Finding a Reason to Live When You Have a Mental Illness
Do you need help finding a reason to live if you have a mental illness? For a long time I did. In spite of having a good treatment team, I just couldn't snap out of my depressive funks. I was frequently suicidal. Then I found my reason to live. Finding a reason to live when you have a mental illness can be just as vital to your treatment as finding the right medication and finding the right therapist.
My Reason to Live with a Mental Illness Is My Family
As I write this, I'm on the emotional high of becoming an aunt for the fifth time. My nephew doesn't even have a name yet, but I love him and have nicknamed him "my little blank slate." He reminds me of the need for a blank slate in life--for a chance to start over.
My oldest nephew is five now. When he was born, something happened. I could no longer feel suicidal without thinking of my nephews and niece. I didn't want my brothers to explain to them why Aunt Becky had killed herself--it was hard enough for me to explain that I was sick and it wasn't going to go away. I wanted to see them grow up. I wanted to live. My reason to live with a mental illness was my family.
Not everyone gets along with their biological family. Mine was emotionally abusive and we didn't reconcile until after I got out of college. But I define family as "a group of people that love and accept each other more than they deserve." In that case, maybe your friends are your family. Everyone is entitled to a family--choose wisely.
Finding a reason to live in family is just one of many options.
Before My Family, My Reason to Live Was a TV Show
My middle school years were awful. One of my classmates was treated so horribly that she has blocked out her entire time at that school--something I wish I could do. I was bullied relentlessly, ranging from mild teasing to sexual harassment. It drove me to the point of suicide--then I discovered a TV show called Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
That show became my reason to live. Every day after school I tuned in to watch "Chief" Lynne Thigpen (RIP), host Greg Lee and the gumshoes (contestants) pursue the loot, the warrant, and the crook. I laughed hysterically at the Greg in the Chief's office skits ("The bright side? There's a huge stalk of celery on my desk and no dip." and "Greg, go away."). This show became the high point of my day. It became my escape--even if I never mastered the Africa map.
Looking back on it, it sounds a little silly to be that devoted to a TV show. But it's not silly. As we said in the Army, "If it's stupid but it works, it isn't stupid." Whatever your positive coping skill is, it is okay. It is helpful. It is good. Nothing that helps you in finding a reason to live is ridiculous. It is your survival strategy.
Possible Reasons to Live When You Have a Mental Illness
Here are some possible reasons to live with a mental illness:
- You haven't been to the Trobriand Islands yet (okay, so I stole this from a book, but I've got to admit I'm curious--and not just because of the sex).
- You have a dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail or sailing down the Mississippi River (and admit it, you want to know what the "castle" near St. Louis is for).
- You've found something that gives you joy, like a video game (I recommend The Elder Scrolls series), and you can't do it if you're dead.
- It might get better (something I would tell my middle school self if I could go back in time).
- You want to prove everyone wrong.
I have seen the stars and felt small. I have watched the ants and felt huge. I have seen children and felt old, or grandparents and felt young. I can live a year and feel that only seconds went by, or look someone in the eyes loose myself in them forever. I live to feel all I can feel and enjoy the simplest things with all my heart. -Anonymous
You have to find a reason to live with a mental illness. And that reason can be anything you want. Finding a reason to live is vital to recovering from mental illness.
Oberg, B. (2015, June 29). Finding a Reason to Live When You Have a Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2015/06/finding-a-reason-to-live
Author: Becky Oberg
P.S.- Please don't just tell me "It gets better" you don't know that, and you can't prove it. It's such an open phrase. It's the same as saying "I don't have an answer for you, but have this empty promise so I can feel like I'm helping"
You're obviously an intelligent person, and I know you can research this fact: Your brain isn't fully developed at 13. So not only do you have a lifetime to discover how you make a difference in this world, but you have at least 10 more years until your brain matures. Right now, your impulse control puts you at risk, and I worry for you. Depression is an illness that acts on your thoughts. Depression tells you that you're worthless. Depression tells you that there's no reason to go on. Depression lies to you, Emma.
I live with depression lying to me, too. Sometimes I think I'm not worth a lick (some of those times go on for weeks). When depression lies to me like that, I remind myself that there are people who love me (like your mom loves you). I trust those people. And if they think I'm lovable, then I'll believe them for as long as it takes to get through the darkness.
So please, use the link I gave you above and talk to your mom. You are valuable, Emma.
Psalms 121:1-8 . come to JESUS CHRIST he'll take care of you and he'll accept you just as you are . HE Loves all of us Amen
I tried to kill myself last week on Monday, it was a very puny attempt but it was the best I could do. Anyway, after a lot of doctors I am getting medicine for depression. However I honestly don’t understand why people want to keep me alive. I am expensive non attractive, tired, smart enough to do good in schoo but don’t. I’m on new meds, but I am 21 and I really don’t want to struggle until I can die at 80. I have goals, but it is only because I am too stupid to kill myself correctly.
People say things get better. Well im sorry to burst your bubble but ive been trying for 10 years to have a better life. It only gets worse and worse. You know the best part? Life teases you with glimpses of a happy life, year here, or there, where you think youve made it to the top. Only to be dropped back down and even further than before. Sadly o have come to the last drop of my rollar coaster. I submit this to you as a reference. Proof. That life does not always get better and i wished i ended it many years ago.
If i could go back in time id have two choices. Tell myself to end it there and then as nothing but pain and misery awaits. Or give the knowledge i have now to prepare myself for a better life, when i was still young and healthy.
People might say, why dont you use that knowledge now for a better life today? Simple answer, i am too old and unhealthy to bother now.
When I was younger (I'm 17 now) my parents went through a divorce. My mam got custody and my dad never made any attempt to contact me. No one at home seems to care when Im depressed and on the very rare occasion I get asked if I'm ok. I panic and leave saying that I'm fine because I don't really know how to talk to people and I'm really awkward.
Honestly my whole life has been stressful. Parents divorcing when I was young then moving. After that I got bullied in middle school and slightly in high school. Then exams hit. After that my Granda died. Now a year later and all I think about is how can I die painlessly.
I just need some help. I can't think of any reason to continue and I can't pull myself out of this. I haven't been diagnosed by a doctor or anything because I'm too scared or awkward to actually go and see one but I'm a certain I suffer serious depression. If anyone could just give me some guidance I'd be more than grateful.
Please reach out for help. You can refer to our suicide resources page: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/suicide/suicide-suicidal-thoughts-and-behaviors-toc/. Take care.
I've lost all of my friends, was bullied in school and even at work. Now my gran has cancer, I've started a new job that I suckkkkk at and in general it feels like I'm so out of place in the world. As if I simply can't function.
I never knew how to speak to anyone either (still don't) but my mum found out about my depression because one day I broke down into tears and told her that all I could think about was dying over and over and over, yearning for pain relief and peace from my own thoughts. She's been great with it, I think it's brought us a bit closer aswell seen as she's been suffering aswell lately.
Anyway, it's hard to imagine that anyone cares about you, I know the feeling too well but there's 2 possible ways to go about getting better.
1: open up to your family, even if they're just asking if you're okay that's still a good sign, fight through the tears and tell your mum what's going on.
2: if you can't find support with other people then put your time into something constructive and don't let others bother you, people fucking suck.( I've been writing tv show and movie scripts in the hopes that one day I'll be able to make something of myself.)
I don't Know you personally Andrew, but keep your head up. I won't say it gets better but try your hardest to kick the world's ass, hone your skills, do something you love and sink all of your time into it, get a job and buy the things you want. With enough work, you'll be happy one day.
Stay safe bro x
a series of events have left you painted into a corner, emotionally and socially. whatever reason you started backing away from people, you now realise that the distance is far wider than you intended.
what begins as a safety gap, turns into a chasm of cliches..... its 'the hole we dig for ourselves'
'time to build bridges' but it isn't easy because you put yourself where you are for safety. so it becomes 'unsafe' to close the gap...it is a risk.
you get bored a lot in the monotony of daily isolation, but on the other hand boredom is good...boredom means nothing bad is happening...it becomes 'comfortable' and we start to justify it by assigning it merit.
the physical walls around you, may keep people out, but they also keep you in, and if you are not equipped to deal with it, the isolation is soul destroying.
sometimes you find yourself screaming inside, then scouring the net, and posting a few lines....maybe it makes you feel less isolated for a little while.
but it isn't the long term solution.
you need contact with other people, if even on a superficial level to begin with, there are many ways to do that...clubs organisations..hiking groups, exercise classes at local sports venues, cooking classes...all people just trying not to be lonely, or at least to share a bit of their life with others in a constructive environment.
but you need to break out of your comfort zone to do it.
at least the amount of contact can be controlled by you.
myself: i am a hermit... i locked my home seven years ago, have no contact with anyone and go out for less than an hour a month...only then because i absolutely have to.
i am the same age as you, i was a psychiatric nurse and counsellor for 25 years + everyday surrounded by numerous people, and my withdrawal i still see as 'me time', but i am all to aware of the pitfalls of only having the one person for conversation,...you accept whatever junk you tell yourself...and one of the sad facts about people is we need someone to tell us how very wrong we are, someone to argue against us (the basis of all good marriages)
fortunately i know that i am usually wrong......and that one thing helps me balance :)
you dont need a reason to be alive Martha, you just need to feel that you are.
go volunteer in a day care centre, or make cookies and drop a bunch off to the neighbours...lie and say you made way too many by mistake..whatever you do, is a start, and you can start something new everyday.
I have suffered from depression my whole life. (I am 59 now) There is not one single antidepressant which I have not been on and as I look back over the years, my *sickest* periods where my depression was at it's worst was when I was taking antidepressants.
THIS IS ONLY MY OWN EXPERIENCE SO I HOPE NO ONE WILL WANT TO SHOOT ME DOWN FOR HAVING SAID THAT as I know that there are literally billions of people world wide who were and are being helped on antidepressant treatment.
For me the *worst* medications to use is any kind of anti-anxiety med! If I take one - two hours later I am totally suicidal. The same applies to me if I use alcohol of *any* kind. Alcohol is actually a depressant and so many people reach for it when they feel really down but all it does is to make the persons mood go even lower down.
I reiterate again that what I am saying is the treatments which stirred my own troubled brain into an even worse place!
I have known a number of people who were also totally not helped by any of the AD's and they agreed to have brain shock treatment and today - they all seem to be doing well. (I made the decision to not have brain shocks but if someone is so down - over a long period of time and they have tried everything possible, yes, perhaps look into brain shock.
Have you ever considered admitting your son to the treatment center which Dr Phil often speaks of on his programs? Something to do with 'brain plasticity.' I am sure if you were to write to the program - they can supply you with all the necessary information. A friend of mine - her daughter was also booked into this center. They did loads of blood tests, etc, etc, etc, and it was found that her endocrine system was not working sufficiently, her hormone tests were also really bad - her iron levels were dismally low and once all of the biological issues had been cleared up - her work started with a psychiatrist and psychologist.
I only mention this as perhaps, unbeknown to you, your son might also have a few or loads of biological things which are totally out of whack and in the end - I would think they would be brilliant to advice you how to deal with your son's depression.
It's total nonsense to say that someone who just sits around and to even walk to the kitchen is just lazy. That is a load of bullocks! When I was at my lowest during various depression periods of my life; I did not have the energy to shower, to make a meal for myself, to do necessary chores - I could have happily to just lie on the couch and *never* get off it again! That is simply a sign that your young lad there is in a serious depression.
Sorry I cannot phone my friends daughter who was admitted to that USA center (the one which talks about brain plasticity) as she is on a hiking trip through Brazil so there is no way I can contact her. I know the head of the team of doctors there is called Dr Frank Lawliss. Perhaps you son does not even need brain shock treatment - maybe it's something organic. If you can afford it - I would definitely write to this Dr to see what his opinion would be.
I really think that all you can do now is to just love this young man as best as you can because he sounds so ill - no family member, or silly opinions of others is going to help him. I am sure you can Google, Dr Frank Lawliss and that you will find this particular treatment center via the internet.
My friends daughter made a totally miraculous 360degree change. This child was already on psychiatric medications from the age of 11 - right through till she was 22. She herself was just SO tired knowing that not one pill or potion had been found to cure her that she attempted to end her life one day. Today she is unrecognizable as her depression is totally gone and she is enjoying her life to such a level that no one who could have seen/experienced her before would be able to recognize this incredibly sick and depressed young lady.
I wish you luck with your son because as parents we all desperately want our children to be happy and to enjoy their lives but if something biological, mentally or physical goes wrong and you really have tried most avenues, perhaps this is exactly the place who can show your son that there is happiness and joy in this life.
Wishing you and your son all the best. I believe he CAN become better. He just needs a correct diagnosis!
I'm tired. My eyes are strained. I only have my cell phone as well. I hope you'll possibly answer me back. I'd like to hear from you. If there's one thing I've learned is that mental illness knows no age barriers very often. We all have the need to be cared for and care for others. I hate to know of your own pain. And just maybe by talking we can find little ways to help each other by talking about anything even our thoughts on why we wrote these comments and I saw your plea and nobody saw yours like mine many times but I didn't want to see that not a soul responded to you. I'm a good soul with a loving heart but broken and damaged and I'd still like to help anyone I can by letting them know they are heard and are cared about. I hope you see this and reply. It'll give me a big boost myself that I need. Thank you and I hope you're alright tonight or today wherever you're at.
Good night from me in the central time zone. The Midwestern United States.
But it can't help & is not sought by those without hope. I acknowledge & am grateful for all the help I've been given. But with the guilt I now feel for the lack of improvement, my sense of hopelessness is overwhelming. Maybe one day, soon I hope, it will be accepted that the use of antidepressants do not give the hope needed for help to be effective. They just make you feel less about everything and yourself. Nothing feeds hopelessness more than feeling less about yourself.