|Posted on April 23, 2019 at 1:05 AM|
Before I begin, I would like to dedicate this blog to the Pennsylvania-based anti-stigma drama group, the Go M.A.D. (Make a Difference) Players. For the last ten years, you have had an incredibly unique and positive impact in communities throughout the state. Seeing you perform at this year's local NAMI Conference was truly an experience I will never forget. Take your creativity and courage to the national stage, because so many people could learn a lot from the unbelievable kinds of special you all are. Go make a difference!
"Part of the journey is the journey." My words.
One of the more important things to share about my ongoing treatment is that it takes time for treatment to have a positive effect. If someone is also fighting co-occurring symptoms with addiction, that takes twice the effort to live with it. Mental health recovery does not happen overnight. Treatment takes time.
Treatment needs to be affordable. A resource case manager needs to be someone willing and able to help you. A Certified Peer Specialist needs to care for you properly and compassionately, while making sure not to misguide your treatment by offering inappropriate advice. The right comfort-fit with a capable and dedicated counselor needs to be found - and - maintained. A psychologist or psychiatrist first need to know who they are dealing with. Plus any mental health professionals such as these must be well trained with documented credentials to do their jobs properly.
A single counseling session, even if with the right counselor, is not a cure-all. A psychologist or psychiatrist appointment is not (and should not be) a rush to judgment. Psychotropic medications do not take one week to work at full-effect. Any potential side effects also need to be known and carefully prepared for. The person undergoing mental health treatment must be committed to finding what works for them and seeing it through. All progress must be monitored and assessed by the mental health professionals involved.
Treatment takes time.
Take Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), for example. Or for someone serving in the military deployed overseas. The trauma can become so severe the person experiences nightmares that interfere with getting recuperative sleep. Relationships, marriages, and family lives can be affected. Difficulty differentiating right from wrong and emotion from logic. Even with an effective support system of therapy and medication, treating a condition such as PTSD requires determination, diligence attending to each part of the treatment such as taking regular dosages of prescribed medication, a mental commitment to yourself, hopeful support from friends and relatives around you.
Treatment takes time.
Time is what I would like to focus on, because my how time has flown since I posted the 9 Marvel-themed blog entries one year ago! My life has changed a fair amount since then. In some ways good. In some ways bad... the worst of which I discussed more in the previous post. How, or why, does the Avengers: Endgame film figure into my life (now) versus how Infinity War did last year? I welcome you to join me as I share another unique look into my life ~ Marvel-style.
First, I want to take a quick look back at how I described what I was feeling, and fearing, by quoting an excerpt from my blog "For a reason... Conclusion" from March 19th, 2018.
"A future that, for at least eighteen dreadful years to be fair since high school, I have gradually felt less and less that I belong here. Heck, I was ready to give up in 2003. What do I have hope for? What am I living for? What do I believe in anymore? Why am I still here? Think about it. Nearly two decades of only being able to believe in one week ahead of my life... And I've had fairly good physical health for all those years."
My goodness... Was that me? Were those thoughts... mine? I was pumped about experiencing the Avengers: Infinity War film, yes. I was also quite afraid of what my future would hold. When I posted those blog entries during March 2018, I hadn't yet begun any treatment compared to now. I didn't even encounter the brunt of stigma or discrimination at that time. Yet, my expression of or at least my situation was that stressful? Heh. Imagine what life has been like after last summer. It hasn't been boring. I'll say that much.
The easy plus is going from no treatment for the majority of my mental health symptoms to case management (financial aid, health insurance), counseling and psychiatry (one medication so far). While I cannot stress enough the importance of seeking proper treatment as soon as possible, I finally made the decision to seek treatment and turn my life around. Each step I take now is one in the right direction instead of aimlessly down the wrong path. As my treatment team continues to strengthen, I am confident I will have a much greater chance than without it.
An easy minus was weathering the bullying and stigma for being a suicide attempt survivor, plus discrimination by local mental health professionals all in the volunteer community. I still have no way of knowing just how much my reputation has been devastated as a result of what happened... Besides this, what I expressed about my life last year still has not changed very much. But why? I'm in treatment now. What is wrong with me? I am too negative to be around other people. I need to ignore my past and move on with my life. Positive. Positive. Positive. Shame on me for being, what was it, so negative. Correction...
Treatment. Takes. Time.
One of those statements was actually told to me by someone. Rather than use their experience to guide me towards positive treatment, they chose to stigmatize me. Twice. Uh uh. You don't save lives that way. Furthermore, I am a realist by nature. Being a realist also includes a generous helping of honesty, too. I am learning to tailor my realism so I don't send the wrong message as a mental health consumer in recovery, as a community volunteer, and outspoken advocate. Whose responsibility is it that I constantly learn and grow, while still being held accountable for my actions?
Mine, and mine alone.
Furthermore, I would not be able to survive if I was negative all of the time. I balance both forces in my life to work towards inner strength. I haven't lasted so long because this is easy to live with. Trust me when I say if I could always be uber positive, oh I would be.
On the other hand, I am terribly late to seek conventional treatment too. The longer behavioral symptoms go untreated or unchanged, the deeper they influence personality traits making them more difficult to reverse. According to my treatment team, I am suspected of having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder evidenced by how I frequently over-think things. I can remember all, yes, all the way back to - get this - fourth grade when my class was given a particular assignment. We were tasked to explain how to do something and give the presentation in front of the class. Guess what topic mine was?
How to tie your shoes.
Reread that just to make sure it sinks in, because when I tell you how I did on the assignment you will be surprised.
Ready? I over-thought how to explain tying your shoes so much the entire class was confused by my presentation. No offense to myself, they should have been. Cringe worthy... That was then. Probably the early to mid-1990s. Imagine me now. This is why it is important to seek effective treatment for behavioral symptoms. Autism. Bipolar. PTSD. You name it. The sooner treatment is sought the better the outcome may be. What's worse is having lived with prolonged severe depression without treatment...
Aside from experiencing suicide loss during ninth grade in 1997, and my overdose attempt in 2003, just how long am I talking about for these deep feelings of distress? To be as reasonable and fair as I can, and I have already discussed this with my counselor, I expressed feeling 'ready to go' as early as 2013. This was when I drafted an unofficial Last Will & Testament. Normally, doing so is a completely appropriate thing to do. I learned the lesson from having the last of my grandparents pass away several years before then. My parents had to manage their respective family's affairs.
However, between 2013 and by 2014, my depression was getting worse until the latter year I contemplated the suicide plan that I never acted on. Ever since, the last five to six years, I have simply felt so worn out by my prolonged depression experiences that when they surface I often feel ready to go. Keep in mind I did not begin counseling until October 2018 and psychiatry until January this year. Yeah... You should've seen the look on my counselor's face when, in vivid and effective detail, I described what prolonged severe depression has been like for me while taking into account my past suicide experiences...
What I could share would be nothing short of eyebrow-raising.
That is why being so perceptive and especially so expressive is really important for me to take seriously with my life now. Some people have three times as many suicide attempts as I have, and have great difficulty even talking about those feelings. If they can at all. I can. I should. And with great power comes great responsibility. I am not just a genuinely compassionate person at heart. I am not just trying to fill a void in my life by helping others. In my humble opinion, despite my critics I feel I have a responsibility to do everything I can to change the course of mental health awareness and acceptance for the better.
Deep down, do I think my treatment will solve the one most difficult issue facing me this intimidating year (career indecision)? To be completely honest, no. Do I still feel ready to go if my grasp on this life was slipping away? Unfortunately, yes. Right here, right now? Yes. I'm sorry if I let anyone down by being so honest. This is what it is like for what I, personally, have to live with. I have to accept it. I have to live with it.
I also choose not to give up. I give the tomorrows a chance. I keep waking up and trying to put forth effort into my treatment to resolve the problems I have. Whether anyone understands what I'm going through or not. This is my life and my mental health takes real world effort every day to live with. The very nature of my chronophobia (fear of time) creates a mindset which keeps me from believing by October, my 38th birthday, that I will be able to last that long. Next New Year's terrifies me in a way maybe one percent of people closest to me even know let alone fully understand. I couldn't say this sentiment any better myself.
"This is going to work, Jim."
"I know it is. Because I don't know what I'm going to do if it doesn't..."
(first line is adapted, both are from Avengers: Endgame trailer #1)
April 24th, 2019: