I have a group about living with mental illness on Wednesdays, and as a group, we decided to rename it to “Living with Mental Wellness.” One of the things we discussed was taking the power away from our mental illnesses. In the beginning, before, during, and right after diagnosis, mental illness can hijack our very existence. We are basically just existing. It is a routine of doctors’ visits, runs to the pharmacy, therapy, victories, and failures…lots of failures.
Once the medicine is balanced and a person is satisfied with his or her doctor, what comes next? A person has been going to therapy a while, the medicine seems to be working, and overall, he or she is doing much better. There are only so many hours a person can watch television without falling back into depression. What was once time spent struggling to be healthy, is now a bunch of empty time, and the individual has no idea what to do, except isolate.
There comes a time, however, when it is possible to find that one thing that releases us. To one man in the group, it was his grandson. After his grandson was born, he found he had a reason to work harder toward making healthy choices. Others in the group didn’t share exactly what their one thing was. Maybe they didn’t have one yet. It doesn’t have to be a person. It doesn’t have to be a job. It can be a pet. It can be volunteering for a non-profit organization. It could just be something like singing in the church choir. If a person living with a mental illness can find something to fill all the square footage in their lives that the mental illness used to rent space in, changes can happen.
Rebecca Coursey, KPS
Peer Support Specialist