Yesterday I had the honor of attending the Spiritual Fitness Fair at the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in San Diego.
I was there to support my amazing friend Amy Clover, who was asked to speak on mental health at the event. Although I thought I was simply there to cheer her on in her talk and give a little moral support, I ended up getting so much out of it personally.
Before the event started, we got to meet in the Chaplain’s office with the team that was running the event, to hear all about the reason they were holding it.
They told us their focus at the Marine Corps is “combat readiness and resiliency,” but that if you’re not mentally, emotionally and spiritually resilient (in addition to physically resilient), you’re not “combat ready” for the battles of everyday life.
They said the hope for their marines is to become resilient in those 4 areas — physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
They also said they’ve found that most of the “troubled” marines — the ones who engage in any type of misconduct – their issue is typically lack of goals, purpose, or future plans. So their hope is to help them develop a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives.
The point of the event was to help these marines become more prepared in advance for the hardships of life, not just the hardships that come with combat. I loved that.
The first woman who spoke was Dr. Mary Rotert, a psychologist and therapist. I only caught the end of her talk, but I wrote down a couple of things I liked.
“Whatever your spiritual framework is, make sure it’s working for you and that it brings you peace.”
“I remind myself that I can’t see the future, and every time I thought I knew how it was gonna go, and thought that I wouldn’t make it, I actually did make it. And it worked out.”
The next speaker was MMA fighter and a marine himself, Chad Robichaux. He spoke about the hardships of having PTSD and how it affected his family and brought him to the brink of taking his life — and how as he’s recovered, he’s used physical fitness as a release.
“Resiliency is the ability to bounce back. To prepare ourselves in advance to be able to bounce back from the battles that we face.”
“I said to myself, are you gonna lay there and die or are you gonna move forward?”
“If you don’t include God in your plan, you’ll end up right back where you are.”
And last but not least, Amy — who spoke about how strength, bravery and vulnerability are perceived in society, which causes many to “suffer in silence” through their depression.
She emphasized the importance of reaching out for help when you’re in pain and being a helper to others in pain – not staying silent and going through it alone.
Examples of society stigmas that keep people silent — “strong people don’t admit they’re struggling,” or “being anxious or depressed means you’re weak.”
“Stigma kept me suffering in silence through the ache of not wanting to be here anymore.”
And my favorite line…
“Be a hero. Reach out for help. Go after recovery.”
She gave To Write Love On Her Arms as a great resource (an organization I love and I’ve supported for many years as well, which focuses on depression, addiction, and suicide prevention. Support them buy getting some awesome merch).
Here’s a little video from the marines about the event:
Anyway, I wanted to share some of those insights with you. I was humbled and honored to be a witness to this event and I think it’s really amazing and important that they’re focusing on these topics.
And I know, I was meant to be there to hear those insights. For myself and so I could share them with you guys.
I’m really proud of you Amy, for giving such an awesome talk. You undoubtedly helped so many people. Thank you for letting me tag along. :)
Don’t give up. Stay.