If you break your leg, you see a doctor, or if you develop a tooth- ache, you simply arrange a visit to the dentist. But why isn’t it the same when we struggle with our mental health?
One in four people in the UK will experience mental health issues each year, with one in six reporting a common problem, such as anxiety and depression, in any given week, according to official figures.
With our hectic lifestyles, increased workloads and the difficulty of achieving a work-life balance, it’s no surprise we’re so stressed. But despite the high numbers of people suffering anxiety and depression, many don’t realise that dealing with a mental health issue is similar to dealing with a physical issue – the problem is unlikely to resolve by itself and it’s best to seek out professional help.
Understanding toxic/chronic shame
Shame, when toxic, is a paralysing global assessment of oneself as a person.
It’s not that we did something bad, but that we are something bad.
We experience intense discomfort, low self esteem, worthlessness, a desire to hide, feeling inadequate or simply less than.
Consequently, paralysing shame can close us off from accepting any form of positive regard from others or ourselves.
Understanding the Inner Critic
The Inner Critic is a voice within each of us that criticizes us mercilessly.
It takes upon itself the task of evaluating us and always finds us falling short of expectations.
It will crush, cripple and thwart us, keeping us unhappy, frightened, constricted and ineffective.
It constricts our ability to be creative, compares us unfavourably to others and makes us feel “less than”.
It is terrified of being shamed and so monitors all our behaviour to avoid this.
It causes us to suffer from low self-esteem, and possibly depression, because it tells us that we are not good enough.
It doesn’t allow us to take in the good feelings that other people have towards us and makes us susceptible—and often victim—to the judgments of other people.
The Inner Critic is often directly involved in anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, addictions, and a variety of self destructive behaviours. It is usually a key factor in dysfunctional or abusive relationships.
Sometimes psychological symptoms can be so distressing that a person cannot face them. When psychological symptoms becomes overwhelming, some people may interpret the symptoms as physical illnesses. The physical illness is not fake; the psychological and the physical were never separate entities as they are both aspects of the same system. This experience is known as somatisation. Somatisation is a defence mechanism where the unconscious may re-channel repressed emotions or internal conflict into physical symptoms as a form of symbolic communication.
Trauma & Addiction
In psychological terms, trauma is a situation or an event that a person simply cannot cope with. Trauma is a very personal experience that depends upon the individual. It can be a response to a single, one-time occurrence, or it can be developed over time because of a chronic or systematic situation.
Mental Health and Work Productivity
‘Nearly 3 in every 10 employees will have a mental health problem in any one year’ – the bulk of this being anxiety and depression. Sometimes psychological symptoms can be so distressing that a person cannot face them.
A report was published from the chief medical officer for England in 2014 stating that mental health is having an increasing impact on employees in the UK with absenteeism as a result of “Stress, depression and anxiety” in the UK risen by 24 per cent from 2009 to 2013, while “serious mental illness” increased absent days by about 50%. When psychological symptoms become overwhelming, some people may interpret the symptoms as physical illnesses. The physical illness is not unreal, however the psychological and the physical were never separate entities, as they are both aspects of the same system. This experience is known as somatization.
What’s it like to feel ‘dead inside’?
‘It can feel like your entire perception of yourself is two-dimensional – like a picture rather than a living, breathing creature. It’s like your chest is a gaping void where there is nothing left but a painful, empty black hole. You can feel panicked, trapped and utterly alone, isolated and abandoned by your environment and yourself.
Depression is many things to many people. The common perception of depression is that you are sad all the time. Some people don’t feel sad, per se, they just feel nothing; they feel dead inside.’
Eating our Emotions
When a lot of people talk about food, we often think about diet and nutrition. But what drives our diet isn’t based on what we know about food, but how we feel about food. The term ‘having a gut feeling’ now has a lot of science behind it. We now know the gut can respond strongly to our emotional states. However, what is also interesting to know is the gut also contributes strongly to our emotional state via the bacteria inside it. Not only does gut bacteria affect the way we digest food and therefore the size of our gut, but certain bacteria have been discovered that actually improve our digestion as well as improving our emotions and are now being prescribed to treat things like depression and anxiety.
Talk to us
For your initial free, no obligation consultation in complete confidence, please get in touch with us by phone or using the enquiry form.
020 8930 3169
07969 786681 Brookside, The Rise, Edgware HA8 8NR