“I understand that sometimes we cannot just “wake up” but when we can, let’s just get on with life! Let’s remember that we are not just an illness. We belong in this world and this world is not completely black. We can paint it in different colors. And I, for one, am sick of focusing on my illness when I can be sitting in the sun without thinking about medication and appointments.”
I read the above blog posting with great empathy from my own life experience. As far back as I can remember, waking up feeling anxious and afraid of the day ahead, was normal. I was not aware of mental illness for most of my adult life and denial seemed to take hold for the most part. In some ways, this helped me to get out of bed and get with the program each and every day. Mental illness is a bummer! Especially if you are not aware of your own condition, and must learn to cope on your own. All of these challenging feelings of anxiety, fear of failure, and hyper vigilance will make a person feel like hiding somewhere rather than facing the day. But the retreat and be defeated approach makes all the feelings even worse, exponentially worse. And if you are not being treated by a mental health professional or taking appropriate medications, the best solution is to get up fast and get moving. I used to start with a long run, 4-6 miles each morning very early. Exercise has always been empowering to me. My blood gets flowing and those endorphins are released big time. For me, this regimen put me on a positive path for the day. I was ready to make a difference for myself and for others during the work day. My career in sales and marketing was fuel for the fire as well. But at the end of the day, the pain started coming back during those idle times. Alcohol used to help as a short term calming solution, but eventually made matters worse. These days, much later in life, my level of awareness is very high. My treatment program includes work with mental health professionals, excercise, a loving relationship, and a passion for helping others through my book, blog, non-profit work, and public speaking. The feelings are now manageable to a great extent, but discipline is required to stay on track. I take each day at a time, and try to enjoy life to the fullest extent. Healing is a life long journey. The earlier a person can become aware of a mental health issue and receive appropriate treatment, all the better. Don’t wait until you are age 64 like me. I can celebrate turning age 66 next week feeling damn good and excited about each day!
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story