I reflect on my life often. That reflection includes the dark days, and even this past weekend. My life is at times one big picture, and at other times, it is a simple moment in time.

I recently presented at the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia’s Annual Conference. The theme was Thriving in Recovery.  In preparing, I thought about all the aspects of life that contributed to my recovery. I actually do consider myself to be recovered. The notion of recovery from mental illness ought to be discussed more to enable the community at large to understand . It wasn’t that long ago that even mental health advocacy groups didn’t fully recognize recovery as possible.  More about this in another blog!

Getting back to hope!  Many days I was lost. The impact of depression so intense that I thought life was not worth living. I had lost my health, my career was gone. I had a mental breakdown.

For me to even intellectually understand and rationalize that in the span of 5 days, I had gone from practising law at a high level to having a breakdown was difficult. It took months to grasp all of the circumstances.

How did I get healthy?  One major factor was hope. Many days I had no hope, but my family did. They told me that life would get better, that I would get well. So as my mind roamed through darkness, I believed my family.  Their hope for me was enough some days to sustain my own wanting to get healthy.

Slowly, I came to regain my own sense of hope. I needed to see actual things or events unfold to say to myself, ” I will get better”.   I learned I could read a book again. I could watch a movie.  I was starting to see joy return to my life. Thus my hope increased too.

For lengthy periods, hope was all I had. I would spend weeks in bed, unable to function beyond my bedroom. But I hoped for more in my life.

My family – they were correct. My life has gotten better. Like never before.  I have a few posts on my site about my current life, and how excited I am now about living.

Please don’t lose hope.

As seen on BringChange2Mind.org

By Keith Anderson
Sometimes random comments can lead to unexpected opportunities.

In the fall of 2009, I found myself in a somewhat good place. The 16 years of depression, OCD, and anxiety seemed to have passed. I was slowly venturing out in public. I had written one article about my journey. I had spoken at two conferences. One was for the Canadian Mental Health Association. The second was a panel discussion before a group of lawyers and judges. I found talking in front of strangers somewhat therapeutic.

But I still had little self-confidence, self-esteem , or self-worth. They were most damaged by my depression and breakdown. I still struggle with the damage done to the three self’s.

Much of my time was still spent in my bedroom, at my computer, looking for information on mental health, seeing what others were doing. I wanted to feel that I wasn’t alone.

I read an article Glenn Close had written for the Huffington Post about her sister, Jessie, and her nephew, Calen. I checked out the BC2M website. I even checked the facebook page. Back then I knew little about facebook. I had two friends, my niece and nephew!

I made a few comments on the BC2M facebook page.

A few weeks later, I was asked to have a discussion with Nancy at BC2M. We had a lengthy telephone call. I was then invited to be a BC2M Volunteer. I had no idea what was ahead, but the sense of acceptance and empathy from Nancy made my decision easy. I also had this need to be active in some way. I was getting weary of being alone.

That was in December of 2009 and I am still hanging around!

Though my role has changed over the years, one thing remains constant: the people involved with BC2M have helped in my recovery.

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Jessie for the first time when she traveled to Halifax on my invitation to speak at a fundraiser. I got to meet her service dog and close companion Snitz too! We shared stories, we laughed and cried. Those few days were so special. Jessie and my mother talked and bonded as mothers of sons who had mental illness. Jessie, and so many others, gave me a sense of acceptance. Stigma had hurt me to such a great extent. But now, I could share and not be judged.

I see other BC2M Volunteers who have become true champions in mental health advocacy. To see these fellow BC2M Ambassadors share their journeys in magazines, blogs, and in person is such an inspiration! I’m in awe of their paths and so grateful for their persistent conversation!

I get emotional – tears of joy and admiration- when I see people on BC2M sharing, whether I know them personally or not. I feel such a sense of connection regardless. I am proud of all of you. We share mental illness and mental health. We share hope. I am comforted knowing that I am not alone.

The stigma has been confronted and will be shut down.

BC2M has changed the minds of many in terms of mental health awareness. BC2M has changed my life. For that I thank everyone involved with BC2M. Your kindness and friendship have helped me regain some of the three self’s.

I look forward to the next 5 years and what we individually and collectively will accomplish. It makes my life worth living.