One of my special talents (no big head here just historical evidence) is translating and adopting seemingly unrelated concepts to solve problems. This is the context for sharing how I used a traditional business tool SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to assess and plot a path out of depression.
First off, using business tools for mental health is a great thing because it allows for taking the illness into a more pragmatic framework than traditional therapy approaches. Secondly, business concepts are known to many so there is an innate comfort in relating to them. Third, using a tool that is not psychological in nature may help put more emphasis on problem solving than illness identification. What I mean by this is a different viewpoint that focuses on current practices and options moving forward.
So lets begin.
SWOT is a staple of competitive analysis tools in business. You can read a good writeup here: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_05.htm
My adoption of SWOT to mental health started when I was deep in depression some years ago and realized that I have considerable training and experience (yup, I have an MBA in strategy) in solving problems. So the light went on! Why not use the tools and techniques that helps struggling companies? Companies are like people, they have personalities (called culture), behaviors (practices, processes), beliefs (policies, politics), and life stages (startup, expanding, mature). There is a lot more but you get the picture.
Back to SWOT. The basic premise is to assess the landscape of competition. So who/what is your competition in mental health? This was a hard one to figure out. I went down the wrong lane a few times. I thought depression was my competition but no... that would make me battle an invisible, brain created, and ultimately illusive concept where I would be more focused on the illness than any solution. Then I looked at the problem from the solution side. What is the goal? Mental wellness. Aha! So if the competition is for a relative normalcy then who/what are the players in this analysis? Again, the light went on! Another business concept sprung to mind... minimizing the bad or optimizing the good? And there it was!
The two sides in this SWOT of mental health is myself and myself. The self optimizing for mental wellness and the self minimizing pain. Do you see? The goal is the same but the first reinforces thinking, practices, behaviors that make us feel good and move forward. The second is basically keeping us in constant coping.
With that in mind, here is the most fundamental list of questions you need to answer.
Be honest. Be patient. Be thorough.
It may help to solicit the viewpoint or observation of others as we are a bit 'blind' when we suffer with a mental health condition (many times can't see the forest for the trees). You can also offer your list to a trusted friend or therapist to evaluate or start a discussion. Though I am good at seeing things for what they are, even I get blind to stuff... I be you do too. So reach out to others who know you even if it is just for a piece of your SWOT.
I truly hope this helps you see things a little differently.
A special thanks to my Twitter friend who encouraged to write this piece (will include their handle when permitted).
With all my love and support to you!