I met my friend, Christopher Emmanuel thirteen years ago through my friend and former roommate Karen. Christopher and Karen were in a relationship, and we all shared humble surroundings in our tiny flat in Cancun, Mexico. Here we lived, laughed and learned all while escaping the harsh Canadian winters.
What I first noticed about Chris upon our initial introduction was his megawatt smile. His laugh could not be described as anything but infectious and he lit up any room he walked into. His sense of joy was palpable. Unbeknownst to me, joy was an emotion Chris did not take for granted. If you were in a rut, Christopher was the person to pull you out of it through his kind words and ability to listen so well. Little did I know he was suffering from manic depression and had an internal battle to fight, and was fighting it full force. A deep darkness, where in the past, he ended up in a pattern of mental breakdowns, in hospital wards, isolating himself from family and friends and in a state of hostility. By all appearances, Chris seemed to be a functioning person, living his life through his joy in simplicity, his art, his writing and his approach to positive thinking. Chris confided in me that he had weaned himself off his medication before leaving for Mexico and that he was healing himself through natural methods, which included open and truthful self discovery.
Chris’ philosophy is that we all have the ability to heal our inner demons and transform our lives through the power of our minds and by changing patterns of destructive thinking. First we must recognize the truth of our condition and to stop suppressing any trauma of the past and learn how to deal with emotions such as anger in a healthy and productive way. Learning to express yourself and deal with anger is all outlined in his book, A Mind that Matters. Chris experienced childhood trauma that he suppressed for many years, which made him deal with his anger in an explosive manner. It is only when he faced his trauma head on was he able to begin the healing process. Another step to Chris’ healing is to forgive and stop blaming others for the past. Not only others, but letting go of self blame and self judgement. As stated in A Mind that Matters “as we learn to forgive, we come to embrace the love we need to heal ourselves.” As I began to know Chris more, I could see that he was a loving person, and this was something he not only preached, but this is how he lived his life. Free from any bitterness and free to show love by the way he treated others with care and kindness. This is something that truly resonated with me when were roommates and I experienced this first hand. It was hard to fathom that he suffered from such a debilitating illness. As I read his book, I was compelled to share the following tips to achieve mental wellness:
- Forgive yourself when things go wrong. You will make mistakes. Mistakes are often paths to lead you to where you need to be.
- Surround yourself with supportive people. True friends are people you can confide in and who will listen.
- Reward your accomplishments. Celebrate yourself when you have achieved a goal.
- Lastly, love yourself unconditionally. Accept who you are, weaknesses and all. Work to change what you can, but accept that weaknesses can put you on a path to wisdom and self discovery.
In addition to the above tips, Chris makes time to meditate, pray, exercise his body and eat nutritious foods to keep mental clarity. These practices to obtain mental wellness did not happen over night. Through time and setbacks, Chris trained and challenged his mind to become healthy, and changed his pattern of a destructive thought process.
From our little flat in Mexico, I learned a lot. Love is the centre of success. Always remember to practice kindness, be good to others, and never to judge others. This will all come back to you in goodness and strength. Although all appearances may seem fine on the outside, you never know the internal struggles someone may be facing. I truly feel that God made our paths meet in the paradise of the Mexican Caribbean. I struggle with feelings of sadness and depression. Although not clinically diagnosed, I often have to stop myself from sweating the little things and becoming overwhelmed. The long, dark winters in Canada don’t help when seasonal depression rears its ugly head. I think that is why Mexico’s sunshine and nature’s vitamin D helped me during this time, as did Chris. I still utilize his tools when I am feeling down. Pray, journal, meditate my affirmations and never to take anything or anyone for granted. Thank-you Chris.
On the canvas from Chris’ gallery….
Christopher Emmanuel divides his time between the island of Ambergris Caye in Belize and Toronto, Canada. He is a motivational speaker, writer and painter. Visit his website for further information about his books, art or workshops at www.cemmanuel.com
* Disclaimer* Although the above methods work for Mr. Emmanuel, this is a personal journey. I do not suggest any form of natural healing of manic depression through the above methods, but am simply sharing Mr. Emmaunel’s story. It is always advisable to consult your doctor if feelings of manic depression or any form of mental illness are disrupting your daily living.