I’m a 30 something who has been in the mental health system off and on since I was a kid. I am not a professional, but am a Consumer who has seen a lot and wants to make a difference for others in the mental health system who may not have the confidence to speak for themselves.
I’m also an abuse survivor, and my present mental health diagnosis include, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, and personality Disorder. To aid in day-to-day life, I also use a Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) for symptom control of my mental health issues.
As a teen, I was in multiple shelters, group homes, short-term psychiatric units and a couple of state hospitals. As an adult, I’ve been in and out of short-term psych units, but not with the frequency I was as a teen. At this point, its been over 4 years since my last admission. My last hospitalization was because my medication was increased in dosage by my doctor, combined with eating a lot of grapefruit, the combination caused bad reaction that sent me into some sort of manic phase because of a build up of excess serotonin in my system. I later found out that this was more serious than I had realized, and treatment was vitally important. Normally I’ve never had a problem with becoming manic so it was quite the experience.
In recent years I have literally been able to watch my local mental health system evolve before my eyes. I have seen merges that went wrong, divisions that didn’t work and resulted in a re-merging, and more recently I’m seeing very well-defined indications that the medical model which has had a very tight grip on my local area is starting to lose its grip and be replaced with a recovery oriented approach where folks like myself are not only asked what we want from treatment, but encouraged to offer our comments which are then used to develop an individualized plan to help us grow and reach beyond our diagnosis to where we have a chance to thrive and work towards our goals for recovery. It is because of the changes I have witnessed and often experienced firsthand with my local mental health system that I want to see what I can do to help improve the overall mental health system. I don’t always agree with what I see happening, but when I’m able to I have spoken up and offered my concerns or ideas on ways that might be better than what is being proposed. In some ways I guess it could be possible to label me a “closet activist” I started out feeling like I wasn’t able to take a stand because who would listen to me? and now I’m peeking out of the closet society put me into and finding that there are ways I can be heard and there are also folks who want to hear what I have to say. I’ve never picketed anyone or anything, but I have been involved with promoting legislation such as a bill that was passed that made Psychiatric Advanced Directive recognized in Pennsylvania as a legal and binding document. In more recent times I helped push to get the bill passed to increase the Personal Needs Allowance for folks on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) who also live in personal care homes. This blog is something I use to try to gather information for folks that may not have the time to do the digging I am able to for information, and while it may not be an end all last stop for info, it is my hope that this blog helps to raise awareness about mental heal issues in general and helps others who feel like they want to find out what is happening in the mental health community across Pennsylvania.
From November 2010 to present, I am serving as the secretary on a newly formed Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) setup to advise Beacon Light Behavioral Health with regards to the needs and concerns of Consumers in addition to assuring that Beacon Light i doing what they say they will do in their pursuit of a recovery oriented method of treatment. I have given comments on our mission statement, a grant proposal, and am starting to get involved with a sub-committee to design a newsletter to let folks know what CAB is doing.
I am not a professional, nor do I make any claim to be a professional. I am simply an individual who has seen many aspects of the mental health system and is on a personal journey of recovery. I pretty much relay info I find, and the times I write about a given topic from a personal perspective, it is meant as an opinion and not a final answer.
At any rate, Thank you for taking time to get to know me a bit by reading about me and why I do what I do.