I love my life and take my happiness seriously because if I’m being honest, happiness didn’t always come easily to me. I had a serious problem with negativity and it was pushing me to darker and darker places. I found myself struggling to stay positive. Today we call it mental illness, a disorder that affects one’s mood, thinking and behaviour. Healing myself required me taking my sobriety from negativity as seriously as an alcoholic takes theirs.
By 19 I was secretly feeding my pessimistic outlook on life more and more negativity and by 22 I had almost convinced myself that my future would be bleak. I had mood swings all the time and could feel my light going out, the scale was tipping in favor of fear. I never sought professional help because being pessimistic felt normal and not something I needed to be treated for. It’s not easy to get sympathy for feeling down, when from the outside there doesn’t even seem to be anything wrong. It would take four years and me gaining almost a hundred pounds before I finally got the help I needed. Letting myself get so out of control taught me two precious lessons that I’ve never forgotten to this day. One: I and I alone am responsible for what got me here. Two: Only I have the power to do something about it.
There’s no shame in being sensitive, that’s just your internal guidance letting you know where you need to place your boundaries. As any recovering alcoholic will tell you, it’s not easy to be sober. Temptations will lurk around every corner and some days will be harder than others. I choose to not participate in negative talk or gossiping the same way an alcoholic refuses a drink. As a society, it’s taken us a long time to recognize mental illness as a disease. Having lost a friend this past year to mental illness and knowing that kids –who have barely begun to live their lives– are committing suicide, makes me realize I wasn’t dramatic at 19.
I am a recovering pessimist who appreciates my wonderful life and everyone in it daily. I now have a therapist, who helps me address my fears on a spiritual level. It’s my faith in a higher power that helps me through the most trying of times. I stay mindful of how I’m thinking and acting. I have atoned for my missteps and ask for help regularly. I recognize that addiction doesn’t only come in a bottle. I stay committed to my sobriety so that I can continue to heal. I take it one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time, and if all I do in a day is keep myself from falling apart, I take pride in that.
I’m sharing my story because I believe mental illness is an epidemic affecting all of us in one way or another. As we each continue to share our stories the message that we’re not alone in our fear gives others the strength to keep going. It is my hope that anyone who reads this will recognize that they are not alone, I know you and your disease and I have compassion for you.
People don’t die from suicide, they die from sadness, so if you need help, please seek it out. Just because there might not be a name for what you’re going through right now, know that it’s still real. Attitudes In Reverse is a great organization I’ve recently started talking with to help spread awareness of mental illness.
Thank you so much for reading and let me know your thoughts. Can you relate to my words? Do you feel more sensitive than others? Have you had to let go of relationships that you felt weren’t good for you? How do you keep the faith in troublesome times?
With love and appreciation