Sharing Drops of Sonshine for the Journey

I am Sue, the Mom of Grown Twin daughters & Granny of 2 amazing grandchildren. I also have a wonderful husband who I’ve nicknamed Sir Arthur, because he is to me everything that a Knight in Shining armor should be… Kind, Loyal, Loving, Caring, Noble, Genuine, and FUN! We were married on January 1, 2011 and couldn’t be happier. I’ve updated all of my posts so those of you who knew me by my former name, I’m still just as silly as ever and busy spreading lots of Sonshine. At first, I couldn’t figure out how to make my Sonshine, Silliness & Legends tagline fit, but as you’ll see I think I came up with quite a nice way of adjusting it!! 😀

I love to sing, and encourage others. I can be downright silly at times… sometimes more often than not, and I love to meet new people. I love life, I believe each day is a gift, and am always looking for the little surprises God has in store for us. I enjoy writing, and I like to blog, though sometimes my thinkin & my fingers don’t cooperate!

I can remember a time I just couldn’t seem to get out of bed and, experienced a very deep depression. This depression lasted for 3 long, miserable years. Though I loved my job, I often found myself headed in the totally opposite direction, and usually ended up off to the side of the road crying my eyes out.

My family didn’t understand. My then husband, (now ex), harped on me constantly about the responsibilities I had and was expected to maintain. Though I was actively seeing a therapist and, had been through several unsuccessful trials of various antidepressants prescribed by my primary care doctor, my life just seemed to continue to get worse!

I tried to get my husband to come to the doctor, and or counseling with me, in hopes of getting some support.. All of my efforts seemed fruitless. I felt worthless, and, as though I was a burden to my family. I considered suicide.

Not much later after a recommendation from my therapist, for the first time in my life, I saw a psychiatrist for ADD. The first medication he put me on was like nite and day difference, I could focus, concentrate, make decisions, and leave a store without buying a thing – unfortunately this medication had some side effects that were not helpful, my appetite also went out the window.

Because of these side effects we tried a few others, one of which brought about some very scary side effects and feeling unsafe, I found myself in the In-patient Psych Unit at a local hospital. Due to the side effects I’d had, I was then additionally diagnosed with Bi-polar II disorder.

The things that I learned during my four day stay in the hospital were invaluable to me. Yet I felt an immense sense of fear. I worried about how these illnesses would affect my life. The fear I encountered in many ways gave me the feeling of a rug being pulled out from under me. The years that followed seemed like a roller coaster ride gone wild as my life as I’d known it changed drastically. I found myself unable to work.

I began to attend a Bipolar Support group at a Community Mental Health Clinic. I found it helpful in many ways, Yet, I often wondered if the Bipolar diagnosis was correct as those in the group I attended seemed to struggle WAY more than I ever did.

I had problems with and went through every Mood Stabilizer available, the last of which caused some rather serious medical issues, and the scariest was vertigo… I often found myself waking up in the morning to a spinning room. My primary care doctor prescribed for me a walker… Living on my own, and stumbling about, I thought I might end up living in an assisted living facility. I was petrified at the thought.

After a nasty fall during which I broke my nose, the ER doc determined that this was more than likely due to a medication. I tracked back when the vertigo began, which coincided with the start of the Bipolar medication. I consulted with my psychiatrist and we decided to see how I did without it, yet was very cautious. It just so happened at that time I was attending a W.R.A.P. (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) workshop which I found very helpful.

Shortly after that attending WRAP, I attended training to become a Certified Peer Counselor. A few months later I started an online support group for people in our county and later opened it up to those in the State (WA) living with Mental Illness.

While many aspects of this life, are far from the picture of perfection I’d like them to be, at each obstacle I encounter, I find the most creative ways to jump over them. One of the obstacles I’ve encountered, was some intense anxiety, and looking back during the Bipolar Medications I’d been on, noted that those seemed to cause more anxiety.

I talked to my Psychiatrist who prescribed a very low dose of anti-anxiety medication. For a while it helped, and with each struggle I worked my WRAP but eventually due to some environmental factors, obstacles, road bumps, and such, my anxiety seemed to worsen over several months and I reached a crisis point.

In February 2010, I rather hesitantly checked myself into the hospital praying all the way there that they would be able to take me, and have room. This was the same hospital I had learned so much from years prior. My prayers were answered and with the help of the staff there sorted through the changes I needed to make to get me back on track.

One thing I learned during my stay and recognized, was a need to become my own cheerleader. A couple of very dear friends when called and requested, picked up and brought to me during a visit a set of pom-poms.
I am no longer receiving services from a community mental health agency… (this was one of the changes I’d made as a result of my hospital stay.) Both the therapist and psychiatrist I see now do not believe the Bipolar Disorder diagnosis was correct. I now take ADD meds & a higher dose of anti-anxiety medication which has helped immensely.

As I look back over the years, I marvel at where my life has taken me. For just over 2 years now, I have been working as a Certified Peer Specialist. My job is one that I enjoy immensely as it utilizes all of my natural strengths and abilities. I designed and began leading a group called Positively You which is now being led by Peers at 2 other sites within the agency and am told it has been a BIG hit.

In November 2009 I attended training to become a Certified WRAP Facilitator, and began facilitating WRAP. Not long afterwards, after a few well aimed nudges, I began this blog.

In 2010 after sharing the Positively You group I’d designed at a Recovery Celebration, I was asked to present it at a Mental Health Educational Expo sponsored by the Greater Puget Sound ROI, funded through the WA State Mental Health Transformation Grant. Based on the presentations, consumers attending the Expo voted for the top 2 programs they would like to see offered more broadly. To my surprise and delight, Positively You was one of them. As a result, I was awarded a portion of the grant $$’s allocated to the GPSROI and in November of 2010 I trained 8 others to facilitate this group, which I renamed to “Positively Amazing You™.

Not long after the Recovery Celebration, while sharing with another team about WRAP, the conversation switched to Positively You. One gal held up her little red WRAP book, and said –Think about how this (WRAP) started, and look how it’s grown. I’m waiting for YOUR book to come out. I was humbled, awed, and inspired all at the same time.

In August of 2010 I also had the joy of presenting Positively You at Washington State’s NAMI Conference and am looking into other ways (both old and new) to broaden the impact of “Positively Amazing You™ and believe this could be part of my true calling in life. I fully believe everything I’ve experienced has worked out in the most Positively Amazing Ways!! 😀

I’m excited at the doors that are opening, the opportunities that are being presented, I’m pleased to be on such an adventure one that is worth every moment!!!!!!  

Today, I stand in the middle of an internet style courtyard, opening this door to you.   

Let’s meander into the living room, may you be encouraged during your visits here.    
©Sue Anderson, All Rights Reserved 2009 – 2011
An-ders-(S)on-shine, Silliness, Stories, Legends, Laughter, & Love™
It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. Ps.18:32

(formerly known as Sue Ray of Sonshine, Silliness & Legends)
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