In May of 2009, at the age of 56, I was released after two weeks from my 2nd forced stay at a mental hospital. I was living my worst personal nightmare, just repeating the same bipolar psychotic episode cycle as the first one in January of 2000 with even more emotional, personal and physical damage. Guilt was enveloping me. My sons and current friends deserted me. My body reacted to the stress of the episode with atrial fibrillation. Negative looping thoughts became the powerful energy that would surely dig me into a dark, early grave.
Persistence with Health Insurance Pays Off
I called my health insurance and begged them to save me from taking my life. They sent me to an Intensive Out Patient facility, (IOP). For six weeks I attended groups to learn new tools for mental health recovery, and more importantly, to learn that I was an addict.
Drugs Add Fuel to the Fire
Speaking of drug addiction, at the age of 15, marijuana was my first drug of choice. In the fashion industry, drugs were part of the culture, and my drug habit escalated. Always involved in whatever drug was popular in that decade, I was using my favorites, marijuana, cocaine and quaaludes, during both psychotic bi-polar episodes. Getting my drug addiction under control was paramount to mental health recovery.
Giving Back Adds Clarity
Upon completing my six-week course and determined to get better, I began my recovery by starting the first Marijuana Anonymous, (MA) in Monmouth County, New Jersey. This was a life changer. Viewing myself differently, the perception of my environment became much clearer.
Furthering Goals Through Education
The next step forward became the rocket fuel needed to propel me towards a better destiny. When I started working at CSPNJ, an incredible mental health organization, Peggy Swarbrick took me under her wing after attending her one-week intensive wellness class.
I've been sharing what was learned in that one week with hundreds of people a month for the past 4 years as a mental health speaker. The Eight Dimensions of Wellness and Mindfulness would be a great addition to everyone's mental health toolbox in order to live a life of joy, happiness and purpose.
After earning a wellness certificate, I obtained a Social Psych Rehab Certification from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, (UMDNJ). The intensive 18-month program focused on helping individuals recover from mental illness and the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation NJ paid for it! The DVR is a great resource for individuals living with severe mental illness (SMI).
UMDN has now been integrated into Rutgers University. The professors, department heads and fellow students were awesome and encouraged all of us to further our careers. I will always be thankful to Ken Gill, Nora Barrett, and other staff members who contributed to my education.
Learning more about my illness and how to promote recovery put a torturous, nine-year, downward spiral to a halt. Please click on the above links to learn more about tools to help your recovery. And always believe – recovery is possible!