If more people shared their stories of illness and eventual recovery, it would have a profound effect on those who are suffering in silence. I recently posted a request on the Huffington post asking for stories of recovery.
I heard from a psychologist who refused to recognize his own depression, even as he treated other people in crisis. I heard from a CEO who was so ashamed of his anxiety disorder that he suffered a panic attack in a high level board meeting. I heard from a teacher who was substituting for a health class before she realized she might have post traumatic stress syndrome. I’ve received so many letters and heard so many stories of people’s initial reluctance to recognize their illness and seek treatment. And yet, the reason I am now hearing from these courageous people is because they all eventually found a path to recovery.
It’s not easy. Recovery takes patience, commitment, strong support from family and friends, and the willingness to be brutally honest with oneself. It takes wading through therapies to find the one that clicks with your way of life. Some therapists are extremely gifted. Others are horrible. (I’d love to see an “Angie’s list” of therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists and care centers, complete with reviews and feedback from users.) It’s important to note: In every case of recovery, there is one person who believes in the person so wholeheartedly, they provide enormous support. Most times, it is a therapist or a doctor who provides the unflinching support. Other times, it is a spiritual advisor, a yoga teacher, a friend or a partner.
Tony is one such example.He stopped me in the hallway at work after we worked together on a mental health campaign. “I thought it was hypocritical not to tell you I’m living well with a mental illness.” he said. My heart immediately opened to Tony and his story. He works every day to keep his illness in check. It took many years to figure out the right combination of anti-depressants, therapies, exercise and mindfulness. As Tony notes, these therapies, drugs and coping mechanisms may not always work. He still struggles to keep his negative thoughts in check, but he works his program every single day. “For many years, I wished someone could wave away my illness,” Tony says. “Now, I realize it’s made me the sensitive and compassionate person I’ve become.”
Tony is brave beyond measure. I’m thrilled to bring you his story. And, I’d love to hear yours.