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Just Be Supportive

    When I was trapped in my mind's chaos I did not recognize the signals to seek heightened professional treatment. The signals were people's strange facial expressions as they stared at me, my family's determination to see me voluntarily hospitalized, my poor appetite and sleeping routine, and my aimless desires, which consistently shifted and even confused me. I said things that sounded bizarre, but I could not challenge them because my focus sporadically changed to the next thing before I gave it consideration.

    I have a good memory and could recall difficult moments. Those times when I was ignored, dismissed, and overlooked. I remember those close to me who I thought would be some of my greatest advocates, but disappointed me. I choose to focus on the solution and not my sad incidents with people. More importantly, I know the individuals who took the time to investigate my situation, and tried to help.

    I choose to focus on the individuals who encouraged me the most. Some healthcare workers and law enforcement are compassionate, love their jobs, and do care. The state hospital doctor who diagnosed me, jail nurses and social worker, the officers, therapists, doctors, my family, and several individuals who I am fortunate to know. I wish I could remind them of how much their diligence makes a difference, and how they personally impacted my outlook on recovery. They instilled hope for me to be hopeful about recovery, and still empowers to this day.

    My therapist of a few years challenged me to focus on how to manage. She helped me identify strengths and equipped me with information to access certified peer specialist (CPS) training. Over the years a few therapist offered a lot of coping skills to overcome daily stressors and symptoms.

    Reflecting on my last experience with law enforcement. I'll never forget the compassion I saw in the officer's eyes, the one who drove me to the hospital. The officer at the intake department who stopped to listen to me ramble about how great God is. I am grateful how my state trains law enforcement to work with people like me who may experience crisis. I am fortunate to tell them my recovery at the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training in the past.

    When I did not respond to the calls and text messages as usual my friend visited my home to learn what was going on with me. How my family took lead in caring for my son while I was hospitalized. Or when they advised me to go to the hospital. In the beginning, when I was first hospitalized at age 20 my mother told me I would share with others about how I made it through. I didn't know what that could look like. I'm glad my sister explained to me what a blog is, funny I struggled to be consistent at employment and had several jobs, but I maintained my volunteer work with NAMI Georgia for ten years and blog since 2008. I am thankful for my experience, but most of all my hope.

    Finally, I want to offer some suggestions for supporting me and my peers. Let us know the signs that you see when we are struggling and have a conversation before it turns into crisis, and becomes a demand without explanation. Be honest and direct when you think hospitalization is necessary. Continue to learn more about our individual needs and take care of yourself so that you can support us better. Trust is an important part of relationships as you know, don't lose it. Lastly, recovery looks different for everybody, don't assume and compare us. Just be supportive.


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