I haven’t always struggled with seasonal change, it wasn’t until the age of 35 in late autumn that I had my first struggle with seasonal change and I attributed much of this to my loss of work during winter months. I was self-employed as a home remodeling contractor and my workload peaked during spring, summer and early fall climates. Eventually, I learned that I suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder, but wasn’t surprised when I was clinically diagnosed and began seeking professional help. After a few years of struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder my life was completely taken over by major depression and severe anxiety. I suffered two insurmountable losses in my life, my father died by suicide and then my teenage son passed away after a car accident. This led me to an even darker state of depression and deep despair. I didn’t want to do anything and felt that life had no meaning. It was a struggle for me to get up and go to work every day. I no longer enjoyed the activities that I once felt brought meaning to my life. I was not only having a difficult time processing the multiple losses that I had to live through and my cumulative grief, but I became isolated and regressed with my pre-existing symptoms of unbearable anxiety and deep depression. This state of major depression went on for approximately two years and progressed to a place where I felt that I was no longer able to function and take care of myself and my family. In the fall of 2016, I entered an Intense Outpatient Program. At that time, I didn’t welcome or embrace treatment, but was encouraged by my loved ones, family and friends as they had witnessed a major decline in who I was. My personality shifted from a witty, fun-loving guy to a shell of the father, husband, brother and son who I had always been.
I was soon diagnosed with Major Depression. Looking back, I’m thankful and attribute the help of group, peers and professionals in helping me to clearly define what I was going through and that there was also treatment that could help. Prior to entering Partial, I thought that I was alone, which only made my self-prognosis even more hopeless. Once I began to connect with therapy, my therapist and all of the other people who supported me and believed in me, I started to regain some belief in myself. I made it my mission to fight to recover. I dedicated myself to Intensive Outpatient Therapy and put everything my therapist taught me to use and faithfully took my medication as prescribed by my psychiatrist. Before I knew it I was attending the Certified Peer Specialist Training with a letter of recommendation and support from my team at Wesley Family Services. Today, those very same team members are still on my team, not only as a continuous team helping in my own personal recovery but also as coworkers and peer professionals. I know I am supported in the work that I do, and it is priceless for me to be able to use my own story to help others in their recovery.
I am presently employed in the role of a Certified Peer Specialist at Wesley Family Services, the very same location where my personal recovery goals were met. I work as a peer professional and have been assisting adults in the program who have a severe and persistent mental health diagnosis (SPMI: Major Depression, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, BiPolar Disorder) in regaining control of their lives.
I have also worked with adults as a peer on a Mobile Medication Team (OTC pharmacy). I take a strong interest in assisting young adults and adolescents who are experiencing their first episodes of psychosis by helping them to recover from what can often be life-altering and debilitating symptoms to “build resilience” through empowering them and helping them to focus not on their diagnosis, but on their aspirations, dreams and ambitions. I was hired in this position in the spring of 2017 and have been with the organization for over 3 years. I have surpassed my own professional goals. My clients say that they love working with me as does the team of professionals that I encounter in my daily routine. I do my best to go above and beyond my expectations and I walk beside my peer clients with encouragement and kindness. I truly believe in them which is a key ingredient to hopefulness, thus paying forward a priceless gift that was once given to me! Recovery is possible.
#mentalhealth #OK2Talk #ImNotAshamed #EndStigma