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Aim for a Balanced Life

"Recovery to me is taking back my power, learning what caused my original problems, and how to deal with life and what it offers." —Carli

Carli


carliMedications masked my trauma

I’ve had many different diagnoses including Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder & Schizophrenia. 

Over a ten year period I took a lot of different medications although it’s been between five - ten years since I last took any. The medications masked the trauma at the heart of my problems. The side-effects caused Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, Tardive Dyskinesia, weight gain, vision impairment, gastro-intestinal problems, inability to concentrate, think, form coherent thoughts, and near death.

Don’t plan on having a normal life

From the very beginning, I was told that I should keep a bag packed, never plan on attending college again, never have more than perhaps a token job, never have a family or normal life. 

Everything I said was regarded as pathological, every goal was created by a case manager and had to do with medication compliance rather than real life goals. I believed them for a long time, until I heard stories of people who had recovered, who weren't on meds anymore, and had succeeded in life.

It was scary but it worked.

When I decided to leave the public mental health system, and try alternative care, only then did I feel I was in control of my life, and became hopeful. I had been under their "care" for 30 years. It was scary, but it worked. I am mostly symptom free now and happy with my life. It took years of careful titration to get off the drugs, and I found a trauma specialized psychiatrist who doesn't pressure me to take meds.

I got angry

After years of sitting on a couch, watching TV without thinking, I was watching the Clarence Thomas hearing where they were crucifying Anita Hill. For the first time in years my mind started working, and I got angry. 

From that point, I began to question everything including the routine of living only for appointments at the mental health clinic. I started cutting back on meds, so I could focus again, and reading everything I could on recovery. I read old issues of Madness Network News, made contact with MindFreedom, and decided that everything I had been told was a lie.

Recovery is taking back power!

Recovery to me is taking back my power, learning what caused my original problems, and how to deal with life and what it offers. It has been learning what triggers my reactions, learning new coping skills, using a WRAP type of plan to deal with problems that come up and limiting stress in my life. Don't believe everything you are told, seek balance, and don't let them label you.

Balance your life

I was the Chairman of the Texas Mental Health Consumers, a state wide consumer network. I participated in state level mental health planning and advocacy groups, I was the executive director for a non-profit advocacy organization, a VISTA volunteer for the state's cross disability organization, played bass in the Amarillo Symphony, went back to school and studied music, art and psychology. I no longer do any of the advocacy work, because in Texas it was "bought" out by the mental health establishment.

I have learned to set realistic goals, worked to balance my life, have lost 125 pounds, got my health and vitality back and have an organic garden. I simplified my life, and live in the "now" rather than the "could have been or could be."

 

 

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