Written by Ali Ingersoll for the Quirky Quad, June 4, 2023
If you are a poker player and you are down on your luck, it’s best to cash out. Unfortunately, life is not always so black-and-white. Life is messy, complicated, emotional, and defies reasonable logic at times in your own mind. When I think about what props one up in life I think of a pyramid.
You have your physical health, mental health, and financial health. They can all get muddled together, but when two of the pillars start to crumble life can get very tricky trying to balance on a one-sided pyramid – essentially trying to balance on a pogo stick.
I don’t know one person on this planet who has not suffered from depression or anxiety (even if it’s seasonal) at some point in their life. I try to be as authentic as possible and showcase what I go through in the hopes that others may be able to relate, gain clarity in their own situations, or just know that they are not alone. Leaving my physical disability aside with all the accompanying secondary medical complications for moment …
I want to talk about mental health. I’m speaking to mental health in your daily life, whether it is professional or personal. However, I would like to touch on mental health in my own personal life in broad strokes. I say this because I don’t believe in sharing too many personal details as anything in your personal life involves another human being. In my opinion, it’s frankly unfair to the other person to put something out the universe as they don’t have the opportunity to defend themselves or offer their own side of the story. There are always two sides of every story.
Life is simply not black and white. Shades of grey can be daunting at times, I will give you that, but that’s the nature of the human condition, isn’t it? We are constantly trying to navigate our way through sticky situations that don’t always have an obvious solution without some deep soul-searching.
In my personal life, I’m going through some major life changes right now and it is complicated and confusing when trying to bring two conflicting emotions together. On one side you have your rational brain on the other you have your emotional. They don’t always work well together like peanut butter and jelly or macaroni and cheese. My personal favorite, warm brie cheese wrapped in phyllo dough with fruit preserves in the middle! There are certain culinary combinations that just melting your mouth when put next to each other unlike pickles and peanut butter! Although, honestly no judgment if you do like this combination too.
Everything in life, for me, comes down to this idea and concept of belonging. Do you feel like you belong at work? In a relationship? In a social situation? I speak a lot about this in a professional capacity, but have been thinking a great deal about it in my personal life as well. Where do I belong? Where do I fit? What makes me happy? What gives me joy and purpose?
All heavy hitting questions for sure, but I think as human beings if we are trying to consistently strive and evolve, we have to ask ourselves these tough questions. I’ve never quite fit in honestly. I’m kind of a global nomad moving from place to place and have found incredible groups of people, but never one solid group. I might just be wired this way, but I become a chameleon at times fitting into so many different groups and it can be lonely. Very lonely actually.
Most people think I am the strongest person on the planet simply because I not only survive with my disability, but I make my best effort to thrive despite metaphorical boulders being thrown my way left and right. It’s true, I know I’m strong. I know I’m independent. I know I will get through whatever gets thrown my way.
That doesn’t discount the fact that I struggle too. You know what I struggle most with the times when things don’t always work out? I struggle with this idea what could have been, what should have been, what I wanted it to be, what I still hope something will be.
It centers around this concept of false expectations. I am a constant overachiever, which is not always a great thing. Why we do this to ourselves as human beings? There are certain situations in my life where I have had to learn to have low expectations and I generally don’t get disappointed, but I don’t want to live like this. I would like to improve my internal dialogue to have tempered expectations, but not low ones.
Despite this cruel world we live in I refuse to give up on people. Plain and simple. I do get burned and taken advantage of it times, but if I start changing my mindset to believe that someone is always out to get me then I am certainly not going to live my best authentic life either.
I wholeheartedly believe the pain we feel in life is so important because how else are we supposed to feel the joy? No one likes pain. What does this pain lead to?
Pain leads to fear. Fear of not taking a chance. Fear failure. Fear of success. Just plain fear. Each day I meditate, listen to some music, listen to a podcast, and just generally think to myself quietly or recite different mantras to myself to make sure I don’t fall into this trap on the regular.
Do you know that expression pain is inevitable and suffering is optional? While much easier to express in words than put into practice, one could make similar conclusions for fear.
Fear is inevitable, but letting that fear engulf you fully is optional. This takes a lot of work. Daily work. Do you expect to lose weight and be healthy just because you will it in your mind? I don’t think so. Well, the mental work needs to be part of each of our daily regiments.
How do we do this? Well, it’s intensely personal. What fills your cup in a day? Do you like to go for a walk? Travel? Have 30 minutes of quiet time to meditate? Make a meal with your family?
Ultimately it comes down to Health & Wellness. I’ve been speaking on this a lot in the corporate world lately and been applying it into my own life. We talk about health and wellness and throw out these terms so casually, but what do we do about it in our personal lives on a daily basis? What do you do about it?
Whenever you’re going through a tough personal time in your life it’s easy to become the ostrich and just stick your head in the sand. Definitely an option, but you are going to be missing this beautiful view of life.
If you need help to get your head out of the sand, ask for it, be a little bit brave, and lean on others if you need help. I have always had a personal problem to ask for help, perhaps because of my disability I suppose, but often times I am pleasantly surprised for those who do step up in my personal life to help me when I ask. Do you want to know the most interesting thing? It’s usually people that I would never think to step up that end up me showing me their true colors in times when I need their help the most – even if it is from afar.