Allison: My long road to recovery

I feel gratitude every day for my recovery.  I owe so much to my parents who stood by me through my entire journey with mental illness.  They supported me in every way imaginable and I would not be here without them.  Without treatment and resources, I would not be where I am today.

I was first diagnosed with major depression at age 15, after a suicide attempt.  I was hospitalized for three months in an Adolescent Psychiatric Unit.  I spent the next 25 years dealing with major bouts of depression, anxiety, anger, and suicidal ideation.  I became addicted to drugs and alcohol while trying to self-medicate.  I’ve been hospitalized six times, attended a 30 day rehabilitation center, and lived in a couple of halfway houses.  I used to pray for death every night and was disappointed when I awoke in the morning.  I was self-injuring and taking handfuls of pills regularly.

After 25 years of living with crippling depression and trying many combinations of medication, I finally tried ECT (electroconvulsive therapy).  This was a miracle treatment for me – my depression seemed to dissipate and I felt alive once again.  I never thought I could have any kind of life except one in survival mode, but now I look forward to waking up each morning.

I sit on the Public Policy Committee and the Behavioral Health Planning and Advisory Council for NAMI Colorado, and I am also a presenter for the organization’s In Our Own Voice and Ending the Silence programs.  I attend weekly support groups and am training to be a group facilitator.  I do yoga on a regular basis and work out at the YMCA.  I take my medication religiously along with seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist.

I feel gratitude every day for my recovery.  I owe so much to my parents who stood by me through my entire journey with mental illness.  They supported me in every way imaginable and I would not be here without them.  Without treatment and resources, I would not be where I am today.  My hope is to end the stigma surrounding mental illness and fight for more resources for those who are seeking treatment.  I hope one day everyone is able to feel the way I do now!

— Allison Greenstein