Learning to ask for help can be scary, but it saves lives. It actually does (I’m one of them).
Into The Abyss
Things really started getting bad for me in 2010. I was 34 years old, I had just dropped out of University after my first year after it became too hard to keep up with the course material and studying. I discovered a few years later that I have a vision issue that explained why I was becoming quickly frustrated with studying textbooks (the diagnosis was convergence insufficiency after I visited with an ophthalmologist in 2016). His name was Dr Patrick Quaid, and he said to my wife and I “Jeff, I’m surprised you made it past grade 3 in school, given your vision issues.”
– I was floored, and so was my wife. After all, I could have literally committed suicide based on the fact that I couldn’t make it in University, which at the time was my last way out to a better life, to truly realizing my full potential, the way I saw it. That felt like the last straw, I thought for sure I was headed to a dark ending, since even University didn’t work out and I was already in my mid-30s.
The following August in 2011, I tried to kill myself while my wife worked upstairs in her office. Without going into too much detail, I stopped myself midway through my attempt and walked up stairs slowly, crying my eyes out, feeling like absolute s*** about myself. My wife came downstairs and rushed me to the emergency room of the local hospital.
That saved my life. Just because I stopped one time didn’t mean I was going to stop the next time around, and being open to getting help was the most important decision I could have ever made. I’m still incredibly grateful to this day that I made that decision, especially since I’m living my dreams now as a social media voice for mental health support and change, a traditionally published author, a husband to an amazing woman and father to the sweetest dog on Earth. I’m also incredibly happy to still be around because of my dad and all he had to witness with my deceased brother Ryan, who did kill himself on June 24th, 2008.
Staying alive and being open to things like online therapy, medications and other interventions has helped me find entirely new purpose and a new mission in life, which is to raise global mental health awareness and continue to support, inspire, empathize with and bring hope to others out there going through challenges and hard times. I learned first-hand that once you enter the mental health system, it can be very easy to feel like you’re losing yourself, depending on your diagnosis or diagnoses, the medications you might be on and your perception of yourself in society. Believe me, I understand. However, you must never give up on yourself and continue to ask for help however much it takes to get the help that you need. I realize it’s all easy to say, but remember, I’ve lived it. I also lost a brother to suicide and even did Security in mental health units a year after I committed myself in 2013, so I’ve witnessed the mental health system from several sides – the good and the not so good. Yes, we have a long way to go in society toward evolution for helping people in holistic ways to receive the support, learning tools and treatment that they need, but the only way we’re going to get there is by continuing to speak up for ourselves and doing whatever each of us can to help the global mental health movement build stronger and stronger for all of us.
I’ve said it many, many times before and I’ll say it again: You have a foot soldier of support in me. I may not have all the answers, but I promise you that I will continue passionately speaking out and building a global platform around mental health support, hope and evolution.