Greeting to all of you in the Conquer Worry world. My name is Craig Lewis and I have been worrying about something very important to me. You see, I am a person with lived experience when it comes to mental health struggles, addiction and trauma, and when I commit to another person that I am going to do something, and then I am unable to, I become consumed with dread. However, it is not just dread that overtakes me, it is also the fear that I will be judged as someone who is weak or irresponsible or simply not worthy of some leeway when things in my life go a little haywire. Do you know what I am talking about here, when I describe the feelings of dread and fear? For many of us, these powerful and at times, debilitating feelings, arise within us, in the wake of unforeseen crises.
As much as I am aware that I can be overwhelmed by these waves of intensity, I am also aware that, every single time, I have survived when I have been hit with the powerful feelings of dread and fear. Hey, in reality we are all just human beings doing our best to live our lives. We don’t want to be constantly bothered or discouraged by the barrage of intense feelings that any given day in our life can throw at us. However, the reality is, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you allow your perspective to view any situation you find yourself in; if you are alive today reading this essay, then you have survived, and you will survive again.
Perhaps, you may be thinking, who is this guy Craig Lewis and why should I listen to what he has to say? You may think to yourself that there is no way that this guy knows what I am going through and how dare he tell me anything when it comes to dealing with the onslaught of intensity, and perhaps chaos, that rains down upon me during times of crisis, or when I have been triggered by something. Of course, you are fully correct that I am not you and that your experience is yours and yours alone, and I want to validate that indeed you are the expert on you, and not me, and not anyone else. This is what I know! Each one of us has it within ourselves to facilitate a radical human powered transformation, for our life and so that we can live the lives we need and want to lead.
I can tell you that I am the expert on me, and there is no one who can take that away from me. Even if you have been told different by someone else; I am still asserting here that you are the expert on you. No one knows better than you when it comes to how you feel and knowing what you are feeling and in many ways, why you are feeling what you are feeling. I know that you may be wondering how all of these words relate to coping with the avalanche of worry that we face from time to time in our lives? Thankfully, for me, I have lived the chaos, and while I still do experience extreme, intense and disruptive storms in my brain, I have learned, much the hard way, that I have survived each and every storm, and gotten on with my life.
To be direct and open with how I feel is often quite a comfortable state of mind for me to be in, and helps liberate me from my hurt, pain and ongoing struggle to live a happier, healthier and more satisfying life. Two weeks ago, I agreed to be a guest on the Conquer Worry show, and I cancelled at the last minute. One week ago, I agreed to be a guest on the Conquer Worry show, and again I cancelled. Surely there are legitimate reasons as to why I had to cancel, and I was treated by the host of the show with incredible compassion and empathy, for which I am grateful.
However, I still suffered with very strong feelings of dread and fear that I would be viewed as someone who is weak, irresponsible and unworthy of rescheduling for what is now the 2nd time. Thankfully, in this situation, I am very happy to report that I was embraced as a human being, who, like all of us, sometimes struggles with daily life and the barrage of triggers, upset and chaos, that can befall us at times and without warning, throw us off track. Tonight is the night of this interview and I am certain that this third attempt is the charm.
In closing, I am living proof that a life of worry, suffering and despair, can transform into a relatively peaceful, happy and satisfying life. Surely, this was not an overnight process and I want to be clear that this is a difficult journey to go on however I can happily share with you that not only am I grateful for all of my experiences and for all of my struggles, that in fact it is this very journey that taught me how to live the good life I live today. Of course, this is an ongoing process and while I do, at times, experience the feelings of despair, dread and fear, no doubt about that, I still will not allow worry to be the navigator of my life as that navigator is me; and in your life, you are the navigator, you choose and you decide.
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December 1, 2014
Craig Lewis is a Certified Peer Specialist living and working in Massachusetts.
He has struggled immensely with mental health issues throughout his life, but he has successfully transformed this into a life of wellness. He has embraced his recovery process, producing remarkably beneficial results. He has discovered that he has innate skills and capabilities for helping others in their recovery, and he has been able to help many people improve the quality of their lives, which is life-affirming for him. He does this by tapping into his lived experience to help others transcend their own struggles. He is sincerely committed to his recovery and helping nurture the recovery and wellness of all with whom he comes into contact. Craig is successfully working as part of an outreach team at a human services agency in Boston, Massachusetts. He also tours the country, speaking about his lived experience, sharing his struggles and triumphs to help others.
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