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Recovery Stories


Toby

I had a level of sensitivity that caused me tremendous pain. I was accused of being over-reactive and hypersensitive to the point of being ridiculed socially. I was longing for understanding and empathy and a place to belong.

As a child, I grew up in a dysfunctional home. My mother had manic-depression, now called bipolar disorder. My father was hard of hearing, deaf without the use of a hearing aide. They both came with their own needs and narcissistic, passive- aggressive inability to parent, which set the path for my journey.  As a child, I lived in my feelings without a sense of being understood, which caused me to grow up to become anxiety ridden and depressed. To be happy by self-definition, was to be considered manic. The only alternative that seemed within an acceptable “norm,” was depression. I hated depression, I even hated the word. My grades in school suffered due to my inability to focus. My parents were unable to help in any other way than by sending me for therapy. Therapy became my new parent and I resisted and rebelled against them all. My parent’s marriage ended in a divorce that further divided my world in many ways.

I had a level of sensitivity that caused me tremendous pain. I was accused of being over-reactive and hypersensitive to the point of being ridiculed socially. I was longing for understanding and empathy and a place to belong.

There was no magic bullet to make it all go away. It had a ripple effect on my marriage and anything that I attempted in my adult life. I lacked a sense of self-esteem and value. I had no tools or guidance to understand what was going on in my brain or my emotions. After many years of struggling, I consented when my then husband requested that I get a clinical diagnosis. It felt like a complete surrender when I was told that I had depression and anxiety. It was now official, and I was prescribed antidepressants. I considered it to be just another failure in my life and inability to have control of myself. Several years after being diagnosed, my marriage ended in a mutual divorce. It added to my sense of failure even though I knew that it had to be done. I wanted a family to belong to and it was a terrible loss.

My recovery began when the mental and emotional aspects of my life merged and evolved in to a source of insight. I attended my first Peer Support group when I lived in Florida. Life began to change with the understanding that I could be accepted and that I was not alone. I heard other people share their stories of survival through pain, diagnosis, medication and most of all, hope.

I had the opportunity to meet Patty Duke at a book signing event. I developed the courage to get my book signed and speak with her. I continued my recovery path through peer support. We cried and laughed together. I was not alone anymore. I felt loved and accepted, which helped me to begin the path of self-love and acceptance. I have since raised a successful child as a successful single parent, which at one time I thought impossible. I once believed that there was a cloud hanging over me and that I would never see or be beyond it.

My road to recovery came with a reward beyond what I anticipated five years ago. I took a class to become a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. Once again, I experienced strength and hope through people sharing their stories and personal growth. They were teaching, working and sharing the power of recovery. I became a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist at The Mental Health Association of East Tennessee at their Peer Recovery Call Center, after graduating from the class. I had no idea that I’d embark on such a rewarding part of my journey until then. I share tears, laughter and experiences of hope and courage in a unique way with every caller. We develop a relationship based on creating goals towards their own recovery journey. My give away and take away from this is, that we are never alone, and that recovery is possible.

The Mental Health Association offers all services to eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin or disability.