When it comes to the recovery of a patient, no matter how small an improvement is, there is still a level of improvement that is taking place. Something as subtle as the blink of an eye can be a monumental milestone because in that split second you are witnessing a speck of light in a world that had the possibility of remaining in complete darkness.
I loved getting drunk because the high allowed me to forget about everything else pressing or shameful in my life. I don't have that problem today. It is refreshing to have nothing to hide from in my life. I'm proud of where I am and who I am, because I put a hell of a lot of work into becoming that person.
The path forward for returning veterans can be bolstered by treatment, therapy, and medication; but is also too often marked by addiction and suicide. Ultimately, Brandon would find his footing in the same place that his relentless sense of adventure took him as a boy growing up outside Cleveland - the outdoors.
If you are struggling with an addiction and considering giving it up, you will likely have to deal with some ambivalence. With help, willingness and positive changes, you can learn to feel your emotions fully until they pass, retrain your brain till it's filled with kinder thoughts, and fill some of the spaces that addiction attempts to temporarily fill. You can challenge the powerful voice of addiction until your ambivalence turns into clarity, conviction and compassion.
Mental illness often interferes with a person's easy and spontaneous participation in a social unit. A therapeutic community heals hurts and teaches new social skills. It takes a community to help a patient. Virgil Stucker has been living with and for the severely mentally ill all his adult life. Perhaps better than anyone, he can tell us what works.
Let's keep talking about behavioral health for everyone. But let's stop talking about recovery for serious mental illness and start celebrating people whose brain disorders cause them to live with health challenges comparable to those experienced by cancer patients. The word we need, in the face of so much loss, is hope. Mental illness is not a choice. But hope is. Even in the face of tragedy, today I choose hope.