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Harness the Energy!

"Someone once said to me, one of the most difficult challenges in life is learning how to control, harness our energy. Slow down; give yourself time to think before reacting. Having strong energy can be a gift, once we learn how to ride the waves and not get washed under." —Cassie Read the rest of the story...

 Cassie


cassieFewer and fewer bad days.

I’ve had lots of different diagnoses. There was a time when it felt like the more medication and diagnoses I got, the worse I felt. I began to think of myself as a screw up, who was self-destructive and crazy. I started to feel so bad about myself, I often thought about suicide. It's not that I don't have bad days anymore, but slowly there came to be fewer bad days over time.

I was lucky to survive.

When I was a teenager, I was over-medicated. I was prescribed Ritalin, Klonopin, anti-psychotics, and many different anti-depressants for more than ten years. I believe that in some ways psychiatric medication was a "gateway drug" for me, leading me to use other drugs. Klonopin and Ritalin were particularly destructive. Ritalin increased the highs and lows of my mood swings, at times causing me to feel desperate and suicidal. When I was prescribed Klonopin, I also had a drinking problem and the combination caused me to get into many dangerous situations and led to blackouts. I feel lucky to have survived this period in my life.

I have found antidepressants to be helpful when I need them, typically in the winter. I generally taper off in the summer. When I am feeling really stuck, and my depression starts to cause problems in my life, which in turn makes my depression worse, I know that they can help.

The joy of being a helper.

The turning point began for me when I began working in the field and discovered the joy of being the helper, not the one in need of help. I began going to peer advocacy groups like MPOWER and Groundhogs. I started focusing on things that made me feel better, like running, art, and spending time outdoors. I slowly started to prove myself wrong...that I was not a screw-up that I had something to contribute.

I promote recovery focused services.

I am a social worker working in the elder care field. It is too hard for me to work in the mental health field right now. At my job, I advocate for elderly people to live at home or in the setting of their choice. I educate providers about in-home services and what we call the dignity of risk. I promote "recovery oriented services" and put together a wellness/recovery resource guide which includes holistic services, community activities, such as community pools, libraries that deliver books, etc., peer supports, as well as some more traditional resources. I am very active in the peer community in Massachusetts.

“The sun rose so many colours”

Here is something I recently wrote about recovery: To me, recovery is fluid. There is no magic line we cross, where we find ourselves in the sunny pastures of the “recovered.” In fact, I think this line of thinking can be dangerous, as it can make recovery seem unattainable, or can cause us to question ourselves after a hard night. However, I think there is a process where little by little “good days” can start to outnumber bad ones, and destructive ways of thinking and dealing with stress yield to more positive ones. One of my favorite songwriters, Dar Williams, sings about recovering from depression and suicidal thinking in the song, “After All.” I think it captures the joy of insight, self-acceptance and the sense of renewal I associate with recovery:

From: ”After All” lyrics Dar Williams

Well the sun rose
So many colors, it nearly broke my heart
It worked me over like a work of art
And I was part of all that

So go ahead, push your luck
Say what it is you gotta say to me
We will push on into that mystery
And it'll push right back
And there are worse things than that
Cause for every price
And every penance that I could think of
It's better to have fallen in love
Than never to have fallen at all

'Cause when you live in a world
Well it gets into who you thought you'd be
And now I laugh at how the world changed me
I think life chose me after all.

You are not broken

You are not broken or damaged beyond repair. There are so many bad messages about us out there and sometimes they are so much louder they drown out all the good ones. It is easy to start to believe that there is no hope, that we are no good, down to our core. Recovery is gradual and fluid, sometimes we don't see that we've crossed a plateau until years later we look back and say- there! That time, I started to feel better. Someone once said to me, one of the most difficult challenges in life is learning how to control, harness our energy. Slow down; give yourself time to think before reacting. Having strong energy can be a gift, once we learn how to ride the waves and not get washed under.

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