IN ORDER TO INCORPORATE THREE HUNDRED+ HOURS OF MY VIDEO LIBRARY USED FOR THE DOCUMENTARY, "A MAN-I-C" INTO MY BLOGS, I HAVE BEEN TAKING CLASSES AND EXPERIMENTING WITH THE PROCESS. THIS IS TAKING LONGER THAN I HAD HOPED BUT I THINK IT WILL BE WELL WORTH THE WAIT. I BELIEVE THE PROCESS OF BEING ABLE TO SHOW ORGANIC FOOTAGE OF MY JOURNEY INTO MENTAL ILLNESS AND RECOVERY, WITH THE ADDITIONAL PERSPECTIVE OF THE PRESENT, WILL BE HELPFUL TO THOSE LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION. I AM WILLING TO EXPOSE MYSELF TO THIS DEGREE TO ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO DO THE SAME. IN MY OPINION, STORIES OF OUR RECOVERY ARE THE GREATEST STIGMA BUSTERS POSSIBLE.
For this post, I have written a somewhat lengthy journal about my journey into recovery. I realize for some of you this will be too lengthy to read. However, this was very therapeutic for me and I would encourage all those struggling with mental illness to write down their blessings as well.
Aril 2, 2009, (would have been my Mother’s 84 birthday) I was strapped to a gurney on 40th and 8th Ave in Manhattan and forcibly brought to St. Vincent’s Mental Hospital for emergency room intake. I was than sent to the sixth floor mental ward for two weeks. The journey to the hospital is the most fascinating and unbelievable story of my life. I have shared this with only my closest family members, long time friends, and of course necessary mental health providers. I will share my current thought and exclusive video with my subscribers in the near future.
After my hospitalization the universe directed me to National Association on Mental Illness, (NAMI) connection group in Freehold, NJ. That night I met my first gatekeeper and mentor into the world of recovery. I walked into a room of 10 people thinking I was smarter, more “normal”, and better than any of them. I walked away thinking the reverse. Unlike me, these individuals were facing their illness head on and were willing to talk about it. Their strength was more resilient than my deadly focus for obtaining orders from my unsuspecting buyers in the women’s apparel industry. The man who was facilitating the group was to become my inspiration, mentor and friend. Jay Yudof encouraged me to become a NAMI; In Our Own Voice, (IOOV) speaker; Peer-Connection Facilitator and introduced me to Collaborative Support Network of New Jersey. This non-profit organization would change my life forever.
Jay familiarized me with the definition of Recovery. I was being treated for my diagnosis for 8 years but none of the numerous hospitals, psychiatrists, psychologists or caseworkers ever mentioned that word. I believed that word saved my life. For the first time since my initial psychotic break in Jan/2001 I began to focus on; becoming a contributing member of society; set and accomplish goals and improve the quality of my life. I had a purpose for living. JUST GET BETTER!
It was at this time that I was introduced to Peggy Swarbrick. To my knowledge, one of the most respected wellness coaches in the world. She is a strong advocate for the, "Wellness Wheel," peer-support and a leader in Psych Social Rehab. Peggy instructed me on how to be a wellness-coach and encouraged me to attend the University of Dentistry and Medicine of New Jersey, (UMDNJ,Now affiliated with Rutgers University) to obtain my Psych Social Rehab Certificate, (PSRC)
A personal transformation of incredible proportion began. My instructors from UMDNJ, Nora Barret, MSW, CPRP and program director, Lou Ann Librera, MA, CPRP and Peter M. Basto, MS, CPRP were brilliant, caring, and were exceptionally talented Professors. My classmates all bonded for the year and a half and we still stay in touch. My metamorphosis from being an ego centered women’s garment center executive to a leader in the peer movement was taking shape. To be continued..