For those of you who remember me, I’m sorry I’ve been gone for so long. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Alan Wolfgang. I am diagnosed with Severe Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety. I have been suffering from my diseases for around 20 years, since I was a young child. I have been treated with a wide variety of medications, all to no avail. In 2019, I underwent Electroconvulsive Therapy, or ECT. While the cost of the treatment went beyond just financial, it has effectively cured my depression. While I am certainly no expert in the field of mental health, I definetly have amassed quite a bit of experience. Throughout my years, I’ve learned many things about mental health, those who suffer from mental illness, and most importantly, myself. Whether you’re new to the mental health world, or you’ve been here for decades, whether you’re a patient, medical professional, or just someone who wants to further their understanding, whatever you suffer from, you know that this (whatever this may be to you) is not easy. Life with a mental illness, or caring for someone with a mental illness is all consuming. If I may, there are a few things that I’ve learned in my journey that I would like to share with you. Some, you may already know, others, you may not agree with, and that’s fine. Because my number one rule, is that one person will never know everything about anything. Sure there are experts in their respective fields, but even they learn new things all the time. What you do with the knowledge given to you, that is the important part.
The most important thing to do for anyone trying to do anything, is to never give up. I wish I could say that hard work is always rewarded, and that perseverance pays off, but unfortunately the world is not such a romantic place. Nevertheless, if you are fighting against mental illness, or supporting someone who is, giving up cannot be an option. You may be asking, “If my hard work never really makes a difference, what’s the point in never giving up?” While I wish the answer was simple, it’s not. Giving up seems like the best option, a lot of the time. Believe me, I know…with 3 suicide attempts under my belt, and a fourth that was thwarted by my underlying desire to live, and an attentive therapist, I know that giving up is incredibly tempting. More than any drug or material good, it is the oasis in the desert of your suffering. See, the thing is, that even though giving up will end your pain, it doesn’t disappear, it gets passed on to those you leave behind. I learned this the hard way, waking up on a ventilator in the hospital, with both my parents still in tears, holding my hand. Dying is never quick and painless, because that pain will last a lifetime for someone who loves you. You may now be thinking, “Well that’s fine, because nobody loves me”. While you’re not wrong, maybe nobody loves you, but you’re looking at it in too small a timeframe. You’re looking at your past and your present, but you’re forgetting about your future. I know that it’s pretty easy to lose sight of any future when you’re in the depths of depression, but that’s where never giving up comes in. The longer you live, the more likely it is that you will find love, that you will find happiness. I mean, the statistics alone are probably mind-boggling, though I wouldn’t know, I’m awful at math. Though who knows? I may not always be awful at math. The obvious secret about the future, is that it is unknown, completely unknown. You can have plans, dreams, and aspirations, but who knows what will actually happen? You don’t, until it happens. In the darkest period of my depression, I developed a suicide plan with a 100% chance of success, and I was saving it for a “rainy day”. I never would have thought, never even would have dreamed I’d be were I am today. To the past me, the present me was an impossible fairy tale. Yet, here I am, against all odds, living, breathing, and loving life. I mean it’s not perfect, but it never will be, I am just content with what I have. I know, a very confusing notion.
This leads me to my next tip. You will never be or do anything perfect. We are all humans, I hope so anyways (Shout out to all my alien bros hiding amongst the population). The thing about being human, is that we are intrinsically flawed, we make mistakes, and a lot of the time, no matter how hard we try, we will never reach our own ideal perfection. I don’t care what religion you follow, what the color of your skin is, how much money you have, where/when you were born, or who you love, nobody is perfect. Not one person. Ever. So do what you enjoy, dance like no one is watching, binge that one show in a single sitting for the seventh time this month. Do what you love, love what you do, and don’t give a sh*t about what anybody else thinks. Yeah, words hurt, but so does not doing something you enjoy because somebody else doesn’t like it. So what? Are they the ones who spend most of their money on figurines and miniature statues? Nope, so why should they have any say over whether or not you do. Now of course, there are two exceptions to this. The first being, moderation is key. Overindulgence is never a good thing, and will more often than not harm more than it helps. Second, just because you enjoy it, it does not mean you can run around in your KKK getup, shooting people in the face, and beating pregnant women with a baseball bat. Don’t be a dick. Do what you love, so long as it doesn’t HARM other people. So long as you do that, who cares what other people think about your hobbies. You like watching other people play video games instead of playing them yourself, go get it fam. You like sculpting anime characters out of ice, make sure you bundle up. You like going to conventions dressed as a humanoid fox, a little weird for me, but who cares what I think. You like growing and brewing your own tea, when can we meet up? Whatever you enjoy, just enjoy it! Without worrying about anybody else’s opinions. Because opinions are like buttholes, everybody’s got one, and nobody wants to hear about yours.
Another key step in working towards mental or physical wellbeing, is accepting yourself for who you are. You didn’t ask to be plagued by suicidal thoughts every second of every day. You didn’t ask to be born in the wrong gender’s body. You didn’t ask to be afraid of making your own appointments over the phone. You didn’t ask to be deathly afraid of boats and open water (That one’s me). But here’s what you can ask for, help. It is never an easy desicion, to ask another person to help you with all your problems. However, there are these wonderful people out there, that listen to your problems, give advice, and trade that for money. They’re called, “Therapists”. I know, you think that going to a therapist means that you are admitting defeat, that you can’t handle your own crap, so now you have to have someone else do it for you. While I thought like that in the past, I’ve come to realize that there are several things wrong about that way of thinking. The first being, that going to see a therapist, is not a show of defeat, it’s simply reinforcements for the war that’s raging on inside you. You couldn’t win on your own, but that doesn’t mean you’ve lost, you just have to bring in more fighting power. Second, the therapist, no matter how good they are, won’t solve all your problems for you. I mean it is kinda common sense, but you’d be suprised. “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. A very common saying, and very applicable here. Seeing a therapist once, isn’t going to solve your issues. Hell, seeing a therapist 100 times may not even do the trick. However, if you work with your therapist, progress can be made. Albeit small progress, it’s progress nonetheless; and any progress is good progress. It means you are moving forwards, you are refusing to let the anchor tied to your ankle that is mental illness, drag you down any further. You refuse to simply tread water and stay afloat. You are making an active effort to save yourself. However, the part of finding a good therapist is slightly more tricky. The few things I have found that work for me, may not work for you, and that’s alright, there is no “one size fits all” therapist, or way of treating mental illness. It’s important that you find a therapist that thinks that way too. If your therapist thinks they can treat you just by reading from the DSM, and “listening intently”, you need a new therapist. Personally, mine challenges me, she doesn’t always agree with me, and is very honest about what she thinks regarding my actions and such. I have a very easy time rationalizing bad decisions, so she regularly calls me out over my BS. Again, might not work for you, but if you want therapy that works, you’ll have to work hard to find a good therapist. Secondly, make sure you can afford to see them regularly, and if need be, in emergencies. This is a often overlooked, yet crucial part to having successful therapy. You need to be able to see your therapist as much as you feel you need to. When I’m having a rough time, I’ll see mine weekly, when I’m doing better, I see them about once a month. And they are very flexible on scheduling. After all is said and done (after insurance) I only pay about 20 bucks per visit. It took me 7 years to find another good therapist after my old one stopped practicing, but again, never give up, and you’ll find the one who works with you and for you.
My last tip, because this is getting a little lengthy…almost feel like I should put a tl/dr…is take each day for what it is. What I mean by that, is try to frame your mind by thinking, “tomorrow is a new day”. Sure you may have stayed in bed all day, watched some tv shows, and got one meal in, but didn’t do your laundry, take a shower, or even open your bills. But that’s okay. You did what you could, maybe even what you had to, to make sure you could make it to tomorrow. And tomorrow is a new day, full of new opportunities. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re only human. Sometimes it takes all you have just to make sure you ate something. Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get things done, but also don’t procrastinate too much either. Start small, and start slow. If you didn’t shower today, tell yourself you’re going to shower tomorrow. If you still don’t get it done tomorrow, make sure to get it done when you feel you can, especially before you start to stink (I’m guilty of that…) Make sure you try to make a plan to get something done, and if it takes you a bit longer than you wanted it to, so be it. At least you got it done. The singular thing that keeps me going these days, is that when I wake up tomorrow, it’s essentially a clean slate. Sure I still have my past, my emotional baggage, but every new day can be whatever I want it to, so long as I set my mind to it. Managing your mental health is incredibly difficult, and very complex, and there are a lot of things that work for others, but not for you. You’ll find there are just as many contradicting things too. So the important part, is carving out your own path, finding what works for you, and trying your damndest to make it to tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to explore various treatments, medications, and methods to treat your illness. You may often surprise yourself.