My first blog as a Psychotherapist
Revealing the secrets of the universe one blog at a time
I am writing a blog for the first time and I am slightly nervous. Who is going to read this? What are they going to think of me? I want to share my experience of life and of what motivates me to do what I do. I want to help people become better versions of themselves. To do this I have to do it myself. I have often felt that I wanted to take the higher road and even if you do take that higher road it can be at times bumpy. I will share my knowledge and experience because it’s what I know. I am still a work in progress but the first time in my life I am beginning to understand myself.
It's almost six months since the reality of COVID 19 descended upon us by closing the bars and restaurants on March 16, 2020. Can you remember where you were and what you were doing when you realized that this was a big change? I am finding that many people were affected in different ways by this event. Some people didn't think it was such a big deal, coronavirus was like catching the flu they said. I heard people saying that more people died from the flu than COVID 19, so why should they care.? At the time that might have been true. I've been watching the numbers and all the cases grow over time, I saw what happens when hospitals get overwhelmed. I watched the news coming out of Italy and then New York. I realized that some people get sick and they recover. I also noticed that some don't have symptoms at all and will get other people sick, like Typhoid Mary. Other people need ventilators and die. It’s not always old and susceptible people either, coronavirus can kill 23-year-olds just as easily as 80-year-olds. This creates a lot of anxiety and depression. Statistics don't matter if you are the one who is dead. No one likes being sick.
I’d like to cover a couple of things before I get into my blog. I'd like to tell everyone to be safe. To care about yourself, and to care about others. This is a PANDEMIC. Everyone on this planet is affected.
Precautions you probably already know: It turns out that wearing a mask is very important for your safety. Initially, we were told in the US, "oh, the masks won't filter the virus so don't bother" Then everyone realized that if someone was wearing the mask and they didn't know if they had the virus, they could slow the spread by not breathing the water droplets in their lungs onto others. Several billion viruses can live on a water droplet, they are so small. Antibacterial cleaners don’t kill the virus only the host surface. Just spraying one little droplet into another person’s mouth or eyes will infect us.
Wash your hands. Always a good idea. This is a no brainer. Twenty seconds, with soap, like a surgeon. The virus binds with the soap and gets flushed away.
Stay a distance apart from others (two meters) as to not take in the water droplets that harbor the virus. The virus cannot live without a host. They don't live long on hard surfaces but up to three days? That's long enough if we somehow manage to get these particles in our eyes, nose, or mouth. If we can avoid being in contact with someone who has it we will be okay. But how do you know if someone has it? The answer is simple: you either get a test and it tells you that you are negative, or that you are positive and you are sick. If you have a fever, you can’t breathe, and you feel like a gorilla is crushing your chest, you need to go to the hospital before it gets to be too late because you are sick. We can all be hosts to harbor the virus. I don’t want to host a virus. Not at all.
I've been seeing the news and being appalled by the events happening across this country during a time when many of us don't have jobs and are stuck at home. The protests, the riots, the police response. I don't want to make this a political commentary, but we all get triggered by those things that we see. We all have our opinions on this. I am seeing the most polarity I have ever seen in this country. What we believe should be is not what we thought it is. For some of us, we harbor many emotions and are thinking about politics more than we used to. I sense a lot of anger and frustration. What we all think about is how are we going to get our lives back to normal. At the same time, we need to create a new normal because the old normal no longer exists. I would like to see a better society come out of this; with less racism, less xenophobia, less hatred, less violence, better healthcare, safer schools, more compassion, and smarter people. Am I asking too much? I don't think so. It begins with mental health. It begins with you. Let’s take this time to take care of our mental health.
What is mental health? Why is it so important? Good mental health will get us through anything, good times. and bad. Mental health is taking care of ourselves so we can take care of others. Mental health is having that balance of mind. Mental health is a lot of things to many people. For some, it’s not feeling anxious. For others, it’s not feeling depressed. Over the next few blogs, I will give this some thought because many clinicians find it easier to identify mental illness rather than mental health. We have this huge book on mental illness called the DSM5. It defines the problems, the nature of the illness but not the cure, nor the treatment. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could open up a book and find a cure? It’s not that simple. We have lots of truths to look at first and truth can be relative, and it can be reliant on probability. So we are looking for consistency in something that won’t sit still.
I find it very interesting that we often seek the truth and it can be right in front of our eyes and very elusive at the same time. The truth is that we strive to mentally healthy but it ebbs and flows depending on how we place judgment on how we feel. For example, if I wake up and I don’t feel happy and excited about my day, does that mean that there is something wrong with me? Do I need to be happy every day? I would certainly prefer being happy every day. How can I do this? Or should I ask, “how can I do this in a meaningful healthy way?” Don’t forget there are ways of being happy that aren’t so long-lived or healthy (Hint: doing drugs is the first thing that may come to mind. You are never going to solve your problems if you prolong them by snorting coke, smoking weed, or doing crack). The truth is that we have to understand what is healthy, then practice it.
It’s difficult to cover all that I have learned over the years in a Blog. I want to be able to share and help others have insight into their issues and problems. I’ll start with this: I have found a basic truth that might help. Bear with me it will take a little bit to explain. I had attended a training on the Hawaiian Art of Forgiveness “Ho’oponopono” about a year ago, maybe two. I was so looking forward to the presentation for weeks because it was so unlike the other training I had attended. When I arrived I was in a large room with a fluctuating Mandela on a large screen with strange music playing while the presenter was talking about how we are all energy. This got my attention. This statement made me think differently about how I saw things. I had up until then saw us all as humans in a world of glass, plastic, and steel. After being presented with this paradigm, I had been able to absorb this concept and connect it to more of the ideas of changing vibrations of the mind and how Ho’oponopono did this by going through stages of saying, “I’m sorry” “forgive me” “thank you” and “I love you”. I will explain more about Ho’oponopono in later blogs but for now, let’s just stick with we are all energy and vibrations and talk about Ho’oponopono later.
Our world is made of energy. Our eyes are set up to see in terms of vibrations of light. Our ears, vibrations of sound. Touch, the sensation of vibrations of matter. Taste and smell are more of the same but all of our senses are set up to be the perception of energy. Our brain is the way we process what we sense. Our emotions influence our energy and also how we respond to the energy around us. This may seem pretty far out to some of you reading this blog. I bet some of you are saying, “what does this have to do with mental health? Or coronavirus? Or Social injustice?” I have to say, “everything, and nothing” So my question is do you want to understand everything…or nothing?
To understand everything you must have an open mind. If you want to understand nothing, keep on doing what you are doing, you are sure to find it. Many people do just that because it is so easy to go through life with a closed mind paying attention to your small personal economy. I think we all have to pay attention to personal economies but it is good to have an open mind too because there is often more to life than being born, going to school, working, then dying.
At this time I want to thank you for having an open mind. If you did not have an open mind you would most likely have stopped reading a while ago. So thank you. I appreciate your desire to learn and grow. This is the vibration I share with you in this writing. This is a continuation of the truth that I wanted to share. The vibrations we sense affect us because we are part of all vibrations, being that we are vibrations ourselves. We can negotiate and influence the vibrations, at least within our scope of understanding. We can harmonize with the vibrations around us or we can start and attract new vibrations to us. This is a core principle. Note: that I am still formulating all that I am reading and there is always new stuff. This blog represents a work in progress. We can attract new vibrations to us. This is important. The universe will respond to our vibrations. Now to put this in more concrete terms that we can relate to. For instance, we can manipulate the universe around us by forming our reality. How? Let me give you an example of a roommate I had in college, many years ago. Every morning he would wake up and frown and say, “another shitty day.” He did this for months. Every day, sunny, rainy, cloudy, snowy—it was another shitty day. How do you think this affected him? He was miserable. I think back on this now that I have learned one of the secrets I learned about the universe (the one I am sharing with you at this very moment) that we make our own experiences we attract similar vibrations by our thoughts and actions. We can make things happen. We don’t always realize this but, yeah, we can make our days “shitty.” My roommate did this. Was it good for him? Did it make him happy? Did his actions improve his life? To all this, I can safely and assuredly say, “no it did not make his life better, it did not make him happy, and no, it was not good for him. Having a different viewpoint after years of learning the many secrets of the universe, I have concluded that we can attract negative vibrations by calling out to them. All we need to do is say, “another shitty day” and it will come. Keep saying it and you will end up in inpatient psych as my roommate did. So let’s be careful what we ask for. That’s my recommendation. Negative thoughts will attract negativity. Since there is balance in the universe, on the flip side; positive thoughts will attract positivity. The truth is that if you decide that it will be a fantastic day, it is more likely that it will be a fantastic day because you called out to it. The funny thing that even though my roommate of so many years ago would say that it was “another shitty day” it wasn’t, he just thought it was. This is a finer characterization of the universe, our mind interprets our surroundings i.e. vibrations but it also determines our influence on it.
I will stop here. It is a lot to think about. I didn’t know that this is what I would start writing about when I began this blog but I hope you found it helpful. I will continue in my next blog. If you want to meet with me and work on becoming a better you, I am licensed to practice psychotherapy in the State of Wisconsin. I am doing most of my therapy through a HIPPA approved video platform which means I can meet with you no matter where you live as long as it’s in Wisconsin and you have good internet. I have a sliding fee scale with very fair and reasonable prices. I am building my practice so please decide whether you want my help. I will be expecting your call or email to set up an appointment if you do want to take that step to improve your life. It’s up to you.
Patrick Matthews MS LPC