At the start of this month in recognition of World Mental Health Day I decided to share deeply personal and painful snippets from my book to see how I will feel when friends and strangers can buy my most intimate tragedies on Kindle.
On day ten I decided to stop.
Why? Well quite honestly, I was sick of the sadness. Writing those chapters of my book has been and continues to be an excruciatingly painful process.
I’m sure one day I’ll look back on it all as cathartic, but for now it’s digging up memories I didn’t even know I had, bringing others back to life and has had me reliving torturous moments all over again. I could see and feel the impact that regurgitating those moments up here was having on me.
Then I looked around. I digitally eavesdropped on conversations in Facebook groups and forums, I scrolled through the quotes and quirky illustrations on Instagram. I saw people clinging on to their past, refusing to move forward and be happy again; identifying themselves as victims, blaming others, spitting out venomous words of bitterness, resentment and blame, refusing to look inwards for the answers.
And I wondered how many of us are talking about mental health and how many are taking action?
So for the rest of this month, I’ll be scribbling out some thoughts on how we can turn problems into progress. I’ll investigate what reverse engineering of the mind looks like and what I’ve learned so far about debugging our internal wiring. And I’ll start here, with my ever-evolving understanding of mental health – with brushings of Buddhism and lashings of logic:
Our minds are like computers.
From the moment we’re born, we’re being programmed. Every single day, thousands of microscopic experiences make our 0s and 1s, creating our own unique algorithms of life. Our programming language, the stories we tell ourselves and how we react to similar scenarios, creates new advanced algorithms with every breath we take.
The computers in our heads are always switched on; working, building, creating, thinking, understanding, resolving. They never ever stop. They’re constantly digging back through their archived data to calculate future moves and they’re very rarely in the present moment.
And every so often, they malfunction. They get stuck on one scenario, the keyboard jams and we can’t press Enter or Escape. Our screen is frozen, our systems are overheating and the HTML code of that one particular moment flashes incessantly inside our head.
Frustrated, we press Escape. We press the key hard a thousand times but we only seem to make things worse, our computer crashes completely and the screen goes blank. Familiar feelings begin to resurface; the hate, the bitterness, the resentment, the pain, the suffering, the love, the longing, the happiness, the joy.
After a while, when our systems have calmed and cooled, we reboot with a whole new set of algorithms. And so our computer gets back to work; working, building, creating, thinking, understanding, resolving. And so it goes on until the day we die.