MY PROFESSION -
COMMUNITY PSYCHIATRIC NURSE

Sudha Chavda. Hillingdon
Part 5

Namaste folks!

Isn't it amazing that time is moving so quickly. It is already end of March and Easter season is upon us once again. I am glad to say that finally the spring is here and the dark gloomy wintry months are over. Looking through the window I can see the glorious sunshine and the bright yellow daffodils, which are swaying to and fro with warm gentle breeze. The birds are happily chirping away on the trees. I have suddenly realised that it is time for me to write again. So far I have given you a very basic, brief introduction to mental illness. Perhaps from next month, I could write on various illnesses and their treatments and management. But before I get into all that heavy topics I would like to mention a few sensible and useful tips, which I have learnt from my own experiences.

How to cultivate mental attitude
Have no anxiety for tomorrow. The best possible way to prepare for tomorrow is to concentrate with all your intelligence, all your enthusiasm, on doing today's work superbly today. That is the only possible way you can prepare for the future. 'Today' is our most precious possession. As you know, life is slipping away with incredible speed so shut off the past and the future and live only one day at a time. Think of each new day as a new life. The load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday, carried today, makes even the strongest person falter. So do not put off living in the present in order to worry about the future and do not embitter the present by regretting things that happened in the past, which are over and done with. Life is in the living, in the tissue of every day and hour. Good thinking deals with causes and effects and leads to logical, constructive planning; bad thinking frequently leads to tension and nervous breakdowns.

I want you to think of your life as an hourglass. You know there are thousands of grains of sand in the top of the hourglass; and they all pass slowly and evenly through the narrow neck in the middle. Nothing you or I could do would make more than one grain of sand pass through this narrow neck without impairing the hourglass. You and I and everyone else are like this hourglass. When we start in the morning, there are hundreds of tasks which we feel that we must accomplish that day, but if we do not take them one at a time and let them pass through the day slowly and evenly, as do the grains of sand passing thought the narrow neck of the hourglass, then we are bound to break our own physical or mental structure.

Learn to stop worrying about things, as it destroys our ability to concentrate. Our minds jump here, there and everywhere, and we lose all power of decision. However, when we force ourselves to face the worst and accept it mentally, we then eliminate all these vague imaginings and put ourselves in a position in which we are then able to concentrate on our problem. Most of the patients who go to doctors for illnesses e.g. nervous indigestion, stomach ulcers, heart disturbances, insomnia, some headaches and some types of paralysis, could cure themselves if they only got rid of their fears and worries. We do not get stomach ulcers from what we eat. We get ulcers from what is eating us. Worry can make even the most stolid person ill. We destroy our bodies and minds by anxiety, frustration, hatred, resentment, rebellion and fear.

Simple things such as keeping yourself busy helps drive out anxiety. One of the most fundamental laws ever revealed by psychology is that it is utterly impossible for any human mind, no matter how brilliant, to think of more than one thing at any given time. When we are not busy, our minds tend to become a near vacuum. Nature rushes in to fill the vacant mind with emotions of worry, fear, hate, jealousy and envy. Such emotions are so violent that they tend to drive out of our minds all peaceful and happy thoughts and emotions. So the best thing to do is to keep busy and be happy. Sometimes I think that the secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not.

It is the small blows to our self-esteem, the indignities, the little jolts to our vanity, which cause half the heartaches in the world. We often allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget. We lose many irreplaceable hours brooding over grievances. Let us devote our life to worthwhile actions and feelings, to great thoughts, real affections and enduring undertakings. For Life is too short to be little. Sometimes it feels we are all like the battling giant of the forest. We manage somehow to survive the rare storms and avalanches and lighting blast of life, only to let our hearts be eaten out by little beetles of worry- little beetles that could be crushed between a finger and a thumb?

It has been said that nearly all of our worries and unhappiness came from our imagination and not from reality. It is astonishing to know how quickly we can accept almost any situation- if we have to- and adjust ourselves to it. We have our choice. We can either accept them as inevitable or adjust ourselves to them, or we can ruin our lives with rebellion and maybe end up with a nervous breakdown. It is said that acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune. Obviously, circumstances alone do not make us happy or unhappy. It is the way we react to circumstances that determines our feelings. We can all endure disaster and tragedy and triumph over them- if we have to. We may not think we can, but we have surprisingly strong inner resources that will see us through if we will only make use of them.

Our thoughts make us what we are. Our life is what our thoughts make it. If we think happy thoughts we will be happy. If we think miserable thoughts, we will be miserable. If we think fearful thoughts, we will be fearful. If we think sickly thoughts we will probably be ill. If we think failure, we will certainly fail. If we wallow in self-pity, everyone will want to shun us and avoid us. You are not what you think you are; but what you THINK you are. It is better to assume a positive attitude instead of a negative attitude. Our mental attitude has almost unbelievable effect on our physical powers. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. You can make heaven of hell or a hell of Heaven. So put a big, broad, honest smile on your face, throw back your shoulders, take a deep breath; and sing a snatch of song. If you can't sing, whistle. If you can't whistle, hum. You will quickly discover that it is physically impossible to remain blue or depressed while you are acting out the symptoms of being radiantly happy.

You will find that as you alter your thoughts towards things and other people, things and other people will alter towards you. When we hate our enemies, we are giving them power over us, power over our sleep, our appetite, our blood pressure, our health and our happiness. Our hate is not hurting our enemies at all, but our hate is turning our own days and nights into a hellish turmoil. We may not be saintly enough to love our enemies, but for the sake of our health and happiness, let's forgive them and forget them. There is an old saying that a man is a fool who can't be angry, but a man is wise who won't be angry.

It is natural for people to forget to be grateful sometimes. So let's not expect gratitude. If we get some occasionally, it will come as a delightful surprise. If we don't get it, we won't be disturbed. We also seldom think of what we have but always of what we lack, which is a tragedy. So count your blessings and not your troubles.

To cultivate our mental attitude further, which will bring us peace and freedom from worry, is to observe the rule of not imitating others. Let's find us and be ourselves. For 'envy is ignorance' and to 'imitate is suicide'. As usual I have said too much. It seems as if I am preaching. Till next month I bid you my farewell. Take care - Bye


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