Monday, December 21, 2015

End of 2015

2015 was a good year for me. It seems like the past year just flew by! I am still surprised it is almost 2016! I have done well with my goals.

In the past year I became a member of Altapointe Consumer Council. Altapointe is a local mental health organization in Mobile, AL that provides services for people living with a mental illness. As a member my duties are to voice the concerns and needs of the consumers.

I also started a second SA(Schizophrenics Anonymous) group in Mobile. We have support groups every month at SOMI Club(Survivors of Mental Illness). SA is a support group for anyone that has been diagnosed with a mental illness. I have been enjoying my groups. We like to discuss how our lives are going. The groups definitely help us.

In November I was asked to give my personal story to the CIT(Crisis Intervention Training) for police officers. I was able to talk about my experience with law enforcement. I feel like I helped them better understand what it is like to deal with the mentally ill.

Last but not least I want to tell you about my upcoming Christmas. I am very excited about the holidays! I am thankful that the holidays are still a happy time for me! I have plenty of gifts to open from my loved ones. I have been to a few Christmas parties. I am so happy to have my partner, family and friends. They make my life so much better! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !!!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Update On Amy 2015

Hey! I have not talked to you guys in awhile! I thought I would give you an update of how my life and 2015 goals.

A few months ago I started an SA(Schizophrenics Anonymous) group at SOMI! I am still learning but it is off to a good start!

I am still dealing with sadness/depression. However I use the WRAP(Wellness Action Recovery Plan) toolbox and it helps me very much.

Now here is how my goals are going:

  1. Slim down
It is off to a slow start but I have lost a few pounds! I like going for walks. I started adding squats to my routine. I have also been taking yoga classes !

  1. Save money
I have started a savings account. I have been saving my extra money. I am very thankful I have money to save !

  1. Practice more random acts of kindness
One of the acts of kindness I have been doing is leaving a few dollars at the table of fast food places. I hope it brightens someones day!

  1. Text less
I have been texting less and calling my friends more often! I also enjoy visiting my friends.

So I am happy to say I am doing good on my goals. How are your 2015 goals coming along ??

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Big Scare

Something that people with mental illnesses worry about is getting mentally sick again!

A few weeks ago, I had a big scare! You see I have been having med changes on my anti depressants. One particular anti-depressant made me have horrible intrusive thoughts!

Basically I became obsessed with the thought of getting sick again! It literally took over my mind!

This was one time when meds did not help. It actually made me feel a lot worse!

I was having what felt like panic attacks. I was incredibly scared that I would have to go stay in the psychiatric unit again!

Well what I learned in WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) I applied to in real life. I called my mentor, Sister and got some advice from her.

I used my coping skills to help get through the bad feelings. I took a hot bubble bath. Then I took my night meds and listened to some soothing music before falling asleep.

The next morning I gave the nurse a call. I told her about the bad side effects I have been having with the meds and that I was not going to take them anymore. She said that was ok.

I felt a lot better being off the anti-depressant.

For the mentally ill we hope we will not have another psychiatric breakdown. That thought is always with us. I know that I want to be able to live independently for as long as possible!

Today I am feeling good and I am off the anti-depressants!

I am able to get by keeping a positive attitude. Just taking it one day at a time...

Monday, July 27, 2015

My Best Birthday

I want to take you back to February 2011. My 25th Birthday was coming up! This was a memorable birthday because special friends were coming to visit me!

I had known Christi (FL best friend) for most of my life. We were not always close but when I was in middle school we started to form a special bond. Her mom (Auntie) was like a second mom to me. I spent most of my free time at their house. Christi and Auntie were basically my second family.

I was extremely excited to see these ladies since I had not see them in almost three years! I kept my cell phone near me, waiting anxiously to find out when they had reached Alabama. They were coming from Orlando, FL which is an eight hour drive.

I heard from Christi in the evening. They had just made it safely to Alabama! They were tired and going to get some rest. Later that night I got a text from Christi asking if I wanted to go eat. We ended up going to Denny's around midnight!

The next night I saw Auntie. I almost did not recognize her! She lost a lot of weight. We exchanged bear hugs and talked excitedly!

We did a lot of fun things! They took me out to eat at different places. We went to the movies. I guess you should not be surprised that we did some shopping!

One night Christi and I literally stayed up all night on Facebook. We went to the hotel lobby to have breakfast around five am. Then we went to our room and finally got some sleep.

Christi and Auntie stayed for about a week in Alabama. They gave me a memorable birthday! It was one of my best birthdays ever! These two special ladies are an integral part of my life. I think about them often and miss them daily!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Keep On Going

Often I find it hard to keep going...

Lightning struck the house a few months ago. It totaled our phone and computer.

We purchased a used TV from the pawn shop not too long ago. Lightning struck a few days ago and totaled the TV.

I wake up often in the middle of the night. Now when it rains and thunders I feel uneasy. If I see bright flashes I get very nervous.

I drink one soda a day and the rest of my drinks are water. A few people told me that I do not eat very much. I am still gaining weight.

I have been saving up for a newer model car. Out of town trips and other things end up wiping my bank account clean.

Recently I have been working with a new therapist. He tells me to turn my negative thoughts into positive ones.

The doctor put me on new anti-depressants. I have been on them for three days now. They make me more energetic. I am usually asleep by eleven pm. As I am writing this article it is now four thirty am and I am wide awake. I have not been asleep in over twenty hours.

For me simply waking up is difficult. Regardless of how I feel, everyday I shower and get dressed. I take care of most of the house chores. I go run my errands. Sometimes I need to push myself to do work.

I feel like I would not be able to make it without my support system. Or at least my life would be ten times more difficult to manage. My partner, family and friends encourage and support me very much! Even a simple text from them brightens my day!

Often I feel grateful for the smallest things. A few of them are hot bubble baths, never going hungry and having a safe place to live.

A lot of bad things happen to me yet I try my best to remain positive!

What keeps you going???

Monday, April 27, 2015

My Life With Sadness

One of the symptoms of schizophrenia is being unable to experience pleasure in life. Some people do not know this about me but I have been living with sadness most of my life. Not long ago I read about someone having selective amnesia. I felt something inside of me click. I realized I had the same thing.

I do not remember much from my childhood. What I do remember is that I was not happy like the other kids. Many of the bad memories were blocked out. The memories are long gone but the sadness remains within me.

In middle school I had very few friends. I did not talk very much. I was known as a mute. I must have looked disturbed because I remember kids asking my big brother, what was wrong with me. They wanted to know what happened to me.

Today I still deal with those sad feelings on a daily basis. Often I dread mornings. That is when my sadness is at it's peak. People no longer ask my big brother what is wrong with me. They simply ask me what is wrong. Often I do not know what is making me sad. People expect answers and it frustrates me when I can not tell them exactly what is causing me to feel down.

A few of my friends do not really understand me. If I tell them I am falling into depression they tell me to snap out of it. Another friend states no one in my close family has died. That there is nothing to be sad about.

This is just a glimpse of my reality. I refuse to let sadness take over my life. I am very blessed to have a good support system of family and friends. They are available to talk to me when I am sad and unaware of what is wrong. Bear, music, work and bubble baths are just a few ways I cope with my sadness.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Butterflies In My Tummy

Not long after I completed my training, I received a call from the director of “In Our Own Voice”! She suggested I do a presentation with another presenter!

This is the real thing! I have always been nervous of talking in front of groups of people!However I wanted to get my personal story out!

What do I do first? I started practicing my speech in front of my AL best friend, Bear and the cats. Later on I enlisted Marianne and her cousin to be a part of my audience. The more I practiced, the more my confidence grew. With the encouragement of many of my friends I knew I was capable of giving my presentation!

My first speaking engagement was at a day treatment. Therefore I would be speaking to people like me. These people were struggling with mental illnesses as well. My partner was a good singer and funny too! After we presented I knew this was something I wanted to continue doing.

My AL best friend and I made dozens of calls to get me booked for IOOV. We talked to the director of the group homes of Altapointe. I was able to do several presentations at different group homes. One of the consumers liked me so much that she tried to kiss me right on the lips!

In January I spoke to the nursing students at Springhill College. I was extra nervous because this was my first non consumer group! Getting my story out overpowered my nervousness! At the end Sister encouraged the students to ask us anything. They had some interesting questions to ask us. They were really interested in our presentation.

My most recent presentations were for the staff at the Salvation Army. They were at two different locations. The first one was for the women's center. Today I talked at the men's center. As usual I had butterflies in my stomach! Unlike the first time I knew I was capable of doing this. A common thing several people have told me is that I do not seem nervous talking. That I seemed natural. I was pleasantly surprised about this.

I want to be able to do these presentations for a long time! I really enjoy them! The purpose is to remove the stigma of mental illness! I want to show the world that people with mental illnesses can be successful! Not all of us are confined to group homes for the rest of our lives! We are contributing members of society too!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

NAMI "In Our Own Voice" Training

Nearly ten years ago, when I was in college I had to take a speech class. I remember it was one of the classes I disliked most! I am painfully shy. Talking in front of groups of people was not my forte.... back then.

Last year I wanted to be involved with raising mental illness awareness. I was curious about publicly speaking to people about mental illness and help stomp out the stigma of it! I told Sister this and she suggested I go to the NAMI “In Our Own Voice” program.

I checked out the NAMI website. The IOOV program looked very appealing to me! I sent an e-mail of inquiry. Not long after that the IOOV Coordinator e-mails me back. She tells me that training is in Montgomery. In a few weeks to be exact. I told her that I am very interested but maybe at a later date. The coordinator suggests I submit my application anyways for future use. I snail mailed my application. I ended up being chosen to train as an IOOV Presenter! The coordinator informs me that the room, meals and mileage are paid for. I am excited! I will be going to Montgomery!

My friends thought it was an excellent idea that I go to Montgomery for training! I manage to scrape up the money for a rental car. My personal car is old. I do not trust it to last over an hour on the interstate!

It takes me a few hours to reach Montgomery. The drive was not bad. The hotel I would be staying at was fairly easy to find. I arrive a few minutes late but am thankful that I am there and that I made it safely!

Class starts training on a Friday afternoon. When the Georgia trainer introduced herself to me I immediately realized who she was! I recently read her blog. She lives with schizophrenia too! I ask about her book and she gives it to me for a discounted rate since we were peers! I was super excited to meet her!

There were about ten students in training. I talked to most of them. They were warm and friendly. The trainers were helpful and encouraged all of us. I was worried that I would have a difficult roommate. Thankfully she turned out to be kind and caring. After class we would relax in our room and talk for hours about our lives. We felt comfortable with each other.

Training was intense but fun! I enjoyed all of it. A lot of information was absorbed. The second day of training was when we did our presentations. I was very nervous at first but the more I practiced, the more comfortable I became! On Sunday we reviewed everything and did some trouble shooting. At the end was a graduation ceremony!

I was so excited to become a NAMI IOOV Presenter! The goal of our presentations is to provide a sense of hope and recovery for those living with or without a mental illness! I want to show the world that people with mental illnesses really are not much different than people without a mental illness! We can achieve our goals and live an independent high quality lives too! Stay tuned for the next blog to read about the presentations I have done!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Goals for 2015

So far 2015 is off to a great start for me! I had a big problem with depression and I think a big factor in that had to do with the Lexapro I was taking! Lexapro is an anti-depressant and it first it make me feel kind of better but it did not take long to make me feel terrible! An anti-depressant causing me to feel super depressed! Can you believe that?! Well. I did hear about those effects for certain people. Now I am being tapered off of it and I have been feeling happy for a substantial amount of time! I feel alive and content!

I have two NAMI “In our own voice” Presentations this week and I have one scheduled next week! Yesterday Sister and I did our first presentation together and had a great time! IOOV Presentations are designed to give a message of hope and recovery for those living with a mental illness and I hope I have been successful at that! This month my best friend has been helping me make calls to places that would be interested in the IOOV Presentations! We have called nearly one hundred places so far and sent out e-mails!

Now I would like to share some goals I have for this year in order of relevance:

1. Slim down

I have gained too much weight in the recent years! It seems like I just keep getting bigger and bigger. I used to be slim. I am pretty sure it is my injection that has caused all this weight gain. Right when I started taking it is when the weight came piling on. This year I MUST work harder at slimming down. I have been doing good with my drinks. I drink about one cup of soda a day at the most. I drink a lot of sweet tea but I know I should be drinking water instead! Also I need to do more exercise. I definitely need to be more consistent with this!!

2.Save money

I kind of have a spending problem! I barely have any money in my bank account. I LOVE to shop!! I don't always spend a lot of money shopping but I can cut back. I also like to eat at restaurants a lot. I plan to cook from home much more often! I really need to save up for a newer model car than my current one. Also I MIGHT be a guest speaker at a conference in Houston this year (fingers crossed). The trip pays for my flight and hotel but I am not sure about the meals. I would really like to explore the city and you can probably guess... shop and eat!!!

  1. Practice MORE random acts of kindness

Yes I do practice random acts of kindness. However they are kind of here and there.. I want to do more! Something that I hear often is “You never know what someone is really going through, be nice to everyone!” Just because someone is wearing a smile on their face does not mean they are OK! Some of them could be severely depressed! There have been plenty of times I have told my friends I was fine but in reality I wanted to take Bear and run away from the world. I usually tell my closest friends when I am feeling very sad though. One day at my former job I was having a really bad day. It felt like most of my customers were being mean to me. I was on the verge of tears and maybe it did show. Well one kind customer looked at me and told me that I had such beautiful hair! We talked for a few minutes. Her simple gesture made me have faith in humanity and is something I will never forget.

  1. Text less

I am a heavy texter! I love to text! More than I love to actually talk on the phone! I am limiting my texts. Instead I will make more phone calls! It is more intimate and sometimes even fun! I will also write more hand written letters and snail mail. I get so excited when I get a letter in the mail in today's world of e-mails! I write to my mom every month and to my auntie.

And that folks is my goals for this year! I know I can achieve all of them! Do any of you have goals for 2015? Care to share? Comment below or personal e-mail is good!