I used to be a very anxious person.
I was embarrassed by what I couldn’t do and every day was a struggle. From the moment I would wake up to the moment I’d go to bed, everything felt impossibly overwhelming. It’s a battle I’ve dealt with most of my life.
This daily struggle with mental illness taught me that the satisfaction didn’t lie in beating it; the satisfaction was in helping other people beat mental illness through my success in fighting it.
Recently, I was at work. It was a pretty standard day — nothing too exciting. I then had a catch up with one of the leaders I worked with.
She said something that got my attention: “One of our colleagues is battling a mental illness.”
I really wanted to help. My eyes lit up. There was no need to uncover my plan with anyone else. I knew that staying discrete was fundamental.
I approached the person in question and asked for a few minutes of their time.
I didn’t ask them to admit their mental illness struggle; I just shared my story.
I talked about the anxiety stopping me from having a normal life, eating the right foods, going on dates with girls, having the career I wanted and traveling the world.
I wasn’t sure if any of it was sinking in or even helping. I felt compelled to go on. One thing I knew was that he was paying attention. I could see it in his eyes.
I then went on to talk about how I beat mental illness. Strategies such as:
- Creating fear lists
- Seeking professional help
- Working on myself
- Books I read
- Events I attended
Out of nowhere, he started opening up about his own struggle. I was shocked.
It wasn’t pretty. He had an extreme case of mental illness that I certainly couldn’t diagnose or give professional advice on.
“ALL I COULD DO WAS SHOW HIM THROUGH MY OWN STORY THAT THERE WAS HOPE”
I offered him access to all the resources I had. I told him that he had my full support and I’d be happy to help in any way I could. He then said:
“What was your psychologist’s name?”
I told him I’d look it up and send it to him. I didn’t have the answer in front of me, but I was determined when I got home to find it.
AT THE END OF THE CATCH-UP, HE SMILED. I DON’T THINK HE’D SMILED LIKE THAT IN A VERY LONG TIME.
That smile gave me so much satisfaction. It made my own struggle with mental illness worth it. All those sleepless nights, times spent vomiting into the toilet and dark days where I didn’t want to go on made sense.
“IT TOOK MORE THAN SEVEN YEARS FOR ME TO UNDERSTAND THAT MY OWN BATTLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS ACTUALLY HAD A BENEFIT”
That benefit was the satisfaction in seeing someone beat their mental illness because I was able to defeat mine.
That’s one thing I can teach you about life that will help you forever.