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Voices for Recovery


Karen Webster (03/13/2014)

I believe I have lived with depression most of my life.  Many traumatic events happened during my childhood.  From many very painful earaches to the loss of three of my grandparents; from the loss of John F. Kennedy to two operations, I experienced many stressors.  All of those things happened to me before I reached the age of 8.  

So, when my favorite cousin committed suicide when I was 13, I went into a deep depression.  I know this now because I remember one day when I was 16, feeling that a great black cloud had been lifted from me.  At the time, I did not evaluate what that feeling meant.  It seems that hindsight gave me a better understanding of myself.

I worked for 7 ¾ years for an attorney.  I experienced another person who committed suicide in 1988.  This drove me to a psychiatrist who put me on my first round of psych meds, saying that I had depression.  I was injured on the job and eventually was asked to leave.  I felt discarded.  I was unable to work.

I went through two violent relationships.  My boyfriend would hit me.  I finally had enough of him and removed him from my home.  Then I met my Vietnam veteran husband who divorced me in 1995.  During my ex-husband’s and my relationship, I survived at least three times when he tried to kill me. Before he left, we had a child - a girl.  She was the person I needed to live for. 

When he left me I was devastated.  I went into an extreme depression.  I went on heavy psych meds, which left me pretty much out of it.  My daughter was also deeply affected by our “loss.”  She went through an angry, rebellious stage.

I was re-diagnosed as Manic Depressive in 1996.  I continued on a barrage of meds.  I felt that I was being ostracized from society until 2002.  It was then that a supported employment person, a very beautiful person in every sense of the word, showed me that I had worth.  She helped me get my first job since my discharge in 1994.  I started to feel the beginnings of healing!  I had thought for the longest time that my mental illness would not allow me to do anything constructive ever again.  Through a great mental health organization, I re-learned to live.  The agency was wonderfully supportive.  I grew.  I was no longer the person I had been; I was the strong, resilient person I had become.

I still had growing to do.  In 2006 I was trained as a Certified Peer Support Specialist.  I learned the true meaning of recovery.  It isn’t dependent upon how much money you make or what you do for a living.  It doesn’t mean that you will do all of the things that you used to do before your diagnosis.  Recovery means that you work each day to become a little better.  Surely there are pitfalls and stumbling blocks, but that is life.  “That’s life,” is what I tell people who say “bad” things happen to them all of the time.  I explain that there are always going to be negatives.  Just look for the positives.  I have worked as a CPSS for most of the time since 2007 (when I graduated as a CPSS).  I get the privilege of helping people in crisis find hope.  Through my career, I find the meaning of recovery for me and the people I serve.  I continue to flourish.



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