Sometimes sanity is a choice.

When I was 22 years old, I downed a bottle of Prozac and landed in the mental ward of PG County Hospital. I only spent five days there; but the experience changed the course of my life. A friend of a friend is currently going through some similar issues. She feels completely alone and can't talk to anyone about it. For B and other women like her, I'm writing some thoughts down…

I know that there are chemically imbalanced people out there… But, sometimes, for some people, sanity is a choice. I met some of those people in the mental ward. Actually, everybody that I met there had a choice.

You can choose to be sane or you can just let go. Choosing sanity means different things for different people. The nurses and doctors of the mental health profession would prefer their patients to regularly attend psychiatric therapy, take mood altering prescription drugs, and blend into society. That’s definitely a valid strategy for a lot of people. But, really, choosing sanity is about owning up to who you are and about not driving yourself crazy trying to be the person you or someone else thought you should be. Choosing sanity means figuring out what you need to stay grounded – whether that’s yoga, therapy, love, writing, or clown shoes – and being faithful to your course no matter what. Choosing sanity means making a commitment to discovering where the wrinkles will crease your face, a commitment to survival.

Letting go is the opposite. And, the funny thing is, letting go is not necessarily a choice. It’s a lack of action. It’s simply not choosing to be sane. It’s letting the days go by and letting the depression or anxiety or alcoholism or drug addiction worsen simply because you’re too set in your rut to do anything about it. Letting go leads to trips to the ER and to the mental ward. Almost nine years ago, I’d let go and I hadn’t known it.

My roommate on the crazy wing was 20 years older than me and had lost count of how many times she’d been in some hospital's mental ward. She was friendly and well-kempt. She even looked a little like me. It was a wakeup call. I didn't want that to be my life. And, so I chose to pull myself together. It wasn't an easy task. But, the first step towards being a sane person content with life is to choose sanity.

B, I hope you choose sanity soon. It'll be hard. But, it's worth it.

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