Cat: I am an advocate because I have struggled with my own depression/anxiety since I was 19 years old. I have been prescribed many types of medications. All have made me feel useless and sleepy, shaking more and always needing to be increased. I worked in GA as a Certified Peer Specialist for over 8 years. I felt very grateful because my boss who was also my counselor at the time found something in me to help others and recommended me for the job, encouraged me to take the course to become certified and take the test.
I loved working with my clients, not just because I could relate to them on a personal level, but because it helped me to teach them what I had learned, and they in turn helped me also. The first day I started, the “educated clinicians, the registered nurse, the doctor, were all in awe that I could openly discuss my illness when it was always a “no no” in the past. I walked right into the first group and stood before them, and I said what they never expected. “Hi, I am Cat and I’m not here to do what others before me have done.
I am not here to talk about you. I am here to talk TO you. This will be about YOU and I am not here to talk to your you family, your parents, your siblings or your doctor. I also have a mental illness and I’m not afraid to talk about it with you.” Of course the other “leaders” thought I would be the first person fired when cutbacks came. But all their education and years of “service” meant nothing anymore. I was the last person standing when they were all phased out. Only a PEER can understand what someone with a mental illness goes through. Only a PEER has been there and done that. I have my own personal experiences to draw from. They could finally open up to me because I WAS THEM.
When a client sat in front of a doctor one time, with his mother and I beside him, the doctor and the mother continually discussed the client without speaking to him directly. It really bothered me. At one point I looked at them and said, “Why are you asking me what he wants? Why don’t you ask him? He is the patient, he has a voice.”
They didn’t like that. But he finally spoke up. He finally felt heard. I was the one person who was empowering him and things began to change. Countless other clients broke free from the cage of stigma that had held them captives in their parents controlling home. I had several who went on to become peer specialists also. They moved out of the parents homes and moved into their own apartments. They stopped feeling like their illness and stopped allowing it to define who they were. They were not “Bipolar” or “Schizophrenics” but people who lived with Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia. They were PEOPLE FIRST.
My page is my silly way of relating to my illnesses with humor. Humor is the key to my survival. If I can’t laugh I cry. Neither is a bad thing, but I would rather laugh. And I make a lot of others laugh, at themselves, at their illness, and feel better. I try to inspire, comfort, make someone laugh, and let them know that they are not alone. If they feel better then I feel better too.
Why do the voices in my head sound like the Avengers? I deal with my depression/anxiety disorder with a little help from 6 Avengers. This is a funny blog I started to share my humor and writing. I am a 40+ woman dealing with depression in an unique way, with a little help from 6 superheroes, the Avengers.
Everyone with depression deserves to be heard.
Everyone talks to themselves, “take out the trash”, “pick up milk”..and more. Some of us are just a little more creative…