Hi, my name is Bruce Schutter and for 20+ years my life’s challenges–particularly Bipolar, Alcoholism, and Generalized Anxiety–controlled the direction of my life. They filled my day with crises, shame, and a deep dark depression mindset that took away all chance for happiness. This became my new norm and I felt powerless, as I believed there was nothing I could do about it. Until one fateful day when I decided that I no longer wanted to be part of this world, but luckily that was not my fate. I desperately needed a solution and I realized I would have to understand the past in order to build a new future.
Now many of my challenges have always been with me, but they really began to exert their influence when I was in high school. For example, when I was 16, I joined the town volunteer rescue squad and that challenged me like no other experience. My first call was a woman that we performed CPR on but were unable to save. This sent me into depression but also motivated me to save others.
At this point that mirrored what my bipolar thinking was telling me, life is just filled with extreme highs and lows. But it was those lows, and my anxiety disorder, that then led me to alcohol. At the time, I wrongfully believed it was a great way to avoid the pain of my emotions. And so, while I progressed through high school I became certified as an Emergency Medical Technician and was soon leading the rescue squad calls. At the same time, I began to relinquish more and more control of my life to my challenges which only deepened my problems. But I saw no way out!
This trend continued through college and into my first job in the information technology field. Yes, I was a grownup and appeared to be making forward progress, but my life was filled with crises. In addition to everything else, I found myself unable to manage the emotions that came with work responsibilities.
At the time, I believed the only way for me to manage my emotions was to surrender to them. I drank, I went on spending sprees to try and buy my way out of depression–but nothing worked. I created a façade that convinced others everything was working: I was successful in an IT career, I owned a home, several cars, and you know it just looked good.
But this was far from the truth. I spent several short stays in jail for drinking, was twice placed on a 3-day psych hold, and could barely get through each day as they seemed meaningless and devoid of all happiness. This was my reality!
That was not enough, because after 20 years I had truly relinquished all control of my life to my challenges. Now Bipolar, Alcoholism, and GAD were major players, but I was also unable to manage the emotions that came with everyday challenges. Seemingly simple tasks like managing our finances and socializing with friends were impossible. Substance use and my mental health struggles were holding me hostage. I was unable to ask for help because I viewed this as a sign of weakness. This is what placed me in the no-win situation that I mentioned earlier.
One day, I decided I no longer wanted to be part of this world. I rolled the dice and, luckily, that was not my fate. I had to keep going and I desperately needed a solution.
I went to meetings, doctors, took meds, and tried everything offered but still was left without any control of my life. It was at this point that I finally realized my mental health was at the core of everything, and I never prioritized it. In fact, I actually feared my emotions, leaving me powerless to manage any life challenge. But within this knowledge, I found the answer and it was to become a Mental Health Warrior! This would allow me to not only unlock the power to triumph over my life’s challenges but to choose a new direction for my life.
So, as I embraced this powerful new way of living, I began to lay the groundwork for the Mental Health Warrior Program, which produced life-changing results! This success not only empowered me to move forward from life challenges but also started a new chapter in my life…
Continued in Part #2 – My solution to life’s challenges.