It’s been a while since I posted! We’ve been gearing up for Zach Makes Tracks for Youth Mental Health VERSION 2.0 – and we’re excited about how many communities and youth we hope to be able to help this time around!
Even when things are going well, and we have so much to be excited about, this brain still has a mind of its own (ha!). Having happy thoughts, being in amazing places, surrounding yourself with wonderful people – although extremely uplifting – sadly doesn’t cure major depressive disorder or mental illness (contrary to the popular belief of those who think its a state-of-mind and not an actual organ malfunction). On the other hand – being around mentally ill people does NOT give you mental illness (also another bizarre belief that you can ‘catch’ it).
I thought I’d show you a picture of me yesterday morning. No shame! I’m part of a study with CAMH where I give myself at-home brain stimulation treatments. A small electrical current is passed through the front of my brain, it’s a bit uncomfortable, but nothing unbearable at all. We are hoping it extends the remission time between rTMS sessions. Currently, my mental state is stable for about 7-8 months in between. There’s even a possibility that this treatment might eliminate the need for sessions at CAMH!
I’m asked questions almost daily about the ‘controversial’ treatments I’ve had. Mostly about ECT and rTMS. Electro-convulsive therapy is pretty damn scary to many – the side effects alone make one pause before considering them as viable options.
At my worst, I wanted to die. I longed for it. I ached for just a moment of relief from the torment that was in my brain. From the numbness. The despair that filled every single cell of my body. I was looking through a filter, able to see the things that bring beauty to my life, even touch them, but I couldn’t FEEL anything for these things. I wished for something to happen to me (I wouldn’t have taken any extraordinary measures to save myself from a disaster). I wished for this because I felt that it would eliminate the stigma and pain of suicide for those I’d leave behind, if I chose that path.
But I continue to chose the path of doing whatever it takes to be healthy. To open opportunity for me to live the best life that ‘I’ can. Whatever that looks like. If it means ripping away the memories of my son in his toddler years (yes, they’re gone), I’d chose to continue. I chose today and the future. Because it means that I’m here to make more memories. I would do it again, and again, and again, just to remain here. What’s the alternative? Is it suffering and death? Not an option for me.
So, to those who are struggling, do whatever it takes. If it’s hard to find the energy or even just a reason to survive for another moment, please trust my message that a reason is there – as hidden as it may be for you to see. If it’s scary to consider a new treatment, consider what the alternative is. You deserve to be here. Your life has value. And once you’ve found your way back from the despair once, you’ve created a blueprint to follow the next time. A blueprint to remind you that hope is there and the path, although difficult, is in front of you.
Whatever. It. Takes.