100th Blog

Writing this particular blog is a major milestone; a milestone in the fact that it is my 100th blog. Blogging on the subject of Mental Illness hasn’t been an easy feat. It hasn’t been easy for me to write on the topic of mental illness due to my own struggles with it and the lack of education. I have the lack of education to convey what I desire to tell you in regards to mental illness. Due to my struggles with mental illness I was unable to go to college and now it’s the lack of funds that I am unable to attend college. On the flip side, I am able to convey how one feels as well as how one deals when one struggles with a mental illness. I am however able to convey something on mental illness that and “educated” person cannot because I live with one. Who better to educate others on mental illness than those who struggle with one? Well, maybe those who not only struggle with a mental illness but have an education in field that deals with mental illness.

Dealing with a mental illness is not an easy thing to deal with because of the struggles one must have to endure when it comes to symptoms.  Learning to deal with the symptoms of a mental health diagnosis in a positive way is a start in  the recovery process. Recovery is not only a difficult journey as well as process but a difficult choice. Yes, recovery is a choice, a choice which one must be a willing participant. Of course being in recovery is an effort that others must be included in because going the journey alone just makes the journey not worth the effort to do. Once a person chooses the road to recovery that person will need all the support they can receive.

The support that one receives looks different to everyone’s own recovery. For me and my own recovery my support system is continuing to grow and be more supportive. My support system includes professionals (such as my therapist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, primary care physician, etc.) as well as natural supports (such as my boyfriend, friends, current and past co-workers, selected family members, etc.). If it wasn’t for the continued support of the people I consider my support system, I would not be able to enjoy my life or even be in recovery. Yes, it is choice that I must make and choose to make however without the support I would not be able to continue on the road of recovery.

The point I am trying to make is that one who struggles with a mental illness needs all the positive support they can get especially when they choose to walk in recovery. Choosing recovery is a personal decision not a forced decision. Being forced into recovery (and in most cases treatment) does more harm than good. The last thing we who struggle with mental illness is to be forced to go into treatment. Yes, in some cases it is a good idea to be put into involuntary treatment but in most cases it is NOT a good idea.

My recovery means the world to me. Yes, there might be relapses and bumps in the road but I will have the support of my support network as well as all the skills I have learned throughout the years. If it wasn’t for my recovery I would not have been able to be employed at my previous employer much less get my current job as a consumer aide at a mental health agency. I have worked endlessly to get where I am at and I owe it all to those who have helped me through out the years. It is to those who have helped me through out the years that this blog is dedicated to. If it wasn’t for the help of many people I would have not been able to be posting my 100th blog much less been able to start this blog to share my recovery as well as to educate those who do not have a mental illness. It is my hope that this blog continues to educate people as well as give hope to those who are struggling and that recovery is possible.

I want to thank you for reading and/or following my blog. It means a great deal to me. I hope that with the next hundred blogs that I will able to continue to convey hope and recovery as well as educate on mental illness. Yes, I know I am not a teacher however some of the best educators in my life  were NOT teachers.

I hope to blog again in the next day or so. I am thrilled that I am able to share my life with you as well as be able show people that there is hope and recovery is possible and that people with mental illness are fully capable human beings. Have a good rest of your weekend all. Peace Out and have fun!!!

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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!!

Blogging With Burned Fingers

     Well its another Wednesday and unfortunately was unable to go to my volunteer job today. I was unable to go because I accidently burned three fingers last night cleaning my stove. The attending physician that saw me last night in the ER called me to see how my fingers were. I told her that they hurt like hell but seem to be doing well. Even the nurse that took care of me last night called to see how my fingers are doing and I told her the same thing I told the doctor. Speaking of doctors I made an appointment to see my doctor tomorrow for a follow from the ER visit regarding my burned fingers.

     Since I didn’t go to my volunteer job today, I continued reading A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. I am really surprised that I am enjoying the book. I have to admit that I am a little disappointed with the school district that I graduated from because they didn’t require the students in Special Ed English to read the classics like the rest of the students. I was a mainstreamed Special Ed student. That means that most of my classes were regular classes. The only Special Ed class I was in was English because of my dyslexia and other “reading issues.” Don’t get me started on the lack of education I got from the school district I graduated from. The school district I spent most of my school years in was absolutely great but the school district I ended up graduating in was lacking quite a bit. Getting back on topic of reading, I am really enjoy A Tale of Two Cities.

     I also read some comic books. I read four Wonder Woman comics, two Superman comics, two Batman comics, two Spiderman comics and three X-Men comic. . I love comic books. Just like reading “normal” books, reading comics distracts me from a lot of things. It distracts me from the every day stress of life and at times distracts me from the symptoms of my mental illness. I collect all sort of comic books but I mainly collect Wonder Woman. I am a big Wonder Woman fan. I don’t discriminate between the comic book universes because both universes have there great characters.

     After I am done blogging for the evening my boyfriend and I are going to watch documentaries on homelessness. If you have been reading my blog you know that I volunteer at a homeless shelter and that I am passionate about ending homelessness. I really missed going to my volunteer job today at the homeless shelter. I can relate a great deal to most of the clients in the shelter because most of them have a mental illness. Plus at one point in time I was homeless. Thankfully it was only a short amount of time. Yes, I have my favorite clients even though we are not suppose to. A lot of the clients do seek out mental health help as well as help with addictions from alcohol and/or drugs. Unfortunately, some don’t get treatment. Getting treatment or not getting treatment is an entire different blog entry in itself.

     I better get going. My fingers are hurting like hell at the moment. I wasn’t expecting to blog so much today. Word to the wise make sure your burner is completely off when you clean your stove. I really thought I turned the burner of all the way last night when I started cleaning the stove. Well, I need to get going.

     Have a great Wednesday evening everyone. Now it’s time spend time with my boyfriend. Peace out and enjoy the rest of your Wednesday.