Be Authentic

Name: James Christensen
Pronouns: He/Him

I have been in a high stress career for almost 35 years, had family dealing with life and death issues for the last several years and was pushed over the edge by an online bully.  I have an incredibly supportive spouse, but when depression and anxiety takes over, reason leaves the building.  I stuffed as much as I could for as long as I could and after 3 days of no sleep experienced a nervous breakdown that required a hospital stay for 6 nights followed by PHP (partial hospitalization) and then IOP (intensive outpatient).

My spouse literally pulled me out of the death spiral at the last minute.  She does not want to take credit for the save but was the person that got me into treatment.  After finally allowing myself some compassion and grace, I will admit I have and will continue working hard to be mindful and present every day.  I remember when I was hospitalized, my psychiatrist said I would look back on this event as a positive.  At the time, that was really hard to see.  Looking at the relationship I now have with my spouse of 34 years and my outlook on life, it has been a life changer.  I am not saying that every day is perfect, but I feel so much stronger in my relationship and with how I view myself.

It is very easy to be critical of yourself and while I still have to work on this, I have decided I want to stay;.  I met people from every walk of life through this journey.  I was terrified to go into treatment but what I experienced was amazing.  There was great comfort in being surrounded with people that were going through the same thing.  The love that was shown to each other was absolutely incredible. I have maintained touch with several through the process and this continues to be a source of support.  Depression is not new to my family but I sure thought I could beat it on my own.  I have had amazing support from therapists throughout this process and wish I had several more pages to tell you how awesome everyone has been.  I have always made my own path and attempted to stay true to myself but had conversations with my spouse prior to my breakdown that I hardly recognized who I was anymore.

What kept coming up over and over again was to be authentic.  It has meant so much to me that this 56 year old man has his first tattoo to “be authentic”.  It is a great daily reminder and means a lot to me.  I am not ashamed of seeking treatment and am so grateful for everyone that has supported me on this journey.  Regardless of where you are at in life, you are valued, you are loved and life does sound better with you in it.  Mindfully yours, James

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