By Bonnie, a Recovery Coordinator in Beaver County, PA
I am sharing my story with ITE/MH Campaign in hopes of inspiring others to plan for wellness. I have battled recurrent major depression for more than half of my life. I have been hospitalized for three mental health crises…. Two times for suicidal ideation and once for a suicide attempt. After the attempt in 2008, which involved a stay in intensive care followed by a stay in a psychiatric unit, I knew that I had to do something different to better manage my symptoms. I followed up by attending an outpatient depression support group where I first learned about WRAP®.
WRAP® or “Wellness Recovery Action Plan®” is a life-saving plan that I designed and maintain to manage my symptoms. I keep a list of beneficial “Wellness Tools” and follow my “Daily Maintenance Plan.” I have Action Plans for pre-identified “Triggers”, “Early Warning Signs”, and “When Things Are Breaking Down”. I have also planned for “Crisis” as well as “Post-Crisis” situations. I store my Wellness Recovery Action Plan® online and I update it often. This online resource is powered in exclusive partnership with Mary Ellen Copeland, the developer of WRAP® and I can access my WRAP® from anywhere and edit it on demand. (There are many other available WRAP® formats.)
Recently, my WRAP® played an integral role in maintaining my wellness. I earned a new Medical Assisting Advanced Associate in Science degree in 2010 and expected to easily transition into my new career. However, I was in a state of panic (and nearly went into a crisis) when I lost my sixth job in two years. Each job ended under similar circumstances (through no fault of my own) and the situation left me with a very serious concern. “How will I continue to be able to support myself?
I quickly put my “When Things Are Breaking Down” Action Plan into effect to avoid another hospital stay. I will share some of these actions:
- I bumped up my appointments with both my psychiatrist and therapist.
- I contacted my OVR counselor.
- I got into a partial hospitalization outpatient program.
- I alerted my supporters that I am not feeling well and asked them to stay in closer contact.
Surrounded by support, I first took some time to grieve. I worked with my OVR counselor to explore the repetitive nature of the problem and had to consider that my new career choice might not be a good fit for me. (This was the most difficult part of the process as I just graduated with a 4.0 GPA.) Again, I reassessed my strengths, skills, education, experiences, abilities and goals and decided to retrain.
By quickly executing my WRAP®, I gained resilience and control. I diverted a crisis by moving forward in spite of how overwhelmed, frustrated and fearful I felt. I am proud to say that I am now trained as a Certified Peer Specialist, trained as a WRAP® Facilitator, and I promote recovery as an ITE/MH Campaign Ambassador. Most importantly, I am employed as a Recovery Coordinator in SouthWestern Pennsylvania. My focus is on helping adults with mental health, substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. There is hope and people do recover!