Since the story of my suicide attempt is becoming more public, people are asking about my recovery. The basic thing everyone wants to know is what the magic trick is to getting themselves or their loved one back to “normal”.
Hint: there is no magic pill.
The most recent question I received is, “What is the one thing that made you want to start living again.” Since I am not a professional and everyone has a different recovery story, here are seven things that did not make me want to start living again.
What a dumb idea. If I had cancer, you can bet I would take chemo. I might also listen to the naturopaths who say to drink carrot juice and cut out high sugars from my diet, but I would definitely take chemo.
Mental illness is a real thing. A disease. Maybe you can’t see it, but it is as real as the nose on your face. So when the doctor says things in your brain aren’t firing right and a certain medication will help level you out, you listen to the doctor.
You must be a special kind of stupid if you think you can figure out the winding, ruthless road of mental illness all on your own. And if you aren’t going just because you’re too prideful to talk to a professional, your pride will kill you.
When my son was a toddler, he went through a very difficult time with his stomach. Frequently, he would vomit and make major messes. Each time, he would cry and beg for forgiveness. “Dada,” he would say, “I’m sorry I frowed up.” It would always break my heart and make me smile a little at his innocence.
My son couldn’t control having a stomach virus any more than I can control a panic attack in the middle of the work day. Both are inconvenient, but I wouldn’t choose anxiety or depression any more than someone would willingly choose to vomit.
Pushing away those who care about me.
There are those who care. And there are those who only care to know what’s going on. It’s important to know the difference. But when you figure that out, surround yourself with those who care to walk with you through the hard times.
Insomnia is a hell of a thing, but when you are able to sleep, choosing not to sleep is true craziness. Staying up all-hours of the night to binge-watch Netflix, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Our bodies require good amounts of sleep and as someone with a mental illness, it seems even more vital.
Not eating well or on a regular schedule.
I’m a busy guy. And I’ve never been a big breakfast eater. See how I just made two excuses? No more excuses. Low blood sugar can make a person feel extremely out of it.
As a person with mental illness, I don’t need any other triggers to make me feel out of it. Not when I can control it. I can control my diet. I can control my eating schedule. What I cannot control is a panic attack that shows up out of the blue.
I’m not saying you have to join a gym, slap some patch on you, or post before and after pictures of some magical wrap. I’m just saying to eat as healthy as you can and as regularly as you can. Skipping meals isn’t the wisest move.
Caring more about the stigma than recovery.
The stigma of mental illness sucks. The stigma of being a Christian with mental illness sucks even more. You know what sucks worse? Not getting better.
Looking for more? Check out “7 Surprising Gifts of My Mental Illness” on Good Men Project.