Hello everybody. Thanks for stopping in, Because trust is an essential component of any healthy relationship, I figured I should let you know why I founded this website, and a bit about who I am. We are a small organization, but all the content on the site is my responsibility.
At any rate, once upon a time I was a teacher at a boarding school in Florida. I wasn't half bad. When I moved into administration, I discovered a passion for counseling. A few years ago, I relocated to North Carolina and began a new career in mental health. It's been quite a journey. I've been working with children and their families in schools, juvenile detention centers, group homes and in foster homes for over 15 years. I hold masters degrees in Education and Clinical Mental Health Counseling. My experience with mental illness though spans a lifetime.
I've endured my own mental health issues for close to twenty years. Probably more. I was in college when I had my first panic attack. That's what I consider the start of it all. In reality, I'm sure it goes back to when I was much younger. In college I discovered drugs, and things got worse. Ten years ago, I went to rehab and started attending recovery meetings, and that's when things got really bad. Without drugs, I found I could no longer hide from my problems.
Many addicts self-medicate. I know I did. My career and my marriage eventually forced me to give up drugs, but I had no idea what horrors the drugs had been masking. Once that coping mechanism was removed, my entire life broke into jagged little pieces in a short span of time. For years my brain was like a computer riddled with viruses, and eventually it just shut down and stopped working. I experienced severe depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. It seemed like every day I would awaken to a new nightmare.
I was never abused. There is no specific trauma that caused my suffering. My parents are still married. We get along great. I went to private school and lived in the suburbs. None of that kept me from abusing drugs, or becoming an addict, or suffering a series of nervous breakdowns - profound psychological traumas and egregious suicidal ideation that lasted 18 months before I wound up in a psychiatric hospital. I endured divorce, the end of a promising career, financial ruin, and the loss of all of my friends. Fortunately I got better. It took lots of time, lots of therapy, lots of meds, lots of support. But I did get better.
I wanted to create this site for two reasons. First, when I got really bad, I had no idea where to go to get help. And second, I discovered that most of my friends and family (and certainly my employer) distanced themselves from me, as if my illness was contagious. The stigma of mental illness is as strong as it is pervasive. Most of my social supports just vanished. It was a bad time.
But does that seem right to you? Should anyone ever be treated that way? All of the things I suffered from - depression, anxiety, addiction - those are all medical conditions. Science understands this, but society struggles with the concept. There are those who would say that addiction is a personal choice, and that depression is just a matter of looking on the bright side. Would you ever say that to someone with cancer? Or with lupus? Or AIDS?
My point is simply that there is still a need for education about mental illness. Despite the efforts of thousands of really dedicated individuals and agencies, our society is shockingly uninformed. There are so many people who need help but either can't afford it or don't know where to start to get the help they need. I'm not sure I can help with the former but, I will certainly try to help with the latter.