September is a transitional month, part summer and part fall, its days shifting from warm to chilly.
How fitting, then, that September is Recovery Month. During September we celebrate individuals’ recovery journeys—how they’ve created full, satisfying lives while recovering from mental health challenges. Recovery is all about transition and transformation.
This marks the 25th year for Recovery Month. The theme for 2014,“Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak Up, Reach Out,” encourages people to speak openly about their mental health experiences.
That’s exactly what we do at the Mental Health Association in Greensboro. We encourage peers to share their struggles and triumphs, their pain and joy. By sharing, we bring mental illness out of the shadows and into the light.
In the spirit of Recovery Month, here are some thoughts from MHAG staff members.
When I was a teenager, I was diagnosed with agoraphobia, severe depression, and anxiety. For me, recovery has meant the luxury of time to work through issues, along with lots of empathetic, loving, nonjudgmental care from family and friends. I believe in taking life one moment at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time—all the while remembering: this too shall pass. ~ Susan Ball, Executive Director
After experiencing postpartum depression with my second daughter, I have a greater understanding of what other people may be going through. Once you have felt clawing depression even when it appears that all is well in your life, then you realize that depression is an illness, not a bad mood or a conscious choice. ~ Jan Cooke, Accounting Manager
At 15 I was diagnosed with severe depression, though I’m pretty sure it started much younger than that. By the time I was 30, they had developed my diagnosis to be Bipolar Depressive Disorder, Mania Type II. I am much more self-aware now than I used to be. I know that I’ve survived this far, and it makes me feel more capable of surviving further and better. It has made me look at the world with a sense of compassion that is farther reaching than it used to be. ~ Nellie Cooper, Office Manager
I was diagnosed with depression in the fall of 2004. I had battled it without recognizing that that’s what was wrong since 1967. I only knew sadness and tears and just assumed I would always feel that way. Once I knew I could feel differently, I began to own my own voice, and I learned to speak up for myself. I was able to stop feeling overlooked and angry with others and turning that anger inward. I began to embrace life and look forward to things instead of always looking backwards. ~ Myla Erwin, Director of Programs
Dealing with and overcoming anxiety and depression has made me a much stronger, more confident person. I’m able to respond to the challenges that life brings without feeling overwhelmed most of the time, and I’m able to enjoy being with people and the great variety of emotional experiences they bring into my life. ~ Craig Pritchard, Peer Support Specialist