Living with a mental illness is very challenging and can be very frustrating.  In 1994, when I was diagnosed, the culture surrounding mental illness was much different.  Many of the support groups were not as easy to access, due to technology limitations.  The internet was not as user friendly, if you had it at all.  When you were the person in the room with a mental illness, you typically kept it to yourself, and it was suggested that you do not disclose.

With the help of organizations like NAMI, SARDAA, APSE, Vocational Rehabilitation, KEY and many others, mental health is becoming something that is easier to discuss, when in the past, it was not.  In 2017, I received an MBA with honors, from IndianaTech.  I remember, in the 1990’s, when I was considering going back to college, I got a great deal of pushback.  I heard countless times, that it was a crazy thought.  Then, I approached my Job Coach, and I told her about my goals.  She told me that I was capable of doing anything that I dreamed about, and from that point on, I did.

I had help from Vocational Rehabilitation and an incredible mental health provider (Adult and Child).  Since then, I have been nominated for state and national awards, and was fortunate enough to win one of these awards.  I have met some kind people in organizations, recently, that are interested in helping me, help others, on a very large scale.

All this being said, there are still so many things that I want to change in mental health.  So many people that are living with these conditions are living in poverty.  I understand the struggles, and I will work on bringing about the needed changes, until I breathe my last breath.  My transformation may sound like it was a very happy and easy transformation, but this is one of the things that people do not understand about mental illness.  You can have some very dark days, and just feel like you do not want to do anything.

This made getting my MBA extremely challenging.  I was working full time, and had some very challenging coursework that needed to be completed on a daily basis.  This is where coping skills come into play.  Sometimes you have to search really hard for the sunshine in a day.  Some days, I would feel horrible and it was a struggle to function, and someone would approach me that was struggling even worse.  When this would happen, I would pull as much sunshine from my day as I could, and insert it into their day.  I have found that when you brighten someone’s day, you catch some of the sunshine yourself.

As I mentioned earlier, in 2017, I got my MBA.  I also got into a position as an Employment Specialist and Career Coach.  This has been life changing for me and I have met so many incredible people, including our team leader.  When an organization and leadership believe in you, it is hard to explain how it can change your life.  I do want mention again, there are dark days that I really struggle, but they are becoming fewer.

I encourage you, whether you have a mental illness, or have a family member that is living with one, that you reach out to the organizations I have mentioned.  One of the biggest things I have learned, is that it is impossible to handle these issues alone.  Even if you feel alone, I promise you, there are many of us that are feeling what you are feeling.  As you take in these thoughts, I hope that you realize that you can follow your dreams, as everything that I have done and continue to do, at one time, was one of my dreams.