Today’s blog topic is one that I have a lot of personal experience with. Going from diagnosis to diagnosis and medication to medication can be an exhausting process, one that can really wear us down and have us questioning ourselves completely. I know that because I lived it.

Tragedy Strikes

On June 24th, 2008 my brother Ryan took his own life. Three years later, I attempted suicide. Eighteen months after that, I committed myself to the local hospital mental health unit after again feeling suicidal and recognizing the fact that I desperately needed help.

Identity is how we feel about ourselves and how we see ourselves in relation to the world (that’s my own version of what it means, anyway). Identity can be fragile, becoming easily fractured when we struggle with challenges related to Mental Health. Let me explain a bit more about what I mean…

In 2011 I was diagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, otherwise known as ADHD. While I initially felt a sense of relief due to having uncovered some reasons for my past behavior, I came to realize that the diagnosis was something I was relating to as a huge part of who I am, like saying “I am ADHD” instead of saying “I have ADHD.”

The Slippery Slope is Very Real and Self-Awareness is Crucially Important

If someone is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, they may start to feel ashamed of themselves, which may in turn be detrimental to their overall health in any number of ways, either in how they socialize with others, how they feel about themselves and in regular decisions that they make on a daily basis. They may choose to not even pursue certain goals because of the diagnosis they’ve been given. That may be a good thing, but it can also be a waste of their potential.

One more example of the power of self-identity could be someone who has felt very depressed and not very good about themselves. Because of the way they feel and because of their past, they may self-sabotage in their career ambitions, since they don’t feel like they can achieve very much in life. Hearing stories like that breaks my heart, since I know that we all have strengths and abilities within us, but that we sometimes need support from others to learn to believe in ourselves so that we can bring those strengths and abilities to life. That can be life-changing, as it has been for me in my own life, going from my brother’s suicide to my own suicide attempt in 2011, to committing myself in January of 2013 before deciding to speak publicly and share my story online, which resulted in signing a book deal in 2016 for my book entitled Beyond ADHD.

There is Hope and Things Can Get Better When You Refuse to Give Up!

The point that I want to make here is that no matter how dark things may look at any given point in time, the worst moments and the hardest, toughest challenges we face are the very things that can forge the deepest sense of strength, courage and purpose within us when we refuse to give up on ourselves. Believe me, I know how bad the shame and guilt can feel when we aren’t living up to our own expectations and we feel like we’re letting everyone around us down, but that’s why it’s even more important to not give up on yourself and keep going, keep asking for help as much as you need to for the sake of your future.

I’m reminded of the quote “life doesn’t get easier, you just get to know yourself better.

Remember: You truly aren’t alone in this, even if it might feel that way sometimes. I’m here today because I kept asking for help and because I decided not to give in to the negative voice in my head. From there, I studied ways to change my sense of self confidence and build faith in myself, one step at a time. The hard work paid off.

Yours in purpose,

Jeff