In my last post I spoke about my dismissal as an SLS mentor. Now, I would like to talk a little bit about the effect it had on my mental health.
While I was working as a mentor it provided me many opportunities to share how I struggled with my mental health and the skills I used to deal with those struggles. There were many benefits to this. First and foremost, as a mentor, by sharing I was viewed as an equal to the participants in the program and as far as I was concerned we were equal. My sharing also helped to give others the confidence to share. Outside of my role as a mentor there was the added benefit of always having these skills fresh in my mind. I also felt accountable to these groups and that accountability was important to me.
When I lost my job my first reaction was to be infuriated. I wanted someone to pay. I couldn’t understand why no one else around me could see this for what it really was and those that did see it wouldn’t stand up for me.
Then came the depression. I felt I had let everyone in the group down. I had spent a lot of time building relationships with many of these men and now I had failed them.
The depression slowly began to lead me down a dark path. It started with what I would describe as relief. I have spent years now working on changing the man I had become and let me tell you, it is work! I don’t sit around and check in with a therapist once a month or read a self help book. I do not exaggerate when I tell you it is day to day, minute to minute, check-ins with yourself. You are in a constant battle with who you were and who you are striving to be. It can become tiresome and feels like being in a never ending war. Nonetheless, a war worth fighting because I was learning to love the man in the mirror. He was doing good things for the right reasons. Then it was all gone and I was relieved. No one seemed to care about the good I was doing, no one even seemed to care about the changes I was making on a personal level. If no one gave a shit, if no one would stand up for me, then why should I keep fighting this war? If the DOC wanted me to be an inmate then I was free to be just that…but I couldn’t do it! Whether I wanted to or not, somehow, a part of me was still fighting this war. These feelings of anger, abandonment, failure and disappointment had to go somewhere so I turned them in on myself. I was isolated in my cell for months and I ate. I gained almost 50 pounds. Thankfully weight wasn’t the only thing I gained! I gained a little knowledge too. I realized the one true common denominator in everything I do, everything I experience, good or bad is ME! It’s not the person who wronged me, it’s not the person who didn’t stand up for me, it’s ME, ME, ME, ME. I am the one fighting this war. I am the one who feels good about himself when I win a battle. I do not need anyone else to recognize my struggle and pat me on the back with their sweaty, patronizing hand and tell me “good job”. My pride comes from within not from exterior entities. Don’t get me wrong, it is nice to have one’s efforts recognized from time to time. It can help keep you on the right path. Especially when that path is still a little blurry to you. For me, however, my path is clear. My mental health is too important to me to put it in someone else’s hands. It is my war to fight and every little victory gives me another reason to smile and pat myself on the back. I have found this to be so much more gratifying .
Thank you for reading and I look forward to answering any questions you may have or reading your comments.
Feel free to contact me- Greg Andreotti, OID#247877, Faribault prison, Faribault Mn.
Categories: Greg Andreotti