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There’s an Easy Fix to the Mental Health Crisis?

On Veteran’s Day, I told NBC’s Savannah Sellers and Joe Fryer that the veteran mental health crisis has “an easy fix”.

When I talk about these things, I allow the words to move through me as I fully trust in them. I didn’t hear myself say it at the moment. After the broadcast, I came back down to earth and recalled what I’d said.

It may have come across as condescending, ridiculous or just plain ignorant. It may have come across as the convenient perspective of someone on the other side of the mountain. I assure you, this isn’t the case. For me the climb up and over has been the toughest expedition of my life.

You idiot, I thought. I wondered how I could make that comment disappear.

Then, I realized this:

A bedrock of #BingingSober, a blueprint for living well, that I’m launching on January 2, 2023, is that you must spend time questioning the beliefs that may be limiting your experience of the fullness of life.

Perhaps the beliefs most applicable here – because they have the potential to wreak so much havoc on our mental health if we’re not “living up to” our idea of them – are happiness, success, fulfillment, love and insert your own here. All of these belief systems work the same way. There’s a team perspective that we’ve built together that controls us when we’re not paying attention, and there’s another perspective that is your own that you can control when you are paying attention. You are responsible for knowing both.

Your perspective dictates the way you interact with the world and your experience in it and because of it. This is something that you have complete control over and if you take a moment to reflect upon your beliefs (just 5-10 seconds each) you may find that you‘ve been chasing the team’s expectation of happiness, success, fulfillment, love, and insert your own here. Not your own.

When it comes to our experience of mental health challenges, our team perspective of mental toughness is missing the mark. A new perspective is vital to understanding how to cope well, how to thrive, through all of the tests that we face in this life alone and together. The new, whole perspective of mental toughness has to include the part where we return to the painful feelings, the trauma that we bury in the moment that we face the situation with resilient-driven mental toughness to survive. The return is where true mental toughness is tested.

When this is our mental toughness, any one of us can make the decision at any moment to go back up and over to the other side of the mountain where our most painful feelings, our biggest fears, the trauma we buried, have lost their power over our lives.

For me, that trek took almost ten years, a lot of therapy, and a lot of #BingingSober.

But what if there is a shortcut? What if it’s been there the whole time, cut through the dense dark forest alongside the mountain? What if we’ve avoided it for so long because someone, sometime, somewhere told someone else that the long road over the mountain is the safer route and that idea stuck? What if we recognize the shortcut, pave it, upload it to Google Maps and make it the new way? What if believing there’s an easy fix to the mental health crisis is the start of one?

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