On Life Balance: Protect Your Health (2/6)

One thing we can never delegate to anyone else is protecting our health.

Only we can control what we eat, when we go to bed, and how much we exercise.

The necessity of protecting our health is just about as much of a scientific “law” as gravity.  Sure there are variables, but the big picture is–ignore your body’s need for health and it will break down.

Rather than repeat what other writers have eloquently stated regarding eating better foods, sleeping adequately, and exercising well, I am going to share with you two stories in the next two blogs.

Two thought leaders I really respect have stories of seasons in their lives in which they thought they could cheat the “law of health.”  These seasons of their lives became pivotal points of change and dramatically altered the rest of their live’s timelines–their mission and their audience

I will tell you the first story today.

It is of a pastor– Tommy Nelson.

Tommy graduated from my alma mater and spoke on his experience when I was a student.  He is a globally known pastor and teacher.  Among other things, he is known for his series on the Song of Solomon, leading a top notch mentorship program, and a definitive country accent.  Extremely driven and disciplined, for years, he kept an incredibly rigorous schedule.

…until he got “hijacked” by something.

He had no idea what it was.

Before he experienced it, he didn’t know it existed.

After going through “it,” however, he discovered that theologians Charles Spurgeon and Martin Luther, scientist Sir Isaac Newton and many other world-shakers had experienced the same thing.  A recent Newsweek article stated that half of the fortune 500 CEOs had had it.  Next, 80+ billion dollars was lost in one year due to lost wages and time off of work because of it.

He described “it” as a “joyless, agoraphobic black hole… a hopeless, despairing spiral.    It is scary.  It is lonely.”

Tommy had pain all over his body.  He found himself unable to think.  He was on a fetal position on the floor.  He went to the hospital twice but was told his health was perfect.

“I couldn’t sleep from May until November.”

He expected it to go away, but instead over months it only escalated.

Though initially resistant, he finally sought help with a counselor and a psychiatrist.  The psychiatrist told him that he was “a garden variety of depression and anxiety that comes from hyper-stress over years.  Finally, your body says, ‘That’s all.'”

His psychiatrist educated him about the neurotransmitter Serotonin.  “Serotonin allows your central nervous system to function.”  Stress depletes Serotonin.  Continued stress will eliminate it.  “It’s like an engine that doesn’t have oil.  The phenomena is called, ‘depression’ or the flip side is ‘acute anxiety.'”

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Tommy shared, “I didn’t know you could get totally burned out doing something you loved.”

He kept an insane schedule every day of the week writing books, counseling, mentoring, and speaking all over the country.

“I was at the top of my game.”

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The doctor told him he would need to deal with his schedule.  He also started him on medicines called SSRIs that prevented the reuptake of Serotonin so his body would not continue to deplete its supply.

Tommy also saw a counselor who “had been there.”  He said the counselor could help “talk him down because he understood.”

After about a month of the medicine, Tommy said, “Something lifted.”  A month later, he experienced “feeling good” again.  The next month, he began preaching again.

“You don’t feel different.  You feel like you.”

I had to cut out about 60% of my schedule, but the happiness came back.

Happy young man

“What did I learn from this?”

“I learned to rest.”

“I learned that you can get completely burned out doing what you love.”

“I learned that we can’t take anything for granted.  You can get screwed up really quick.”

“Finally, I learned empathy.  So many people have gone or are going through this.  I had pastored the church since 1977 and people in my congregation came out of the woodwork.  They described the same ‘fetal position on the floor’ experience I had had.”

 

What did Tommy want people in the helping professions like the pastors and counselors in our school to learn?

#1 “Rest.”

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#2 Be aware of your culture.  “Our culture produces stress like sweets produce decay.”

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#3 Be aware of yourself. “Quite often people fall into this out of feelings of great responsibility.”

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Tommy also shared that he wanted people to not be resistant to taking medicine.  “Our mind is not a given.  It is not this separate entity.  Our mind is affected by a lot of things.”

Years later, Tommy later shared with his congregation that he was still unable to get off of his medicine.  He felt like this would be something that he may need to deal with for the rest of his life.

At times, a prolonged season of stress–this can stem from unresolved grief, doing too much of what we love, emotional stress, or simply always being over-busy–can impact the rest of our entire lives.

Tommy’s counselor shared with him that many of the people who go through a depression like he experienced also go through a divorce during that time.  “When they said ‘for better or for worse,’ they weren’t thinking this.”

Tommy expressed thankfulness that his wife stuck with him through the entire experience.  (Maybe it had something to do with all of his decades of work in applying what he taught on Romance from the Song of Solomon.)  ; )

What are your thoughts?  Is it a new idea to think that too much of a good thing could bring such a dramatic health crisis to your life?  Have you walked through this with a loved one?  Please comment and share.

Next time, I’ll share a story about how pushing too hard led to a physical health crisis and what one man did about it.

Scan 14

 

Christine M. Wilson, LPC
Co-Founder, Think Time

Tweetable  Blog Highlights

One thing we can never delegate to anyone else is protecting our health. Read more: http://ow.ly/B3Wd30jHunz

Only we can control what we eat, when we go to bed, and how much we exercise. Read more: http://ow.ly/B3Wd30jHunz

The necessity of protecting our health is just about as much of a scientific “law” as gravity. Read more: http://ow.ly/B3Wd30jHunz

“I didn’t know you could get totally burned out doing something you loved.” –Tommy Nelson @dentonbible

[I was not expecting this.] “I was at the top of my game.” –Tommy Nelson @dentonbible Read more: http://ow.ly/B3Wd30jHunz

“Our mind is affected by a lot of things.”  –Tommy Nelson @dentonbible Read more: http://ow.ly/B3Wd30jHunz

Stress depletes Serotonin.  Continued stress will eliminate it.  Read more: http://ow.ly/B3Wd30jHunz

“Rest.” –Tommy Nelson @dentonbible Read more: http://ow.ly/B3Wd30jHunz

Be aware of your culture.  “Our culture produces stress like sweets produce decay.” –Tommy Nelson @dentonbible

Be aware of yourself. “Quite often people fall into this out of feelings of great responsibility.” –Tommy Nelson  @dentonbible

At times, a prolonged season of stress can impact the rest of our entire lives. – Christine Wilson @taketimetothinktime http://ow.ly/B3Wd30jHunz

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