Blessing in Disguise

Blessing in Disguise

So, I have written pretty extensively about my journey over the last 16 years, dealing with Schizophrenia and OCD. I have found though, that I was wrong in my initial thinking that mental illness is a death sentence. When I first started hearing voices and was going through psychosis, I thought I would be turned into a drugged up drooling zombie in a padded room. This scared me so much that I went for 2 years without telling anyone that I heard voices. However, my journey has been very' different than what I thought it would be. I was very fortunate to have the Early Psychosis Intervention program parachute in right at the beginning and they brought a lot of hope and answers to what I was going through. I also from the start have had a very strong support network. So, along with medication and a lot of hard work, I have blossomed into this successful, intelligent young woman, who lives in her own apartment and pays her own bills. I have realized that having a mental illness has actually been a blessing in disguise. For the last several years, it has been my goal and fight to erase the stigma that is associated with mental illness. There just simply isn't enough knowledge out there for people who are struggling, and they continue to struggle because of that. No one wants to talk about mental illness or disclose that they have mental health issues.

I go to high schools, colleges, meetings, workshops and even the RCMP and 911 dispatchers and I do talks about how far I have come. It is so great to be able to bring hope especially to youth and young adults that are struggling because I was once there myself. I have really been blessed with an amazing father as well. We are pretty well known in the mental health community. We have been dubbed "a great tag team" and we do a lot of talks together, me sharing my story and my dad sharing from a parent's perspective. We get all these cool opportunities to share our story all over the place. We have talked to thousands of family members, mental health professionals and people going through psychosis themselves. This is such an amazing opportunity to have. My dad and I are able to go out and change lives. We bring hope to so many people where there once was none. We bring strength to families and the idea that with psychosis, recovery can be expected. You have no idea how much I love being able to do that. My dad and I have touched so many lives.

So, I would definitely say that having a mental illness has been a huge blessing in disguise. If did not go through everything I have in the last 16 years, then I wouldn't be changing lives. I wouldn’t be bringing hope to people. I wouldn't be going to high schools and helping kids who are going through their own personal hell. I get to fight stigma and be a beacon of light to not only people with psychosis but also their families. How awesorne is that? Without everything. I wouldn't have such a strong bond with my dad- I wouldn't be as close to him as I am now. There are so many amazing things on the horizon for my life and I have made it so far. It is my life goal to help others and show that mental illness isn't the end of the world.

So, if you are facing a mental health diagnosis, remember, it is NOT a death sentence. There IS hope. You CAN recover- There is so much positivity and a future out there for you.

Ashleigh

Blog Acknowledge

Acknowledge good days

Acknowledge the Good Days!

So, through a lot of hard work, I am once again feeling great. I really challenged myself this week to work out my anxieties on my own and fight Albert without relying on my dad or Trish to solve my issues for me. It's been an interesting week, but it was worth the effort. I was just talking to a friend and she encouraged me to get a calendar and put stars on the good days. This way, you can see how hard you've worked and that happiness can be achieved throughout the week. I think it is a good idea to acknowledge the good days so that when you are having an off day, you can look back and say "hey, I'm struggling right now, but if I work hard enough, I can be happy again". This proves to you that there is always hope and success if you try hard enough.

So, today is one of those gold star days. It's nice to see that my efforts are coming through and being noticed by my support network. I am sure my support network is very happy that I am thriving and being as happy as I am. I told my friends "my brain is working properly today!" and I couldn’t have gotten there if I hadn't used my coping
mechanisms and fought hard. I had to force myself to not pick up the phone for quick reassurance. Sure, there was a lot of the time where I felt uncomfortable, but perseverance pays off. So, you're having a good mental health day? Acknowledge it. Give yourself a pat on the back and know that you got there through hard work. Your next goal will be keeping up with the hard work and being in control of your recovery.

Ashleigh