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My Recovery- Stamped and Approved by Me!

September 2013 is National Recovery Month... Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for substance use and mental disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible. Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.                               
  • With proper care and treatment, between 70 and 90 percent of persons with mental illnesses experience a significant reduction of symptoms and an improved quality of life. (the National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI)
September 2013 also represents my five year anniversary for maintaining this blog, which I started in 2008. At the same time, September is my birthday month, yay!

As I reflect on my journey of recovery that began in 2007 at the age of 20, I can look back with peace of mind, and joy, to see and experience maturity in recovery. Since my diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia in a state hospital in the summer of 2007 I have created a new life for myself that is no longer defined by my academic achievements and failures, but consistent invalueable experiences in the mental health field that has molded my recovery; my involvement in the lives of my peers, advocacy, and volunteer work.

There is life after diagnosis of mental illness, I am proof! I have accomplished many of my short-term and long-term goals which will continue to change along with my ongoing recovery plans and responsibiliites. Some of my goals that I have made included: living independently, obtaining my driver's license again (it was taken from me for the incident I committed that landed me in jail), and becoming a Certified Peer Specialist (after three attempts to get into the training), among other accomplishments. Now I hold several leadership positions in the mental health community, including board member, mentor, trainer and advocate.

I say all this to emphasize that an individual living with mental illness can fulfill their goals- whatever they are. Therefore, I urge you- whether you are an individual living with severe and persistent mental illness, a family member, educator, or professional, etc., to have hope for a better future for people affected by mental illness, because success is defined by the individual and it is attainable. In fact, I've overcome many obstacles such as not having health insurance, having a fixed income, and being looked down upon because of my mental health condition, but I've endured!

My hope and goal is to finish college, become a homeowner, and to gain full-time employment among many other goals, which I believe I can reach as long as I maintain consistency in being compliant with my treatment regime, surround myself with like-minded people, and to have faith!

Recently, I found myself so stressed and tired at another daily challenge that I had to use self-talk to encourage myself to keep pushing forward. I told myself aloud, "I can do this. I can do this, there are people who are willing to help me. I can do this." And this statement helped me to look at the positive side of situations and to keep going.

Thank you for reading about my struggles and joys- I hope my experience will motivate you to see strength, hope, and the endless capabilities in yourself, whether you have a mental illness or not. Thank you.


Matt said…
Going great! You are an encouragement and motivation.Keep it up.
Dawn said…
You have accomplished so much! Kudos to you! Your testimony encourages me and others. Thank you so much for sharing.
Ashley Smith said…
Thank you- Matt and Dawn!!

Ashley Smith

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