On September 3, 2014, I was faced with the unexpected – survival. Now I faced the daunting task of … living.
And that’s when the benefit of the silence I experienced while in the emergency room of Stevenson Memorial Hospital made itself known.
That silence made it clear that I couldn’t recover my mental balance alone. All of the coping skills that I’d used thus far in life had failed. I needed to learn new skills, do things differently, or I’d be back where I was on September 2, 2014, alone and drifting into oblivion. I needed to change.
That realization led to my first recovery success. I spoke to the hospital counselor, G. G., and admitted that I couldn’t be alone. Being alone would lead to death and I wanted to heal. I wanted to survive.
A second success quickly followed. I spoke to my parents and made the same admission. I asked if they would give me a safe space, and time, to heal. To my surprise and good fortune, they opened their home to me and gave me that safety and that time. The healing began.
September 4, 2014, opened another door to recovery. I met with G. G. once again and asked if he could direct me to resources closer to my parents home. G. G.’s answer led to my next successes. He gave me the name of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and a phone number for the branch nearest to my parents. He also introduced me to a new word – mindfulness – and taught me a mindful breathing exercise that I use to this day.
The phone number G. G. provided turned out to be incorrect (it was a fax number) but I didn’t allow that to stop me. I had the name of the agency, knew the city where it was located and knew it had a website. So I Googled. found the correct telephone number and called the CMHA on September 5.
The young woman I spoke to was compassionate. But that initial call was disturbing. The CMHA had invested its resources in the large urban area that was the ore of its geographic jurisdiction. The rural area was comparatively ignored. Because of this I wouldn’t be able to see anyone for at least 4 to 6 weeks. But I stuck to my guns, telling the young lady I spoke with that I couldn’t wait that long. I told her that I’d travel to wherever I needed to be to see someone. A meeting was quickly arranged for a few days later.
During these intervening days, I researched. I visited the website, depressionhurts.ca, hosted by the Government of Canada and surfed to numerous other sites. I wanted to try to determine what was wrong with me and what could be done to help. I wanted to be, needed to be, proactive. Movement kept The Black at bay, and it needed to be kept at bay until I had that meeting with the CMHA.
As I waited, I also visited the website for Chapters to investigate this idea of mindfulness. I found a book, the Mindful Way Through Depression, that looked interesting. So I bought the book and once I received it I made immediate use of the included meditations to help distract me.
Finally I met with a representative of the CMHA and had my intake interview. I was treated with a level of compassion and kindness that had been alien to me for a very long time. That intake worker, K. S., treated me as being worthy of help. And that idea took root and a sense of self-worth, very fragile at first, grew.
And I continued to heal.
These successes may seem trivial. But for someone who was unable to leave his apartment for food, for someone who had not been compassionate with himself, for someone who had no sense of self-worth, they were HUGE. These successes ARE HUGE, and they jump-started the recovery that continues to this day.
On September 3, 2015, I was faced with the unexpected and the unknown. To my credit, I seized the opportunity that was present and found a way to allow myself to heal. And that was the right thing to do because I AM WORTHY.