Yes, you read that right. I am quitting. I am going to stop this circus of being stuck inside my head. It’s been holding me back in my writing, parenting, and interactions with others for a long time, often making me feel as though I am not good enough at anything; a dangerous place to be when suffering from depression and anxiety.
I’m prone to the perfectionism trap as a writer and creative and it has swallowed me whole. I’ve been bogged down with feeling like I have to do everything: creating a platform, managing social media, writing a blog, writing the novel I’ve been working on since 2013, and a long list of other things indie authors are in charge of. I cannot get past the mental block inside myself when I write and often feel as though I fall short, unable to tell a good story or help anyone. All of this has become a vicious cycle of wanting to help but feeling as though I’m not, so I second guess everything and dig myself back into the hole I’ve tried so hard to get out of. Day after day the stress of being locked inside my head, analyzing every move I make, has forced me to pull away from my family and miss out on precious moments. It’s tearing me apart. Outside I refuse to be a supermom, but inside I am doing just that, feeling like I have to do everything on my own.
I’m here to say, I can’t do it on my own. And that’s okay. Because I’ve realized I am the one holding me back. The constant chatter in my head fed by depression and anxiety has clouded everything I do; I often can’t see through the thick fog hanging over me. While I am okay for a while, it’s not long before the chatter starts again, and I fall right back into that dark place, defeated and stuck before I’ve even moved. That’s no way to live.
This winter I’ve been caught in my own internal snowstorm, laden with icy comment daggers. Earlier I said I was quitting. Am I quitting writing? Absolutely not. Life without writing would be like hell. Am I quitting on myself? As much as my depression would like me to, I will not give up. But here’s what it does mean. It means that I am going to do things that make me feel worthwhile. And as I start to heal from all of this negative chatter and move forward, I will write about it and continue to write fiction stories. It’s time for me to step back get my priorities straight. I need to take care of myself or I fear I won’t be here to see what happens on the other side.
If you are struggling and want to give up, please don’t. Take a break. Do something you love. Give yourself permission to take the time to do these things, otherwise, you won’t be helping yourself at all. I said in another blog post, “My illness doesn’t define me.” Your illness doesn’t define you either. Stay strong. You can quit the things that make you miserable, but don’t give up on yourself. The world needs you.
About the Author
The weights kept piling up from 2001 until 2011. It started with depression. Depression gave way to fear and confusion. The abundance of failures caused a self-imposed isolation. Isolation led to addiction. Addiction led to insomnia. Insomnia led to mania and psychosis. Mania and psychosis led to frequent hospitalizations. Hospitalizations led to more and more medications. More medications led to agonizing side effects and deeper depression.
Now that it is all on paper I can finally see and understand why the Holidays have always been a hard time for me. When I think back to when I was a kid I had always loved the holidays. From the age of 9 I was the first person on the block with lights up. I would go on a long hike in the woods with a saw and burlap to cut down evergreen limbs so I could bring them back home and wire together a wreath in my garage. I would place a candle in every window and of course I would set up that old toy train set in the basement. You know, the one that worked all of about 3 times the whole month of December but amazingly it was always when you brought someone down to see it. I would spend the rest of the month down there trying out new track combinations, searching tirelessly through boxes of ornaments looking for that little tin container of liquid smoke so that I could really impress the family this year. I just wanted it to look real and just like my home town. I had a list of what I wanted to get everyone I knew before the first of December.
This is actually the first time I have sat down to ask myself. What happened? Why did I start hating the one time of year that I had felt completely free as a child? I am pretty sure it had a lot to do with the mass commercialization of everything. From toys to fashion everything took a turn in the late 1990’s. Toys and clothes were more expensive but were terrible quality. There was a lack of pride when it came to creating a product; and even less self-respect from the marketers that sold it. It was a time of glorifying numbers, shiny clothes, shiny cars, cheap music, and an overall loss of moral or value. Sure, I fell right into it when this all started. I was at the club with my new car and my 2 penny $100 shirt. But this faded after a few months and then I was not only mad at society. I was furious with myself. How could I get fooled? I do not need all of these extravagant things. They meant nothing. I knew I was miserable. However, I thought if I accumulated enough stuff I could essentially buy back my happiness. This was not the case at all. I would spend the next 10 years running away from everything that upset me rather than facing it head on. It was a slow torturous form of self-destruction.
All I could think of was when I had run off to Los Angeles in the winter of 2008 and I did not know a soul. I was on the beach on a breezy 40 degree day having a cigarette when a girl around my age came up to me and asked me for a light. We got to talking and when she heard that I was new in town and had nowhere to go for Christmas she immediately asked me to come and spend it with her family. I seriously almost cried on the spot. I could not remember the last time someone had reached out to me and offered me something, especially expecting nothing in return. I will never be able to explain how dark a time this was, but how emotional I got. The feeling will stick with me forever.
In 2012 I finally decided to do something about how I felt. There were people out there that had it much worse than me and I needed to start using this time of year to help someone else. I went online and looked up where there were Toys for Tots drop boxes, because let’s be honest, organizations like that are the real Santa Claus. I emailed and called the local food bank to see what foods they needed and where they were collecting. I made it my mission to give whatever I could within my means to try and make a difference in someone’s life that may have nothing. Someone that, without your gift or your food donation may not eat or receive anything while trying to keep warm with others they may not even know in a homeless shelter or hospital. All I can say is that I have been doing these things continuously since 2012 and every year has gotten better. My life feels like it has purpose. My relationships with friends and family have grown stronger. I feel better about myself and more in touch with reality. We need to break away from our attachment to all of this stuff that the TV keeps throwing at us. Just think about that thing you got last year that broke by New Years. Or what about the thing that you still have in the box? Please, give it up.
I hope that you have a great holiday season, and if you want a guaranteed method of improving your life, or everyone’s life for that matter, give a little bit to someone that needs it and you will start to feel the joy of the season with them. Peace & Love.
Joseph S. Fusaro
Welcome to The Frenzy! (thank you Black Friday and Cyber Monday and everything else).
I spent yesterday in the city nearest me. Wandering around the city by myself is one of my favourite things to do. Driving there I noticed how excited I was about this little adventure, this ritual that I've grown to value. As the taller buildings came into view, I could sense the buzz, the bustling crowd, the sounds, the sights. Was that a sparkling Christmas tree I spotted across the river? And on cue an old Christmas song comes on the radio. Sigh and Bliss! I just love the contagious, positive atmosphere around the holidays!
The new lights were just up, it was seasonably cold and crisp and the air had that tantalising scent of outdoor food stalls. Route planned, (extra) hot chocolate in hand, camera on shoulder, I got busy people-watching.
Well, sort of.
A few minutes in I noticed that my fellow humans were, well, swarming (versus 'buzzing'). Intent on buying loads of 'stuff', they were completely oblivious to my existence. Literally. I did not (and do not) enjoy being blindly bumped into - with surprising force in some cases - or shoved out of the way. After one particularly solid jostle I was reminded once again how lucky I am not to be small in stature or feeble in health.
As I looked around, I noticed the stress was etched, carved onto these faces. The deep frowns, the clenched jaws. And then I realized it: I was frowning too. I'd caught the stress bug (it's highly contagious, you know).
While I'd like to say I was a paragon of Zen, that would be a lie. However, I did manage to keep my irritation in check by grounding myself, and reminding myself that I didn't have to join in on the frenzy - I didn't have to give the stress "free rent" in my head and body.
How did I ground myself in the middle of a virtual tidal-wave of anxious frenzy? I used these techniques: I chose to refocus my attention back onto the lovely smells (oh, yum), slowed back to my own normal walking pace, and located feelings of compassion I had for these stressed shoppers who were banging into each other (AND me!).
It wasn't personal. They didn't mean it. They weren't even present. But I was, so I could choose my mood. Being present allows us to do that.
So I did. I chose my mood. And pretty quickly I was back to people watching, smiling and enjoying my hot chocolate.
The holiday season and Christmas is a terribly trying time for a lot of us. Grief is triggered at this time, maybe more than at any other. The holidays are bulging with childhood memories, and not all of them will be good. For some people they will bring painful, difficult memories.
It's not all toys and laughter, we know that.
We are all under pressure to provide, celebrate, give and be happy during the holidays. And while all of these things feel and are good, scheduled joy doesn't feel as great as spontaneous joy.
With all of the stress and pressure, remember that you (can) choose how you would like to feel, think and act.
Knowing that, please accept this letter from us to you - our Holiday 'Wish List' as it were:
Wishing you all more zen, and less frenzy this holiday season
Much love, peace and warmth
Sally & Tanya xoxo
It's been a while; I don't know how to feel about this or what I make about my absence from behind this pink laptop which is missing the letter p. I guess in a selfish manner it's been a good thing that I've not sat down and wrote about those feelings and emotions that haunted and controlled my mind for so long. In terms of the other people and the bigger picture it’s probably not been my kindest move therefore please accept my humble apologises, however I'm back and intend to try and help whoever and wherever I can.
So why the return? If you've followed my journey from the start of my dark days, which I like to refer to as my meltdown, you'll know how far I've came from where I was and how well I am doing or some day’s appear to be doing. If this is your first time reading my blogs you will be able to catch up on my journey from my wordpress account or my twitter account, I'm not going to lie you'd be better catching up on the walking dead or criminal minds box set so to save you a bit of reading I shall give you a little insight. I suffered or still suffer from a condition called PTSD. My world was filled with illogical and irrational thinking, fears, self doubt, depression, the need for safety and an abundance of self doubt and a lack of self worth. The world was a scary and horrible place for me, I cut myself off and slowly allowed the depression and anxieties to convince me life was going to be a like this forever, a constant battle, a cycle of anxious and depressive thoughts, eventually I sought help and thankfully met my amazing psychologist Laura.
Laura diagnosed the PTSD and then we began my treatment which consisted of Cognitive behavioural therapy sessions and me facing up to my fears and approaching head on the situations I was avoiding. Two and a half years later I'm here and I'm still doing well, I'm mentally stronger, I've not suffered a period of bad depression since the end of my treatment and I do not look back with regrets or look forward to the future with the same sense of apprehension as I did previous to my treatments. I do however have periods of anxiety, it’s nowhere near as often or as continuous as it was when I was at my worst but I'd say it's crippling when it takes a hold.
This is the reasoning behind this blog, a friend asked me to describe how my anxiety feels and what happens when it does get a hold of me and could I write a blog about it. I've had a couple of efforts previous to this one trying to write a blog solely about anxiety and failed. I think this is because it was always the depression that affected me the most, the depression was my greater enemy, the anxiety was fed from the depression or from the memories of the actual event that led to me suffering from PTSD, now I'm in a different place mentally and not suffering from the depression I am slowly learning and realising the affect that anxiety is having on me both mentally and physically.
So how would I describe my anxiety, it's hard, it's the most illogical thing you can imagine but also it's the most controlling thing you can imagine. I think because I underwent my treatment and learned skills how to cope with anxious thoughts, like asking myself the following, "how will this affect me in five years time?" "What is the worst that can happen?" "What are the chances of it actually happening?" I can recognise it is happening more than I could before I underwent my treatment but at times you still feel it taking control of your mind. An overwhelming feeling of dread, panic and fear, I feel my heart racing, I can feel my breathing speeding up, and I can't get the anxious or illogical voice to stop. It's so hard to explain. What makes it harder for me to grasp or comprehend now is that my fears are more illogical now than they were when I suffering from the PTSD. When I had the PTSD my fears were focused on being safe, avoiding pubs, being on the street at night, I should probably explain here that I got attacked outside a pub and it was at night, like I say it's all in my other blogs, so I can understand why I had those fears, now my fears are focused around my health and getting ill.
I'm not simply talking about catching a cold and it escalating to Man flu, I mean when I get Ill I imagine the worst case scenario. It's so illogical you wouldn't believe it. I've took 3 HIV tests this year even though I've not even put myself in a position where I'm at risk, unsurprisingly they were all clear. If I get a rash, I'm googling my symptoms to see what is up with me, it's never the most common illness I have either, it's always the worst case scenario. I know this is common and it's labeled as Health Anxiety so I'm slowly accepting it and not beating myself up about it but I've used this to highlight what I mean about anxiety, it's so illogical yet so powerful. Crippling is the best term to describe.
Sometimes my anxieties cripple me for a bit, I spend a week or so in a state of apprehension, I'm vigilant, agitated, and grumpy. I recognise it though and try to deal with it. I've found friends I can talk to about it and I do. I don't get it that often now but when I do it's horrendous however I know it's a temporary setback. I focus my thoughts and look back to where I was and where I am now. I'm nearly half way through an undergraduate psychology degree, I've got a job supporting adults with learning difficulties and disabilities, I do my voluntary role with victim support where I help support victims of crimes, I can see the difference I make to peoples life's. I'm able to spend time with my mates and go places I could only dream of when I was at my worst and all of this pulls me through.
I’ve had issues with Anxiety and Mental Health disorders for as long as I can remember. When I was aged 8 I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (something I’ll write about in the future), which I believe stemmed from a severe phobia of being sick (emetophobia). My OCD has manifested itself in all sorts of different ways (it’s not all about cleaning and washing your hands, you know!), especially over the last 2 years.
Today, what I’d like to write about is my experience with Generalised Anxiety Disorder. A condition I was diagnosed as suffering from; back in January 2015.
Throughout the second half of this year, I’ve been upfront and honest about my mental health issues. I’ve previously written about how I suffered from Post Natal Depression & Anxiety following the birth of my son in 2013. I’d like to continue to be open and honest about how my mental health affects my day to day life. In many ways it’s cathartic to write about but also I’m very much of the opinion, the more we talk about mental health, the more we can break down the stigma that still seems to be ever present even in this day and age.
So, Generalised Anxiety Disorder….what is it?
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) can be defined as a disorder in which the sufferer feels in a constant state of high anxiety and is often known as ‘chronic worrying’ or a ‘free floating’ anxiety condition. (credit: Anxiety UK)
As I mentioned, I’ve always suffered from varying degrees of anxiety throughout my life. I’ve ALWAYS been a worrier, despite my confident exterior, on the inside there has always been a battle of wills going on. Desperately trying not to let my worries overcome me, whilst also in some strange way, ensuring I pay enough attention to the worries circling my mind so that I don’t ‘get caught out’.
What do I mean by that? Let’s dissect the last sentence a little.
If I didn’t have something to worry about, to fret over, to even obsess over (enter the OCD), I would worry about that. I would almost worry that if I was feeling good and worry free, that something would come along and bite me on the backside when I least expected it.
I would feel like I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t live in the here and the now, for fear of what might be lurking round the corner.
So, what would I worry about? What was so frightening that it was having this effect on me?
Anything. Absolutely anything is the answer to that question. It could be something so small and minor as worrying that I might get a cold and have to cancel a night out I had arranged (this was more pre-Motherhood). I would literally be panic stricken that I might develop a minor illness that would render me unable to stick to plans I had made. Looking back, it sounds ridiculous, surely it would be seen as one of those things. I’d got a cold, it’s an inconvenience but I’ll just rearrange the night out and ride the minor irritation out until I’m better. But no, I couldn’t do that. I would begin to catastrophize, if I got a cold, I wouldn’t be able to go to work perhaps; therefore I might get the sack. I wouldn’t be able to go on my night out; my friends might fall out with me.
This is just one example of a worry.
Another example would be the irrepressible fear that I had said something offensive to someone.
The mind is an incredibly powerful thing, this is something I have learnt especially over the last year or 2. It is capable of pretty much anything.
So, imagine I’m on a night out, the drinks are flowing, I’m having a great time. Life is good. I wake up the next morning, perhaps with a hangover and suddenly I’m struck with fear. I’m talking overwhelming, sweaty palm, dry mouth fear. I’m worried I said something to a friend/acquaintance that I shouldn’t have. Cue a cycle of worrying that is very difficult to break.
I’ve said it, I’ve definitely said something to someone (even if deep down I’m sure I haven’t). They’re going to hate me, that person will never speak to me again. Heck, they’re going to tell everyone they know what I’ve said and no one will ever speak to me again. I’m going to be hated, ostracised, this is going to be the worst thing ever.
This is what is going round in my head, and when I say it’s a cycle that is near on impossible to break, I mean it. I can think of nothing else, and if for a second I do forget what I’m worrying about, I soon remember and the fear becomes all the more overwhelming once again.
This is the cycle I used to find myself in every single day. The 2 examples above are just 2 examples of many different scenarios I have found myself in on a regular basis.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder is scary. It can make your fears and your worries seem real. At its worst, it has left me feeling irritable, tense and exhausted. Exhausted from the incessant worrying, exhausted from the constant ‘what if’s?’ circling my brain.
What if I get food poisoning from this plate of food? What if I don’t make this bottle up properly and make my baby poorly? What if I’ve upset someone and they will never talk to me again?
I simply did not have the tools nor the strength to get a hold of this irrational worrying. This in part, is what led to me reaching my lowest point at the very beginning of this year.
I was at my lowest ebb.
Now, things are different. Yeah, I still worry, no amount of medication, therapy or counselling will change that. However, it doesn’t overwhelm me like it used to. I’ve taught myself to gain perspective, to ride the worries out. I think to myself ‘what is the worst that can happen?’ or ‘will you still be worrying about this, this time next week?’.
Nowadays, I take each hour as it comes, I don’t fret so much about the future, or worry about what I did or didn’t do in my past. I’ve learnt to use the rational side of my brain more and ignore the irrational thoughts and worries.
Some useful resources if you feel you would like to learn more about Anxiety.
Connect with Rachel
Rachel's Blog: http://www.ourrachblogs.com
This post is motivated by the hundreds of anxiety blogs I have read over the past couple of years. I've read stories of great success, and stories that are so powerfully sad that I wanted to reach through the computer screen to give that person a hug. I’ve read stories about how therapy is a joke. I’ve seen countless blogs talking about the never-ending balancing act of taking medications for anxiety. The most depressing blogs focus on the fact that anxiety is a tremendous pain that will never go away. It’s depressing because that mentality is so incredibly untrue.
I’ve spent the good part of a decade searching for anything that would help with my anxiety. I would place a heating pad on my chest because I thought it would help me breathe with greater ease. I would try to not sit for long periods of time because I thought I would develop a blood clot. I started drinking glass after glass of green tea, and I would watch my sodium intake. The Internet threw so many ideas into my head, so I tried them all. Quick note, if you are the type of person who looks up their symptoms online you need to stop. There is nothing but harm that can come from having a headache and then reading about medical symptoms that could make you believe that a headache is actually a brain tumor. I’ve looked up every sensation that my anxiety delivered, and I never felt at ease after those countless hours of meaningless research.
For the past ten years, I've had anxiety. It has been called everything from panic attack disorder to generalized anxiety disorder. You can call it anything you’d like, but it doesn’t make a difference. All of those names for anxiety all boil down to the fact that I overreacted constantly to an emotion that all humans possess. I would take the most mundane thought and drag it out until I found myself shaking and hyperventilating. I’m sure many of you can relate to this. We can go insane from just about anything.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Just because we have a greater sensitivity to anxiety does not mean it has to take over our lives. Without anxiety, we would drift through the world without concern for our own wellbeing. Anxiety is something I’m happy to have in my life because it tells me when I’m being an idiot, or when I’m doing something wrong.
Here's the truth. Fighting your anxiety only intensifies the feelings. Constantly trying to push your anxiety away is a recipe for disaster. How can you beat something that has no chance of ever going away? Why fight scary feelings and sensations that YOU are responsible for creating? I know it seems like anxiety comes out of nowhere, but it doesn’t. A quick thought will pop into our heads, and we cannot just take it for a simple thought. We have to chase it down, intensify the fear, and then top it off with a panic attack.
I am not a mental health professional, not even close. I cannot tell anyone to stop doing what they are doing for their anxiety. All I ask is that you take a good look at what you’ve been doing for your anxiety, and then ask yourself if your efforts have been worth it. Has breathing into a paper bag taken away your fear of not being able to breathe? Does taking medication give you the real freedom you have been searching for? Does keeping a journal of your experiences with anxiety make the things you have jotted down any more bearable? Is the purpose of your efforts to gain temporary relief or do you long for a permanent solution?
Let the anxiety in. I know that sounds counterintuitive and scary, but giving the anxiety the attention it asks for only throws fuel on the fire. Let those scary thoughts and feelings swim around for a while. Take the fear away from the sensations, and the panic will slowly begin to disappear. Be prepared for a battle because anxiety has had the upper hand for a long time, and it is not prepared to go away without fighting back. Make the choice to do something way outside of your comfort zone, and your anxiety will try every trick in the book to scare you, but don’t let it. Stop trying to eliminate the inevitable. The anxiety will happen, and happen often, but you don’t have to be afraid of it anymore.
My name is Josh, and I run an anxiety blog over at http://weareallscared.com
My bio is simple. I am married, I have two dogs, and I'm currently rebuilding my house. My life, for the past decade, has been full of anxiety. I hated anxiety for the first few years, but then I realized how much good anxiety has done for me. I love talking with people about their anxiety cures. We all have scary symptoms, so my goal is working with other people who are looking for answers instead of only worrying about their symptoms.
Connect With Josh
Twitter - @JoshHasAnxiety
Facebook - www.facebook.com/weareallscared
Website - http://weareallscared.com
Disqus - https://disqus.com/by/weareallscared/discussions/
My name is Joseph Fusaro. I am 32 years old. I was first diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and ADHD when I was a senior in high school, although I am pretty sure I had been suffering undiagnosed since I was around 6 or 7 years old. I had a problem with attention and retaining information in school. Looking back I think I did not care much about schoolwork because it did not help with my emotional stress. I have also suffered with insomnia since I was in grade school and as any health professional with attest sleep may be the most important factor in any health issue. Somehow I was always able to pull off A’s and B’s in school and thought things would just work themselves out and get better in college. This was not the case at all. I started college in September 2001 and things got off to a bad start. I was already having a tough time adjusting to college when September 11th happened. The days just got real heavy real fast. I was going home on the weekends to see a Psychiatrist and he had me on a couple different controlled substances that seemed to work at first but then I started getting dependent on them. I got into the routine of taking uppers in the morning and downers at night which really only works if you can keep the dosages to a minimum, and I could not. It was never really that I wanted to get high, it was just that after a few weeks they wouldn’t work the same as they originally did. One year of college was too much for me and I decided to leave.
Over the next several years I began to notice a trend. I would work somewhere for a year or 2 then I would get bored decide to try college again. Then I would take the little money I had saved, take out loans and attempt college again. I do not want to blame any of my decisions on bipolar or mania. I loved every job I had and every school I went to, but I would quickly lose focus once that new and fun feeling went away. I could not fulfill myself. The beautiful landscapes and amazing people I met were never enough. I was always looking for happiness in the form of medication. I kept trying to fix my emotional and psychological problems by making physical changes in my life. I have learned that doing this is like building a house without a foundation. All is well until the first flood.
I got sick of going back and forth between jobs and college. Neither of them were filling the void for love and understanding I had developed. I started taking more and more of my prescription medicines. It was mostly Amphetamines and Benzodiazepines. I was not getting any sleep. I was losing family and friends fast. I lost relationships. I lost my job. I lost my car. I lost my home. Worst of all; I lost hope, faith, and the will to live. I temporarily moved back home with my family in the spring of 2008 and they called the local police and had me hospitalized. I remember waking up a couple days into my hospitalization and no one was by my side, except a personal guard whose job was to watch me. Apparently I went on a psychotic rant when I was admitted. This scared me to death. I didn’t have anyone to call. I had used up all of my relationships. Everyone I had known wanted me to get help, but didn’t want to be there for me throughout it. I shouldn’t say that; my mother and father were there. Although, I could tell that was the 30 minutes every couple of days that they were dreading would come. At this time the Doctors at the hospital took me off all of the controlled substances and started me on anti-psychotics. My body and brain were in shock. I spent the next couple of months hallucinating and reliving my childhood in horrible ways that it did not really occur. My muscles were tight and in spasm. I would laugh for hours, cry for hours, or just stare at a wall in disbelief for hours. I overdosed on pills a couple times but always woke up. I would sweat when I was cold and shake when I was hot.
Finally at the end of the summer of 2008 I could not take it anymore. I did not understand how when they took me off of my old medicines and put me on anti-psychotics I had gotten more psychotic and more suicidal. It did not make any sense. I decided I was going to run away. I know it sounds crazy to say I was going to run away and I was 25 years old, but when my family, friends, doctors, and the local police all know that you are supposed to be detoxing at your mothers’ house it feels like running away. I went to Venice Beach Los Angeles and quickly got a prescription for Adderall, Xanax, and marijuana. I figured if I had to take meds I may as well take the ones that made me feel better. Even if better meant moments of extreme mania and depression, at least I would not be in severe physical pain from withdrawal and the side effects of the anti-psychotics.
There was a common misconception by people that I moved to LA to write, record music, act, or do any of the preconceived Los Angeles notions but the truth is that Los Angeles was the furthest place on the map from New York so I chose it. Yes I did write while I was there but I have been writing since I was 14 years old. I spent most of my days and nights (about 14 hours a day) working at a Hostel to barely make enough money to pay back my boss with my paycheck for the 12 foot by 12 foot room he rented me that I shared with 2 or 3 other people. I spent most of my time cleaning bathrooms and shaking bedbugs out of mattresses. After a year of this I could not take it anymore. Once again the lack of sleep caught up with me. I had to give up. I had to give up again. I lived on the street for a couple weeks. I would just walk day and night. I felt that if I stopped police would either bring me to a shelter or a mental hospital and I was scared to death to go to either. I finally ran out of steam. My feet were 2 big blisters that anchored me to the earth. I thought my head would explode from the pain with each step I took. I had been eating off the dollar menu from fast food restaurants and I was now tapped out searching my backpack for change. I had thrown my cell phone into the ocean months earlier and there was only 1 phone number that I could remember. It was home.
In 2010 I decided to go back to New York. I was tired. I was physically and mentally beat up. I had nothing. This is what people must have meant when they say “rock bottom.” There was no way anything bad could happen to me because I even enjoyed bad news because at least I would feel for a short moment. Sometimes people with depression think that that is the worst feeling. I thought that too until I couldn’t feel anything at all. I was numb. I have never felt worse than numb. I am not going to say it was smooth sailing after this. I was hospitalized at least another 5 times that I can remember. I went through many doctors and several medication combinations. For some strange reason or by the grace of some force that is stronger than me I found a great Doctor in 2013. He was the first Doctor that I could tell had faith in me. He encouraged me to tell my family and friends how I truly feel and to try and repair my relationships. He taught me breathing exercises and self-compassion. He taught me about eating healthy and getting sufficient rest. He not only prescribed me medication but he made me believe in me, which is something I wish a Doctor would have taught that 6 year old kid with depression.
As of 2014 I can feel the change of seasons again. Holidays feel like special days again. I have friends and family I can call if I am having a bad, or even a good day. Now that I am focused on the right things I am finding that I attract more of the right things, the right people, the right lessons. I can honestly say for the first time since I was a kid that I am happy. Every once in a while I still feel a little behind the game when all of my friends are getting married and having children, but I know that I have been so patient for so long that if I keep the right attitude good things will happen. I now know that I cannot search tirelessly for patience, peace, or love to add to my life until I already have it. I just take a deep breath, smile, and think, yes I am happy, but I am not done yet. I may have lost everything but I did gain one thing. I have a constant desire to spread a positive message that there is hope for those with mental illness. There is no reason to feel ashamed and you are not alone. This is all I have and I am making it my responsibility to shine a light on mental health.
Joseph S. Fusaro
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