By Steve Lindsay
As the darkest and coldest months of the year are upon nearing, hope can seem out of reach as a bright summer day for those who are living with depression. I know that first-hand, but I also know that help is available to give us tools to lift us from our bleakest moments.
Finding help and taking the steps to get it is a monumental feat during a mental health crisis. Taking the steps though is worth it.
I never knew in my younger years that I was living with mental illness, but the signs were always there. In high school, I tended to isolate from the crowds, had lots of acquaintances, but not close friends and was more of a loner. Still, I got through high school and into college relatively unscathed.
In my twenties. I was diagnosed with testicular cancer in about 2003, fought it and won. Life continued, I had a girlfriend and job. However, when the recession hit and the economy began to tumble in about 2009 and 2010, my life plummeted with it. I lost my job in quality inspection and broke up with the woman I loved. I struggled with odd jobs and life wasn’t coming to fruition as I had hoped or planned. The downward spiral continued, depression engulfed me and I battled bouts of suicide ideation. Anxiety, depression, and more.
On my darkest day, I remember parking my car to highest point of Zilwaukee Bridge in mid Michigan. Planning to do a ‘George Bailey’ I was going to end my life. Thank goodness, cowardice overtook me and I didn’t jump. In that moment, there must have been an army of guardian angels around me because I had every intention dying by suicide. Instead, I drove home and called my mother.
Without hesitation she rushed to Michigan from her Florida home. My family came to my rescue. It was the pinnacle moment. It was then that I finally received the help that I needed. I found a residential treatment center for adults – Rose Hill Center in Holly, Mi – through research. There, I learned the tools to live a stronger life and what to do to protect myself in a crisis. Living at the center, with other adults like me who also voluntarily came in hopes for a better life, I learned how to better manage my life, thoughts and what to do if crisis looms. At Rose Hill Center, the psychiatrists who manage medication and therapists who teach coping skills -combined with the rolling acres of green hills, healing programs like horticulture, music, yoga and animal care, plus group therapy and individual therapy, all provide the necessary ingredients to help overcome mental illness and the grocery list of side effects it causes.
I realized there, I wanted to make it work and that I had all the tools to do so. The center gave me the resources and I moved on, realizing part of my wellness success includes helping others. Today, I am involved with Genesis House in Flint where I write its newsletter. I went back to creative writing which I’ve loved since childhood, and actually wrote my first screenplay that earned an honorable mention by the Cleveland Motion Picture Association. And, prior to the pandemic I spoke at the National Alliance on Mental Illness annual event on the topic: that hope and help is available.
All these successes wouldn’t have happened had I not taken the steps to reach out for help.
If you need it, it is available. If you don’t know how to find it, ask someone you trust to help make the calls, starting with NAMI, Rose Hill Center, or your own general practitioner. Let 2022 and 2023 be the years that you take care of yourself and have a more successful life. Hope is out there.
For more information contact https://www.rosehillcenter.org/ or call 248.634.5530.
Steve Lindsay is a Michigan-based, award-winning writer and mental health advocate.