenacity is pretty much concept here. This is the part of my model that represents the fight to… “be”, to succeed. I recognize that it is cliché, but it is true. Don’t stop, don’t give up, don’t quit, “there is value in the struggle”, SUCCESS: 5% Inspiration & 95% perspiration. I see the disconnect between the concept of “Don’t stop, don’t give up and don’t quit” having the root of doing, and the concept of “being” rooted in “be”.

Getting to “being” for me seems to be tied to doing. I know that the being piece is a less easily achieved goal, and the doing piece suits my mind and the way I think and need to have that more immediate sense of accomplishment.

All that said – without persistence, in all sorts of different ways, the rest of model is without value. Without putting the effort forth, the rest of “life” means pretty much nothing… it isn’t living, being, to me, it is only an existence. I watched my mother’s and father’s lives become existences.

So that’s the 8 facets of the model and a quick – really “down and dirty” explanation of what it all means and how I use it.

The other less obvious bits and pieces of my model:

The other less obvious concepts of my model are represented by the way the model is constructed…

The fact the model will not survive without each component facet represents that each piece is no more, or no less important that the other.

The shape is constructed of equilateral triangles. The equilateral triangle is the strongest geometric form we know of, this represents resilience.

The octahedron has no specific “vertical” orientation.  There is no UP, there is no DOWN.  The shape is geometrically the same regardless of which confluence of sides or point is referenced. This represents to me that, regardless of my current focus on the model, all the other components are just as relevant in the implementation of the model in my self-care.

When taken in its entirety, the model represents authenticity, for if I can attend to all facets of the model, I will “be” my authentic self.  This term – it was “given to me” by someone who listened to me tell my story and explain my model… and they were right…

Authenticity is represented by the “space” inside the model. When I am living within my model, paying attention to all that it represents for me – I AM MY AUTHENTIC SELF!

The octahedron is, itself, a very durable shape. It’s ability to withstand forces is greatest in the longitudinal orientation, representing the model’s ability to support weight or burden and in similar fashion could support a tensile burden (pulling) if the model were suspended and the load were to be connected to the bottom point.

The octahedron can withstand considerable forces in the lateral plane as well.

There are 3 perfect squares that exist within the model, I have taken each of these to represent my mental, physical and spiritual well being.

General Comments: I am sure that, as I work with this model in my life, as my implementation and application of the model evolves – the model’s facets may too evolve.

There is something “speaking to me” about the 6 points in the model and what they can/do represent. I see something there, but I don’t know what it is yet. Like the two pyramids and the 3 perfect squares that exist in the center of the octahedron… it all “says something to me” but I am just not yet able to discern what it’s saying.

I am also certain that the model does have its failings, especially when I consider that this is yet another iteration of my “being” or “authenticity” and I am new to applying it. I do have the confidence that my original model is incorporated into this one.

While the original model was a more simple and stable shape, there were missing pieces.

This new model incorporates my understanding of the principles of CBT in my ongoing efforts towards wellness as well as some of the idea’s DeBono shares in his “Six Thinking Hats”. While neither of those two concepts are wholly represented in my model, those ideas are certainly represented within it.

AGAIN – PLEASE – Clearly, this is MY model. This model is certainly more complicated than my previous version – however this additional complexity is required to represent acceptance, supports, connections, and persistence into the model.  If you can use some of it for your own wellness – please feel free.

I do require that if this is shared – that it be shared with attribution and context.

This weeks challenge:

  1. Read through the above piece about my model and then think about other tools and supports that you use if you ever get lost in the darkness.
  2. Do my mirror talk exercise.  When you get up in the morning and you are brushing your teeth, look at the person in the mirror, right into their (your) eyes and tell that person that you love them.  When you come home at the end of your day and you are washing up, look that person in the eye and tell them that you are proud of them.  And lastly, when you are getting ready for bed in the evening, getting ready for bed – scrubbing your teeth, look that person in the eye and tell them (yourself) “You are enough!”
  3. Make someone’s day a little lighter.  Tell them you care, leave them a little sticky note, share a coffee with them, simply do something to make a person’s day a little brighter.

That’s it – I challenge you!