Today is Friday, October 25, 2007 and this is my first post for AnxietyConnection. I first began posting five months ago for MyDepressionConnection.com, and now I am moving on over to the anxiety pages. I am pleased to be identified with this portion of the site, as my main mental health issue is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and this falls under anxiety disorders.
Within my diagnosis of PTSD there are also anxiety and depression diagnoses. I will be writing chiefly on anxiety and PTSD but some depression issues will pop up too, I'm sure, as so many mental health concerns cross over into one another. I will also be sharing news and information on public health and policy issues, on-going advocacy updates for mental health concerns, and federal and state paperwork as it pertains to disability or low income due to mental health matters.
Some information on me: I was living with undiagnosed PTSD (anxiety and depression too) from the age of two up until I was 27 years old. At 27, I reached my "tipping point" and required serious medical intervention for my mental health concerns as they were running my life and I was at a complete loss. It was only then that I was officially diagnosed and began to receive treatment. By this point, my ability to secure an income was gone, my savings were gone, and I had sold just about everything I owned. What self-confidence I had achieved was out the window as well.
It is now 12 years later, and at 39 years old I am living productively as I successfully manage my mental health illnesses. I consider myself to be in recovery-rather than recovered-as I realize that for me, maintaining any sort of health and well-being requires medication compliance and commitment to therapy and self-care. Living almost an entire lifetime with mental health concerns, I know what it feels like to be engulfed and stymied by mental illness; I also know what it feels like to experience the fulfillment of living peacefully and happily. These two approaches to living are at opposing ends of the wellness spectrum, and I am dedicated to retaining the progress I have achieved up to this point.
Living successfully by our own definitions is what I believe we all strive for. Wellness may not be achieved overnight, but through sharing our experiences, learning for ourselves what works and what doesn't work, and generating awareness and education between ourselves and others, we will all contribute to the same outcome: health, wellness and taking mental illness seriously.
I will be sharing on this site what I have gained from my own experience with mental illness as well as the experience gained through my advocacy network. (My advocacy network is something I started on my own, and I am not employed by any agency.)
In many ways, I am a full gamut woman. I have lived with untreated and treated mental illness. I have experienced losing all I knew (property, career, and an understanding of how the world worked) and starting all over from scratch. I am a recipient of SSDI and have gone through the denial processes time and again, only to appear before an administrative law court judge. I have also experienced what it is like to come into my own, start anew, and not have mental illness define the sum of who I am.
I am still dependent on government programs, but several years ago I took a leap of faith to create my own freelance/contracting businesses to begin to generate an income. I am still below poverty level status, but that is okay! I am achieving an income again and learning how to stay well. I truly look forward to the day when I may tell the government thank you, and begin to pay for the next person, who like me, needs the support.
In the meantime, I strive to do my best. I am not able to work everyday, but when I can work, I do. I need time for numerous doctor and therapy appointments, and being able to create my own schedule allows for this to happen. I know I can not be relied upon to show up at a job from 9-5. As I watch folks with briefcases getting on the metro in their suits and shiny shoes, I sometimes wish I could be like them (as I did this for years prior to disability). I have come to accept that my work life is different. Not better or worse, just different.
I will contribute blogs as well as articles to this site. I do hope that any questions, thoughts, concerns or additional information will be shared by others in the community. I am not one to think I have all the answers and I am always open to feedback. Your sharing will only amplify the services provided here. I simply believe I am someone who has gone though the system, experienced diagnosis and treatment, lost everything and is now returning full swing, with the desire to share what I have learned and to be of use and support.
There is so much to be shared about mental illness and how it touches every aspect of life. I look forward to participating in a dialogue with your comments and your thoughts. I respectfully ask you to share as you are comfortable.
Published On: October 29, 2007