7 Wildly Successful People Who Struggle with Mental Health
How One Man Overcame His Mental Health Issues
Back when I was 14 or 15, my aunt Winnie gave me a piece of advice which thankfully stuck with me, and in my eyes, it’s been the best piece of advice I’ve been given. Larry, she said ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get’.
Fast-forward to 2015 and with that advice ringing in my ears, I knew I had a choice, even though at the time all I could focus on was either the nothingness of depression which surrounded me or the gut wrenching grasp of anxiety which plagued me, but never the less a choice was still there.
That choice was to ask myself: could I summon the last spec of courage within me to make a change, and could I finally open up fully about this debilitating mental condition?
My heart ached immensely from my dad’s death in the previous year and the fact that the father son relationship I'd always hoped for never came to be. I was also heartbroken from a recent relationship breakdown, from losing the person who made me smile more than any other before and both events fanned the flames of this vicious and monstrous state. It was like there was a tug-of-war inside me and any hope seemed like a dim light in the blurry distance, which I struggled desperately to focus on.
I’ve always tried to be a courageous person, whether it be addressing issues with my past, with boozing too much, not opening up enough or just pushing myself to go for jobs etc. I usually approached everything either head on or with a ‘fake it til you make it attitude’. Even if I didn’t have a clue what I was doing I still pushed myself, refusing to be beaten or to become a product of my upbringing.
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But now I felt betrayed by my own mind and never more alone. From the moment I opened my eyes each day the feelings of despair washed over me and were unlike anything I’d felt before. I was barely functioning and simple everyday tasks seemed too much to cope with. I battled with the thoughts of 'am I just living to then die with nothing but this consistent misery in between?' I knew that there had to be more, but suicidal thoughts became a daily occurrence. I didn’t want to die but I just wanted to make it all stop.
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I questioned why this little bastard of depression had chosen my mind as a playground to wreak havoc in, why it was relentless and why now it seemed to have much more might then ever before. In this most chaotic and draining state it felt as if my courage had withered down from a mighty oak tree to a pathetic drooping weed.
With depression echoing hopeless voices around my mind, telling me I was a hindrance, a burden, that everyone was sick of my woes and listening to my crap I felt embarrassed and ashamed to reach out. Outwardly afraid to be seen as weak but internally I felt like it was punching me back into a corner, bloodied and bruised emotionally and I could barely breathe.
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In a moment when it seemed like there was truly nothing left to live for, when the blackness of depression was palpable, I faced a decision to either step out of this life for good or to step out of the entire situation and give my life a chance.
I chose the latter.
Maybe it was anger, maybe it was the thoughts of the friends before me who took their own lives unable to salvage anything from the wreck of depression. Maybe it was seeing the aftermath and hurt those desperate actions caused to the loved ones left behind. Whatever it may have been it was that choice not to give up which pulled me back from the edge. I couldn’t hide it any longer and I had to ask for help. I told myself that that glimmer of hope, no matter how far in the distance, was still visible and that that little weed of courage was still alive. So with every last ounce of my might I dragged myself up off my knees and scrambled towards the light.
And when I did reach out what became even clearer was that I now had more choices, as well as the realisation that courage stifles depression and makes it harder to function. This pushed me forward and I knew that I needed to put things in place to get myself out of this.
Travel had always been in my mind, a continuous trip around the world, so with that one positive goal and with no expectations but the time to deal with and try to dissect being consumed by the above issues and haunting memories, I gave everything up and booked the ticket.
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I was still aching inside but at least I had something to focus on, I kept on going and bit by bit kept on talking, to not only the saviours that are my friends and my cousins but to a doctor and eventually a counsellor too. I wasn’t met with judgement or ‘shame’ but with love and support.
Don’t get me wrong, there was no fast track here but by making a choice to turn the hopeless into the hopeful it got a little less heavy. Having a focus or goal whatever it may be is hugely important in the fight and I slowly dragged my eyes from the ground and looked up to the sky.
How did I get there? Well it all boiled down to choice and courage, two massive factors in dismantling depression, we all have them, every human being on this planet does and they help isolate it and cut off its blood supple so it can’t feed so freely. But it’s whether you choose to leave your courage dormant or you reach deep inside and take it by the hand, that’s the key to all if this.
The choice is your power.
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Depression is an overwhelming state which can leave you blinkered to everything else, it tries to trick you into believing there are no choices, that you will just have to suffer and that you will not fight back. I beg anyone suffering in silence not to let your most fierce of allies lay there ignored and repressed, don’t let it become almost forgotten or a distorted version of what it should be. Call on your courage to grow, make it your focus, in a dead-end situation use your last ounce of this mighty strength to help you. You are not alone in this and never will be, let your courage stand on the pedestal and push depression and anxiety back into their dark corners.
You can choose to crumble or die from this very human state or you can choose to live a different life. As much as the emotional savage that is depression has engulfed you, there’s also another emotion, a powerful one within you too and it’s ready to stand up and fight. The choice is simple, accept the darkness or call on your courage to stand by your side.
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And that’s why I decided to write my book, to show you my choice and to tell others who don’t have to go through this that depression is not self-indulgent pity seeking nonsense. It’s a very real problem, it’s evil and packs a devastating punch, it takes lives away and creates miserable existences. In my case add anxiety, grief, heartbreak to the mix then it’s an all-consuming big piece of shit pie, and I’ve very much had my fill.
Do I pity myself or wish it was different? The answer is I decided not to, what’s the point, it’s already part of me so wasting anymore time wishing it was different is pointless, but one thing it doesn’t do is define me and it doesn’t need to define you.
My journey continues and will be as unique as yours, we all see this life and struggles through our own eyes and for me it continues to be a daily battle. Now though, instead of letting it tower over me I focus on summoning its biggest opponent in the battle. It might not be easy to realise but we all have it in us to fight back, so open up and don’t wither away, don’t let depression win, know your worth, change your environment, forget the money, forget the material things and remember we are all blips for a moment in time on this planet, so reach out, stand up, hold the hand of courage and be brave. You can do it, you can fight this depression face on, you can hold it and its partner in crime, anxiety, by the scuff of their necks, look them square in the eye and delve into your soul to dissect what it is that’s brought you here.
Stand up strong my friend, we may be blips but you can choose to be a courageous blip.
Video: The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong | Amy Morin | TEDxOcala
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