While you’re struggling with mental illness, it seems like it would be easier to just give up and not fight. It’s hard to face another day, let alone think of a future. You can’t even see the light above the hole. You just want to lie in bed and pretend the world does not exist. When you’re fighting for recovery and everything goes wrong, it would be simpler to quit. The question you must ask yourself is, “Are you a quitter or a fighter?”
When I hit rock bottom my senior year of school after my cousin died, I felt like I couldn’t face another day, but I forced myself out of bed. I thought frequently of just lying in bed staring up at the ceiling and letting life pass me by. When I went off to college, the depression increased. I started thinking about suicide. I just wanted the pain to end. I even planned my death, but something in me wouldn’t allow me to complete my plan. I took a bunch of pills, but only enough to make me very sick. I wanted to give in, but something deep within me wouldn’t give up.
Years later when I relapsed into my depression and my ex-boyfriend kicked me out, I felt like quitting. I took time off from work and went into a mental health hospital. In the hospital I became determined to get out. I studied the Bible, I participated in therapy sessions, and I journaled every day. I wasn’t going to let my illness keep me down. In a week I was released from the hospital, but I still had a long road ahead of me. I asked myself, “Do I want to continue to fight or quit?” I’m no quitter.
The therapist I was seeing at the time decided to start filing for Social Security Disability for me. She told me, “I think SSD is best for you. You’re not strong enough to work. I think returning to work would enhance your illness.”
I looked at the paperwork and stated, “I want to work. I don’t want to quit and I don’t want to go on SSD. I refuse to let go of my job.” She went on explaining to me how I wasn’t able to work and I had to accept that. She strongly encouraged I file the paperwork, but I couldn’t allow my illness to take my job from me. I told her, “I’m not a quitter.”
When I started going to group therapy after I was released from the hospital, the administrator asked me how I would pay if I was not working. I told her I was only on leave and I was going to return to work when I was better. She asked me, “What if you don’t get better and you can’t work?” I informed her one way or another I was returning to work. Despite the administrator’s and therapist’s lack of faith in me, I returned to work and have worked at the same job for 22 years. Why did I go back? Because I refused to give up.
Once I decided I wanted to climb out of my hole and stand in the light of recovery, I used all the strength in me to pull myself up. I had a lot of challenges standing in my way. I wasn’t quite over the abuse from my ex-boyfriend, I felt lonely, I fell into bouts of deep depression, and I had to undo years of negative thinking and behavior. It would have been easy to hide and let my illness overtake me, but I wanted to live some kind of a healthy life. I wanted to find happiness. So I went to therapy, took my medication, and worked hard to reach for the light.
Take this time and ask yourself, “Am I a fighter or a quitter?” Look within to find the strength to stand up to your illness. Don’t let your illness win. You are the winner. You can take control of it and live a good life. It’s a daily struggle, but you can do it. Be a fighter not a quitter.
Why did I fight? I fought because I’m not a quitter. I will not let my illness keep me from working or taking control of my life. I know there is no cure for my illness, but I will not quit. Because I will continue to fight and never give up, I will stand tall within the light.