Welcome to the Hope Shot where I will explore mental health and addiction recovery from the perspective of the eight dimensions of wellness - Mental, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual, Social, Vocational, Occupational and Financial. It is my personal belief that every person has an incredible potential to grow in each of these areas. The key is understanding how to tap into it and realize one's goals.
One out of five
(or one out of four, depending on the source) individuals live with a
diagnosable mental illness in any given year. The population of the U.S. in
2017 was 325 million people. So that means that 65 million people are dealing
with some kind of mental health disorder right now. Whether it be more common
disorders like anxiety or depression, or more serious conditions like
schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (which yours truly lives with), the numbers
are staggering. Add to this the number of people dealing with addiction and
co-occurring disorders, this figure grows. What it all boils down to is that
many of us will deal with some kind of mental health challenge in our lifetime.
A couple of
weeks ago was the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King had a
prophetic vision of a day when all people would be able to live together in
peace. I too have a dream: a day when people no longer have to suffer from
experience as a person with lived experience as well as working in the field of
addiction, mental health, and advocacy, I have heard countless stories of
struggle and triumph over conditions that at times seem to be insurmountable.
Many times its from family members who are confused, frustrated, and even angry
about their loved ones circumstance.
One thing I say
is that having a mental health condition is not the person’s fault. Would you expect
a person to ask to have a heart attack or live with cancer? I think not. Why
should mental illness be any different?
There’s a song
by the group R.E.M. called “Everybody Hurts.” There are lyrics in the piece
that speak of the struggle go through:
“When your day is long And the night The night is yours alone When you're sure you've had enough Of this life Well hang on Don't let yourself go 'Cause everybody cries And everybody hurts sometimes”
These words speak to the core
of what many people deal with, whether it be individuals themselves living with
mental health conditions or their loved ones. Mental illness does not
discriminate and can leave relationships wrecked in its wake. The thing that
makes it so difficult is that often people lack information on resources as
well as having to face the stigma and shame associated with mental illness. I have
a dream that one day people will no longer suffer in the dark abyss of mental
One simple solution is
empathy, the unspoken language of unconditional regard and understanding. If people
were able to demonstrate more empathy then maybe, just maybe, those who are
affected by mental disorders could get the support that is necessary to embark
on the road to recovery.
Yes, I have a dream but this
is one that can become a reality. “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the
only one.” (John Lennon)