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Jacob Baranski on Mental Health and Overcoming Adversity

In Jacob Baranski's experience, it takes every single person a lot of effort just to believe in themselves.

By Jacob BaranskiPublished about a year ago 8 min read
Jacob Baranski - Toronto-mike

Anyone paying any attention to the public conversation surrounding mental health recently must come to a surprising conclusion: things are getting better. Jacob Baranski has noticed it, especially concerning how the stigma around mental health problems has changed, and he is happy to see more people talking openly about their difficulties with mental health, countering the strangely persistent idea that issues like anxiety or depression can be 'cured', or that people can just 'snap out of it'. Things are, amazingly, improving.

Mental health disorders are increasingly acknowledged and understood to be actual, real problems that often linger from unaddressed pain and emotional injury, whether recently inflicted or lingering from years past. Each person's problems are unique, and each person deserves empathy for what they are going through. To Jacob Baranski's mind, the questions are different now: How do we keep this conversation going? And what can individuals do to help others, and themselves?

Support Begins With You

In Jacob Baranski's experience, it takes every single person a lot of effort just to believe in themselves. It takes work, and while things are getting better for those with mental health problems, actually living with them requires a similarly constant effort. And that is true for the individual struggling, and for their loved ones.

But that network of support may be the most important tool that person has. Everyone wants someone to talk to about their issues and problems, and connection is a basic human need. But those who are dealing with things like depression and anxiety feel like they're imposing on others if they are anything but positive and optimistic about what they are enduring. This isn't true, of course. People care deeply about the problems of those they love, but it can be an obstacle to help.

That's where professionals in the mental health field come in. The relationship between a patient and their counselor or therapist is unlike any other. It is their job and their duty to take up the burden of addressing someone's mental health problems, and this allows them to have a frank, honest dialogue about how to address them. This is of paramount importance, because Jacob Baranski knows that keeping things bottled up just leads to more acute self-destructive behaviors and habits down the road.

Dealing With Mental Health Over the Long Haul

It can be very hard to accept the fact that some mental health issues will never really go away. They can be diagnosed, addressed, and managed over time, but there is no real 'cure' to be had. But those who can accept that their disorders are simply an aspect of their identity find that they can integrate positive habits into their lives in a successful way.

As much progress as our society has made on mental health, it is still very often regarded as an 'on-off' proposition. There is no range or little nuance. A person either has or doesn't have depression, and it never changes in nature or severity over time. It is one of the reasons some people think that just getting more exercise or sleeping better will solve the problem. In reality, mental health should be looked at as a spectrum that every single human being finds themselves on throughout the journey of life.

While Jacob Baranski knows there is no on/off switch for mental health, he insists on acknowledging the complicated connection between physical and mental health. Depression and sleep are notoriously interrelated, which some sufferers oversleeping, and others dealing with insomnia or chronic poor sleep. Physical health can help with mental health, but anyone claiming that it is the 'one weird trick' that fixes everything is wrong.

Jacob Baranski

Sunlight is the best disinfectant

In Jacobs experience, key milestones to coming to terms with unhealthy behaviour begin with being honest with yourself, and then reaching out to your support system. Loneliness is something Jacob has dealt with all his life, and the fear of being alone. Reach out to friends, try something new, and plan out days when you know you may falter. An idle hand is the devils playground may be old world verbage, but the concept has never been more true.

Society in general finds itself with more free time, and a tool in everyones possession given them the best and worst of the world at their finger tips. Jacob Baranski thinks that in the future, socioligists will study the era when the social internet became pervasive in our lifes with great interest. The best of social media has been on display for a decade, and the worst, including fear, obsessive behaviour and extremism in many forms is just starting to be realized.

Fixing Your Short Term Habits

What works for one person may not work for another. Jacob Baranski knows how obvious this may sound, but he also knows how difficult this can be to admit. Many people who are laid low by mental health problems will try things like meditation, exercise, diet, etc., only to find it doesn't work and feel like they've failed again. This is destructive to self-worth. Trying new things shouldn't be feared, and failure should be met with the determination to try again, to find something that does help. One of the key concepts of meditation is that problems are grist for the mill of our minds. Meditation does not shy away from humans being flawed, but realises that it is our very nature to be flawed, and its how we navigate these problems that give us the most insight and joy as we near the end of our lives. Again, we have to be honest with ourselves and those around us to insure a satisfying purpose on this earth.

While Jacob Baranski is no therapist, and he wishes to leave professional counseling to the professional counselors, he does wish to convey what has worked for him. It is done in the hope that it can help others, or at least provide starting points for anyone seeking to improve their habits on their mental health journey.

The first step is a difficult one. It requires honest self-examination, free from judgment or self-hatred. We are our own worst critics, so we must be forgiving. In quiet moments, such as just before bed or just after waking up, it can be useful to review the previous day's events and how your actions affected others, and yourself. Did you hurt anyone, knowingly or unknowingly?

This may seem like a way to inventory your own screw-ups, but it is the opposite. People in the fog of a mental health disorder sometimes have a skewed view of things like normal social interactions. Maybe you're tearing yourself to pieces for being rude to a co-worker. Then, when you have a moment to reflect clearly, you realize the interaction was neutral, or even positive.

This is true for family and friends as well. Too often, those who are dealing with depression or anxiety have a painfully negative view of the help and care they receive from loved ones. They think it isn't out of love but out of obligation, stuck in the idea that they are helping only because they have to. Reflection like Jacob Baranski recommends can enable you to accept help without taking it for granted, and do so graciously, with a generous heart.

Managing the Day-to-Day of Mental Health

Day-to-day habits are small habits, and small habits can be incredibly useful to those facing long-term mental health issues. It can feel completely overwhelming to examine your own life and realize just how big and difficult the problem is. Which is why the best approach, in Jacob Baranski's experience, is to break things up into small, manageable actions that can be taken on without them taking over. One day at a time is the mantra.

Jacob Baranski

One method that has been proven to help people deal with dissatisfaction is a gratitude journal. Those who are in the habit of writing will find it especially useful. Creating a list of things in life that are good and appreciated provides a clarity like little else can, and it is also useful as a progress tracker, as it is harder and harder to give in to despair when the list of wonderful things in life is growing longer and longer.

Jacob Baranski also very strongly believes that sometimes the best way to help yourself is to help others. With his own struggles, it can be tough to get out of his own head. Devotion to a larger cause, providing your time and resources to others, or something as simple as volunteering for a charity in need can help you break out of a previously unhelpful cycle of bad mental health habits, all while doing good.

The point is to remain connected with other people. Mental health problems disrupt life, and leave sufferers feeling isolated and deeply alone. This can compound as their disorders present obstacles to reconnection and positive social contact. Jacob Baranski knows that it can be scary to reach out and make yourself vulnerable in the middle of a mental health issue, but calling a friend, spending time with family, and helping others can keep you on the right track.

Jacob Baranksi


Perspective is a rare commodity, even rarer for someone dealing with a mental health crisis. The world is a busy, noisy, complicated place, and good mental hygiene can feel like yet another problem to solve among so many others that come up in our day-to-day lives. But the value of perspective can keep those very issues from becoming acute, and feeling overwhelming.

To maintain a healthy perspective, Jacob Baranski always tries to remember what he has. He doesn't discount or ignore his own problems, or the problems of others. But he does to try acknowledge what is truly important in his life: His family, his friends, the roof over their heads, all the things he knows and loves. And he truly wishes for everyone to have the perspective to appreciate what they have as well.


About the Creator

Jacob Baranski

Jacob Baranski is a passionate entrepreneur and an ardent supporter of sustainable growth companies. A lifelong learner, he believes in investing in himself and fostering relationships on a foundation of mutual trust and respect.

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