July 12, 2022

How Peter Survived Anxiety & Depression Through Therapeutic Writing

How Peter Survived Anxiety & Depression Through Therapeutic Writing

Mental health has been overlooked and ignored for a long time. Some are born with it and some manifest it over their lifetime. A serious matter we need to be aware of and Peter is here to talk about it.

Peter Vox is a retired school teacher and professional musician from Long Island, NY who has spent his life battling anxiety, depression, and existential sadness. He wrote the book The Psych Ward Notes: Surviving Anxiety & Depression. It chronicles Peter's childhood, the origins of his mental illnesses, history with medications, decades spent in therapy, marriage, careers, journals written from psychiatric hospitals, and theories on how to handle your mental illness.

In this episode, Peter shares his journey battling anxiety and depression and how he found friendships, learnings, and healing while doing therapeutic writing in the psychiatric ward.

If you feel suicidal, that's the signal. Instead of thinking about killing yourself, that's when you go get help. - Peter

In this episode:

[02:58] Peter’s second wind occurred after he retired from teaching.

[03:09] He was taking anxiety medication at that time, and one of them is Ativan. And one of the side effects is suicidal ideation.

[05:04] Peter knew he needed a big time out. A time for him to look at his whole life and everything that has happened. That started his second wind.

[08:38] Peter has always been afraid of death and his first awareness was when he was just two years old, during his uncle’s grave unveiling.

[10:35] At 6 or 7 years old, his questions became more philosophical. He began asking himself about the meaning of life. And as his questions got deeper, he became more fearful.

[16:02] Being a musician kept his anxiety under control.

[21:12] For Peter, medications can make someone complacent and can take away someone’s creativity.

[23:49] With anxiety, you can develop illnesses and other physical discomforts that show in your body.

[24:56] When Peter’s situation spiraled down and became toxic, he decided to overdose on pills. 

[25:43] Peter had suicidal ideations during times when he was taking medications. And tried to kill himself a few times.

[28:12] Psychotropic medications should be taken carefully and temporarily because of their side effects.

[31:04] How Peter ended up writing and drawing while he was in the psychiatric ward.

[33:52] Peter was able to write 300 pages. And upon discharge, he took home his writing and decided to turn it into a book.

[34:49] If you feel suicidal, that's the signal. Instead of thinking about killing yourself, that's when you go get help. - Peter

[35:19] The big thing you learn when you’re suicidal is learning to accept what you have.  Not only the positive aspects of yourself but also the negative ones.

[36:53] The best mental therapists are the ones who have a mental illness.

[38:42] When you admit things that you're embarrassed about or have been holding in and just never admitted, there's a big release that happens.

[42:06] If you are feeling depressed and can’t even get out of bed, you have to do something physical to simply distract your mind. 

[43:05] Peter talks about the people he met at the psychiatric ward, their stories, and how they helped him heal.

[51:21] With mental health problems, either you're born with it or it can manifest over your lifetime. Either way, when you recognize it, get help immediately. 

[52:24] Be realistic with what you have and accept it. There's a way to live a life where you can keep it at a low level. 

[55:55] Writing the book has become a means for Peter to help others.

About Peter Vox

Peter Vox is a retired school teacher and professional musician from Long Island, NY who has spent his life battling anxiety, depression, and existential sadness. He wrote the book The Psych Ward Notes: Surviving Anxiety & Depression. It chronicles Peter's childhood, the origins of his mental illnesses, history with medications, decades spent in therapy, marriage, careers, journals written from psychiatric hospitals, and theories on how to handle your mental illness. Furthermore, it's also a book about learning from past mistakes, accepting your flaws, focusing on your positive attributes, accepting help from others, and realizing that there are opportunities to start over in life if you are open-minded and willing to make small changes.

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Links to The Psych Ward Notes: Surviving Anxiety And Depression

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