When I Realized I Needed the Will to Get Mentally Well


I learned in a 12-step program that although I will never be cured from autism or bipolar, that doesn’t mean I can’t live a mentally healthy life. I don’t have to be mentally ill. I can be mentally well.

Of course the hardest part of any mental health journey is admitting we have problems. Along with admitting I had problems, I had to be willing to do the things necessary to get well. Wanting to is not enough. Doing the things that I was supposed to do was not enough. I had to have the will to get well.

I was listening to Mike Tomlin, the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He said:

“It’s not what you’re capable of. It’s what you’re willing to do. I know so many people who are capable. I know fewer that are willing.”

He continued on about how they have a few hundred athletes every year for open tryouts. He said every one of them is capable of playing football. He said every one of them wants to play football. The difference is who is willing to do the things necessary to be a professional football player.

No matter our mental disorder(s), no matter our situation, we can make things better for ourselves with work and cooperation with help. Our situation can be improved. We are all capable of becoming well.

If I wanted to become well, was I willing to do the things necessary that I needed to do?

Was I willing to admit I had problems?

Was I willing to change my thinking? My ways? My relationships?

Was I willing to cooperate with help? Was I willing to work with my counselors? Was I willing to go to my 12-step program every week? Was I willing to go to all my doctor’s appointments?

Was I willing to take meds to control my moods? Was I willing to try different meds and take them for a while to see how well they worked? Was I willing to suffer through the adjustments of starting a new med? Was I willing to listen to my doctor?

Was I willing to control my anger? Was I willing to let some things go without having a fit? Was I willing to do my relaxation techniques everyday?

Was I willing to stop hating myself? Was I willing to not beat myself up? Was I willing to distract myself? Was I willing to do my affirmations every morning? Was I willing to give myself passes for messing up?

Was I willing to do all these things for as long as I needed to do them to achieve my goals?

It is hard work and it takes a lot of effort but I chose yes. I said I’m going to do this. For my efforts, I have been rewarded.

Just as life is, staying well is an ongoing struggle. I haven’t been perfect. There’s times that I’ve worked and times that I haven’t. I continue to struggle to find the will at times. But still, I continue to enjoy the benefits of the work that I did and the progress I made.

So I ask you. What are you willing to do to become well?

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