Mental health – fear is the biggest factor
“How bad is she?”
I was prepared before I arrived at the house. When someone is in deep despair, it can be as frightening for the family as it is for the individual.
She couldn’t do basic things for herself. Her mother was there taking care of the new baby and toddler, waiting for the husband to arrive home to take over.
She could not function or do basic tasks. It was like stepping back in time, looking at myself 10 years earlier.
I could feel the intense fear the minute I walked through the door which is common with anyone experiencing severe mental and emotional distress.
When I lacked experience, I would try to give information at this point. I have learned. I have one goal only. Reduce fear.
Fear is the biggest factor in a person during a mental health crisis.
Despite what many believe and have been trained to do (especially those who have undertaken mental health first aid training), providing a sympathetic ear and pointing to the medical model, is one for the worst things you can do for a person in this state (see myth 1 in the article What those with anxiety and depression want you to know).
Reducing fear, is not an easy thing to do.
The false beliefs and fear have already pressed heavily on the subconscious mind. The body believes this fear is real. The physical symptoms and sensations often so bad it leads to thoughts of suicide.
Had she been prepared for the transition that happens to any new mum she would not be in this position. I spoke to a friend from Pakistan a number of years ago at length and he said there is no such thing in their culture – it just doesn’t happen. They manage this life changing event differently (read Change: prevent the downward spiral).
Alas, she deteriorated and there was no rest in this house (read – What someone with anxiety and depression would love to tell you).
As I meet her and sit down, I am aware of myself, what is going on in my own body. I am also aware of the environment – the people surrounding her. Their reactions and behaviours in the weeks that follow will be as important as hers in the speed of recovery.
Koelle Simpson is a world renowned horse whisper, who helps people recover from their fears. During a demonstration with a mare, a horse who has a fear of a plastic bags, she explains the following:
“as human beings when we are dealing with someone in our environment who is in a state of panic, fear or high anxiety, we tend to try and jump in, get involved and make it better. We try and take the scary thing away somehow, yet my work with horses has taught me, this is not what real leadership is. The matriarch mare taught me that if I focus on my own body and keep it in a state of peace no matter what is happening around me, this is a place of power and that is where I cause other people or in this case a horse to begin to synchronise with me.
Our society typically teaches us that part of what it means to be loving, is to try to help others and make things better for them and yet our typical approach to doing this is actually more harmful than it is helpful. Nature demonstrates that the most effective way to help someone is to become a good leader by staying in your own business. To the human ears this sometimes sounds harsh and kind of outrageous….
If I start to worry about this mare and get tangled up in her angst and concern, two things will start to go awry, one I will validate her by my increased pulse and respiration rate.
And two if I am fretting over what she is doing, trying to console her, worrying where this behaviour is coming from and maybe even worried how her anxiety will harm me, then I am not actually present to what is going on, instead I am distracted by all my worries and thoughts and the two of us will sense each other and feed off each others’ fears, exacerbating the entire situation.
I’m truly only kidding myself if I believe I can help her when I’m in a fear-based story myself””.
Horses are flight animals.
Horses behaviour mirrors human behaviour when in a state of high fear.
– “helping”, being a do-gooder, is often anything but helpful
– The priority is your energy, your own emotional state
– Stay in your own business
– See clearly
– Work to eliminate your own fear-based stories
With the lady above, I cannot follow a script.
I used my voice to reduce fear by listening to what was going on inside of me.
In this space she can hear herself and make choices that will enable a full recovery – keeping her power at this vulnerable time.
When her confidence grows she can go deeper, listening to her own voice and starting to use it.