From Psych Ward Patient to Security Guard: Humbling
In 2011, I tried to hang myself. My wife rushed me to the emergency room after I stopped myself from “finishing the job” and walked back upstairs to tell here I needed help, crying and lost.
January 2013 – after a couple years of medications, several therapy sessions and continued struggles with figuring out what I wanted to pursue career-wise, I quickly spiraled into depression, followed by familiar thoughts of researching how to finally end my life for the sake of everyone around me.
Early 2014 – After moving across the country with my wife (she got a great job offer), I was hired as a hospital security guard (working in both adult and child mental health units, or “psych wards,” as they are commonly referred to. Just before that, I began speaking out on Twitter, sharing my story of finally being diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 35 by a team).
I had come full-circle, or so I thought.
Misdiagnosed With ADHD (As Millions Likely Are, Which Becomes Obvious When You Do The Research)
Throughout 2015 and 2016 I discovered that I had indeed been wrongly diagnosed with ADHD, when the actual root causes for my patterns and symptoms were childhood trauma (PTSD) as a highly sensitive and reflective child and a vision issue called Convergence Insufficiency (as well as some depth-perception issues). These discoveries not only blew my mind, they made me furious with current standards for hundreds of millions of people across North America and much of the world. Nevertheless, I kept speaking out courageously, though with a different angle of emphasis in my message on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere.
Speaking More Passionately Than Ever, Now As a Published Author!
I debated showing screenshots of actual tweets I’ve received (without identifying the people who sent them out of respect for their privacy, of course), but thought the better of it. The point here is that I couldn’t have known just how many people across the world would reach out to me as I poured my heart and soul out online, speaking up about suicide prevention and mental health – what a sobering experience! From others going through misdiagnosis concerns with ADHD to people living with major depression, to all sorts of other experiences, I realized that I’m far from alone in these battles, these inner challenges to find answers and remain hopeful through good times and challenges alike.
I have even had a few people literally say that I saved their life with something I said on Twitter, for example. How do you process that? Hearing comments like that absolutely floors me, making me feel like my brother Ryan’s death isn’t in vain, since it’s part of what has driven me to seek deeper answers in my own life.
It takes courage to speak openly about suicide prevention, and about mental health in general. The fear of what people might think is something I had to work through, and along the way, my passion was met (at times) with the odd person here and there thinking I’m some ego-maniac or narcissist, which upset me for a time, since this is such a heart-wrenchingly personal mission I’m on (to raise awareness and inspire/teach millions over time).
I have since learned to disregard those sort of comments, realizing that they speak to the people saying them, not to me. I simply will not stop doing what I’m doing, because I know that people across this world are seeking support, empathy and inspiration, not to mention tools for their own self-growth toward success and fulfillment in day to day life.
Don’t ever settle for less than your heart screams for. You and I get one life (as far as I know). Use your darkest struggles by taking them, learning from them and turning them into your own mission, whatever it is, however it might change with time.
Be your own force for good. You’ve got more support around than you might realize. Depression lies to us sometimes. One key to suicide prevention, as I now realize, is to learn to re-frame your thought patterns and decide to start working on changing them, your day to day routines (if necessary), diet, exercise, creative outlets, socializing, relaxation, therapy, medication (if needed) and whatever else needs to be addressed. Start with one baby step. Just start. Then start again, and again, and AGAIN. That’s how life gets better – day after day with better routines and thought-patterns that inspire and motivate you, not those which bring you down and make you feel like a failure.
Yours in fierce purpose and courage toward daring greatly,