Jonathan Slusher: Where I've Been

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Jonathan Slusher has had a long and winding struggle with mental illness and wonders how many others are out there, holding on like him.

A few years ago I recovered from a difficult battle with mental health problems. For a long time my range of emotions had been depression, anxiety, or numb. Going to therapy helped. The medications probably did, too. As I got better I thought that I could help others who were suffering like I had.

I enrolled in a program to become a therapist. I felt stable and confident. I was exercising more than ever. I quit taking anti-depressants and stopped going to therapy. I didn’t think that I needed them anymore.

I did pretty good for about a year.

Then things began to slip. The anxious thoughts returned. A panic attack signaled that it was time to go back on meds. I returned to therapy. But things didn’t improve. I went through a carousel of different anti-depressants. Months passed and nothing helped. I fell out of shape and began having a hard time just sitting still. I took a leave of absence from the therapist training program. How could I help someone else when I could barely keep myself together?


Things worsened further. I went through several chilling rounds of electro convulsive shock therapy. It didn’t provide any relief. The anxious feelings became unbearable. One day before my 46th birthday I was admitted to Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital. I spent five days there.

The hardest part about my hospitalization was knowing that my teenage children knew where I had been. What kind of an effect would it have on them? I felt ashamed and guilty. I had been good at hiding my mental health struggles from everyone. Maybe that was part of the problem.

The lonely months of COVID isolation passed by and my wife and I separated. My goal became just making it to the end of the day.

Six months have passed since my hospitalization and some days are really hard.

But there are also times when things settle down and I fantasize about how amazing it would be to feel good again.

I wonder how many others are out there, just holding on like I have been? I wonder why it is so embarrassing to talk about mental health struggles? I also wonder what meaning and purpose I can find in it all.

Recently I’ve started to force myself to get out more. I’ve also been reconnecting with friends. They often ask the same question that I can’t seem to answer in full.

Hey Slush! Where have you been?

With a Perspective, I’m Jonathan Slusher.

Jonathan Slusher lives in Half Moon Bay.