Taking care of one’s health is not something that’s on a young person’s mind. It’s not an issue of youth. It’s an issue of maturity. My youth was spent wholeheartedly undermining my own health, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it. My golden years are being spent pursuing my illusive health, that I once lost in the twinkling of an eye. When that was, exactly, I’m not certain. I know it was something I took for granted all the time I was young, until I had a major shift in my mental health at the age of twenty. I always believed I’d get along just fine, until I found out my mind was not well, when I was playing around with recreational medicine in university.
At that time, I was really clueless about how to deal with the problem. I thought the problem was not being able to get enough money to afford my habit. What I found out eventually was that I needed to overcome all the habits altogether. Once I conquered that, the financial issue has taken care of itself.
It took me the remainder of my youth to figure out what it would take for me to help myself – and get God’s help – to rebuild my own health. I thought it was the doctor’s job. I kept acting out when I was young, trying to get better medical care. I was clueless about the entire process of becoming healthy until I was well out of my thirties, going into double-digit sobriety.
It took me that long to find my way out of the woods.
When you’re young, you’ve usually got all the health and strength in the world, or at least I always thought I did. I was ten feet tall and bullet proof, regardless of whatever happened. Even though I was somewhat accident prone as a kid, I still believed I could not be significantly hurt when I was young. I was invincible. Whenever I would hurt myself back then, it was only some passing thing that made a good story to tell everybody, as far as I was concerned. I was lying to myself.
It took a lot in those days, to alarm me about my own health.
I found out I wasn’t a good fighter, so I swore off trying to be. That was pretty well taken care of by the time I was fifteen. But that was nothing but common sense.
Nothing was ever anything serious, health-wise, until I lost my mind.
Taking a chance on getting hurt was nothing to be avoided at all costs, like it is now, with the issue of keeping myself from falling down, since I broke my hip. The pain I had when I broke my hip was the worst pain I’ve ever had to deal with in my lifetime. I don’t want to get anywhere near that kind of trouble ever again. I’m always mindful of my footing and my balance now. Others are sometimes impatient with me when I do things slowly, but the fact of the matter is that I have slowed my pace down in order to be safer when I do things.
My thinking was so confused when I was in my twenties, I had people who were close to me, who cared about me very much, asking me in so many words why it was I was trying to destroy myself. I had no clue how to answer that question until I had many years of sobriety under my belt.
I was trying to destroy myself because I had been an abused child, and I didn’t know it, because I had used drugs and alcohol to destroy my memory, so I didn’t have to think about my childhood abuse. I thought it was shameful the way I had submitted to being abused when I was little. I secretly believed I was the worst monster in the world, by the time I got home from the state hospital the first time. My brother was always telling me what a horrible person I was after I’d returned from the state hospital. Like an idiot, I believed him. My illness fed on his illness, until I found myself in a self-destruct mode that took a lifetime to remedy.
I was such a happy-go-lucky kid when I was in high school. That I was always going to be happy and healthy was something I always took for granted, until I had my breakdown in university, and then it took me better than a dozen years to figure out how to help myself regain control of my own health. What I found out was that I was out of control of my own concepts of who I am as an individual. Until I could become an individual, and be someone different from everyone else, I was always taking on other people’s problems. I was always taking on other people’s opinions about me, instead of being confident in my own opinions of myself.
I kept thinking there must be something someone else could do to help me with the issues I had with my mind. There were things I was thinking that I didn’t want anyone else to know about. I ended up telling everyone about those things, and didn’t even realize I was doing it. What I found out in the long run was that I had to learn how to help myself with my own thoughts. No one else can really help you with the way you think, beyond getting effectively medicated by a doctor. What a person has to do after their medication is adjusted, after the brain chemistry is straightened out by the doctor, one needs to turn to a counselor and a friend or two, and work out the belief system of the illness, by looking at the things you think.
The only kind of thought that can destroy you is the thought you refuse to tell another person. The fact that I began to tell everyone about my abuse, when I had the selective amnesia so strong in my thinking, was that I was helping myself deal with the abuse as time went by.
The other thing is to look at your faith, and find God’s truth in the whole business. That comes through Bible study and prayer, through practicing the Steps, working out what you believe. I mean, they were my thoughts. No one else was going to be able to stop me from thinking them.