I met with a lovely social worker on Friday. She'd been assigned to a family member's case a couple weeks ago and needed to meet with me to go through some medical and financial aid arrangements that needed to be taken care of for this family member of mine who has been in hospital for almost a month now and in and out of the hospital regularly over the past few years. After being briefed by the doctor-in-charge about the situation and exploring all that needs to be decided upon, I had a debrief with the social worker on the plans moving forward.
Firstly, it was a miracle that I was even being called in for this family member. We'd been estranged for close to 20 years. Secondly, to be sane, sober, calm and asked to be there as "sound support" to help my relatives make the right decision was another miracle.
At the age of 14, I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety (without psychotic episodes), bulimia and depersonalisation disorder (DPDR) which occasionally, would bring about suicidal tendencies. I was told by doctors that in order to live a decent life, I would have to be on medication forever. Chronic alcoholism and addiction followed suit and that became full blown by my twenties. So adding prescription drugs to that was just a lethal concoction.
Yesterday, I came across many posts about it being World Mental Health Day. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it and what it means to me. One of the many things I have learned over the past 6 years of running Nirvana Mind, is that honesty and authenticity is vital to my wellbeing (mentally and spiritually). Whenever asked, I always tell my clients the truth about why I do what I do. I simply did not just wake up one day and say, “I’m going to be a Mindfulness and Meditation teacher!”.
Like millions of people around the world and possibly you, who is reading this, I live with a number of "mental illness" afflictions daily. However, everyday, for the past 7 years, I am given an opportunity to work a solution.
Fortunately, unlike a lot of people gravely suffering, I have an excellent support system filled with like-minded people and a lifeline-toolbox filled with tools and steps to keep me sane and alive. However, in order to keep my sanity and recovery, I have to give it away by carrying it forward.
Mental illnesses, personality disorders and the disease of addiction can be seen as taboo, selfish or a problem of willpower. I implore you to have the willingness to understand or see it differently, adopt empathy and tolerance to listen to those who suffer and cultivate the love to be of healthy support. With that being said, there is also support for the loved ones of those afflicted by mental illness and addiction. Usually, the friends and loved ones of those afflicted are just as affected and suffering immensely too.
I am but only one face of mental illness but I am proud to say that I am also a mental wellbeing advocate and guide. Not because I just said I was one day, not because I have attained specific trainings but because I am living through it first hand and I'm doing my best to live in a solution everyday, moment to moment. I have been sober and clean for over 7 years. I live a life of recovery and I am not on any mood altering medication. Every person's journey is different, this is just mine.
In order for me to live a decent and sane life, I help others by sharing my experience, strength and hope so that perhaps one day, they will be able to live a fruitful life and help others too.
If you need help or support....
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I do not have all the answers but I do have a wonderful pool of human resources, educational material, access to recovery networks and contacts for social service agencies who are willing to support. I will be able to guide you to them.