Last Updated on January 28, 2020
I still remember the moment – I was incarcerated in a psych ward – I had been taken out of my class for misbehaving and was taken to the principal’s office. My school was rough – and for anyone else, it would have meant detention – or something else of the sort – for me it was different. You see – once you have a history of mental illness – every time you act out it’s a case to call the doctors.
A car pulled up to the school and two burly men sat down and gave me a questionnaire – with questions like do you do drugs, etc. I didn’t – I was just crazy (or unwell – as the more politically correct term to use these days).
Soon I was driven to the hospital under the auspices that it was just to do a few tests – so that I wouldn’t resist – I was placed behind a glass wall and the door shut – I turned around and saw myself with a bunch of weirdos and when I turned around the door was locked – there was an information desk and I asked to have the door unlocked – at which time I was told that I would have to wait for my trial date and lawyer – where I could make my case for being released.
Long story short – I was in involuntary admission.
But this isn’t to talk about the mental health system – or how I feel I may have been unfairly treated – the truth is I wasn’t all too well. In my lifetime I had been incarcerated in 3 separate psychiatric facilities – I was diagnosed with everything from Bipolar, to Schizophrenia to Psychosis. Basically, they threw the DSM book at me – I was told that I would have to take medication for the rest of my life – medication that made me feel horrible – or I would return.
Not only that but I was told that if I didn’t take it – they would force me to take it by court order – and that’s exactly what happened – when police officers would show up to take me to the hospital to force administer an injection of god knows what – some drug to make me “normal.”
Well – those days are behind me – at this time I don’t take any medication and I haven’t been back to the Psych Ward for over 10 years – I’m a healthy guy who owns his own business and makes money doing custom WordPress development and SEO.
Unfortunately, stories like the one above are not very popular in the self-employment community – nobody really wants to talk about it. Maybe they’re scared it will ruin their brand – (for the record I was never violent to anyone, nor was I threatening nor did I hurt myself – I was just “weird”).
Anyway, I wanted to write about the things that turned me around – and I hope that if you are going through something like this yourself – it may give you some ideas that you probably hadn’t considered.
#1 If You Stop Talking to Your Family Nothing Happens
This might seem very brutal for those that have good families – but a lot of people are raised with horrible parents. While this can range in extremes of physically violent and sexually abusive parents (which is what I had with my mother) – to – what I find much more common – parents that kids simply don’t want to interact with but in many cases feel obligated to because they want to be “good boys” or “good girls”.
While you may get a proverbial “pat on the back” from this amalgous blob called ‘society’ for ‘taking care of your mother’ – which usually means being co-dependent to your mother’s needs – I hope that at some point you start thinking about yourself. Most sons I find – while they hate to admit it – don’t really want to talk to their mother (or other relatives) and have no positive benefit to doing so – however they feel it’s wrong to think that way because it means they are a bad son/daughter.
When I sat with my therapist I mentioned every week about how horrible my mother made me feel – at one point he asked me:
“Do you want to talk to your mother?”
“No,” I replied.
“Well then don’t,” the therapist suggested.
I understand that sounds so basic but at that time – to have that validation when I was raised around a bunch of people who would always get in my face and tell me I have to “love my mother” and “take care of my mother no matter what”.
After that, I simply stopped talking to my mother – and it relieved me of 80% of my problems. I just stopped responding to her – I blocked her number and I blocked her SMS messages. Eventually, she would send me upwards of 20 messages a day consistently and I had to get the self-discipline to delete them without reading them.
Then she would send me 15 emails a day – even through my website – and I had to be disciplined enough to delete them.
This might sound cruel – and I understand people with normal families might say “But your mother misses you.”
What’s funny to me is in any other context that would be considered harassment and a clear violation of someone’s boundaries – and reflects a person who doesn’t respect someone’s decision to not be in their life – unfortunately in our society, it always comes back to “But it’s your mother you are responsible.”
But the reality is – I stopped speaking to my mother and I felt instantly better – because I didn’t have to deal with her bullsh#t – and nothing happened – the world didn’t come down – people didn’t come out of the woodwork and started judging me – I just started to enjoy my life.
So if you have family members that make you feel bad – just stop talking to them – nothing will happen.
Note: this is assuming your family isn’t helping you financially or some other way – if my mother was paying me $500 a week and giving me a headache then I could almost see that the money I was getting from her was worth the bad feelings she was giving me – but she was paying me nothing and giving me nothing but bad energy and refusing to listen to me assert my boundaries. If your family gives you money or other support then you’ll have to balance one against the other.
#2 Bad Friends Won’t Be Missed
My mother had a friend whose son was forced on to me for friendship. I never liked this guy but my mother’s mentality was “Well I’m friends with this woman so now you are going to be forced to be friends with her son” – it was a selfish reason really and she sent me on some Russian camp with him.
After I stopped talking to my mother this guy was not a positive guy and not really reflective of the other friends I had which I had at least chosen freely.
Eventually, I stopped being his friend – again – I can guarantee you right now if you stop talking to your bad friends they won’t be missed.
#3 Don’t Buy Into the Loneliness Myth
As you can see from point 1 and 2 – I’ve talked a lot about distancing yourself from people and to stop searching for the proverbial “pat on the back” from a society that you probably crave because you didn’t get enough love as a child.
But I also wanted to attack another big myth – and this is the loneliness myth that’s perpetuated by society and every advertisement you watch on TV. The idea is the ‘happy family’/’happy friends’ and whatever it is – people clubbing or doing whatever social activity they’re doing – and the idea that being by yourself is the most horrible thing in the world.
Listen – I spent New Year’s in my room by myself eating an awesome meal and drinking some soda pop – I’m not saying it was the greatest day of my life. But it’s fine – it’s no big deal – it’s just another year the sun has gone around the Earth.
Many people commit suicide over New Year’s but why is that? Is it because people are lonely? If the reason was that people are lonely why wouldn’t they commit suicide on any other day of the year and instead wait until Christmas?
The reason I believe is the pressure they feel to be with their families/friends etc. in that particular period of time – a lot of people that meet up with their families don’t even like their families and complain about it.
Not only that – but my theory is that a lot of people have sh*tty relationships/friendships that make them feel horrible because they’re scared of the alternative – which is being on their own. And this big fear of ‘being on your own’ is in many cases a figment of their imagination.
While some people legitimately do feel loneliness by themselves and I don’t mean to discount that – I also want to make it clear that being by yourself is totally fine – and I mean like all week. Literally for months.
Everyone is different but I don’t have a ‘friendship group’ that I hang out with every weekend doing the same crap, saying the same inside jokes, playing the same videogames – and let me tell you – it’s totally fine.
Note: I should note that having people you can message and talk to is important – and I still keep in contact with a friend from where I grew up by messenger. I’m just saying you don’t have to meet up with people every week – it’s not that big of a deal – believe me – most people out at ‘clubs’ or other situations aren’t as happy as they would like to make themselves out to be in the photos they take.
#4 Become Mindful and Get a Therapy Program
There are so many paths to take if you are in a dark place – everyone wants to sell you a course. Every church out there will tell you that the way to salvation is through their particular God. There are therapists on every corner.
I’m not here to tell you which path you should take exactly – but I do know working through issues in many ways for me – has been coming to terms about those dark thoughts in my mind and learning to be comfortable with them – and discussing them with another human being preferable – whether that’s a supportive friend or a therapist.
The one thing to look out for is people who don’t accept a certain aspect of you – if that’s the case then a therapist is a good bet. For example, if you’re gay and your best friend is very conservative he may not be comfortable in listening to all the gay stuff – and you can’t really go to your parents – so a therapist is a good option as they will listen to you and be able to reflect and most importantly validate you as a person.
This is the most important thing – you are valid and have value in this world – and you are allowed to have any thoughts you like.
What I’ve learned over the years is not that my thoughts are crazy – I still have just as crazy a mind as I always had in many ways – the difference is I accept and allow the thoughts to pass through me without making it a big deal.
Simple example – there were times I had daydreams of killing my mother – I hated her a lot. So I would think “Oh my God – how can I have these thoughts. I’m a monster – am I going to act out on them.” Of course I never even considered acting out on them – but just the fact that they came through me and went into my mind made me create a bunch of judgments about myself and who I was.
Nowadays if that ever happens (I’ve let go of a lot of that anger) – I would just say “Wow, well that’s interesting that I had that thought. Hmmm.” And proceed on with my day – I don’t judge myself.
Also, I’ve found that the people that judge me the most are the ones that tend to have a lot of unresolved issues themselves.
Whatever path you go down I hope you can learn to accept those thoughts and every part about yourself.
#5 Live In Hostels for a While
Not everyone falls into this category – but for me, I went to school in a rough area – it was a low-income school and there was a lot of bad stuff that was going on. Not only that I lived in the suburbs of Sydney – and while I had made a few friends all we would do is meet up and hang out at my friend’s house every weekend.
Otherwise, I had another friend that I would meet within the city and we would go and do the same thing every week (watch a movie, eat some food, and go home).
One thing I did was pack up and take a train down to Byron Bay – one of the most beautiful destinations in the world – in Australia – and just lived there for a year and a half – in hostels – surrounded by travelers.
One thing it helped me with is learning to interact with people from different cultures – and learn a lot of social skills that I otherwise would not have learned. There are many kids these days that simply don’t know how to interact with other human beings and it’s very sad – and they never take the opportunity to learn.
Not only is it bad but it’s not good for your mental health state – after living in hostels for a year I learned to become comfortable speaking to anyone. It was also a great way to unwind and work through my issues in beautiful surroundings.
A change of scenery is always beneficial.
I would love to hear from others who have gone through similar challenges – have you ever had mental health challenges? Do you agree with my points – disagree? Thanks!