Asheville, North Carolina USA
"I am not broken; in fact, I am whole and complete, worthy of love and belonging. I am an individual in recovery from mental health struggles and I believe that my life matters.
My journey with the mental health system began when I was labeled an 'out of control' child, forced to take anti-psychotics, taken to weekly therapy, and put in special classes at school for the 'emotionally disturbed'. Despite the trauma and chaos of my youth, I was relatively stable during my high school and early college years and I experienced happiness and success.
My mental health struggles began to intensify once again during my senior year of college. Depression crept in; I no longer had the motivation to get of bed, thoughts of suicide enveloped my brain, and I lost interest in activities I once enjoyed. I also struggled with severe anxiety, experiencing panic attacks which included severe chest pain and breathlessness that convinced me I was dying.
Over the next several years I was in-and-out of psychiatric hospitals, given over 10 different diagnoses, put on a myriad of psychotropic medications, and court-ordered to weekly therapy. Despite all the treatment, I continued to decline and prayed for my death. As a last effort, I had ECT treatments while in the hospital in July 2016. After leaving the hospital, I was shocked to find out my parents had packed up my apartment; it felt like they were forcing me to come home and live with them.
Moving home with my parents, I was soul crushed, beyond devastated with my life, and it felt like I had hit rock bottom. I had almost finished my master’s degree and had to drop out of the program. I began to pray to God and, through prayer, began my recovery journey.
I started going to NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) meetings. At the encouragement of my family I left for residential treatment in Asheville, NC in May 2017. Here I received immense social support and was surrounded by people who supported my recovery. I participated in the volunteer crew, which helped me to think about others. I also learned activities, such as yoga and meditation, which helped me to get out of my head and into my heart and body. I started teaching swim lessons to individuals of all ages at the YMCA which gave me a sense of purpose and uplifted my spirits. I’m grateful for the opportunity to sing and dance with WACC, the Wild Asheville Community Choir, which supports my recovery by accepting me as I am and giving me an outlet for my creativity.
Hope has been critical to my recovery journey. My spirituality gives me hope. I know that even on my darkest days when I cannot cope or find comfort in the world, I am loved and cared for by the greater universe. I have come to realize that, despite the labels I’ve been given such as 'disabled' and 'borderline', I am capable and am enough just as I am in the present moment.
The path to recovery was not easy; there were many ups-and-downs. Recovery for me is self-advocacy, self-care, believing in myself, and knowing that I am not my diagnoses. I have hope for my future and hold the hope that you can recover, too. Recovery is the expectation, not the exception.
I’ve recently become trained as a NC Peer Support Specialist; I hope to be able to use this certification to support others as they navigate the mental health field and help them to journey into and through recovery. I’m thankful that I am me, flaws and all. I’m thankful that I’m alive. I’m not sure what the future will lead to but I’m excited to find out."