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Voices for Recovery

Nancy Kennedy (08/28/2009)

I've worked at SAMHSA for 17 years and prior to that, I worked at NIDA for the first two years of my Federal career. I've been in recovery for 30 years from alcoholism. I have two co-occurring disorders; the first being depression, a problem that has a familial linkage as my maternal grandmother was hospitalized when I was 10 years old, for one year in a psychiatric facility and received an inordinate number of ECTs—close to 50. Her hospitalization was the impetus to my entering the behavioral health field, which I've worked in for over 35 years. Not surprisingly, my mother had an acute depressive episode later in life.  We were able to have her treated on an ambulatory basis and placed on medications, which she still takes as an active Senior who is 88 years old.

I was placed on anti-depressants after I stopped drinking and fully embraced "living life one day at a time." Six months after my sobriety, two young men drinking and driving a truck broadsided my small car and I was flown to a trauma center with life-threatening injuries. Despite saving my life, I ended up with unrelenting chronic facial pain. So, my other disorder is Chronic pain, a problem for which I have been successfully maintained on a regimen of antidepressants, a duragesic patch, four Oxycodone and Acetaminophen pills, and 10 milligrams of diazepam. I've have the same fabulous psychiatrist to monitor monthly the medications that I receive that has restored a quality of life that I did not believe would ever exist, thereby eliminating most suicidal ideations, and providing hope that I could succeed in all aspects of my life including gainful employment.

Unfortunately, there has not been much organizational support for self-disclosure by federal Officials, especially those working in the behavioral health field. Nonetheless, I live life one day at a time which sometimes is altered to five minutes at a time given the associated stressors.

The faces of recovery need voice and not just facial recognition. As a lesbian who is in an inter-racial relationship, there have been little inroads into the tremendous association between sexual orientation and the risk of addictive diseases. I thank individual colleagues and other members of the LGBT community who have been supportive of us but the numbers are few as not using tobacco seems to be a safer road of action for our communities, most of whom are hidden within the larger geographic community.

Peace to my brothers and sisters! Perhaps, one day, you'll see my entire story on the larger screen and remember that we, ourselves, as well as our families, friends, and colleagues are there for each other.

Just this week SAMHSA had an in-service on "What a Difference a Co-Worker Makes" and three of my SAMHSA colleagues talked about their own experiences as a consumer or a family member.

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