If you have a mental illness, get professional help. Everybody is different. But know this: You can regain your equilibrium and equanimity. There’s hope.

“Of all the things I’ve ever lost, I miss my mind the most.”

I heard this expression a long time ago and did not know who said this. Later, I came to know that it was Ozzy Osbourne’s statement. Well, it does not matter who said it, but when the statement rings in my mind or when I hear somebody repeating, I feel like laughing. Oh sure! Now I can laugh. The quote will sound funny as long as…

  • You never had any mental issues
  • You survived your mental issues

Have you heard anyone say “Depression hurts?” Well, this is so true. It hurts you and usually those around you who get dragged into that black hole with you. Several years back, I experienced a crisis and my employer recommended me as a qualified candidate for their Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This was a free program provided to employees who were experiencing some sort of difficulty in their life and the problem was adversely impacting their job performance. The aim of the program was to restore the employee’s productivity by assisting them through whatever “it” was that was affecting their work.

This assistance takes the form of psychological counseling, and if it is thought that your “difficulty” is a “condition” that requires medical treatment and possibly prescription medication, the employee is referred for psychiatric counseling and the psychiatrist can prescribe medicine. This is what happened to me.

To make a long story short, with the help and support from my late husband, we discovered what was causing the problem, fixed it, and then I recovered. It took years. My husband and my children suffered during this time. But in the end, I finally got back to being myself again. I have some leftover scars and on occasion, I have what my husband characterizes as “mood swings”. My children grew up through my period of “mental instability”, and went on to live their own life. So I guess as far they’re concerned, they survived my breakdown, they’ve gone on to live their lives and hopefully, I won’t go through this again.

Atypical Depression

The organization’s EAP counseling psychologist referred me for medical treatment. My condition was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as atypical depression, which I no longer suffer from. For the most part, I think clearly once again, i.e. I regained my equilibrium and equanimity. I control my thoughts and my thought process and my emotions (in lieu of running off on paranoid escapades or venting my anger on some unsuspecting bystander or falsely accusing others of intentional malice and injury aimed at me or contemplating suicide for relief), which is a sign of sanity or normality. When a person asks me a question, I answer plainly. Either I answer the question or tell them to get lost because not all questions people ask you are questions you need to answer! The ability to make that distinction is also a sign of sanity or normality. Being able to recognize when someone else’s problem is not your problem and you’re not obligated to solve it, is yet another marker of a sound mind.I perform productively now per my employer – which is me. I am now self-employed and trust me, I know when I’m goofing off. I fire myself (i.e. stop a project that’s not profitable); and I hire myself (i.e. create a new project and start working on that). Self-employment was incorporated into my therapy and recovery process.

I could talk about me all day and all night. But this isn’t about me. It’s about someone who might be suffering or someone who knows someone who may be suffering like me. It’s a “To-Do List” of what I did to get myself back to being myself. It worked for me. Maybe this will help others.

Before supplying the list, let me make this point. These actions worked for me because the key to maintaining a balanced mental state lies in understanding your own psyche. If you are a professional in the health field, this is surely not a point of contention. To be of sound mind you need to know who you are so that you can.

  • Rebuild your inner spirit (that drive within that makes you get up and go)
  • Repair your mind (that tool you use to understand the world you live in)
  • Regain your confidence (believe in yourself, your value, and your worth)

The List

  • Pray and read the scriptures daily.

You need courage (because you have to wake up every day and face yourself); guidance (if you don’t know the way there is a path to the light); comfort (the Bible has stories of real people who got help), and hope (I wasn’t born in a black hole and although I’m in one now, I am not staying in it!). Prayer and reading the scriptures supplies this for me.

  • Attend the church assemblies regularly.

All too often, faithful believers, because of the “cares of this world” become unfaithful believers. Not smart! The assemblies are for edification, encouragement, enlightenment, and fellowship, i.e. just to be around some nice people. They may or may not be aware that you’re having problems and probably don’t even know that just their presence is a means of healing and inspiration.

  • Develop an appreciation for music and art.

Most people like music and art anyway. But “developing an appreciation” means – pay more attention to the beauty and don’t take it for granted. Listen to the words of songs as they may have practical application and advice for your present distress. Experiment with new songs and sounds you’ve never heard. Remind yourself of good times by listening again to (or remembering) the songs you always enjoyed. Latch on to a song or songs that have a special meaning for you. Enjoy the beauty of colors and assess the impact of art on your mood. Does it make you happy? calm? scared? angry? Is it crap and does it make you feel like crap?! Do you look at a piece of artwork and go: “I don’t get it.” Good! It means your brain is not mush.

  • Play games with your family (or with your close friends).

If they can coax you into it, playing a game makes you laugh and forget. Troubles? What troubles? I have to come up with a word to earn 30 points in a game of Scrabble!! OK. I didn’t win this round. But … next time!! Look at that. Is that you? Wasn’t your world so dark that you wanted to die? Now you want to live so you can win the game next time!

  • Read books/listen to audiobooks, or watch a movie.

O.P.T. equal “other people’s thoughts”. You can’t keep using your own thoughts as a point of reference or you might keep going in circles. But a lot of times, when you’re depressed – you don’t want to talk to people or even be around people. Although you don’t human contact, you need it. A book or movie is like “objective conversation”. Sort of. If you scream “Shut up!”; so what!

  • Work. I didn’t say earn income. I said work!

Income should be an end result. But if you are a person who has worked all of your adult life, you can’t just turn your work ethic off because you’re sad. Find something constructive and productive to do! It keeps your mind occupied so you won’t go brain dead. Besides: it takes the same amount of time to do nothing as it does to do something. The difference is when you’re doing nothing, 24 hours seems like 24,000 hours; long long long really really long boring depressing hours.

  • Don’t become desensitized.

Depression can make you coldhearted if you let it. You don’t care about yourself. You don’t care about anything. You don’t care about anybody. Have a care for the souls of others. You think you’re having a hard time? Quit whining!!! There’s always somebody somewhere doing way worse than you. Suffering in ways you never even thought about. Go try to find someone that you can be kind to and show compassion. Be human and humane. It will make you feel much better. It really will!

These last two points are open to psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to dispute or to clarify.

  • Take medication only if you need to.

How do you know if you need to? Simply put. It helps you when you take it.

  • Continue counseling sessions only if you need to.

How do you know if you need to? Because when you glean helpful advice from the counselors, apply it in your life and it helps cure you, i.e. you become productive again – at home and at work – that proves the counseling is helping you. Also, once you’re cured, i.e. you have become adjusted or readjusted and balanced, you have come full circle and you’re back to standing on your own again (performing like you were before your psychotic episode), you shouldn’t have a need for counseling anymore unless you have a relapse.

Inside of you – you know what comforts you, what motivates you, what helps you live your life and be at peace, happy, content no matter what your circumstances, and what enables you, i.e. makes you move, press forward, carry on, go on living. In short, you don’t have to pursue “life, liberty and happiness” as if it is some sort of elusive butterfly; because you know what you need to do to achieve it. No matter how much others want to help and try to help, it’s up to you to find your way out of the black hole.

Am I advising others to take this course? NO.

I’m saying that this is what worked for me.

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