What is wrong? What is not right in your life? What’s bothering you – or others?
Here is the part where you sit down with a sense of responsibility and rake in all the evidence from trusted sources. Too often we think we’re “fine”, but others can clearly see differently. Trusted friends and family are key here. Take their advice, the advice of professionals, and make wise decisions.
But suppose you have no one you can trust? What do you do? How does one gauge if things such as anxiety is ‘really’ a problem or not?
Here’s what I suggest to do, in this order.
- Well, like with most situations, I suggest heartfelt prayer first.
- Don’t get caught in trappings of frivolous prayers.
- Ask for discernment, illumination on the path to healing, and advice.
- You don’t have to repeat. If you say it with heart once, the gods will have heard you, I’m sure.
- Once you’ve prayed, do some divination (or better yet, have it done for you so there is less pressure on your shoulders in the interpretation). The idea here is that you’ve asked for stuff to be sent to you (help in discernment, etc), now you’re trying to receive their advice.
- use your tarot, runes, oracle cards, etc, asking questions such as “what is hindering me mentally?” “What should I focus on healing now?”
- Remain open to all options. Write down what you receive or intuit, and set that aside.
- Make a list of what you struggle with or avoid doing daily or even weekly -> in an independent or solitary way. Say you can’t imagine taking the bus alone, but you’re not really hindered because you always have friends to go with you -> you’re still hindered because you can’t do it independently. Choose concrete things, such as taking the bus, going to the grocery store, leaving doors unlocked, etc.
- Now make a list of what you struggle with mentally. Write down all the niggly things. Anything you think ‘might’ be a problem. Write down even the things that you don’t think are worth taking into consideration, that aren’t ‘such a big deal’.
- Now compare the two lists. The point here is to realize which mental health problem/symptoms is crippling your daily activity, and to what extent. Look at each thing that’s giving you a hard time in your life (such as taking the bus) and honestly ask yourself what’s the symptom behind that. Is it anxiety? Paranoia? Chances are, if it’s impacting your daily life, it’s a problem that’s worth tackling. Highlight, circle, or make an entirely new list of the problems that affect your daily functioning.
- Now, compare this list with your divination. Here is where you make a final list of what appears in at least two of these lists. These are your target problems.
- Rank your problems from most to least incapacitating. Then, also rank them from easiest to hardest to ‘fix’. These will help you make your ‘game plan’ (which is the next post).
But for now, take a moment, have a deep breath, and pat yourself on the back. You’ve discovered what problems you have, and that’s a big step.
Now, these two lists that you’ve finished with are far from a diagnosis. They’re just you targeting things that are problematic for you. I strongly suggest that you take a moment here, with your lists, and try and make sure that you’ve targeted as much the ‘root’ of everything.
Say, for example, taking the bus is difficult for you. Finding the root would be to localize the anxiety, paranoia, or obsession behind this problem. Always look for what is the root.
Mental health problems are like bad weeds -> the roots can be three feet deep, going on and on through different levels of your psyche. But unless you dig up that root, they’ll just keep coming back in different plants/disguises. So, say you’ve managed to conquer the bus but you didn’t treat your anxiety per se, so instead of worrying about the bus, you worry about taxis instead.
Mental health problems are complex, and there are many layers and complexities to each unique problem. Think again of trees and weeds (because we are pagans and that’s what we do, haha). In a book called ‘the secret life of trees’, Peter Wohlleben shows that trees actually support each other through their root systems, trading nutrition and water (I think that’s what he said anyways, I read the book a while ago). So my point here is that one problem can do just that, feeding off and supporting another (which is called ‘co-morbid’ in psychiatrist speech). So maybe instead of just digging up one problem at a time, it feels like you’re digging them all up at once. This is because they are probably entwined at the root. But just like digging up a nest of weeds, you have to start with one at a time, and dig up the whole plot of messy roots.
So now that you’ve made your lists, I suggest taking a break. Let it go, forget about it. One step is enough per day, in my opinion. Take a cleansing bath, purify and cleanse the area you made your lists in, and change your mind (garden, watch a show, read a book, etc). Focus on other things in your life, such as things that you can still comfortably perform without running up against your mental health problems.