I was thinking, as I often do, about what mental health means to me. By definition mental health is a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.
From an early age, I displayed issues in regards to coping with emotional triggers, more specifically anger. This inevitably led me towards substance abuse in my early teens. During this phase of life is when we tend to formulate our emotional well-being. The use of substances would go on to stunt my maturing emotionally. It is said that for alcoholic/addicts when we become sober, we are emotionally at the age we began using. On a personal level, this rings true.
I began using alcohol and drugs at the ripe age of 13, on a regular basis, having used prior to 13. I cannot pinpoint at which time I became physically reliant on alcohol. What I do know is that at the age of 33 I decided it would benefit me to remove alcohol from my life and it damn near killed me. Putting the drugs down at 30 was difficult but not impossible. For the three years that I drank without the assistance of drugs, I basically drowned myself.
Quitting drugs I experienced bouts of depression but I chalked those up to bad days. Some crippling….but nothing a little liquor couldn’t cure. Days and nights passed until I was bedridden and suicidal. On the brink of death, I dialed my sister before taking my life. At this point, I had literally lost my mind. Literally. In a state of psychosis I would be admitted into an emergency facility and from that moment, mental illness became a piece in my puzzle.
At almost 40 years old I have come to fully accept my diagnoses. In order for me to accomplish acceptance, I had to gain clarity. In doing so I acknowledged that mental illness is forever with fluctuating symptoms. Forever is a long time, right?! In sobriety, it is suggested to take life one day at a time and I apply this approach to understanding the symptoms that accompany my diagnoses. One 24 hours at a time.
And what does this mean to me?
I have yet to put it in words. I struggle to comprehend emotions. As openly as I speak on behalf of the mental health community, the stigma remains attached. And me, unattached and disconnected, medicated, a mother, a daughter and a sister wandering around this big world aimlessly. Curiosity has gotten the best of me on a few occasions and we won’t bring up the antics impulsivity has created. I live with no regrets, I hold my head up high because I know my karma and I know for certain I have a great heart. Everything else is meniscal. I have no clue what tomorrow will bring. I’m just winging this thing called life with a broken compass.
I consider myself one of the fortunate with mental illness as I am capable of maintaining a job. There was a period of three years this wasn’t applicable. Each day brings with it a set of challenges that I must overcome. Some days I am winning at life and others, not so much. That’s life. I am lucky to not have caused significant damage by the amounts and potency of the substances I abused. My state of mind is altered and off balance yet it is all I know. Chemically I will require assistance … forever but for me, today, I am ok.
And ok is all I’ll ever be.