I don’t mean to come across as a nasty b*stard by saying this but the amount of self pity I see from people in recovery and / or suffering with their mental health can frustrate me, especially when those in question have been offered and taken help and support but not done anything with it.
What I will say straight off is that this isn’t a pop at anybody in particular or me being an insensitive so and so. What I’m trying to say is that unless we are prepared to take responsibility for ourselves we will never get out of the hole or cycle that we find ourselves in. I’m a prime example of this because in my younger days I would bottle up my issues, refuse help and then allow my anger issues and excessive drinking (often together) to become my outlet which only served to be an enabler for deeper downers and over time, more dangerous and irresponsible behaviour.
I know first hand what the darkness of depression can do to somebody. I’ve been bed bound with it, I’ve been suicidal with it. I know what a panic attack feels like. I know what prolonged and heightened anxiety does to us both physically and mentally. I’m not saying I’m suddenly cured and a better person just because I’ve had a period of abstinence but what I have acknowledged is that I (me!) had to do something about it. Being sectioned wasn’t planned but I voluntarily agreed to hospitalisation to avoid Doctors being forced to use the Mental Health Act to detain me. That was the most important singular decision I’ve ever made for my own health. What proceeded that point in time has been sobriety, improved wellbeing and for the first time in my adult life, a degree of control over my mental health conditions which I have acknowledged are part of me but should not define and rule me.
I will help absolutely anybody and have done on numerous occasions but I do so with an approach which is forward thinking and solutions focused. I can listen to you, put an arm round you and temporarily protect you but ultimately I can’t take your addiction or mental health difficulties away from you. Most people who have an addiction have mental health conditions (not always diagnosed but they exist) and unfortunately unless we address both of these (separately initially) it’s unlikely we will ever get that clean break from the cycle of despair we live day to day. It’s not as simple as “stop drinking and your mental health will improve” or “sort out your mental health and the drinking will sort itself out”. Of course it ain’t – This is one of the hardest things we will do in our lifetime but I can promise you this, the rewards are endless and you will forever appreciate the journey you chose to go on. That, I can guarantee.
Sadly many people don’t make it and the stats globally are clear in that respect. Your chances of premature death or incarceration will increase massively if you remain controlled by substance and poor mental health. At the very best you may live to a relatively ‘old’ age but is that a life to be proud of? On our deathbed do we really want that depressing realisation that our life was wasted because we never took a chance on a different pathway. One that wasn’t about people pleasing, self harm, isolation and sadness?
Life is a rollercoaster and both sobriety and effective treatment for our mental health won’t erase all of our memories, future life events and general day to day shit but being in control of you will certainly make those dips smaller and shorter and the highs will last much longer than a line of coke or a bottle of vodka.
I don’t know how this will be interpreted by you. You may agree, you may not but this is my approach now. I can choose to give up and wait for somebody to come and fix me but I’d be waiting until my final breath in life. There is so much support and help out there but we need to be the one to put our hand up and say “I need help” and when that help is offered – take it no matter how hard that might be. The alternative is not any easier.