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Standing Tall and Liking Yourself

"Recovery means standing tall and liking yourself and brushing off the negativity others have put on you because you were labeled... it means standing up for yourself." —Kathry Cascio; Albany, NY Read the rest of the story...

Kathryn Cascio; Albany, NY


kcascioNOT a mental patient for life!

I thought I would be a mental patient the rest of my life and never be able to be independent, but I’ve been off all psychiatric medications for more than a year.

The side effects of medications were very damaging. I broke my pelvis due to fainting because of over medication. I gained weight and probably won't know some of the long term effects for a while yet. The medications made me feel like a zombie and foggy. I could not feel anything. They [mental health professionals] were mostly focused on symptoms and if I was experiencing a hard time I would not be supported in my goals and actually have them taken away. For example being put back into a community residence from an apartment, etc.

However, when I was still seeing a psychiatrist (in order to get off meds), she was actually pretty supportive. This is not something I had encountered before.

Peer support works

The turning point for me was when a person came to my day treatment program and offered a Peer Specialist class. I learned about self-help, peer support and the peer movement. I had hope for the first time in twenty years and I have never looked back. I no longer receive services from the mental health system and now work for a peer run organization.

I became active in the peer movement and started advocating for system transformation. I now advocate to abolish the system because it is so toxic. Finding people who believed what I believe has made a world of difference. Peer support works and I am living proof of it!

Brushing off the label

Recovery means gaining back your life, your hope, your value as a person. It means independence, getting out of poverty, having relationships that are not based on mental health issues. It means standing tall and liking yourself and brushing off the negativity others have put on you because you were labeled.

It means understanding your trauma and not letting it define you. Knowing that you have normal reactions to abnormal life circumstances.

It means standing up for yourself.

Stop listening to mental health professionals

Stop listening to mental health professionals. They do not know you and they are only looking at you as a "client" – it’s their job.

Every human being has value. Don't buy into whatever they labeled you.

If you really look at yourself you will find your strengths and gifts. Ask your peers, rely on your peers, lift each other up and don't let anyone tell you that you can't accomplish your goals. I was stuck in the mental health system for 20 years. I believed what they told me. Then I saw the light and have never looked back.

I am very happy and very independent and it is all because I stopped listening to mental health professionals!


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