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I'm Fully Alive Now

"I'm fully alive now…living with hope, waking with a purpose. I’m feeling healthy and being grateful, eating well, resting, enjoying friends and family, and finding new hobbies such as kayaking and hillwalking. [Recovery is] working as an active member of society." —Avril Read the rest of the story...

By Avril


avrilIf you used to take prescribed psychiatric medications and no longer are, about how long has it been since the last time you took any psychiatric medication?

5 to 10 years. The amount I was prescribed knocked me out completely, meaning in one sense I had no problems, as I was asleep most of the time. Taking medication for 20+ years only helped me sleep in life, didn't help me live…I don't believe I had any goals, hopes or dreams.

In what ways have you found psychiatric medication(s) harmful?

My weight increased dramatically, causing self-loathing on top of everything else. I became addicted to them. I had no interest in anything or anyone…they did nothing to help me cope. They increased my "Mental Patient" identity. . I lived hopelessly in a vicious circle, on tablets…increase tablets, add injections…

Once I was in the system I lost all hope of ever being a "normal" person. Being a psychiatric patient was who I was…and I don't remember being discharged completely during any of this time. If medication works so well why didn't I get better? Why did I get worse?

Most of the time I couldn't work, found it hard to communicate, socialize, [or] live a life [the way] I thought other people lived. I was ashamed and hid who I was a lot of the time. I lost friends, family members…who could understand me taking 25 tablets a day when I looked OK?

If you overcame hopelessness that you could get better from a mental health or emotional problem, was there a turning point for you?

The turning point was a turning curve…I began to help other people…I built on my gratitude list, and I went back to education. I also grew in my faith in God, met people who loved and encouraged me, and I heard about the organization I now work for. I got a job supporting mental health clients.

I found a therapist who believed in me, [while] my general doctor helped me come off the medication slowly. I found love, hope, and a life. I've lost weight, and I want to live. I have energy, dreams, and a future…I'm me, and that includes great points, loving points, and fun. I'm a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a fiancé, a worker, a neighbor.

Tell us what recovery means to you. How would you define recovery from mental health or emotional problems in your own words?

I'm fully alive now…living with hope, waking with a purpose. I’m feeling healthy and being grateful, eating well, resting, enjoying friends and family, and finding new hobbies such as kayaking and hillwalking. [Recovery is] working as an active member of society. I’m helping others, loving others and myself, accepting my limitations, knowing when I need help, and not being ashamed to ask for it. I’m speaking out to break stigma.

If you could send a brief message to someone receiving mental health care today who is feeling hopeless about getting better, what would you say?

I felt useless, worthless and thought the world would be better without me in it, but that changed. Believe that as a human being, no one is better or worse than you… you are not alone, and help is available for every situation. Don't be ashamed to reach out and ask for help; you deserve the best just like everyone else. Seek information: it’s your right. Life is precious and so is yours, even if you don't feel that now. People do care.

 

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I Got Better is a project of MindFreedom International    Domain generously contributed by United by Humanity.