I’m very excited to write that I’m traveling today. I’ll write when I’m settled.
I am happy to announce that after discovering, waiting, researching, waiting, applying, waiting, being accepted, waiting, training, and waiting, I am now a Certified Peer Specialist Intern in mental health licensed by the state I live in.
I am going on a three-week trip to attend a family reunion and visit my parents. I will leave next week and return in early June. As soon as I return, I will start my internship at the state-run Community Mental Health Clinic here. That’s right. I have a job.
I am so grateful for this opportunity to work in the field of mental health. I want to help. I want to recover.
Yesterday was not an easy one for me. It was busy with emails flying about and doctor appointments and phone calls. The emails were unfortunately very confrontational, and they caused me a lot of anxiety.
Over the years of therapy I’ve been grateful to have, I’ve come to recognize negative emotions in my body right from the very beginning. For me, they start in my stomach. When I feel it churning or burning, I know that I’m experiencing anxiety or fear. When my chest tightens, then I’ve already missed the early warning signs, and the situation grew. If my face muscles clench or I have a headache, then things are out of control.
Thankfully yesterday, I caught my emotions while they were still in my stomach. It was extremely unpleasant, and I was relieved to have two appointments with health professionals. I saw my psychiatric prescribing nurse practitioner and my psychologist. Both are very competent women with many years in their fields, and I trust them fully.
The nurse practitioner and I had a good opportunity to discuss the situation, and she had some great feedback. She suggested that I begin to disengage from the volunteer organization that I spend so much time and energy giving to. She didn’t tell me to quit, but to let others in the group step up and do much of the work. I have been doing this since the beginning of the year, and I’m continuing it.
My psychologist had even more concrete ideas about easing the trouble causing my upset stomach. I had been insulted by one conversaion, and she suggested I write a very short note to the friend who had hurt me. I did that. I wrote clearly that my feelings were hurt. I did not write in anger. I did not express any either. I stated simply what words hurt me. Just discussing the idea of writing the note eased my churning stomach. Actually doing it and hitting the send button on my computer gave me more satisfaction. Later, I received a simple and heartfelt apology. All was well.
My psychologist paid me a great compliment. When I began counseling with her many years ago, it would take us many sessions to dig up my emotions. Yesterday, I entered her office and immediately explained my upset stomach and what was causing it. We came to a good conclusion, and I followed through. All that was accomplished in one sitting.
I have learned to pay attention to my body. It doesn’t lie to me. If something is wrong in my environment or with a situation that I can’t put my finger on, I can trust the sensations my body is giving me. I did not learn this overnight. It took many years, and I am still perfecting it. I will always be a work in progress.
Anxiety is awful. It robs us of clear thinking and overall enjoyment of life. Causes of anxiety are as numerous as grains of sand on the beach. I used to be terribly frightened to drive in parking lots. Life is not simple, and I needed a coping mechanism to allow me to park with minimal fear and greatest safety. I learned to plot my course. I visualized entering the parking lot from the same spot and turning down the same lane each time. My decision was to park in the first available stall regardless of its distance from the store’s entrance.
It worked. I learned to practice this visualizing and planning technique with many other situations in my life. Whatever gave me fear would be met by clear thinking and discussions with caregivers and planning.
I am not alone today. I have people who care about my success at daily living. They help, and I am learning to accept help.
My friend suffering from major depression contacted me after a long quiet spell. Actually, I initiated the communication reaching out to him. We’ve been sending text messages for a number of days now. He doesn’t seem to have the energy to speak on the phone.
I’ve known him for about six or seven years now. I’ve talked to him in times of deep crisis and in happy ones, too. When my internship begins, I am going to strongly urge him to join in the WRAP classes.
A Wellness Recovery Action Plan as taught by certified facilitators has the capacity to alter lives. It changed mine. I cannot stress enough my personal transformation. I walked into the job training a frightened individual who believed he was defined by his illness. I leaped through a stage or two of recovery the first week. My eyes opened. I shed my negative self-talk miraculously.
Recovery works. It really works.
My friend can’t see that as yet, and I do not push. I offer understanding. I have been in the dark pit of despair and made it out with the help of a cadre of supporters. I had family, friends, case workers, a therapist, a psychiatrist, and a psychiatric prescribing nurse practitioner all working to find what would work for me. I believe it allowed me to reach a place of acceptance, opening me to the possibilities of recovery.
My mantra encourages those suffering depression to do just one nice thing for themselves each day. Just one. A simple one.
Many years ago when I was at my lowest, my one nice thing was brushing my teeth. I was incapable of more. Gradually, I was able to exert a bit more energy and add activities to my list each day, but I began slowly.
It’s important for people with mental illness to practice loving acts of self-care. We, who often feel the opposite, are worthy. I am worth it.
May 15, 2013 is Mental Health Blog Day at the American Psychological Association’s site, yourbodyyourmind.org. They have an excellent list of mental health blogs, and you can access it here. My little blog made the list, too. It’s surprising and an honor. My submitted post can be read by clicking here.
I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.
It may be a bit late in the day, as the saying goes, but I am joining A Canvas of the Minds in their quest to educate readers about recovery from mental illness.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1 with psychotic features over eleven years ago, and nothing in my life has been the same. I have fears that are difficult to explain like driving through parking lots. At times I am quite brave however. I have experienced traumatic episodes of depression and euphoria. I hear you asking how euphoria can be traumatic. Well, the delusions of super powers really are painful and humiliating.
After many years of differing results to medication therapy and to talk therapy, I believe I am in a stable place. I have recently completed training by a government agency and am now a Certified Peer Specialist Intern in mental health. It is my life’s goal to educate all persons about mental illness and to enrich the lives of those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness by sharing the many therapeutic practices that have helped me recover.
I am pledging or inviting five of my fellow bloggers who have stood with me and have proven their mettle in my eyes as mental health bloggers. They are
Working and writing together, we can show the world about recovery from mental illness.
Bipolar disorder is a disease, and I can really feel it today. I am dis-eased. To put it simply, I’m uneasy. I’ve got too many irons in the fire, as it were. I’ve got too much going on.
I am leaving for a long trip in a week. I’m flying far and staying with my aging parents for three weeks. We’re also having a family reunion while I’m there. I am looking forward to the trip, but it does cause me anxiety. I am going to be revealing my sexual orientation to many of them for the first time. That’s enough to make anybody nervous.
At the same time, I have heard from the bureaucrats in charge of my internship placement that things are looking up. I should be meeting with the head of a mental health clinic here before I fly away. It will be a simple meeting and less than a formal interview. Still, I’m nervous about it.
My car needs some repairs. One required the mechanic to order a part, and we’ve been waiting for it to arrive for three months. The piece arrived, but the mechanic has not picked it up, and the repairs are delayed, and my mind is spinning.
I spoke to my mother about bringing an old laptop computer to give them. It would make sharing pictures infinitely easier. She agreed much to my surprise. I spent a lot of time getting it cleaned of all my old things that are unneeded. I’ve made it into a very simple-to-use machine really meant for the easiest tasks only. I got them an email account, and now, when I get there, we’ll only have to find them an Internet service provider. Hopefully, that will prove simple.
My stomach is churning. I can hear ringing in my ears. My feet want to dance under the desk. I have the jitters.
I am reminded that this, too, shall pass.
Breathe. Just keep breathing, and do one thing at a time.