Slow and Steady

Worth Living Ambassador Alex Campeau

Hi, my name is Alex, I’m 23 years old and am still going through a bumpy ride. I’m diagnosed with schizoaffective- depressed subtype, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s a lot to swallow, but don’t think of them as disorders, think of them as personality traits. I have had three hospital stays and hope to have a smoother recovery than the one I am having now.

I’ll start off by sharing how I am now after six years of constant struggle. At the moment I am depressed, I am paranoid, I have trouble concentrating, I’m all alone, and I’m angry. I’m like that mostly because of withdrawal from medication. I just got under six hundred pills a month. Ya, I take a lot of medication. I currently have five medications that no one would ever want because my medications are very strong and have very bad effects on my body. So I’m getting off those and hopefully I’ll begin to do better.

My psychosis really impacted my cognitive ability. I find it hard to organize information in my head. I sometimes forget what I’m talking about. I also have a working memory deficit thanks to my psychosis. It took a lot of help in school. I ended up dropping out and two and a half years later, I went to adult high school and received a lot of help just to do average which for me is huge.

After years of therapy, I’ve done Cognitive Behaviour Therapy around three times while in hospital, I’ve talked to four students over a nine and a half month stay in the hospital, and I’ve seen psychiatrists. At the moment I have a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist. My psychotherapist at the moment is teaching things like not labelling myself and that my diagnoses are just parts of who I am. It’s hard to accept or even to understand but recovering is all about challenges.

In my darkest hours I did want it to end. I was falling into this deep depression. I needed help to get back up. But people didn’t know how to help me so that’s how I got on all of those medications. My darkest hours always had something to do with medication. At one point I was given too much that I started seizing in the gym in the hospital I stayed at for nine and a half months. I was in the hospital for schizoaffective disorder and I thought people wanted to kill me. Every second in my darkest hours I thought I was going to get hurt. My depression made me feel like a burden to others. I thought I was failing them. My OCD was severe and still is. I count to four every three to four seconds to get some relief.

Recovery came hard to me. I always had a hard time trusting others. But it’s happening right now. I am getting better, I have goals such as to leave the house on my own, do some chores, get a job, and more. I didn’t truly have goals until now because I was too sick but now I face challenge after challenge at my own pace. Going off medication is my number one goal. It also is the toughest goal, but in my current mental state I always say, “Bring it on!”. I don’t know where the strength came from but I must fight to learn. Learning is key to recovery. Knowing your medications and their side effects, questioning your doctor, and questioning yourself. I always question now, “Ok I’m paranoid, but what are the odds? What makes me a target?”. Things like that get me through the toughest of days. You also have to know your limits. When I was in the hospital I wanted to buy a muffin. My anxiety stopped me from doing a lot, but I found ways to cope. Always keep fighting and don’t give in.

I have what I call “inner demons” that make my life really tough. I always remember to face them because if I hide, it’s still there. If I fight it off, I have much more freedom within myself. Some people say ignore your demons but in reality you’re going nowhere. You allow that demon to take control of you, to stomp on you. I choose to fight to save my own life.

For me what makes life worth living is how much of a mess the world is and I think of ways I can clean it up. Waking up in the morning is a blessing. Going to sleep is a blessing. I am a blessing. I’ve earned that title because I at rock-bottom and I climbed back up, with some help of course, but I did it. It’s like the Olympics. The Olympians train all their lives to compete so they can say, “I was there.” They made it by pushing themselves every day just like I am. I force myself to do physical activity every day and it boosts me. I feel good about myself. Every challenge is a blessing and I fight it and also explore it. Explore the feeling or act and learn. What’s worth living is the will everybody has to live.

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