It’s a funny thing when you write about your own mental health. On the one hand, I do so because I have certain insights into all of this that might make my point of view helpful to some people. On the other hand, making my own life public doesn’t come without a price, so I want to be clear about something.
My recovery, and my ongoing work to understand mental health and how to manage it has not made me weak or fragile, it’s made me stronger and more resilient.
Having the capacity to fight through the tough times has created a foundation of survival, strength and purpose. It’s allowed me to feel confident in myself and my capacity to take care of myself. I’d even go so far to say as it’s helped me become more successful in how I handle my professional life and personal relationships. I’ve often thought if I was ever a captive of war, they wouldn’t be able to break me. That probably sounds weird, but what I mean is, I stand for something. I stand for myself and my well-being, and in my own mind, that’s pushed me closer to seeing myself as a soldier, not a victim.
When I write about the fragility of mental health and how quickly one can get knocked off their stability, I’m trying to help people understand why education and being vigilant about one’s health and wellness is so important. I’m making a point about valuing health and wellness as a goal as much as we value the other goals we set for ourselves.
When I read the stories about suicides in the news it’s always the same - he pushed himself too hard, she wasn’t getting help for troubles she was having, an addiction had returned and taken hold - maybe even for someone who had had lots of recovery.
That’s why we must pay attention. That is why we have to ask our loved ones who push themselves so hard, are you OK? Do you need to stop for a while? We need to create lifestyles where it’s acceptable to take care of one’s mind, body and soul.
If you get cancer, no one questions a leave of absence at work. AND, they send flowers. Why are we still in a world where when mental issues, or addiction issues return, we have to hide it and be afraid of losing our jobs? And trust me, no one sends flowers.
It’s my belief that people who are brave enough to try and deal with their addictions or mental health issues are the strongest of all. We are a group of people willing to look at ourselves, our issues, our pasts and try and make sense of it—all while building a newer, safer world to live in. I’m sure many will disagree with me, but in some cases, I believe when we see people taking their own lives or dying of drugs and alcohol there is a failure in the system around them. We have compliance departments in companies to ensure financial regulations are followed, we have human resources to hire and help with roles, so where are the company therapists? Where are the health and wellness guidelines?
That is why we must normalize talking about mental health and addiction recovery. So, when people are in trouble, they don’t feel scared to say something to the people around them who may be able to help.