I lost 16 of what should have been my most productive years to mental illness. I really can’t tell you how many psychiatric hospitalizations that I had during this time because I lost count. My mind was so mired in the events of the past that there was no today or tomorrow to be seen. It was like my mind wanted to punish me for the things that other people had done to me. I was drowning in the anger that I had for the people who hurt me.
Setting my Mind Straight
After my second marriage was over and my kids were no longer in my care, I focused on trying to find my strength. There was just one problem and that was that I didn’t think I had any. I felt weak and I felt like a failure. At 36 years old, I had been married and divorced twice and now I wasn’t even able to care for my daughters. At this point, I could have easily given up again and started back on the roller coaster that I was once on. Instead, I decided that I wanted to have a real life. I didn’t know how I was going to get it but I knew I was willing to fight for it. I finally told my mind how things were going to me and I set my eyes in that direction.
A Change in the Tide
A friend of mine introduced me to a guy. Not because she thought I was ready for a relationship but because she wanted me to see how a man should treat a woman. After that first date, I know that I would never accept being treated any other way. This amazing man helped me to see my strength and he helped to shatter the deception that I was a weak person. He helped me to realize that I am strong because I made it through all of the obstacles life had thrown at me.
So, what is different exactly? My defeatist attitude and I stopped judging myself by how others treated me. I turned the energy that I had used to tear myself down to do the opposite. It was so hard to break those bad habits and 12 years later, I still find myself reverting back to that old me. Over time, I have learned to counter the falsehoods that my mind tries to tell me with truth. If my mind tells me I am not good enough, I show it that I am. If my mind tells me that I should die, I show it why I should live. If my mind tries to resort back to the negative ways, I back it up against a wall so hard that there is no way it can survive. My determination to live a good life is what started turning things around.
The Other Side of Depression
Some of what I am getting ready to say will not be popular. The biggest factor of a person recovering from depression is determined by how much the person wants to get well. A person can be miserable, depressed and suicidal. This person can go to therapy or into a hospital to get treatment but if that person doesn’t have some level of desire to have a better life, it will do no good. If there is no true effort to change patterns of thought or behavior then things will not change. Take your medications because they help keep your head clear but do not expect those pills to do all the work for you. As I like to say, if you never use different ingredients then you will always make the same cake. After 16 years, I was determined to make a different cake!
Believe me, I know that this sounds so simplistic and easy but it is anything but either of those things. It is hard work and I still have to work at it every day. I still take an antidepressant every single morning but the medication is not all that keeps me balanced. I have an active role in that process. It is my responsibility not to allow my mind to take turns that lead to the darkness. It is my responsibility to make sure that my mind is controlled by me and not by thoughts that might wander by on occasion.
Why sharing was important to me
Since I started blogging, I have met some amazing people who blog about their lives. I have met beauty bloggers, travel bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, fashion bloggers and just about every other type of blogger out there. There is something that a lot of us have in common…our mental health. Whether is a past history or a current issue, it seems there is a common thread that runs through many of us.
I have seen mental health discussions during times when celebrities have successfully taken their lives. I have seen conversations happen that are unhealthy when drama takes place online. I have seen people desperately reaching out for help during times of crisis and I have watched other bloggers set up teams of people to help others through crisis periods.
The one the one thing that I have not seen is a message of hope. A message that it is possible to be so far deep in the darkness and come out onto the other side. That is possible to live a truly happy and productive life in spite of the depression that is in your life.
I will scream it to the rooftops for the rest of my life that if you are in a crisis, please get help. But while you seek that help, turn that inner anger around and use it for your advantage. Allow that anger to keep you determined to have better and to do better IN SPITE of the obstacles. Try a therapist and if you don’t like that one…try another one and keep trying until you find the right one. Try a medication and if that one isn’t the right one…keep trying until you find the right one. Work your tail off fighting for better because you deserve it.
My life isn’t perfect and it will never be. As humans we are desperately flawed and perfection isn’t within our grasp. But what we are is creatures with a free will. We have the ability to choose our path and those choices will determine the outcome.
I refused to choose a path of hopelessness and destruction. Instead, I have chosen a path that has led to happiness. It is hard work to keep myself there and some days are better than others. But I absolutely refuse to live my life on the path that I was originally on. Are you on a path that is destructive to your well-being? It is possible to get on a different path!
I want to thank everyone for reading my mental health story. The support I have received through comments and private messages has been overwhelming. My goal in telling my story is that someone might see within these words a message of hope.
This is the last part in a four part series about my mental health story. I hope you have found something useful in the events I have described.
- How my Mind Became my Enemy – Part 1
- How my Mind Became my Enemy – Part 2
- How my Mind Became my Enemy – Part 3
- How my Mind Became my Enemy – Part 4
- My Mental Health Story