The Importance of Mental Health – Ben’s Story
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of good health? Most people believe good health entails physical elements, like eating healthy, exercising, getting sufficient sleep, and taking care of your body. However, mental health may be more important than all of those listed above. I’ve found that the key to a successful happy life is through strong mental health. Without it, I can’t be physically healthy.
I am not minimizing the importance of physical health, I am just voicing how important it is to stay mentally and emotionally fit. Growing up I was a very active and healthy person. I played just about every sport that was offered, lifted weights and even ate a decently healthy diet. My self-esteem and emotional needs were often met, until I started using drugs.
My curious mind led me to drinking and using at a young age. The more I drank or got high, the worse my mental health became. I soon relied on substances just to keep me numb. The worse my drug problem, the worse my physical health was. There was a direct correlation between my mental health and physical health. For example, if I only had $20 and I had to choose between getting high or eating dinner that night, the choice was easy. I picked getting high every time. I neglected to play sports, and working out was out of the question. Every waking moment I dedicated to getting high and nothing else.
In college, I officially lost my mind. I spent countless days awake and high on speed. People use the phrase “I’m losing my mind” casually, but I actually did. Due to an overdose of amphetamines (Adderall) and a lack of sleep for days, I put myself in drug induced psychosis. Drug induced psychosis is simply a psychotic episode due to drug use. In my case, severe auditory and visual hallucinations. Needless to say, I ended up in the local hospitals psychiatric ward. When I checked into rehab I was 50 lbs underweight, my liver enzymes were all out of whack. I was diagnosed having a drug induced psychosis, but however you want to put it, I consider it to be insane.
I spent eight days institutionalized then released, only to go to long term rehab. I slowly but surely got my mind back. However, it did take time. I damaged my brain so severely that my memory was foggy, I saw trails behind moving objects and I had voices in my head for around six months. There was fear that I was never going to be normal again.
That fear alone kept me from using substances. I knew substances would pause my recovery, and increase my chances of getting my mind back. I started praying and meditating every day. I then began taking care of body (working out, playing sports and running.) It wasn’t long until my brain was repaired.
Today, at almost seven years of sobriety, it is hard to recall what it was like. My drug use phase will never be forgotten because I need to realize how good my life is today. Relapse is not an option. The most important aspect to my well-being is staying emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically fit. The only way I can accomplish this goal is by staying sober and keeping active.
Mental health is more important to me than anything. I know that without a healthy strong mind, I am nothing.