Growing up, I knew my father had struggled with bouts of depression. That’s one of the things that made him such a skilled therapist. But as I grew older, I started to recognize the same struggles in myself. I had crippling anxiety from a young age, but never realized that it wasn’t something everyone had, so I mostly said nothing. To alleviate my anxiety, I used drugs and alcohol. But as I came into adulthood, it became clear that my substance abuse was just a coping mechanism for my mental struggles. I was hospitalized multiple times, and feared that potentially I was not someone who could be a functioning adult. This was incredibly disappointing for someone who had always been told she’d grow up to do great things. I couldn’t even walk down the street and go to CVS without feeling like I was going to pass out. Very, very slowly, I came to understand that by caring for my mental health, I could actively save my own life and eventually become the person I always wanted to be. Today, I have a series of things I do to maintain my mental health. I am an active participant in a 12-step program, I go to therapy, I meditate every day, and I believe exercise is one of the most beneficial tools to balance my brain chemistry. All of those things make up my mental health “tree.” Basically, the things I do to stay happy and healthy. I have seen so many people struggle, including my nephew Connor, and I have some very strong beliefs on the topic. Most important is this: Mental illness and addiction are absolutely deadly diseases. They can kill you. However, they are also TREATABLE ones. In the same way a diabetic needs insulin, people with mental health and addiction struggles need to be treated by professionals. That can come in many forms, ranging from cognitive behavioral therapy to medication-assisted treatment. What’s important is that every person have the opportunity to find what’s right for them.
View more stories here…
We invite and encourage everyone from all walks of life to share their stories and experiences with mental health, addiction and suicide. The more we talk about it, the more we realize we are not alone on our journeys. This is just one way to hold onto hope.
Share your story here