You can’t let mental illness bring you down
Everyone who knows me sees me as a happy, outgoing guy. Now that they know I have a mental illness, I still want them to see me the same way, the way I really am. I’m the same person.
Around the time Charles reached his one-year milestone for sobriety, he realized that he still had problems to deal with. Plagued by thoughts of suicide, Charles reached out to his therapist. That meeting led to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. He knew he still had work to do.
The mental illness was always there because I was dealing with substance abuse for about 25 years. The depression was always there because my parents divorced when I was only five, and I faced mental and physical abuse into my adolescence. Now, I need to monitor my moods and work every day to manage my conditions.
For Charles, working every day involves keeping a “mood chart.” Tacked to his refrigerator door, the chart lets Charles track his ups and downs by rating his moods from one-to-ten every day. He shares these numbers with his doctors to keep his treatment on track.
Another way Charles works to stay on top of his treatment is by posting a blog to his Facebook page. He started writing while he was getting clean and sober, and he has continued to post as he has faced his recently diagnosed mental health issues.
People who have been reading my blog have said I’m inspirational. I was just doing it for myself, and I didn’t know that it would be inspirational to others. Some will private message me to ask for help. I’ve even received messages from people who don’t have mental illness or a substance abuse problem. I’m happy that people have been inspired because I spoke out on the issue.
Today, Charles meets regularly with his therapist and psychiatrist, and he takes medication for his psychiatric disorders. He still keeps his mood chart and writes on his Facebook page. He has a successful career as a surgical pathologist, plays chess and recreational sports, takes part in poetry slams, and, with his wife, raises his young daughter. Despite his conditions, he’s living a full and fulfilling life.
Anyone with mental illness can work in the healthcare profession or be successful at having a professional life. Whatever it is you do, you can’t let mental illness bring you down. The struggle is real, but the fight is stronger.