Reflecting on the Year: Learned Helplessness, Bio-Hacking Health and More
The best and the worst of 2019.
I had A LOT of ah-ha lightbulb moments this year. The best and the worst thing I came across in 2019 was learned helplessness. If you aren’t familiar with this idea, here are the basics--you experience trauma, including failure, whether it is physical or mental. You feel powerless to change the past or the future. Then, the event or trauma happens again. You erroneously learn you are “helpless” to create any impact on your present or future. You are now helpless because you believe your are helpless. Isn’t that the worst trap you and I have ever fallen into?
This idea may seem elementary or even trite. But it is a powerful concept. Medical and psychological tests were developed to prove this concept. It is a mind trap that we all fall into at times.
Here is how it played out in my life:
Failure/trauma: I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 1996. I was told that it was a genetic disease that had no cure. I was given antidepressants and therapy as the only possible management. I was in therapy up to 3 times per week, and at one time was taking 7 psychotropic medications.
2nd failure/trauma: Both of those options failed to give me lasting and full resolution of depression or anxiety.
Learned helplessness/My conclusion: I believed that I could not escape the grips of depression or anxiety because all my previous attempts had failed. This belief kept me from seeking the physical/medical causes of my depression and anxiety.
Here is another example of how learned helplessness showed up in my life:
I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I was told there was no cure and that I would spend my life “in treatment.” I researched online and found hundreds and thousands of patients who were trying myriad treatments not getting any better.
I tried several therapies including antibiotics, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and high dose Vitamin C therapy. These therapies did not cure the Lyme disease or provide lasting relief of my symptoms.
Learned helplessness/My conclusion: I believed that I would always be “sick” and would have to settle for a lower quality of life than I wanted.
And guess what? Both of the conclusions were false. I have overcome depression, anxiety, Lyme disease, and a laundry list of other diagnoses.
Both of these examples of my own learned helplessness caused years of both physical and emotional suffering. I’m glad I finally have a name to the bad programming I was experiencing. I’m grateful that I can challenge my own learned helplessness and support my clients as they face their own. I find both comfort and terror in the fact that we all experience some degree of learned helplessness for periods of time.
But wait, don’t even, for a second, think that I am saying that your depression or other symptoms are all because you have learned helplessness. I’m certainly NOT suggesting that the cure to all diseases and woes lie within your own mind-frame, although at some level, that may be true. I know there are urban myths about mystics, healers, monks and the like who have cured themselves and others. I have yet to harness the power of my mind to cure my physical ailments in the blink of an eye. But, I have learned to harness the power of my mind to find accurate information that will lead me to curing my physical and emotional symptoms.
If that got a little thick with woo-woo for you, let me just say this: I’m grateful that I have been able to challenge unhealthy thinking patterns that were not serving my physical or mental health. I'm disappointed that my brain fell for that crap and it kept me “sick” for decades. But I’m savvy to that lie, and now, so are you.
Do you have an autoimmune disease? How about depression, anxiety...or some other mental health diagnosis? Are you like me and have multiples diagnosis? Do you think you are destined to suffer for your entire life just because your doctor(s) don’t have all the answers? You are not helpless to your diagnosis. You hold the keys to your own improvements in body and mind.
What does 2020 have in store for me and you? If you are ready to shake off the chains of learned helplessness and bio-hack your way to a happier and healthier you, then let's connect.
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