When did you first realise you had a mental illness? What was life like when you were a child, let’s say between 5 and 11, who were you as an individual? Were you a fun loving person? Were you just good at stuff? Were you adventurous? Some people never have that period of happiness. Their mental illness is there from the day they were born. Some develop their mental illness during those crucial years because of a toxic environment from abuse to living in a war zone or even being poor. Some develop mental illness during adulthood, stress from work, abusive relationships, lack of opportunities, bereavement. While some have good secure lives, a good family, good income, and good opportunities. Anyone can be plagued by misfortune and well some just don’t go through such difficult times.
I was watching a movie, the lead character had a bad childhood only because of poverty. She makes it out of that only to have a setback where her friend betrays her. She takes longer to achieve her dream but within a few years, she’s back on top. She eventually finds love and settles down, going on to achieve even bigger dreams. Another movie goes like so, a couple invest in a company with all their savings only to realise it was a scam. They go through a period of hardship and the wife eventually leaves. At this time they had a son, but she leaves anyway without the child. The dad has to try making money whilst trying to get a well paid job. Him and his son are put through serious stress, they end up homeless and trying to just get through each day. All this time the dad did not give up on that well paid job, he did his training and gave it his all. Eventually he gets through training and gets the job. In both of these stories, none of them ever gave up on their dreams and themselves. And then the story of Ray Charles!
In my life, I was lucky to have a period of happiness. I knew I was different, I didn’t fit in, but guess what I was happy. I remember as a child I had bad anxiety, I couldn’t speak in front of people and I cried a lot. People made fun of me so eventually I got sick of them and worked on being able to speak in front of a crowd. Now, I don’t even struggle with that, sure I get normal anxiety before, just like everyone does, but once I’m on stage, I just flow, no tears, no stammering. Depression and mental illness eventually caught up with me though, I totally gave up. I was so out of self esteem that I thought I’d end up an alcoholic, drug abusing prostitute. I think that’s been my lowest point in life so far, and hopefully it never gets worse than that. Then bam, one day I just couldn’t take it anymore. Who the heck had I become? Is this what I was destined to? Three years of this, feeling lost, suicidal, worthless. I needed change and I don’t know what or who to call it, but IT heard me and pulled me up out of that darkness.
I’m still trying to get used to it. I had a lot of support. From the moment I was born until now, there have been good people in my life. And in that sense, I understand what my cousin meant when she said God still sends his angels. There is always light even when it seems like the darkness is devouring us. I got out of severe depression through people believing in me, being there for me, it’s the best investment in anyone’s life. Sure at the time it didn’t click to me but eventually it all adds up. A great support system will have you moving mountains. Sometimes it’s just the little glimmer of hope inside our hearts and minds that gets us to the place we want. At times it’s that supportive partner, parent, friend, doctor, therapist, even medication. I am seriously grateful that I’ve found antidepressants that work, and my doctor and I have found a way to manage doses according to my mood swings and symptoms. I have met people at opportune moments who have instilled confidence in me. People can be terrible but there are still good people out there and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s not about depending on these things or people but it’s about allowing that support to build you up so you are able to stand alone. Don’t let that moxie die.
Watching inspirational movies helps me realise that everyone goes through setbacks. It might be things we will never be able to control or it might be things we can control, the secret is knowing what’s what. I am in no way perfect, I still have days of sadness, but at least it’s no longer depression. I do think about suicide once in a while, but I choose life. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had any serious challenges lately, maybe I’m celebrating immaturely, maybe I’m going through mania, but what I know is I haven’t been depressed for more than a month at a time for a while and for me, that’s a lot of hope. Therapy has given me coping strategies that I turn to when in crisis, I have motivational and positive quotes and images on my bedroom wall. If that doesn’t help me trick my brain into being happy then I’ll just keep adding and using more ways to get there. I once had goals, I gave up on them, they changed and now I have new ones. I can’t tell you that you’ll recover from your disability or mental illness or physical illness but I know there are people who have achieved their dreams who once walked in your shoes and some achieve things even while they have these challenges. Life is not easy for anyone, we all go through periods of good and bad, it’s about being strategic and a believer in yourself and having even one person who believes in you. Plus sometimes we might never have what we want but that doesn’t mean giving up on yourself just means changing your outlook.
I hope that we can all get to where we want to be. It’s okay if you’re happy where you are. It’s okay if there isn’t much you feel you can do, just be content with yourself and free yourself from guilt. The answers are usually within us, let’s not be scared to get to know ourselves as individuals, maybe it will help us love ourselves more and live better lives. If you’re an adult reading this, then there’s nothing getting in your way anymore. Let’s use the resources present to us and build something great for ourselves. Always remember there are good people out there too.