Growing up in a house where we just accepted what life brought and had no concept of looking into our mental health and what it was and what we could do to make it better;
I have realized through On Our Own of Charlottesville that I can recover. That I can understand my own issues and look at them objectively and not define myself by them.
Also through this process I was able to break the cycle of passing on this mindset to my children and for them to get recovery along with me.
As adults they now are living better lives.
So am I.
Thank you OOO. I will always love this place.
You feel a cold coming on. It’s a sort of scratchiness in your throat and a foggy feeling in your head. It goes on for a few days and then becomes something worse. Your throat is sore now and you have a high fever. There are body chills and sweats. Nausea overwhelm you and you just want it all to go away. It feels like this “cold” might never end. But finally, it does. Then, maybe two or three weeks later, it comes back: with a vengeance. The cycle repeats itself, month after month, exactly like this for the rest of your life.
This is not about catching a cold or even a COVID scare.
I shared the above from an online article I found about depression metaphors. I think we have all had at least a passing acquaintance with horrible colds and depression. It lurks in dark shadows, rising up when life gets really hard. Months of a global health crisis can be such a time. Depression is a liar, telling us that it will never leave, that it will always keep us alone and isolated, that life will be forever meaningless for the rest of your life.
For all of my 20+ years working in social services, I have kept the state of my mental health a secret. My shameful little secret. My mind told me that I was not alone. After all, I worked with people battling their own mental health issues. There were many times I wanted to share about my experience but that would have crossed boundaries and been unprofessional. I felt defective and – oh, so alone. Safe havens are far and few.
I have one now and I know that I am not alone. On Our Own is my safe place. The members and my coworkers are my fellow foot soldiers and family. We share, engage in battle, support, encourage and hold each other in a loving space without judgement. On Our Own is where I share my darkness and other sufferers shine their light. It is the only place where I can be my authentic self. I do not fear that someone will look down on me because of my illness. I do not judge others for their illness. On Our Own is a safe harbor in the midst of my storm and it keeps me going. I do not feel alone anymore. THAT comforts me more than I can say.
I can not tell you why I walked up the steps of On Our Own that day, I just know that when I did it changed my life forever. At that time in my life I was lost, confused and trying to get my life together after a 17 year off and on again battle with addiction. I had come to the tip of recovery many times only to give in to the tug of low self-esteem and self-doubt. Once I crossed the threshold I received a warm, secure and friendly greeting that spoke, "Come in, you are in the right place". I continued to show up months later and soon found myself volunteering for just about anything. This place told me that I was valuable in my own way and most importantly in my own time. I never felt that I was ahead or behind anyone else in recovery so there was no race, no finish line. Just a power growing inside to recover. That was 11 years ago and to say that my life has changed from that first day is such a understatement. I sit here writing from my desk at OOO in constant amazement and gratitude.