I do presentations about my recovery on a regular basis and I always say that recovery is when a person believes that “mental illness is a part of a person, but does not define the person.” I am in recovery, because mental illness no longer controls my entire life. I will always have to acknowledge its presence in my life and cope with it, but I am a person who refuses to be defined by mental illness alone.
2. The wonderful, supportive relationship I have with my therapist, family and communities. I know that isolation is a death sentence and that my recovery depends on the healthy relationships between me and supportive people, which is why I am an active participant in my church, several book clubs, an alumni mental health group and a support group.
3. Providing hope to others. Posting to my blog, Hope is Real!, and speaking about recovery for NAMI and seeing how my actions influence other people for the better gives my life meaning. Having a purpose to my life keeps me positive, motivated and away from the pits of depression.
Why do you think it is important to tell your story?
Our stories provide hope-hope to consumers, hope to families and hope to us. Many people still believe that one is stuck being trapped in an eating disorder or having BPD forever. I am proof that that is not true. Many people believe that they are stuck always being depressed or anxious or in the throes of schizoaffective disorder or the mood swings of bipolar disorder. I am proof that one can learn to manage all of those disorders, because yes, at one time or another, I have been diagnosed with just about every disorder, which makes me very relateable and also living proof that one can have any disorder and still live through it and still have a productive and extremely satisfying life. Our stories of hope are the most important thing for the world to hear in a time when mental illness is equated with gun control laws.