First Page of “In Pursuit of Joy”

People love a good story. They love to hear a good story, and above all they love to tell a good story. For what it is worth, this is my story. I believe that all human beings are more alike than they are different. By looking beyond the differences, you can often find the commonality. So in that context, I hope you will see that my story is your story too.

I am an alcoholic. I say this not to impress, or to gain sympathy, or to excuse bad behavior. I say it as a simple statement of fact. It has been at various times the central fact of my life and has had a profound effect on my development as a human being. I also have a serious and persistent mental illness. That illness is depression. These two conditions interact and feed off each other. Sometimes it is hard to tell where one condition begins and the other ends. None of this is particularly unique. There are many people, not only in this country but worldwide, with similar issues. I have been sober for more than fifteen years, and the depression is mostly a thing of the past. I will tell you right now that recovery is hard, scary work. I did not make it alone. In fact, I have never met anyone who was successful in recovery (any kind of recovery) without help. I am writing this book in the hope that it is helpful to someone. It is my effort to give back what was given to me.

I have worked these last fifteen or so years in the field of mental health. In this work I have noticed several things. When I was in college, I noticed that every time you told someone you were studying psychology, people would invariably say something like, “I’d better be careful what I say.” It was as if you were going to pull a stamp out of your pocket and stamp “Insane” on their foreheads if they said the wrong thing. While it was always said in a joking manner, it happened so frequently that it gave me the impression that many people have some real insecurities about the state of their mental health. This phenomenon and my experience of working with many families and first-time users of the mental health system have led me to believe that most people are woefully misinformed on the topic of mental health. I think this is unfortunate. I think that everyone with a mind should be concerned about mental health. 

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