The Downfall Before The Climb
Mikey Tableman, a mental health activist and public speaker, is a proud proponent of open discussions of mental health and treatment. Founder of “A Mind’s Pursuit,” a non-profit mental health foundation, Tableman would strike anyone as someone who is full of life and actively shares his positive energy with anyone he speaks to. His compassion and dedication to destigmatizing mental health are fueled by his own story of mental health, substance use, and healing.
Tableman began drinking at an early age and started using substances during college. His condition worsened once he entered the Los Angeles nightlife scene, where he found success professionally. His adaptable and energetic demeanor served him well in his ventures in nightlife hospitality, which he began in his early 20s. However, with the intensity of nightlife comes some dark patrons that stay long after the club plays its closing tune. Constant exposure to substances, a nonexistent sleep schedule, and unsustainable workplace expectations led Tableman to some of the lowest points of his life both mentally and physically.
“The nightlife industry impacted my mental health massively. The whole industry is based on ego, and it’s very cutthroat,” Tableman said. “You have to put on such a facade in nightlife to keep your position and to keep your status, which is awful.”
Tableman struggled with debilitating depression and was “addicted to not feeling,” which led to him using substances like Cocaine and Xanax during this period of his life. There were multiple points in his life where continuing to live did not seem attainable or wanted, but these feelings intensified in 2018 with his first suicide attempt. This event catapulted Tableman to seek treatment with the guidance of his sister and therapist.
If you or someone you love is experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255 for 24/7 assistance.
“It took me such a long time to talk about my mental health. I’m 33 years old. I didn’t start opening up and talking about this until I was 28 after my first suicide attempt. Because even though I knew something was wrong, it was so ingrained in me that you don’t speak about this.”
There is an ease with which he shares his experiences now; each sentence serving to reduce stigma around mental health, but this wasn’t always the case. Tableman and other men in the US and across the world often face additional stigma concerning their mental health due to cultural and individual factors. Men are less likely than women to pursue treatment for mental health concerns or substance abuse because of societal norms and a reluctance to voice their concerns. This outdated social and cultural dogma is what Tableman hopes to challenge through his organization, “A Mind’s Pursuit.”
“A Mind’s Pursuit”: Destigmatizing Mental Health
Tableman created “A Mind’s Pursuit” to make a change in the way we talk about mental health. Dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of mental health care and changing the stigma of how mental health is viewed, the organization hosts multiple events to bring individuals together to share their stories in a supportive community and space.
“So many people feel alone in their suffering, and so many are suffering. “A Mind’s Pursuit” lets others know that it is okay not to be okay, and it is even more okay to talk about it.“
Tableman created a charity event series, “The Alchemy,” to create spaces for individuals to join together to be open and vulnerable and feel safe doing so. The events include activities like gratitude booths, manifestation boards, and live performances from artists hoping to inspire others. Tableman’s candidness about his life positively impacts those who listen to his story and has become a cathartic experience for him as well.
“I truly believe that you go through life for a purpose. I love helping people; I love being a part of watching it click, but it’s also very healing for me,” Tableman said. “You heal yourself by helping heal others.”
Lessons Learned Through Mental Health Treatment
Through the guidance of his sister and his therapist, Tableman decided to go to a treatment facility in 2018 to address his mental health concerns and understand the factors that potentially led him to abuse substances.
“It was an opportunity to understand why I felt the need to mask so much of my life, why I felt the need to take drugs to feel anything, and why I felt so empty inside,” Tableman said.
Through guided meditations, visualizations (also called guided imagery), and therapy, Tableman addressed his depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Guided meditation and visualization techniques can help individuals feel grounded in the moment and better control their emotions, which can be helpful with anxiety symptoms. These techniques, coupled with individual therapy, helped Tableman develop a compassionate, optimistic view of his mental health; he now views recovery as a lifelong endeavor, not something that is “one-and-done.” While he has faced multiple relapses over the years, he overcomes them by “radically accepting” that some of his mental health concerns are things he will continue to live with. He also has an “amazing support system and tribe of people” to support him on the incredibly daunting days.
“I deal with depression and anxiety regularly, and I still have suicidal thoughts, but the difference is that now they are just thoughts that pass by because I’ve radically accepted my life.”
During his treatment, there was one specific experience that radically changed how Tableman viewed his own life. This experience included partaking in his own funeral through the practice of visualization with a therapist. For some, this experience may be uncouth, but for Tableman, visualizing the scene of him laying in his own coffin and listening to his loved ones read their final remarks was an experience that was “necessary” for his healing.
“It was in that moment that actually made me see how me not being there would affect other people, because I really thought my life didn’t mean anything. I broke down like I have never cried before,” Tableman said.
The visualization of his funeral helped Tableman understand and “see” that his life had meaning despite the hardships and challenges.
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Recovery Through Art
In addition to the multiple events that “A Mind’s Pursuit” hosts, Tableman continues to work to destigmatize mental health in his own life. Through his upcoming poetry concept EP, “My Manic Maze,” music, and his podcast show, “Chaos Controlled,” Tableman continues to explore what living in recovery with mental health concerns looks like. According to Tableman, “It’s not going to get easier, but you’re going to get better at handling it. Have patience…” Recovery from substance abuse is possible, and resources will always be available.
If you or a loved one is experiencing substance abuse concerns, contact a treatment provider here.
Carmen McCrackin earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Auburn and has over 4 years of professional writing experience. Her passion for writing and educating others led her to a career in journalism with a focus on mental health and social justice topics. Her main mission is to be a platform for all voices and stories, and to provide tangible resources to those seeking recovery for themselves or loved ones.
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