I Created an Environment I Love to Live In

Crystal D. Choate; Kenai, AL

During your mental health care, have you often felt hopeful about your chance of getting better?

Yes.  It is reverse psychology for me. Mental health workers, (not all, there is always one who supports you) say I can’t ever get better. Well I tell you I will get better. Don’t tell me there is no fixing this problem. I see people at conferences who have got better…. I looked to them, my peers and found answers by asking many questions.

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

Self education. I started reading books… self help books, all kinds of books. I always got at least one little thing out of a book to help me in my life and thinking abilities. Mary Ellen Copeland was the beginning for me. Create a life you love to look at. 1996 was my turning point. By hanging around with others who have MH issues, I learned a lot of good stuff on how to cope and have Hope. An article that stated, “It took years to get this ill. It will take Time and Effort to get well again.” A billboard that stated, “A bad attitude is like a flat tire, You cant go anywhere until you change it.” I had to change a lot of flat tires in my brain.

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

Stop. Rest. Identify what is happening to my body and brain. Working closely with my Physician with open communications. Baby steps, one day at a time. Having the support from my loved ones to not give up, but to fight to find answers to feeling better for Me and My situation. To me recovery is just the beginning to getting well and staying well and happy. So when there is a crash (and there will be), my recovery team sends out all the emergency assistance I need to get back on track. Love Love Love and tough love from all.

How recovered do you consider yourself from any mental health or emotional problems? Please use your own definition of recovered. Indicate your level of recovery using a 10-point scale with 1 being “not recovered at all” and 10 being “fully recovered.”


Can you give examples showing you have gotten better from a mental or emotional problem, such as how you are doing well or accomplishing goals you have chosen?

Fifteen years of examples could go in a book. It is a roller coaster ride. From the book “Co-dependent No More” I learned about Goals and Patience. I don’t cry every day in pain feeling bad any more.

In the beginning I traveled out of Alaska and to Juneau to Advocate for MH Parity. Spoke before the State HESS committee on MH issues twice. Attended State conferences and became a NAMI secretary for our local Kalifornsky affiliate. Created presentations about living with a mental Illness for locals and state conferences. Produced a Newsletter- “Beach Access” on MH issues, distributed to over 100 people in Alaska and eight states. Board training classes through Foreaker, speaking through Toast Masters and many other educational experiences as available. Created and held a Board Training workshop for our NAMI Wasilla Affiliate Officers. Went to Washington DC to advocate at the Clifford Beers Conference.

Organized and sought donations for Three WRAP classes here in Kenai AK. Took WRAP Facilitator training, and my story was accepted in Mary Ellens book, “The WRAP Story” ….in the facilitators section. Now That is MOTIVATION! I created an environment I love to live in. I got a dog, Bought a HOUSE of my very own, with all its responsibilities can be scary, but worth it. I have set boundaries to keep myself well with the help of the WRAP program, for 15 years now. I look forward, even if slow going, to my future as a WRAP Facilitator and mentor. And so much more…….

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?

Look for the Good in all things. Focus on the Positive things in your life. Practice practice practice laughing, even if you don’t feel like it. Our bodies were designed to live, find out what is going on in your own body. Make lists and be creative. I know its cliche, but here goes: If they could do it, and I can do it. YOU CAN DO IT TOO!!