Her constant unconditional acceptance and love for me became the only piece of hope that really helped me to be able to break my silence and share my severe depression, share my uncontrollable mood swings from past and current trauma struggles and my internal struggles of wanting to die.
The hopelessness became so bad that after hospitalization after hospitalization the roller coaster was not something that I could live with for the rest of my life.
So the strong woman I am when I am well, clearly I became the strong woman who wanted to die and this once good quality of myself is what ultimately led me to struggle with crisis centers, Drs., police, EMT’s, mental health programs, and especially hospitals where I was admitted 27 times in my five year crisis journey.
Although I am married to my high school sweetheart and we have 7 beautiful children together, the process I went through to not include them in my pain was something so unexpected. In fact, running away and trying to find a place to die to eliminate their pain and to end the incredible internal pain I was experiencing just as a cat would leave home in their last hours to die; this became a daily struggle and a goal for me.
As I look back now on those 5 years, I saw what I needed and what was not provided. Unlike going to a medical doctor where we want a diagnosis if we are in pain, when we struggle with new emotional life struggles and they become so debilitating, instead of being led to help understand the triggers that came from this and find suitable support and guidance, we are diagnosed with a psychiatric diagnosis, heavily medicated and many times hospitalized.
After struggling with so much emotional pain and when I realized I was not able to trust my husband to help me not because he didn’t want to, but because he couldn’t understand what it was I was going through especially as both of us never knew anyone who actively struggled with a psychiatric diagnosis or anyone who saw a Therapist or Psychiatrist.
This was the struggle my husband and I encountered as he tried to help me but ironically caused me more struggles because of his lack of understanding and wanting to protect me. But, once again not having any resources and support to understand how to help me, this caused a huge problem in our relationship that ultimately brought us to separate and very close to divorce. So as my ‘sister’ and best friend was there for me any time or day I needed, she was the one to encourage me to continue to fight and help myself.
Ironically the Psychiatrist at the psychiatric hospital where I was continually a patient at for almost 800 days over those 5 years, I did not like him at first because he represented control and he committed me frequently because I was so strong, high risk and one who continually stopped medications. After many years of him building trust with me, he was the one to help me with a psychiatric crisis plan to help me have more control in my treatment and today he continues to be a mentor for me as I help others and offer that same choice for control.
This process of trust and regaining control is what gave me my hope back by understanding through all what was not working with professional mental health workers. I finally began to have some hope to be treated properly and understood as I realized that many mental health professionals did not recognize the trauma I was struggling with, instead all they saw was a non-compliant, manipulative, strong woman who was high risk.
This little bit of hope I had because of the crisis plan helped me to understand my struggles, my triggers and how I can use my strength to save my life. What was really the pivotal insight to wanting to stay alive was learning that the crisis plan that I completed about a year before was part of a self-awareness plan called, The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) developed by Dr. Mary Ellen Copeland which is an evidenced based wellness self-awareness plan.
Because I did not have a peer to support and guide me, I did not know the crisis plan was part of the whole WRAP plan and didn’t know there was more there for me to learn and help myself!
This is the plan that saved my life. It allowed me to help myself and allowed me to work through my triggers and understanding the logic behind the trauma that I was reacting to. So instead of allowing my diagnosis’s to define me, I used my diagnosis’s to help give me more awareness of ‘who I am’ which included my child and teenage years where some of the traumas started.
I figured if I was a strong fighter when I was living through my traumatic times, then I needed to understand who that little girl was to help me in my 40’s. As I understood this more, these were the powerful insights that helped me to fight for my life and now to help others understand their own struggles on a much deeper intuitive level that cannot be learned in a text book.
The insights of understanding this led me to deviate from my past work background with a bachelor’s degree in Management and Organizational Behavior/Marketing to now becoming a Certified Peer Specialist, Certified Recovery Support Practitioner and a Certified WRAP facilitator.
After working in a psychiatric hospital helping and inspiring others, I recognized that because of the extensive crisis I experienced, the deep understanding of my life experiences was crucial in offering HOPE to others who are struggling.
Because of my own WRAP and my own very severe crisis experiences, this is why I am confident of my own intuitive insights to help and support others. I feel this is a new spiritual calling in my life and recognizing working to help others comes natural and it is one of my wellness tools as others validate their positive response to me all the time.
I wanted to offer others what I couldn’t find in my own struggles to prevent my crisis so I opened a wellness transformation center called The Support Place Where HOPE Lives and I provide professional peer support to others including safe and educational support groups that includes wellness activities and all are based on the principles of the WRAP.
One of the insights I recognized in not only my recovery, that it is really about understanding transformation in our lives as we develop new wellness tools for ourselves and become a new transformed person based on the breakthroughs.
There is a message in our struggles that our breakdowns are really breakthroughs. This is the message and the reason why I am involved in sharing my voice of why and how I am still alive after attempting suicide so many times.
I am alive for a reason and it is to share what it is I learned to help others have hope and choose to live.
Part of my efforts based on my past experiences is to begin a new campaign not just about suicide awareness and prevention, but about the real tools and education of how someone can help themselves without being thrown in a hospital because many professionals are afraid of those who voice the ‘S’ word.
It’s not about taking someone’s control away but giving control back to someone who needs some love and support for feeling so hopeless. This is a process of trust, and trust that can really only be done by peers, peers who have lived through this process and are here to share it.
This is such a valuable part of the suicide prevention movement that I feel is not being embraced by many suicide prevention organizations who are reluctant to include our voice of support and insights.
Since I couldn’t find this support from those suicide prevention organizations in my struggles and couldn’t find any support groups except those who have lost someone to suicide, I offer new support transformation groups especially a transformation group called ‘Hopeful Healing’ a non-clinical WRAP based support group for those who are a suicide attempt survivor.
I am looking to form a nonprofit and campaign to take the stigma out of feeling suicidal and utilizing the voice of those who have experienced suicidal feelings to help others who have suicidal thoughts especially through the use of a self-awareness tool like the WRAP.
If the WRAP saved my life, I know it can help others and give them back their hope and control as they work through their struggles without being hospitalized for having those thoughts.
In many ways we need to ‘normalize’ the reactions of someone feeling so hopeless and not be afraid and put them in a hospital where there are no educational supports and where they are made to feel like they are a criminal. Instead, offer more access to support from peers who have experienced this which provides hope and real educational tools so someone can help themselves.
The WRAP is not just for someone with a mental illness, it is used for anything someone wants to improve about themselves or work on like losing weight, stop smoking and much more.
WRAP and Peer support should be widely available to everyone struggling with physical and emotional struggles. Peer support utilizing the WRAP is not counseling as the individual creates this wellness plan themselves.
Because of this special peer relationship, this is why there is trust, acceptance and motivation to begin the journey of helping themselves. This also begins the journey for someone to develop new recovery tools that will help bring back their own control and begin to define their own definition of what wellness means to them as it allows someone to experience the process of choosing to live.