Steps Towards Healing and Wholeness

Anne Costa; Baldwinsville, NY

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

Before I left the hospital, the psychiatrist told me that I would “be back to myself” again within a few weeks’ time. He gave me hope and an expectation even though it took longer and it took me “fighting” for my sanity and doing everything I could to reclaim my life. When I ask my therapist “Am I ever going to be better?” he always says YES!

Has a mental health provider ever told you that you could reach a personal goal despite your psychiatric diagnosis?

I was told that I could resume work and be as successful, if not more so, after my diagnosis. I wasn’t so sure that it would be possible but the expectation was there for me by my providers and from my husband.

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

Sometimes I wonder why I have to “slip back” in my ability to handle my stress and PTSD symptoms that are 95% gone but still come back with triggers. I have learned, for the most part, to make peace with the condition and be kind to myself. It’s OK with me to be who I am and the mental health struggles do not define me… I have always been fortunate to have people around me WHO WOULD NOT ALLOW me to stay hopeless. Also, my religion and personal faith ascribes respect and dignity to all persons regardless of disability – I believe this for others so I need to believe it for myself also.

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?

I have written two books and am contracted to write 2 more. I am a motivational speaker. These accomplishments have all been achieved during my recovery.

I have risen to a leadership position in the agency where I work and have basically rebuilt my life (with no limits or fears) since my breakdown… I have been in recovery from alcoholism for the past 23 years and from psychotic depression for 6.

I am able to function in my daily life without the burden of PTSD, depression and anxiety. I still experience these from time to time but never to the extent where I am disassociated or psychotic. This is huge progress and I feel that in the 6 years since my breakdown, I have gotten stronger and stronger and freer and freer to enjoy life to the fullest.

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?

I would say our minds, bodies and emotions are constantly in a state of trying to repair themselves and that sometimes what looks and feels like “illness” is really a step toward healing and wholeness. I could never have enjoyed recovery without my breakdown, so it was a necessary part of my journey and one that I wouldn’t change now for all the tea in China!

The key is to find providers and friends and people who BELIEVE THAT YOU WILL BE WELL AGAIN—that expect full recovery for you so that you can expect it and work towards it. RECOVERY TAKES WORK. It doesn’t just happen and we have to be willing to push ourselves, strive to get the best treatment and treatment providers available…Being treated with dignity, having self-respect and high expectations for recovery for oneself and by others are KEY to real recovery.