This was never intended to be a blog that focused on myself, much less a blog about my own mental health. When I started A Spoonful of Grace, I intended to talk about cutesy things like recipes and vacations, not tough things like depression and suicide. Maybe someday I’ll return to the cutesy things, but lately, when I’m desiring to speak from the heart, my heart yearns to speak about the hard things. So for now, that’s what I’m focusing on.
All that to say, today, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day. All day I’ve seen influencers speaking out about mental health and the importance it plays in all our lives- because you don’t have to be mentally ill to have mental health. It has stirred up something in me. A sense of sadness, yes, and of course an awareness, but mostly just a feeling of gratitude. An attitude of thankfulness for simply making it through to today. So today I’m sharing four people I’m grateful for this World Mental Health Day.
Before I had my first major nervous breakdown, I wasn’t all that close with my family. I loved them, but I didn’t depend on them. I was happy to do things by myself, in my own way. But when I came home from the hospital the first time, I didn’t have anything left in myself to rely on. I was completely helpless. It was only by relying on my family that I could make it through. In time, as my husband Sam came into my life, I’ve learned to depend on him most. Sometimes it is only through the strength of my family that I can make it through another day. Today, on World Mental Health Day, I’m thankful for my family’s constant care over my mental health.
My care team
I recently had someone ask me how I have managed recovery on my own. My answer is that I didn’t do it on my own. In addition to my family, my care team has kept me going. My therapist, my psychiatrist, my doctor, my team of providers at the inpatient clinic I’ve gone through twice and all of their respective teams have come in at times of crisis to keep me going. It’s been through this team that I’ve learned ways to manage my anxiety/manic phases/depression well enough that I’ve been able to stay in my home for almost three years. It’s them who call me back in the middle of the night when I’m in crisis and not sure what to do to stay safe. Boise is a place that’s really difficult to find a good provider, and I’ve been blessed with some of the best around. I’m so thankful for the way they help my mental health and the mental health of many more.
Many other people have supported me along this journey. Sometimes, people I don’t even know very well have reached out to lend a word of encouragement at just the right time. Whether it’s friends who just spend time watching funny dog videos on YouTube with me on my down days or people who have visited me in the hospital, I have too many friends who have stepped up to help me to name.
I think also of my professors both at Trinity and at Boise State who were incredible. When I had to leave school in the middle of the semester due to illness and never completed another assignment or took a final (like I had promised I would do from home), all six of my professors not just passed me, but gave me “B’s” in their classes. There is nothing more intimidating than telling a professor that you’re sick, that you need time off from class, that you need a big extension on an assignment because you’re too sad to get out of bed, much less do homework. There is so much fear of judgement. But far more often than I’ve encountered judgement, I have been granted grace, kindness, and empathy. I know that when I walk across the stage in May it will largely be because of the kindness of my professors.
Not everyone has understood my mental health journey. I’ve encountered a lot of confusion, rejection, pain and hurt from people I trusted or loved. That’s why I’m ever more grateful for those who have stuck around.
Perhaps this is a weird thing to say. Remember when Matthew McConaughey said in his Academy Awards acceptance speech that his greatest hero was himself, and we were all kind of like …..??? I feel like this might sound a little bit like that. But it’s true. I’m grateful for myself. Today Caitie is so, so grateful for past Caitie and all the choices she made. When she chose to not give up on college, but see it through to the end. When she chose not to let people’s judgements of her harden her heart, but to keep on loving others. When she chose not to give up on her faith, but keep trusting in Jesus. When she chose life over death, again and again and again. When she chose hope over hopelessness, joy over sadness. I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about resiliency, and past Caitie, girl, you are resilient. Today Caitie is doing her best to keep striving forward, to keep choosing hope, to be just as resilient as I’ve been in the past. When it comes right down to it, I wouldn’t be here to be grateful for anyone this World Mental Health Day if it wasn’t for the brave girl in my past. So today, I’m also grateful for me.