Mental Illness Recovery Series: Story # 81

This is the 81st story of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. Ryan was down low, feeling alone and trapped. But after receiving therapy and changing his thought patterns, he was able to start his journey through recovery. This is his story:

Ryan is from Illinois and he loves to write, draw, read, and play videogames. He said, “I’m a fan of modern rock and techno”. Ryan is very fond of movies that make him think. Five years from now he sees himself doing something he loves, at the moment he is unsure of what that is, but he is willing to give social work a try.  He said, “I’m hoping to be a counselor and write or do other artsy stuff on the side.” Ryan also hopes to have a partner that he loves, and be in stable community. He was diagnosed in September 2015 with major depression and anxiety, although he struggled with his mental disorders three years before.

Ryan stayed 10 days as an inpatient in a mental hospital, then was an outpatient partial program for 5 weeks, and is now seeing a therapist. He has dealt with various symptoms, he said, “I experienced decreased appetite, extreme fatigue, negative thought patterns, irritability, anxiety, rumination, self-hate, increased need for sleep, and among many others.” This affected his life immensely. Ryan had no energy to do the things he enjoyed most in life. He said, “If I tried, I would overthink and think of ways to get me out of enjoying the activity because I felt it wasn’t worth my time when I could be doing something more worth my time; I isolated myself and pushed all my friends away by not inviting them over or talking to them.” It killed him because he hates wasting his days here on this planet. Ryan also negatively viewed his body and other aspects of the world. He said, “I constantly told myself that I hated my life and felt hopeless, worthless, useless, and everything I did was pointless. I told myself that I had no use for the world, that it would be better without me.”

Ryan considered suicide a lot. He said, “I planned and planned, but I could never finish it due to complications that I couldn’t resolve. I wasn’t going to attempt without a foolproof plan, because I didn’t want to just make an attempt, I wanted to succeed.” On one occasion he was dangerously close to committing suicide with a note and everything was almost planned.

His relationships became affected because he isolated himself and didn’t talk to anyone. He often acted irritable toward everyone. This caused some disconnection between Ryan and his family members. Because of this he felt lonely and useless he said, “I didn’t know whether to tell anyone about how I felt or not, basically because I believed men should not show weakness or emotion. My viewpoints have changed since then.”

The turning point for Ryan was when he was putting away his journal in a hiding spot, when his mother came in and became furious, and suggested he sees a professional. He said, “She told me she can’t take my behavior anymore. The next day I got evaluated and put into inpatient care for 10 days. After that 5 weeks of outpatient care. After that was over it forced my parents to evaluate their parenting and forced me to get ahold of myself for my family.” Ryan hasn’t overcome his mental illnesses, but thankfully is working on it.

He now uses the skills he learned in the hospital and outpatient program to cope. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been useful for Ryan. He said, “I learned to recognize my negative thoughts, do a reality check on them, and use neutral prompts instead.” He now diets and exercises to stabilize his mood and energy levels. His parents and close relatives supported Ryan by trying to understand what he was going through. He said, “We had many talks on how things in the household would change for the better and now my parents are working harder to make sure my brothers and I live a happy life.”

This is the lesson Ryan has learned from this ordeal:

“I learned that if I work hard for what I love in life, it’ll come. It may not come tomorrow, or the week after that, but my hard work will pay off one day. There’s always hope, even in the darkest of times there’s always a sliver of hope to hang onto.”

Even his outlook in life has changed. Ryan is definitely more insightful than he was before. He understand people better now. Experiencing this mental illness has brought him closer to his family and friends. Ryan stays on top of things now and makes sure his negative thoughts don’t go unnoticed. He also takes care of himself physically with what he does and eat.

This is his advice for others battling mental illness:

“Recovery from mental illness is a process. You will have ups and downs. Just because you fell down doesn’t mean you can’t get back up. Try to stay on top of things and vent to your friends and family that you trust and will support you.

Everyone has to deal with the cards they’ve been dealt. Try to make do with what you have and improve. Look at your life and see what things you could change. Work toward those goals with the support of your family and friends. A healthy balance of certain aspects in your life really does wonders for your mood.”

I am glad Ryan has been able to improve many aspects in his life. Help me make a difference by sharing your story. If you or anyone you know needs a safe place to vent out and recieve advice feel free to become a member of the Mental Illness Recovery Series Group on Facebook.

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