1,000 Days

     Happy Monday, Everyone!!! Today, marks 1,000 days since I was last discharged from a inpatient psych unit. Hence, the reason why I titled this blog entry 1,000 Days. For me 1,000 days is a major accomplishment. This is the longest that I have been out of the hospital for psych reasons since I was a teenager. Being out of the hospital for 1,000 days just shows on how much I have accomplished in my recovery and of course I had many people who have helped with this process.

     I guess if I really look back my recovery process started back in 1999. Yes, my recovery process started 15 years ago. I may have not been in recovery with my mental health for 15 years but I have been in recovery from the eating disorders for that long. In my late teens and early twenties I considered myself a Christian. In fact I was highly involved in the Christian community. I share this with you because its part of my story of how I am in recovery with both Anorexia and Bulimia. Being active in the church I was attending and being a huge “Christian” music fan at the time, I had heard of this place called Mercy Ministries. Mercy Ministries is a place for “troubled young women” with all sorts of issues including eating disorders. The thing that drew me to Mercy Ministries at the time was that it is Christian and free. At the time it was the best choice I made. In fact to this day I don’t regret making the decision to go all the way to Nashville from the West Coast of the United States. I did graduate from Mercy Ministries and it is one of the greatest accomplishments in my life. I as a thirty-something may not consider myself as Christian anymore and am happy that as a twenty-something Christian, I made one of the best decisions in my life. I may not agree that I was healed from Anorexia and Bulimia but I do believe that because of Mercy Ministries I am in recovery from both eating disorders. I haven’t had any relapses with either eating disorder but I do struggle on occasion with the urges of the eating disorders. I believe that both eating disorders are a life long struggle and it is a choice I make to give in to those urges or not. I choose to not give in to those urges.

     Now that you know where I my recovery started or at least with the eating disorders, now let me tell you about my mental health recovery. My mental health recovery is much more of a rollercoaster ride than my eating disorder recovery. My mental health recovery started October 2003 when I entered an intensive two year out patient Dialectical Behavior (DBT) program. At the time I entered the  DBT program I had been in and out of inpatient psych wards and hospitals more than 40 times. That’s more times than my current age. While being in the DBT program I was required to get a job which I am beyond grateful that I was required to do. In fact the job was a requirement for the second year of the DBT program I was in. If it wasn’t a requirement for me to get job I wouldn’t haven’t gotten a job and I am forever grateful that it was a requirement because I have been employed with same employer now for 9 years. The two years I was the program I only ended up in an inpatient unit once. I graduated from both years of the DBT program (first and second years).

      After I graduated from the DBT program in November 2005 I decided to go back to the current mental health agency I seek services at. Since going back to the current mental health agency in February of 2006, I have had a high turn over of clinicians and many more hospitalizations. In fact if it wasn’t for my last clinician switching to a different team in the agency, I wouldn’t have gotten my current therapist. I have had my current therapist since December of 2008. In fact Diana is the therapist I have had the longest in all the years I have been in therapy. Diana has helped me a great deal in the last 5 1/2 years. In fact if it wasn’t for  Diana helping me through the pain I have struggled with and still struggle with I wouldn’t have been able to stay out of the hospital for 1,000 days. Diana is one of many people who have helped me in the last 11 years. 

     Over last the last 11  or so years of mental health recovery I have found out a lot about myself. For instance when I was in DBT I realized that I am passionate about politics and got involved with it. I stopped for a long while when I started working and now I am wanting to get back into it. I also realized with one clinician I had that I am bi-sexual. I thank the universe that I figured out I was bi. Yes, my boyfriend know I am bi. I have also realized how much I love music and collecting comic books. I love Wonder Woman comic books. I got into collecting comic books. I am not only collecting Wonder Woman but Batman, Superman, Spiderman, and X Men. When I was in the height of my mental illness I stopped playing the flute and decided about 2 years ago to pick it back up and to start teaching myself to play the harmonica again. I also realized that I not only love rap and alternative music but country music as well. I also enjoy jazz. I also realized that I really enjoy reading and that I love reading Classic Literature. I tend to read memoirs and autobiographies of those who struggle or have struggled with mental  illness. I also enjoy reading mysteries, horror, sci fi and fantasy. I am telling you all this because when you are struggling with a mental illness you don’t realize what you like or enjoy and if you do know what you like or enjoy you forget about it because mental illness sucks the life out of you. One of the most important things I’ve learned is to educate myself about my particular diagnosis as well as the latest research regarding mental illness, therapies and meds. Another major thing I have learned or come to realize is to depend on my natural support system.

     Speaking of my natural support system they are throwing me a barbeque because of being out of the hospital for 1,000 days. They know its a big deal for me. I just wish they weren’t making it out to be a bigger deal than it really is. This small barbeque is turning out to be a party. I just wanted it to be about 12 or so people. Apparently there are more than twenty people coming because they want to celebrate my success of 1,000 days. I know its a big deal but I wish they weren’t making it out to be a big deal.

     I better get going. I need to get ready for the barbeque. I am suppose to be there at 5:30(pacific time) and its now 4:22pm. I should get going and allow my support system to celebrate this day with me. Peace Out Everyone!!

Book Review on: The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks

     Hey! I finally finished the book The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, by Elyn R. Saks. I am going to give you a book review on the book. I have never done a book review in my life unless of course if you count book reports that you had to do in elementary school and junior high. I hope that the following review gives some insight of mental illness and hope of some sort of recovery for those of us who struggle with mental illness.

     The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks in my opinion is an extremely good book. It kept my attention and that is difficult to do especially since one of my many struggles happens to be ADHD. Well, the book is a memoir of Ms. Saks life and her struggles with Schizophrenia. Ms. Saks is an accomplished woman. She graduated from Vanderbilt, Oxford and Yale Law School and doing all that in the height of her illness. She is a professor at USC school of law. The book is her journey to a life worth living for her and in her terms. Its very inspiring. She is what “society” views as a success. I hope that one day I can be a success in societies eyes like her even though my career path is not like hers and my educational path is nowhere close to hers. That’s okay because everybody’s path is different. I highly encourage you all to read it. It is my opinion that it would be a condition of employment if you work with people who struggle with mental illness. Ms. Saks gives insight that no text book can ever do. 

     This book gives me hope for my own recovery with my mental illness even though I don’t struggle with Schizophrenia. I hope that if a person who struggles with mental illness reads the book that they can get hope from it as well. It is also my hope that the book gives some insight about someone’s struggles with mental illness to those who don’t struggle with one as well as those who work with those who struggle with one. It’s not easy dealing with a mental illness and the stigma that goes along with that doesn’t make it any easier.

     I don’t think my book review is all that great but the book is absolutely amazing. It’s a must read. Now that I am done with the review I will end this blog entry for now. Have a good evening everyone and enjoy the rest of your Wednesday. Peace out everyone.