Accepting My Reality (for Get Gutsy Essay Contest)

Accepting My Reality (for Get Gutsy Essay Contest)     By: Josh Willgruber

Getting gutsy for me means asking for professional help more often not just for the sake of my own mental health, but more importantly, to prepare for the worst. To be more specific: asking for professional mental/behavioral health help before I become “completely disconnected from the entire world” and non-reachable by email, phone or text messaging for a few weeks. Again.

I had been to a psychiatric hospital three times in the last 17 months. How come? I kept getting exhausted. I wasn’t sleeping enough and I kept losing control of my life yet never lost sight of my purpose.

In 2014, I stepped out of my comfort zone more than once by receiving professional help from a couple different mental/behavioral health service programs. Attending each program was completely my choice. I didn’t have to be there but chose to attend regularly because I needed to listen to people other than myself going through similar struggles to remind me it’s not just me going “through it.” It was the first time in nearly six years I had requested mental/behavioral health services. How much physical damage did I actually endure playing football? How about when my head bashed into that street corner pole when I was assaulted?

I’m known for being the master at putting extra pressure on myself, which usually consists of overloading my schedule until I’m not able to function. What happens is I take on too much and apparently start imagining every person besides me is out to purposely hold me back from my own goals. I become fixated on perfecting every major and minor task that when I believe I haven’t done my best, I imagine the world is ending. Then, I transition into what I call being “completely disconnected from the entire world.” And for anyone who isn’t me, it’s almost impossible to get through to me.

But I don’t believe I’m a failure. I just become trapped in my thoughts and believe no one understands any of my actions. The reality is my reality kept calling me. I had to answer the calls, step up; and most importantly: accept my reality. My reality needs me to continue learning more about myself so I’m able to live the life I’ve always dreamed I’d have.

I’m not studying abroad in a foreign country. This is not a special mission. My focus is living a healthier work, life and balance routine again. The life I was living before 2014 arrived was not healthy enough. I don’t “need to” eliminate what doesn’t work for me, make sure it never resurfaces ever again; and “take care of Josh,” as my supports (my mom, my dad and my brother) put it so often; I “have to.” 2014 felt like a training program specifically designed for my mind state to build a stronger foundation. 2015 already feels like my own personal playoff games. But this is my life. Of course it’s different than yours.

Asking for professional help instead of clinging to paranoia and denial is how I get gutsy. Paranoia in the context of letting past events that I can’t change continue to mentally paralyze me, leaving me skeptical of creating new relationships with people. Denial in the context that I don’t actually need help; and that it’s everyone else’s behavior that’s making me blue and keeping me down.

This time though, my supports, myself and the professionals I meet with weekly are working on a prevention strategy so I don’t return to the hospital. It’s a little too early to explain details of the prevention strategy because it’s in the early stages (of my playoffs of course). Since 2015 has arrived though, I’ve been off to a solid start. I’ve made realistic connections with both the professionals who meet directly with me every week and also one supervisor who I thought I hit it off with professionally back during my orientation week.

Even better: I’m back to regular sleep and exercise schedules that I was accustomed to doing before, which always assisted me with practicing my progress (my songwriting, doing my cover letters for job applications, modifying my resume, my informational interviews with colleagues, etc.). I feel grateful and honored to be part of this program at a different behavioral/mental health facility and to be back doing regular sleep and exercise schedules.

And in the midst of adversity lies not just opportunity, but a different vision. I see me continuing to build and maintain relationships with a couple people involved directly with this program I’m currently doing.

This is one program that stabilizes me giving me what I have to have–a healthier relationship with myself. This is one vision that keeps me moving and growing every time I follow my effort by showing up with modified notes from the last discussion to contribute to the updated conversation so we can all continue the conversation and grow.

I’ve been called a “dreamer” before yet I never was offended by that word because I’ve never been afraid to follow my dreams. And though I never took that comment lightly, I always saw it as a compliment.

What’s the lesson? Whenever you accept your reality, good things follow. So I count what I do have more and more each day. And that’s all that matters.

Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to each your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy. This post is my entry for get involved and share your own gutsy story, check out this post for contest details and download a


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