Hunter H. Keegan
This page includes all of Hunter Keegan's formally published works.
"My Brain is Trying to Kill Me."
Coming in Summer 2020
Coming in Summer 2020
"My Brain is Trying to Kill Me" is an upcoming memoir by Hunter Keegan. It takes readers on an educational but down-to-earth exploration of severe mental illness (SMI), tackling bipolar disorder, drug addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder and related conditions.
Hunter Keegan holds a bachelor's degree in psychology as well as extensive experience working with social services agencies, and mentoring programs for adults and adolescents with SMI. He also spent most of his early twenties navigating multiple mental health crises that nearly killed him. This 360-degree perspective has created a multifaceted narrative that is eye-opening, compelling, and refreshingly candid.
Originally was to be released in Spring 2020 but was delayed due to the Covid 19 crisis. Currently slated for a late Summer 2020 release in partnership with Lost Dot Publishing.
Published by Shatterproof, May 2020
Shatterproof is a national leader in addiction recovery. Their non-profit initiatives promote harm reduction, social support, and treatment options for individuals living with drug addiction or who are recovering from drug addiction.
After severe issues with drug abuse and bipolar disorder I began my journey to recovery when I was 22 and for the first four years I avoided anything that I thought may have a psychotropic effect on my brain.
I recall my initial weeks of “drying out.” They were rough. Like many people making a new commitment to recovery I found myself in AA and NA meetings because those settings are commonly thought of as a key component of overcoming addiction.
I also recall the traditionalist approach that these types of groups advocate feeling archaic and often even judgmental. Personally, the tone and content of the established belief systems these types of groups endorse made me uncomfortable and after a couple of months I abandoned such meetings altogether.
Instead of trying to shoehorn my own recovery goals into traditionalist approaches I opted to work with a team of mental health professionals as I continued to put my issues with drug abuse behind me.
Eventually I was at the stage in my recovery where I needed to define what “recovery” meant to me and develop a comprehensive approach to continuing to avoid alcohol and other dangerous narcotics without allowing symptoms of my other mental health issues to destroy my wellbeing.
Around age 26 I had reached a crossroads: Complications related to bipolar disorder periodically arose and potentiated symptoms of mental illness that had been key factors leading to my original struggles with drug abuse.
I wanted to lead a functional life – physically and mentally. After consulting with my doctors I began using a low dose of cannabis oil in the evenings. At first I was wary, concerned about relapse and the notion that I was betraying myself.
But marijuana became a key component of my recovery and sustained commitment to physical and mental wellbeing. A building block to help me continue on my journey. This is not to say that it can be used carelessly, like any medication it comes with side effects and can even be harmful when misused.
Subsequently I incorporated responsible cannabis use with the rest of my mental health “toolbox.” I did not stop seeing my psychiatrist or therapists after beginning to use marijuana. I didn’t stop exercising, sleeping, or eating properly (all of which are key to anyone’s health!). Recovery is a complicated process and integrating cannabis into my wider treatment system proved to be an effective harm reduction and therapeutic tool.
My stance on this issue is controversial to some but I hope that others in recovery will not avoid potentially valuable options because traditionalist viewpoints abscond them.
Exploring all treatment and recovery methods in a responsible manner is paramount – be it a medication that is prescribed to you, a physical activity that you engage in, a special diet plan, or otherwise.
Our journeys in recovery create dialogues that we can share with one another. Let’s continue to keep open minds and find new, progressive ways to live our best lives and keep the conversations going.
"Sobriety is Not Boring"
Published by National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), December 2019
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a nationally-leading Non-Profit that promotes mental health outreach, advocacy for mental healthcare reform, and support for individuals living with any type of mental illness.
I’ve been sober for four years, and for someone who’s just out of college, that makes me somewhat of a black sheep among my 20-something-year-old peers. One of my least favorite things to hear is: “I can’t imagine not drinking. I would just be so bored.”
Part of the reason this statement bothers me is because I used to think this way too. When I was actively drinking, and using other drugs, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to spend an evening alone with my thoughts or attend a social setting unable to dull my senses and feelings.
But I’m here to tell you two things:
I’ve been finding healthy coping strategies to replace old patterns of behavior that led to excessive drug use. As someone who lives not only with addiction, but bipolar disorder and other comorbid conditions, it takes a lot of effort to find the right combination of strategies that leaves me feeling fulfilled.
Personally, I find creative output to be extremely rewarding. Activities like writing music, playing instruments and photography help keep my mind occupied and satisfied. Other people find hobbies such as knitting, gardening or painting to be equally worthwhile.
It’s also important to take care of your body. When I was using drugs, I developed unhealthy patterns of eating and exercising — or lack thereof — that caused my weight to change dramatically, leaving me feeling constantly fatigued and lethargic. These habits have been particularly challenging to overcome, especially since the psychiatric medications I take have side effects that impact energy, appetite and motivation. During difficult times I always remind myself: “baby steps.” It really helps keep things in perspective.
Start small, like going for a walk around the neighborhood, with the plan to one day try jogging. Set challenging, but obtainable, goals for yourself and stick to them. If you have the drive to push yourself a little bit harder (even if it’s just running an extra block or eating a protein bar instead of skipping breakfast), you’ll find that your stress, anxiety and physical fatigue will diminish.
Regardless of your past, you are in charge of your life, and you have the ability to make positive choices. Don’t let uninformed or misguided statements like “sobriety is boring” discourage you from pursuing a healthier, happier life. Be your own support system, find healthy things that make you happy, and if you do need extra help getting on the right track, there are many free community resources available throughout the country to help you.
(c.) 2020 Hunter Keegan