I work as a peer supporter. I came down with schizophrenia in college when I was 22 years old. For the first seven years, getting the wrong treatment, I thought I didn’t have an illness, but was plagued by a conspiracy. I finally had to accept that it was an illness when I finally got on a medication that worked. I worked for my state NAMI and then for a peer-run wellness and recovery center, both of which have given me the peer support that allowed me to recover. I have also been in a support group run by a social worker for over half of my life, and the social worker has been in the group for over half of her life. About nine years ago, I found a spiritual community where I could fit in, which I never thought I would find. This has given me a spiritual teacher, meaning in life, a meditation practice, and holy company. With both my spiritual peers and my mental health community peers, I have a fulfilling life. In fact, a while ago I looked at an old song I wrote where I said: “I do not live, I merely exist.” I was surprised that I had ever felt this way, although in the old days I had periods when I was suicidal. I still have times when I am depressed and frustrated, but overall, cliched though it may sound, I have come a long way from where I used to be.Recovery is real.
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