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Be Positive and Never Give Up

"Recovery means to me living a life of purpose and meaning regardless of symptoms or what society labels as symptoms." —Catherine Penney Read the rest of the story...

By Catherine Penney

cpenneyBe cautious about medication

I was given a diagnosis of Schizophrenia and took prescribed anti- psychotic medication for less than a year, 1968-1969 more than ten years ago. I did not at all find them helpful. They made me feel numb and I experienced horrific side effects. They made me feel more different, I became more isolated. They made me feel worse both physically and emotionally. As a psychiatric nurse, working in mental health the last 32 years I saw an increase in obesity and serious physical health problems with folks on the newer generation antipsychotics. I worked with the older adult population and many of them became incapacitated due to diabetes, cardiac, and respiratory health issues while on antipsychotic meds, not to mention memory problems. This caused a good percentage of these folks to end up in skilled nursing facilities where they continued to receive antipsychotics, some actually died.

My therapist encouraged me never to give up

I am not in mental health care now, haven't been since 1977. I have been totally recovered since 1973. Throughout the 3 years that I was hospitalized I was never given the message that I was hopeless and needed to be on antipsychotic meds for the rest of my life. Except for the one year prior to my hospitalization, I was never prescribed antipsychotic meds during my hospitalization or afterword.

My Psychiatrist/Therapist always instilled hope and pointed out my strengths which made me feel that I could accomplish whatever I chose to do in life- which included overcoming the extreme emotional/mental distress that I had been experiencing for several years. He encouraged me to not give up on my goals. It was very important that someone believed in me, that despite my outward appearance and emotional/mental instability, I was regarded with respect and with compassionate concern.

Live life as much as possible

Recovery means to me living a life of purpose and meaning regardless of symptoms or what society labels as symptoms. Recovery means being able to have significant social and/or intimate relationship with others. Recovery to me means living one's life, as much as possible, with the attitude of self-acceptance, and being able to self-reflect, and to honour one's path and/or journey as being one of incredible value. Lastly, recovery to me means not being defined by psychiatric diagnosis and seeing that life's journey can provide an inspirational pathway to others going through their own personal journeys.

Seek out folks who are positive

Never give up on yourself. Your struggle and your journey have not been in vain. You can and will recover; many who have gone through extreme mental/emotional pain and distress have recovered and have gone on to live lives of meaning and purpose. Seek out folks who are positive and supportive and don't let anger, bitterness, or resentment take up residence within your heart and soul.

Be creative

I began to get involved in creative activities, dance, and writing. I also made myself available to being of service to others going through what I had gone through. I focussed on getting in touch with my spiritual center through meditation, Tai Chai, Chi Chung, attending services that focussed on different spiritual traditions. 



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