You Have to Have Tools

Looking back through the years, you can’t be diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and expect the garden to bloom all the time naturally.

Looking back through the years, you can’t be diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and expect the garden to bloom all the time naturally.

My illness grew out of the seeds of my childhood.

I’ve done the work to till the field, but as an adult, there are rocks and stones, you know residuals. You can’t be diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and expect the garden to bloom all the time naturally.

At this point in my life, I don’t hear voices or see things. What I do have is a mind that can become numb. After the cold storm, there is nothing left but desolation. It takes time for green life to flower come spring, but slowly it does emerge.

The seeds planted are hardy perennials passed down through the years. From my great-grandfather who suffered a mental breakdown and received ECT in the ’50s to me, we all got a chance to flower and bloom in our way. These seeds can survive the coldest climates, which means they’re strong and stubborn.

You Have to Have the Right Tools

Anyone in recovery will tell you that it takes work, lots of hard work.

The stress of daily life can wear you down, and if you struggle with mental illness or addiction, you have to have a contingency plan in place to face dark days. You have to have tools.

I have to be healthy for my children, that’s what I keep telling myself. Yes, I will show them my softer side. They will see the blooming garden, but they will never see the dying in autumn; that can never happen. Holding myself to such high standards can be exhausting, but it’s worth it.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to make friends with my illness. Instead of seeing it as an invasive weed to be eradicated, it now appears more like a dandelion – it has a purpose. Since it has a purpose, I don’t try to get rid of it, and that in and of itself is a huge relief. Plus, dandelion makes excellent tea!

The Tools

When I was younger and having a bad day, I often wanted to stay home and rest, but I didn’t have the support systems in place for that to happen. As an adult, I can take that time to nourish the garden of my mind. This time alone consists of meditating, going for runs, or taking naps.

Another essential tool was learning to deal with stress without alcohol or drugs. In my youth, the first sign of any stress sent me on a bender getting blackout drunk and high. Today I have to credit my meditation practice for helping me use mindfulness instead of mindlessness to handle stress.

Diet too is so important. If I feed the soil harmful nutrients, the soil can’t produce. But, if I keep an eye on the pH balance of the earth, the garden thrives. Diet is something so simple yet has a powerful impact. Did you know that the gut produces 90% of our serotonin?

What Tools Are You Using?

I’d love to hear from you. What does recovery look like to you? How has it changed over the years? Are you struggling to find healing? What tools are you using? Leave your comments below!


A version of this post was previously published on CharlesMinguez and is republished here with permission from the author.

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