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mindyourmind Tools and (pea)NUTJOBS!
We all have problems but usually YOUR problem is the most important problem to YOU. That is perfectly normal. It's not selfish.
My name is Alex and I have been a runway model, a lifeguard, and acted in some plays, but for years I also suffered from depression and anxiety. It was harder than any other problem I have ever had. Depression and anxiety is different from other types of problems because it attacks your ability to help yourself. To help yourself you have to believe in yourself. Depression and anxiety made me ashamed of myself even though I had nothing to be ashamed of!
When you have a math problem or a problem like being bored it is pretty easy to ask for help or call a friend. A teacher can help you with a math problem. A good friend is there to hang out with when you are bored.
But depression attacks your ability to help yourself. It makes you feel like you can't help yourself. The problem IS not feeling like you can solve your own problems!
I am living proof that the helpless feeling is a lie.
It is hard to have hope when depression makes you feel hopeless but that is exactly what you need to do.
I don't know why looking back, but I decided I was going to be bigger than my depression. I knew right then I did not have to find the perfect help, the perfect counselor, or the perfect tool. I just needed to find ANY tool and STICK WITH IT.
When I realized this it reminded me of George Washington Carver and the peanut. I know he's an old dead guy, but bear with me. I promise this will be good.
Dr. Carver was black and born in Missouri before slavery was abolished, but he accomplished so many great scientific achievements that he helped erase the stereotype that the black race was intellectually inferior to the white race.
Before I explain how this relates to my depression and anxiety I want to tell you this amazing story. It's so inspiring!
Carver was selected to speak to the United States House of Representatives about unfair Chinese peanut prices that hurt US farmers. This was a bold choice for a speaker to Congress due to segregation (racism). Indeed he was originally mocked by Southern Congressmen who saw he was black. He did not let that stop him. He gave a masterful testimony explaining the many uses for the peanut. Initially Carver was only given ten minutes to present, but the spellbound committee extended his time again and again to keep hearing him talk. The committee rose in applause as he finished his presentation. They taxed the unfair Chinese prices in the Fordney-McCumber Tarriff of 1922 which helped US peanut producers compete with the unfair Chinese prices.
This is the quote from Dr. Carver I decided to use as my inspiration:
"When I was young, I said to God, 'God, tell me the mystery of the universe.' But God answered 'That knowledge is for Me alone.' So I said, 'God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.' Then God said, 'Well, George, that's more nearly your size.'"
I knew if Carver could make racist white congressmen give him a standing ovation by studying something as simple as a peanut, I had no excuse not to start SOMEWHERE.
That is when I found the tools on mindyourmind.ca. They were the first thing I found so I knew I was going to do them no matter what. At first I did the exercise "Alice, All Jacked Up." It seemed really simple and not sophisticated enough to really help me and my "important problems" :?, but I was not going to let that stop me. I kept thinking about how George Washington Carver changed the world by studying the peanut.
The exercise turned out to really help me! I later showed it to my therapists and he said it was actually a very good exercise.
"Alice, All Jacked Up" helped me take a step back and really evaluate logically why I was upset and what I could do to make myself feel better. Since I felt helpless, the exercises helped guide me through to ways I could help myself!
Depression makes you FEEL helpless but that does not mean you ARE helpless. My therapists called this 'emotional reasoning' and he said it is a cognitive (thinking) error many depressed people commonly make.
The cartoon was kind of silly, but if I had to admit it was right on target. I remembered George Washington Carver and the simple peanut so I decided to dedicate myself to doing the mindyourmind exercises on a daily basis for one complete month whether I felt like I needed help or not. Sometimes I would do the same exercises over again. Each time I would learn something new about how I could help myself. I decided to take responsibility for how I felt because this simple game taught me a very sophisticated lesson: I created my depression and so I could also solve it!
Remember the peanut and don't underestimate simple tools!
I basically want you to know that even if you FEEL hopeless and helpless that does not mean you ARE hopeless and helpless. Often we just don't know how to help ourselves even when we want to. I can tell you these exercises will really help you help yourself when you feel like you can't. Remember, hopelessness is just your depression talking. You don't have to find all the answer yourself! Just let tools like "Alice, All Jacked Up" or "Galaxy" guide you just like the peanut helped ol' George.
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By Alex, Charlotte, North Carolina
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