2013 Mental Health Hero Cartoon-A-Thon
Drawing by Chato Stewart
When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1991, I had no idea recovery was possible! My psychiatrist and other mental health professionals I encountered during the first seven years after my diagnosis referred to my mental illness as though it was a terminal illness. I was encouraged to take my medication, read Kay Redfield Jamison’s books, and make the best of my situation. Lucky for me, in 1998, I made the difficult decision to move from the New Orleans, LA area where I had been living for twenty years and return to North Louisiana where I was raised. Because I would be losing my health insurance, my psychiatrist referred me to the State-run mental health clinic.With the help and encouragement of the staff at this clinic, I not only got better, I also began working in the field of behavioral health in 2008. I began as a consumer liaison, and within a few short months, was certified as a support group facilitator and mental health educator. I also co-founded a local chapter of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance that year. In 2009, I was trained and certified as a Peer Support Specialist and WRAP facilitator. In 2011, I was certified as a Mental Health First Aider. I serve on the Louisiana Behavioral Health Advisory Council, the Regional Advisory Council, the Advocacy Center’s Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Council, and the Housing Options for Everyone Coalition. I say all of this not to brag on my accomplishments, but to point out that all that training in how to help others has helped me more than I could have ever imagined!
Working with peers who have walked for many miles in my moccasins has made me healthier, wiser, and stronger. I learn something from everyone I peer counsel or teach and everyone who participates in my support groups. I never imagined I could be this healthy or this happy. Yes, recovery is hard work. The road is long, and sometimes you can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other anyway. Trust me, it’s worth the effort, because recovery rocks!!”
FreeCounselingHelp.com is America’s only directory connecting people with affordable counseling. There are thousands of non-profit agencies within America that are available to help those with limited means. FreeCounselingHelp.com allows people to quickly search by ZIP code and find the best fit for their mental health needs.
Mentalympians is a mental health community development initiative to raise awareness of mental health recovery, inspire hope, reduce self-stigma, foster recovery and also connect individuals who are interested in campaigning for mental health reform.
Friend me on Facebook @chato B Stewart.
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Bonus My kids’ Drawings:
Sweat Pea 11 * Sweat Pea 11
Precious 10 *Precious 10
Belly 7*Belly 7