“It’s OK not to be OK.” Jim repeats this motto regularly to help him come to terms with his condition and the effects it can have on his daily life. Though it may seem straightforward, his philosophy is the result of a long personal journey that began more than 25 years ago after he had his first depressive episode. Jim was in his mid-thirties at the time. He felt he was losing control of his life, though he didn’t really know how or why. He sought help to get better, and was diagnosed with major depression. With the right medication and therapy, he was able to pick up his life where he left off. Jim led an active and relatively balanced life for many years. Then, for a second time, he found he could no longer function and was unable to work. Jim fell apart. Despite receiving appropriate care, Jim’s condition didn’t improve. Every day, he was overcome with fatigue from the time he woke up in the morning, but promised himself that tomorrow will be better. Unfortunately, the dark days kept coming. Jim was not responding to treatment. He had refractory depression.
With support, Jim now manages to live with his illness. He is taking time to rebuild himself, but on much simpler scale and with more realistic expectations. Jim knows he must travel his own path. Despite everything, he can still enjoy life’s small pleasures. With quiet strength, he is able to put projects in motion—including one that will be a crucial part of his journey: a support group where he is the leader. Jim has been taking part in these therapeutic sessions every week for more than 12 years. He and his peers share the same reality. Together, they have developed a language that lets them confide in one another without shame or judgment. After all, mental health is a topic like any other, and just by talking about it Jim has been able to find peace within himself.