I started my first blog sometime in 2014. The last article I wrote was March 2016. The title of that article was, “Four Hard Steps to Fight This Illness”. Below is a short clip from that article to give you an idea of
I have written about love, happiness, excitement, choices, life after death, and one of my most recent entries was about my goals for 2016. This article is about one of those goals; the goal to get strong and healthy both physically and mentally. This is something that has been impacting my life for years, and I am finally going to conquer it!
Each new day I have the chance to be the best me possible.
Each new day I have a chance to discover and fulfill my purpose in life.
It has now been two years since I wrote my last blog, and since sharing these four steps I have learned so much. I have learned so much about myself in ways I would have never imagined. What do I mean by that? It was December 2015 when I came to the realization that I had been suffering from depression and anxiety for years. My journey to get better started around the time I wrote my last blog, now here I am. I feel more vulnerable now than ever before. Perhaps it’s from the two-year break I took from writing; will people still want to read what I write about? To be honest, I am not sure they did before either but that didn’t stop me – I did it because I enjoyed it. So, as I publish my first blog on my new website, I am removing that excuse for feeling vulnerable because I’ve been here before and I know there is nothing to fear. The feeling could be caused by the last article I wrote…two years ago. I blasted out details of my battle with depression and anxiety in an article defining the four steps I was going to work on to get better. I have worked on those four steps daily and now starting to feel much better. I am excited to share stories, ideas, reflections, and my experiences but at the same time, I am pretty sure that is where the feeling of vulnerability is coming from…and that excites me. I quoted the amazing author and speaker, Brené Brown in my last article, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” Throughout the last couple of years as I walk through these four steps I shared, I quickly realized that her quote was absolutely bang-on. When you place yourself in a vulnerable position, it is only a matter of time until you see the innovation, creativity and change take place in your life.
Those four hard steps I wrote two years ago are below with some brief commentary on what they mean to me now, looking back two years.
- Stop burying it inside and bring it to the light.
This was an important step for me because I thought I knew what depression and anxiety looked like. After a heart to heart conversation with my wife and then a visit to the doctor I quickly realized that I in fact, knew very little about depression and anxiety. This was something I buried inside for so long and when I realized what it was and then brought it to light, the path to improving my mental health was given a jump start.
- Tell someone.
This ties into the first one, but they’re different. Bringing it to the light can include telling someone, but this step #2 of “tell someone” was intended for me to share my story with friends and family. You will be amazed at how many people can empathize with you, after all – according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians personally suffer from a mental illness. So, if the person you’re sharing your story with isn’t one of the five, chances are they know someone (other than you) that is. Talk about it. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Talk to those you trust most. Yes, it is difficult at first but having friends and family that know and understand what you’re going though can really help you through your journey in getting the help you need. If you’re reading this and don’t think you have anyone to talk to, reach out to me – I am here for you.
- Seek professional help.
When you are sick, you seek medical assistance. If you have a broken arm you visit the doctor and take the proper steps and guidance from them to help you heal and get better. Another part of this process that was difficult for me was admitting that I needed professional help. I like to do things on my own, but this was different. It has been a long uphill battle since that first appointment with my family doctor (any many since), but it was the best thing I could have done for myself, and more importantly – my family.
- Create a plan.
After I realized what I was struggling with and shared my story with loved ones, I sought professional help, then it was time for me to create a plan to get better. I knew this wasn’t going to happen overnight, so I started with small steps. Start small, don’t get overwhelmed. When you take small steps, one day at a time you will soon find what works for you, and what doesn’t. Some steps will seem easier than others, but don’t give up.
Some of the small steps that I had posted in my last article that I was going to try included: write down 3-5 things daily that you are thankful for, drink less alcohol, start a workout routine, add photos of loved ones around the area you spend most of your time, read about other people’s stories, create something to look forward to, or spend less time on social media and more time on hobbies/activities you enjoy that help you feel productive.
Looking back on the last two years, I can say I kept a few of those steps in place and they have really helped me. I would also add meditation, regular appointments with a counselor, mindfulness, and making time for myself to do an activity I enjoy (I have done a ton of reading these last two years). Now I am back re-focused on writing and excited for the months ahead.
Every person that battles a mental illness has their own unique journey to get through. These are simply some steps that have helped me so far…and I say so far because I know my story is long from over. We are all broken, we live in a broken world. If you have blood running through your veins right now, life is bound to knock you down at some stage in life. Our character is not defined by how hard we fall but rather what we do to get back up. This journey has been one of the toughest fights I have faced head-on in life…has the fight been worth it? Absolutely. Whatever it is you’re battling right now, you can get through it. Stay strong and hang in there, one small steps at a time. You have people that love you – just look around and remember this – how many strong people do you know with an easy past? Not sure I’ve ever met one. You got this.
When you stand up to fight every battle, you’ve already won the war.