Article and Photo by Amy Howe
A husband, father, deer hunter, bass fisherman, barbecue griller, car dealer and a suicide survivor. That is how Jim Adams describes himself. Diagnosed with cyclonic major depressive episodes, Jim has learned to cope with his mental health for over 14 years.
It hasn’t always been easy for Jim. He has more good days than bad and has spent years working to understand the chemistry of how his brain and thoughts work to help negate the bad days. He is an advocate for spreading awareness of mental health and is an advocate for those in need.
Jim has had two suicide attempts in his last 14 years. The difference in his most recent attempt is he was very self-aware and immediately raised his hand to get help.
“I could feel myself starting to go back down the rabbit hole. I called my employer, Frank Fletcher, and said, ‘I am going down the same path as I was in 2011 and I need to get help,’” said Jim. “I immediately got on a plane and went to Houston, where they did a bunch of medical work. Everything from body fat index and hearing test to MRI’s and lab work.”
Jim was then sent to a treatment center in Malibu, California, called the Beach House where he stayed for 30 days. Jim was taught so many things during his stay. He became a student with a master’s degree in depression and anxiety to his own body. He read everything there was to read about mental health and the chemistry that was going on inside his head.
“You can literally talk yourself out of these feelings if you’re aware of what’s going on,” said Jim. “I knew there was cortisol in my bloodstream. I don’t classify it as anxiety anymore because I know why I feel a certain way and I know how to get rid of that feeling.”
Jim attributes his understanding and feeling good to true self care and knowing what he can do to help himself feel better. He has a very structured daily routine, which includes gratitude training, mindful exercises, grounding techniques, meditative showers or walks and taking breaks in the day for breathing exercises.
“When I wake up in the morning, the very first thing I do is list every single thing on this planet that I am grateful for, and I’ll lay there until I run out of things to be grateful for,” said Jim. “What that does neurologically is create space. It allows me to not get flooded with cortisol or bring worry onto myself and allows me to start my day in a good way.”
Jim is an advocate for meditation as well as a good diet and plenty of exercise when it comes to dealing with his mental health.
Jim now helps others who struggle with mental health issues. While he is not a therapist or counselor, and his wife reminds him of that often, Jim believes his gift is that he can see anxiety in others.
“I can see the angst. I can look somebody in the eye and know what it looks like because I’ve looked at that guy before,” said Jim. “I always tell people I’ve walked 10,000 miles down some pretty dark roads, but along the way, I found a map and a flashlight, and my job for the rest of my life, my most important calling that I have as a human being, is to come alongside people and hold their hand and say, ‘Hey, it’s going to be okay.’”
Jim freely gives out his phone number so those struggling have a friend to talk to. He then comes alongside them and helps them find the help they need.
“We are capable of developing 10,000 worst-case scenarios in our heads when the truth is, 99.99 percent of all of our moments are just normal everyday thoughts,” said Jim. “We just punish ourselves millions of times over and over again for things that will never ever happen. Raise your hand, it’s okay to not be okay.”
If you or someone you know has a mental illness, is struggling emotionally or has concerns about their mental health, getting them help is a priority. Knowing the warning signs for suicide and how to get help can help save lives.
Some signs to look for:
Great guilt or shame
Being a burden to others
Empty, hopeless, trapped or having no reason to live
Extremely sad, more anxious, agitated or full of rage
Ways to get help
Ozark Center Hope Spring
3901 E. 32nd St., Joplin, Missouri • 417.347.7567
With a team of 14 therapists, including psychologists, social workers and counselors,
you can be matched to a mental health professional who will meet your needs and who
you can see on a regular basis after your initial walk-in appointment.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline