The best way to deal with the mentally ill

I know a lot of amazing people and I wear contact lens.

Those two things may seem unrelated. The problem with contacts is that they sting when you cry. Three people I greatly admire have brought tears to my eyes today and it’s only 11am.

I hope you have people like that in your life. I hope you’re regularly moved and inspired.

“When you’ve never been moved, it’s really hard to move on.” – Eyedeas & Abilities

The common denominator of my people is enormous amounts of resilience. You know the expression, “get knocked down seven times, get up eight?” My people laugh at the idea of 7.

70 X 7

I’m marveling at the unintentional biblical reference above. (70 X 7 is the number of times a Christian is to forgive a person according to the bible). So maybe we didn’t forgive, but we sure as hell got back up and kept going. At our best, we connect with kindred spirits and pull each other up. That’s the #1 reason I’m so grateful for the people in my life.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In an ongoing effort to reduce stigma, I offer myself as an example. I have lived with low level depression and Attention Deficit Disorder my entire life. Without amazing people in my life, everything feels empty, lonely, and vaguely but profoundly, disappointing.

I am a person who lives with mental illness.

The more I do things that really matter (primarily, being of service to people like me) and the more I surround myself with people genuine enough to bare their scars, the better I feel. Most days, I feel pretty great. Some days I get in my own way and my mind goes to dark places. I don’t stay there long. (it used to be months at a time – I’m down to about ten minutes) I reach out.

The more I laugh at myself and the absurdities of life, the better I feel. I’m a highly trained mental health therapist who discarded the text books in favor of Facebook memes. “I love when people who have been through hell return, carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.”

Yes. That. All day, every day. Nothing else works anyway. So, here’s the latest meme to grab my soul and shake it. It’s a prescription for people who are ill like me and I can’t say it loudly or often enough:

“My door is always open. My home is safe. Coffee could be on in minutes and the kitchen table is a place of peace and non-judgment. Anyone who needs to chat is welcome anytime. No one should have to suffer in silence. I have great listening ears, food in the fridge, coffee and liquor in the cupboard. At least one friend please copy and repost (not share). We are trying to demonstrate that someone is always listening & you are loved.”

When I live and love like that, “All I do is win, win, win, no matter what” – DJ Kahled

#mentalhealthawarenessmonth #mentalhealthmonth #erasethestigma #neveralone

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.