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John Newmark
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John Newmark, M.S., LMHC
John Newmark, M.S., LMHC

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Do you think the other man’s grass is always greener?
Well then you must be colour blind.

My wife is always saying that this person or that person must be loaded (rich) and when I ask her why she thinks that she says that they live in a large house, drive expensive cars and live in a very nice area. But I explain that I worked with a charity that focused on helping the poor and many of the new poor were from back grounds exactly like she had described and behind every door lies a personal story, many of which we know nothing about. In my role as a facilitator of an anxiety support group here in Bray Co Wicklow then I have heard many anxiety suffers express how they would love to change places with someone they knew just because they perceived this person’s life to be better than their own. So as always I was thinking about this aspect of people wanting to swap with other people’s lives and this is what prompted me to write this post. So to test you to see if you too are one of the people who would love to swap your life for someone else’s then read on and take the challenge posed below and see how you do and then post your result in the comments box. OK here goes:

I’m going to give you a choice of three profiles of real people I know that others would love to change their lives with and see which one you would pick. Each profile will be named (A) (B) and (C)
Please read the profiles below and pick either, A, B or C as the person you would most likely swoop with and I will reveal more as we go along. Please take part as I hope you enjoy the experience.

Profile (A):
This person lives in a grand house in a very nice and sought after part of town. This person’s family are all in their twenties and both them and their partner are very much in love. This person used to work in journalism and has interviewed many heads of state and some very well known dignitaries. They have plenty of money and everyone drives a nice expensive car. The have time to spend together now that their family is reared and lots of time on their hands to do the things they always wanted to do together. This person has traveled extensively to every part of the globe while working. It seems that everything they want is now a possibility.

Profile (B):
This person had a partner and beautiful daughter and they live in a house that will become theirs through inheritance when the time is right. This person has a father who dotes on them. He would do anything for them and has always being there for them even letting their partner move in while the father himself has almost moved out to give them privacy. Their daughter is prospering and looks to have a bright future in front of her. She is smart and good looking. This person has to do nothing for themselves as everyday others will take care of any task they need doing and there is no financial pressure on them as a couple. They spend much of the time together. There are both in their thirties and transport is always available when required to take them to the places they want to attend. They pay no rent or household bills and by enlarge can spend their day as they see fit without ever having to earn a living. Chilled out life style really.

Profile (C):
This person lives on their own. They love their own company. They are easy going have a lovely bungalow and everything they need to entertain themselves. They have good neighbors and they live very close to a famous swimming spot here in Dublin and the area is regarded as very up market. They have worked hard for all they have and have no need of a partner to make their life complete. Travel is not a problem as they live in a very nice town. All around are hills, coast lines, pubs, restaurants, shops, schools, libraries and a great train service. All in all, a happy camper.

OK. You have read the three profiles above so pick the profile you think might be a better fit for you if you did not have to live with a mental illness. When you pick you profile then read below and find if it was the swap you thought it might be.

If you picked profile (A) then you have chosen a man who has Alzheimer’s disease and although everything is true that I have written in his profile, then he is unable to enjoy any of the things that others might desire. He is unable to drive; he can’t walk without a mobility aid. He sleeps nearly all day and is restless most nights. His wife has to sleep in another room in order to get some sleep and he is unable to communicate with her as he used to. In fact, only last week he was taking into hospital and he will most likely remain there. So just as he got the time to do everything he always dreamed about then his health went. Be careful what you wish for!

If you picked profile (B) then this person has diabetes and has for many years a sever drug problem. Did I mention that he had both legs removed from just below his knees? That is why he has everything done for him and the reason he has transport provided when needed. He also lost his index finger and at present he is in and out of hospital with renal failure. His partner is also a drug user and their daughter is no longer living with them because of their drug habit. Neither of these have held jobs since their teenage years due to their drug use. His father had to move out because of their destructive life style and the many gangsters who were calling to his house, yet he still supports his son. His son is not expected to live any more than twelve months. This will leave his drug partner living in a house that does not belong to her and who will never get custody of her daughter again. But every word written in the profile is true. Better the devil you know than the one you do not know yet.

If you picked profile (C) then this man is blind. He lost his sight because of diabetes some seven years ago. He is hoping that some type of procedure in the future might give him hope of some sight returning. Despite being surrounded by the coastline he can’t swim, or go for a drink as he lives on a very small pension and does not like using a cane to walk as the risk of falling is too great for someone with diabetes. Also he would not like someone to live with him and to have to live with his disability. Every other detail included in the profile is true. A beautiful place to live but he just can’t see it.

Summary:
Looking at others can often distort what we think we see. Because when you have a mental illness then you often think everyone else has it good. In fact, most mentally ill people would rather have a physical illness than have to live with, anxiety, depression, Bipolar disorder, Tourette’s, Borderline personality disorder, Psychosis, anorexia or bulimia to name but a few. But if you have been living with your illness or disorder for a long time, then chances are that you have developed coping mechanisms which allow you get through everyday mostly unharmed. Please never judge others by the things you see or that they possess because that’s not who they truly are and the picture you may see is not always accurate.
Now I think it’s s**t living with anxiety and a panic disorder but I know one thing I would never trade places with any of the people I have profiled above. So consider your lot while comparing it to the profiles above. Is your life worse than theirs, is it not a case of settling for the devil you know rather that something even more catastrophic than you already have before you realise that everyone will at some stage have to endure an illness or burden that we think we could carry no problem. Well if that’s the case then carry the one you have before you decide to swap it with anyone else as you never know that you might just long for your old illness back.
I hoped you enjoyed the exercise and that taking part was fun and that it made you think about you own life, it meaning and its value. S**t happens but take it from me no matter how bad you have it, then it can actually get worse so settle for what you have and deal with it the very best way you can and make a life for yourself before something worse creeps up and snares you.
This post is over eighteen months old but I thought it might help some folk if we did the exercise again. Feel free to post comments but always remember to build up as I am an expert at running myself down without anyone else helping me. Thanks
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Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. -Steve Jobs  
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Justin from South Carolina: “Can you help to open a dialogue among the people of South Carolina and show them your wonderful way, as you have shown me, that transcends racism, politics, violence, and FEAR? If I can catch a whiff of freedom in two weeks thanks to your Work (OUR Work, as you might say), then I can only imagine what it can do for all the people of South Carolina and the nation in such a time of true need for its universal message.” The South Carolina Grief Project: http://thework.com/south-carolina-grief-project
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The supreme court has just now ruled in favor of same-sex marriages across the United States of America, and of course, I wanted to show my support.
  Today, history was made. ❤💛💙💚💜
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Compassionate, caring psychotherapist in South Florida.....
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