Backstory: I was invited to speak for a group of people who are currently in an inpatient/outpatient group-therapy treatment program that I used to attend, in honor of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) National Mental Health Awareness Week. I decided to write a speech. I haven’t written a speech since my school days, so pardon if it is a bit sloppy, but I believe it to be somewhat well composed, and I believe that most of the points I wanted to cover are expanded upon thoroughly. Anyways, it was well received, by the clients of the program and the counselors alike, and so I decided to share it here in hopes that it will help more people to be inspired towards change for the better, for themselves and their loved ones.
The Speech: My name is Aaron Kaplan, and I have been sitting right where you all sit today. But about a year ago, I graduated (program name anonymous to protect patients). And I have been doing great. I have healthy relationships and good business, I have good income and am paying all of my bills, and my time is chalked full of healthy activities that I enjoy, including volunteer work and school. I live with my girlfriend and our house is clean.
I know it is difficult to believe that I could have been sitting in a similar seat and filling similar shoes as you, but not because I am doing well- after all, that is the goal of you all being here now. No, it is difficult to believe because of the belief that our positions are so unique. Most of you, I am sure, believe that nobody could have gone through anything even remotely similar as you now; that it is too sad or too grand or too out there. But talk to your peers; talk to each other. I encourage you all to drop the veils of embarrassment and become open books. When you open up, you will see that many of you have been through very similar situations. Not to say that we aren’t all special- because we are. Each and every person is unique. But being here in treatment does not define us. This is simply a stumbling block in the road that we have to solve- with help, but for ourselves. And it is difficult in this world as it is, for now, to not come across this block in the road, so don’t blame yourselves for ending up here. But do accept responsibility. Don’t feel like you are a lesser person that has been or can be defeated. Because you can’t be. Everyone has within them the capability of going astray, but also the capability to find the right path again.
Now, I would be willing to bet my life savings that many- if not most- of you do not feel like you need to be here. Well, I would also bet my life savings that you do need to be here, for now. The point is to form habits and coping skills so you can keep the same friends you had and raise them up with you instead of falling down again. Or to learn to make new friends and build healthy relationships. Either way, you ARE here; but this is NOT your final resting place. You may as well make the most of this timeout from the outside world. Don’t worry- they want you to graduate, to a better life, and if you do what’s right for yourself, you will graduate.
And, on another note (and remember that I have been there before), this is a lot better than it could be for you all. This is definitely a step up. Don’t forget to look back at why you are here. This is for extended stability. You’re here because of how you were when you got here- not because of how you are now and how well you plan to stay when you leave. Something WAS wrong, and it was a deep-seeded problem. Remember that the first step to recovery and stability is admitting you have a problem. Every story for every stay here that I’ve ever heard of needed help, and we’re lucky that we live in this day and age, because back in the day? Torture chambers to exorcise the demons out of us. Big metal punches to the brain through the forehead. Burnings at the stake. The world gets better, not worse. It started from nothing, right? Even the bible tells all these gruesome stories of times much worse than today. Be patient. Things will get better for you. Remember, I have been there before.
Anyways, staying busy keeps us sane, whether it be with work or business or hobbies, though I recommend all three. An idle mind is the devil’s playground. That’s how the saying goes, and it’s true. A still mind has room to wander, but all it will find is trouble unless you guide it. So grab your life by the horns. Get busy! It will keep you sane.
And keep in mind that drugs are just that: drugs. Medicine. If you want it, it’s probably because you’re sick. But that is what the doctors are for. They’ll give you the best drugs you could get. And what are you gonna do? Sit down and enjoy them? Revel in their beauty and bow down to them? No! You use them to get better. There’s no difference between those and street drugs, but that street drugs will get you in trouble.
Now, this is all just advice. Take it or leave it. I may be young, but I have some experience, and I’ve been through the hospital rounds, and now I can see it for what it is: healing. Time to heal. Time to calm yourself and prepare to take life on honestly.
I’ll leave you will a little closing. Raise your hand or just note within yourself if you think you have somewhere else to be besides here. Well, you don’t. I promise, it’s not fun for you or others out there while you’re still healing. You won’t miss anything important. Life is eternal (you can’t eliminate a soul), and your life is more fun and beneficial once you straighten yourself out. You are all beautiful people.
Thank you, and take care.