This blog started as a comment on Anonymous’s moving story of his damaging depression and hospitalization, and what the experience taught him about preventing another one. ButAnon said he’s not sure he’ll ever completely recover.
I started writing about why I think he will. I soon realized it was a separate blog, not a comment.
Anon says his creative spark has been dulled, and he’s not sure it will ever come back.
I’m almost certain Anon will completely recover his creative spark, especially since he’s been completely off psych meds nearly a year now. He may have lost touch with his creativity temporarily because of his trauma and the medication, but it’s still there.
I can tell from the creative way he chose words and arranged them in sentences in his blog.
I Was Like Anon and Completely Recovered
Like Anon, I was a workaholic with an unbalanced life, who burned out, and lost everything, including my marriage, savings, home, and community. Like Anon, I was told by psychiatrists that I’d be sick and dependent for the rest of my life, and should not even think about getting back my writing career.
Like Anon, my life might have been different, and less painful, if I had community and peer support instead of a disease label and medication. Like Anon, I needed life coaching, not just psychotherapy when something was wrong.
But I always knew I was smart and loved. I had made a living writing, and never doubted I could do it again, no matter what the psychiatrists said. And I was never without hope, even when there was no reason to hope. When I was homeless, traumatized, and hallucinating, I felt I was in a long, dark tunnel, and that I’d get out the other end someday.
That was 35 years ago. I got my writing career back 30 years ago, became the kind of writer I wanted to be 25 years ago. I balanced my life, made new friends and community connections, and started enjoying life. Today, I’m happier than most men my age, whether they had a “mental illness” or not.
Anon Has One Element to Completely Recover
In his blog, Anon shows a profound understanding of one of the two elements everyone needs to completely recover: he takes personal responsibility for the choices he made that contributed to his downfall. He says what they were, clearly and concretely, explains why he made them when he did, and what different choices he will make from now on.
It took me 20 years to accept responsibility for my choices. I thought it meant admitting that all the horrible things that happened to me were my fault. I played the blame game, and got stuck as a permanent, angry victim.
Anon seems to understand that accepting responsibility does not mean accepting blame or admitting fault. When horrible things happen to you, as happened to Anon during his slide and in the hospital, it’s not your fault, but it’s your choice what you do next.
Until a therapist explained that to me, and I got my mind around it, I did not realize my anger and blame were choices. Since the horrible things and people were really horrible, I thought blame and righteous anger were justified and inevitable. There were plenty of people willing to agree that they were horrible and I had a right to stay angry.
The problem with anger and blame is that it freezes you. You cannot move ahead with your life. Those horrible things keep governing your life until you make a different choice.
The other choice was to re-examine my life as choices I made, not horrible things the horrible people and horrible illness did to me. I found I could understand why I made the choices when I did, forgive myself, and even forgive all but the most horrible people.
Anon seems to have done that already.
To Completely Recover, You Also Need Hope
The second essential to completely recover is hope. You can’t get well unless you think you can, and are determined to, no matter what. I always had hope. Anon seems unsure.
Hope is a choice, not a feeling. Many people think you either have hope or not, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Hope is really a decision, a choice, that you will do whatever it takes to get well, and will hold on to that hope even in the face of setbacks.
You sometimes lose touch with your hope, since setbacks are part of getting well. You have to take risks, and some risks don’t work out. That’s when you need supporters and peers who share your hope, and can hold onto it for you when you can’t access it temporarily. They remind you that you did not always feel despair and that you will reconnect soon with your hope.