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Lessons Learned from a 27 Year Recovery Walk Michele Alexander Bibby.

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Presentation on theme: "Lessons Learned from a 27 Year Recovery Walk Michele Alexander Bibby."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lessons Learned from a 27 Year Recovery Walk Michele Alexander Bibby

2 Who Am I 51 year LWBIA 27 years managing my Bipolar Disorder Married for 27 years, recently widowed Parent of 2 children 5 years of experience parenting a child with a mental health diagnosis I am the EVIDENCE

3 My Story About Me Only child College graduate Mom, 2 kids Diagnosed while in Law School Medication Compliant for many years 20 plus year successful career in Human Resources Pregnancy, age 40 … hormonal shift

4 More About Me Change in medication Four years of seasonal cycling, 4 summers of crisis hospitalizations 2 inpatient commitments Inability to work Acceptance of the illness

5 More about me Education about bipolar disorder Re-claiming my life Giving back Volunteering, DBSA support groups Telling my story for the 1 st time 2007 Trained as a certified peer specialist

6 More About Me Worked part-time as CPS at Austin State Hospital (previous patient) Worked full-time as a consultant with Via Hope Worked myself off disability Grief of recent loss Supporting children through their loss

7 Recovery I believe recovery is a process, not a destination. My recovery journey has spanned 27 years SAMHSA working definition of recovery. A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self- directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.

8 Childhood Experiences Matter Childhood trauma leaves scars Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study – CDC and Kaiser Permanente, ACE study says the more adverse experiences in childhood, the greater likelihood for struggling in adulthood Childhood experiences can be a critical starting point of reference for counseling therapy

9 Sick children ….. Sick families Emotionally distressed children are the outcome of sick family systems In my case, after my diagnosis I began a journey of 27 years of counseling therapy No one in my family participated in or received any type of therapy I believe if you give counseling to a child from a distressed family and the child begins to improve, the benefits are diminished when they are returned to a sick family dynamic

10 When The Illness Shows Up Matters In my case, I was in Law School The later the onset of the illness, the more a person is likely to have accomplished We must acknowledge the difficulty children and adolescents have when they are diagnosed so early Childhood and adolescent diagnoses can impair the potential a persons life may hold

11 Dreams Deferred As MH Consumers we have life goals and we have dreams Does the dreaded D – diagnosis mean the death of our dreams?

12 Impact of Race on Diagnosis The vestiges of slavery have left a legacy of anger in our community Anger should not result in a diagnosis Being black male should not increase the likelihood for special education or diagnoses We have to be very discerning about the labels put on us, on members of our community and our children

13 MH Service Trauma MH consumer diagnosed in the 1980s, I experienced Straight Jackets Rubber Isolation Rooms Mistreatment when you are the most vulnerable There is a problem in our society when a person has to recover from the therapeutic services they received

14 Fear, Blame and Shame In my family, no one wanted to acknowledge any presence of mental illness in the family. There appeared to be a lot of fear related to my diagnosis Different sides of the family were blamed No one wanted to talk about the illness, consequently I felt a lot of shame We have to open up the dialogue in our families to normalize the conversations about the presence of mental health issues in our families

15 Language Matters Crazy Odd Troubled Mental Health Consumer Distressed

16 Medication Compliance I was blessed in that the first med I was prescribed was the right med I learned early on that the medication management was key to managing my symptoms Many consumers are not so fortunate and spend years trying to find the right cocktail Years of productivity can be lost spent adjusting and changing meds This is compounded for children and adolescents with constantly changing brains

17 Disability In 2002, I had a baby and had to change a med I had been taking for 20 years I began seasonal cycling I had 4 summers in crisis. Four hospitalizations I had to reorder my life Disability was a life saving option

18 Acceptance Once on disability, I came to terms with my illness I accepted that I had an illness that had to be managed and could become unmanageable Being on disability afforded me the poor treatment many MH consumers experience everyday

19 Self Awareness During a hospitalization at ASH, I was exposed to Mary Ellen Copelands Wellness Recovery Action Program (WRAP) WRAP allowed me insight that has become critical in managing my illness. I now know how to gage Early warning signs Signs that things are breaking down What are my triggers Who are my supporters

20 Support System As a MH consumer, having a circle of caring, loving people is key A loving support system ensures you are not isolated Having a supportive and loving family has been one of my success strategies

21 Relationships Matter We are meant to be in relationship one to another My greatest desire is to be engaged in healthy relationships with positive people Sometimes we do and say things in crisis that can strain or damage relationships I believe just as we can work on our recovery, we can work to recover relationships when they are worthwhile

22 Peer Support There is nothing like the mutuality of a relationship between people with lived experience DBSA tag line, Weve been there, we can help I became a certified peer specialist. This is a career opportunity for MH consumers The authenticity of relating and sharing that PS provide in clinical settings is incomparable

23 Wonderfully Made People living with mental illness are extra sensitive and I believe a little extra human We are especially sensitive to light, season, hurt and pain (our own and others) We can relate Perhaps MH consumers are extra human There is a lot of pain and darkness in this world MH consumers are uniquely equipped to detect and support the distress of others

24 Shift of Focus Illness to Wellness What you focus on you give power to I began to focus on the things I do to stay well These are my wellness strategies Meds Heart Healthy Diet Exercise Healthy Relationships Spirituality Under committing African American Therapist Wicked smart Psychiatrist Integration of physical and mental health care

25 Giving Back I learned that Giving Back is also a key wellness strategy for me I learned to be a support group facilitator with DBSA. I became DBSA chapter President It has been said to those whom much is given, much is required. So, I have moved my efforts to advocacy MLK said Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere There is still a lot of injustice that plays itself out with MH consumers on many different system levels

26 Adaptability

27 Priorities Change Career Family Managing the Illness Maintaining Wellness Me Advocacy

28 Resilience is Key

29 Face of Resilience



32 Re-Invent Yourself

33 Failure Is a Part of Growth Failure can actually put you on the path to the next great chapter in your life Recovery is non-linear. The non-linearity of it includes dead ends and detours The key is staying on the path

34 Life Throws Curve Balls Emotional Distress Situational Distress Catastrophic Events Death/Loss Chronic Illness Key is overcoming

35 Fully Recovered Decision Making Major Social Supports Social Role / Identity Role of Medication Emotional Intelligence Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) Sense of Self

36 My Responsibility My words, actions Be a loving parent Maintaining my own wellness Continuing education about mental health matters Supporting & inspiring my peers. Informing folks about mental health issues from a consumer perspective

37 Resources Books Visible Darkness, William Styron Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jemison Brilliant Madness, Patti Duke Via Hope, Certified Peer Specialist training and Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), Mary Ellen Copeland, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE Study) FacingUs, - Wellness Depression Bipolar Support Alliance, DBSA. - Support Groups and other SAMHSA Working Definition of Recovery. Recovery/PEP12-RECDEF Recovery/PEP12-RECDEF National Empowerment Center, ECPR Training,

38 Summary

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