I am happy to be introducing Susan to all of you. You can find her on twitter as @zebraspolkadots and also on facebook
If you would like to hear more of her personal story you can listen in on an interview she did back in February of this year on Blog Talk Radio
Kristina, thank you for opening the floor with the invitation to do a guest post here on your blog “Our Journey Through Life”. I see it as no small coincidence that my blog is called A Journey and that somehow we have crossed paths.
My story? I’m a bit of an advocate/activist I suppose and maybe one with a different perspective. In fact, I think that if someone were taking a history of my life it would seem impossible that today I live free of the symptoms that once tormented me for so many years.
In 1992 I entered the mental health system seeking help and direction after escaping a violent marriage. My lifetime history of trauma was dismissed; my family history of abuse, neglect and dysfunctional relationships was ignored.
I spent the next 15 years with numerous diagnosis and medications that would change or be adjusted as the doctors tried to find that “magic mix” that would “fix” that chronic state of emotional and cognitive distress that I came to accept as “mental illness”.
Currently, in my work and my writing, I have opted to not spend time focused on the labels that come with a mental health diagnosis. In fact, if you visit my blog on my "About this blog" page I explain the reasoning behind it and the purpose this serves.
But to give you and your readers an idea of what is possible in this journey to “wellness” that I travel I’ve opted to “open the book” and disclose a little more of my history…
In short – I have overcome what are termed “serious” mental health issues. Here are just a few of the “diagnosis” I had accepted over those years: Clinical Depression, Bi Polar Disorder, dysthymia, ADHD, anxiety, and at the end of this part of my journey; agoraphobia, Borderline Personality Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder and PTSD.
I was completely incapacitated, disabled and dependent on people, places and things to accommodate me. I lived in isolation.
But I wanted more out of my life and set out to discover how to have the life I wanted in spite of the past I’d had.
And here I am. Establishing a business in my community as a contractor with the American Lung Association, a local hospital and other business’; Blogging daily about my journey “through” to “get out of” that place of darkness and reach the light that I so desperately wanted to find.
Creating workshops and speaking publicly about this message of empowerment, hope and healing, sharing the idea that we can make that mind-shift from “illness” to one of “wellness” and create the life of our choosing with intent, purpose and preparation.
Each day I revel in this new life I have found and the new relationships I am forging both locally and in the online community, confident in who I am and clear in the purpose of what I have chosen to do with my life and that very simply is….
To do my damndest to share the light that I have found.
I have walked all sides of this issue from being the child of one suffering greatly, to the parent of a child in this pain, I am sibling to and friend of others as well as having worked in a psychiatric residential facility and currently providing educational programming at a local inpatient mental health unit.
And if there was one message that I could deliver today to those who struggle with mental health issues, providers of mental health services as well as those who have loved ones who live in this place where the emotional and cognitive distress can become so overwhelming - that message would be one word…
Hope that we can learn – in spite of these issues, in spite of the struggles, we can learn how to create and live our best life and live far beyond survival.
Thank you, Kristina…and friends, for inviting me into your world today to share my story.
Monday, July 12, 2010
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