I have been out of touch for a while, mostly because I was experiencing a bout of depression and anxiety for a couple of years. Remember those blog posts about being sleepy and low energy? Turns out that they were symptoms of a major depressive episode.
I thought that I didn't FEEL depressed, so I couldn't possibly BE depressed, right? Wrong. I finally talked to my doctor and said that maybe the medications I was taking weren't working. So she changed my depression medications from Cymbalta and Abilify to Brintellix! Aha! After about a week, I started to feel much better! We kept the same dosage of my anti-anxiety medication, Buspar, but I soon realized that I was waking up with a huge knot of anxiety in my chest, so we upped my dosage and I started to feel much less anxious.
During this episode, and its aftermath, I was asked to be on the local board of NAMI, the National Alliance On Mental Illness, as a person living with a mental illness.
I thought that I wouldn't be able to contribute much, since I am not an expert or a clinician. However, I agreed.
What a privilege it has been to work with such a dedicated group of people! Family members of those who experience mental illness make up the majority of the board, along with several folks living with mental illness. I had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco to the National NAMI Conference, where I heard wonderfully moving stories, and learned a tremendous amount about the research that is being done in an effort to help those who struggle to achieve recovery.
In August, I participated in a Peer Mentor Training, that enabled me to become a teacher for our local Peer to Peer Class, which started on Monday, and will go for 10 weeks. Again, a privilege to share knowledge, and to help my peers on their road to wellness.
In other news, when I knew I was feeling better, I decided that staying at home was not a good idea for my healing, so I decided to seek a full time job. I started as the receptionist/medical assistant at the Front Street Community Health Center, which serves low income, uninsured people, mostly those who are homeless. It is a perfect job for my skill set: I worked as a Public Health Nurse Aide in our local State public health clinic for 15 years, and learned basic skills in taking vital signs, charting and assisting the nurses, and also had helped out at the front desk, so this job was just a great fit!
So, while I have been experiencing a relapse of my anxiety lately (but with another increase of my dosage of Buspar, and counseling with a wonderful therapist), I still feel pretty good. I'm proud of my ability to weather the last few years and have come out stronger than before.
If any of my readers have been wondering where I went, now you know.
I have had some adventures, lately, not the least of which was traveling to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, and the Pope's visit! But I'll talk about that in another post.
For now, good night! It is GREAT to be back among the living!