Recovery Stories

Personal stories about getting life back from depression are what this site is all about. To make a more prominent place for them, we’ve started a series of posts written by folks who have learned how to live well despite depression. The series is still new, and so far there are a few personal narratives written for this site. They’re listed below, along with several posts describing recovery experiences by well-known figures who have written about their lives with serious illnesses.

This section will grow as further stories are added and as readers use the comments to describe their own struggles. Visitors like you have added immeasurably to Storied Mind by contributing hundreds of insightful comments, but they’re hard to find. This section will serve as a more accessible spot for stories about learning to live well again.

Tom Wootton’s Story: Finding Ecstasy and Equanimity in Depression

(Tom Wootton has been advocating a radical change in the way we think about depression and bipolar for several years. One the most challenging ideas he has put forward is that depression can be integrated into the comfort zone of living and even become a beautiful experience. To elaborate on what he means by this, Tom recently published the following essay in his blog at Psychology Today. It describes his [...]

Judy’s Story of Depression and PTSD

In this post, Judy tells her compelling story of lifelong depression and PTSD as well as her gradual healing and recovery with the aid of innovative therapies such as hypnosis and EMDR. Background As is the case with many people who live with depression for a number of years, it’s wreaked havoc on my marriage at times, nearly cost me my job and isolated me from friends and family. Both [...]

Jocelyn’s Recovery Story

Every now and then a reader offers insights about his or her own recovery story in the form of a comment on a particular post. As I did with Peter’s story, I like to give them more prominence by re-posting in the blog. Jocelyn offered this summary of how she was able to overcome a driving fear that led to depression. She wrote it in response to the recent post [...]

Peter’s Recovery Story – Part 2

Be sure to read Part 1 of this self-help recovery story about the development of Peter’s depression from childhood through the teenage years. Adulthood I moved a lot, even from country to country, but soon learned that the escape was merely temporary. My old self was following wherever I went, but moving about and keeping my mind occupied helped to keep the demons of the past at bay. By my [...]

Peter’s Recovery Story – Part 1

Peter told his recovery story as an extended comment recently, and I wanted to give it a more prominent place as another in our ongoing series of personal stories. Because of its length, it will be posted in two parts. During the last ten years or so, whenever the emotional roller coaster of my life has hit a trough, I often turned to the internet for relief. Feeling part of [...]

Struck by Living – A Memoir of Depression and Recovery

Julie Hersh wrote two versions of Struck by Living about her struggle with suicidal depression. She ended the first one with her hike to the top of a New Mexico mountain in a symbolic celebration of her recovery. A happy, triumphant ending. She bound the manuscript and sent it to dozens of her friends. Then came her relapse into the same bleak emptiness that had led to three suicide attempts. [...]

Recovery Stories: Tony Giordano

Every story about depression is a little different. But when you can see the big picture, a lot of parallels start to appear. Although I had gone through some rough spots here and there, my life was moving along alright overall until depression struck in my mid-forties. When I learned I was clinically depressed, I was devastated. I felt so weak. I never had an inkling that I could have [...]

Recovery Stories: Donna-1

Depression became my constant companion early, about age 8. I suppose I had as dysfunctional a family as most, although children are often not aware of the level of dysfunction till much later. Then they realize much of what goes on in life is predicated by their childhood. I’m not seeking to place blame on anyone. Depression happens. By age 12, I knew something was wrong and thought I just [...]

Tony Giordano’s Story of Depression and Recovery

Every person who has lived with depression has a unique story to tell, and I’ve read or listened to dozens of them since starting this blog. Rarely, though, have I found a narrative that so closely parallels my own experience as Tony Giordano’s does. It’s Not All In Your Head: Unearthing the Deep Roots of Depression has one passage after another that I could have written about my own struggle. [...]

John’s Recovery Story

A recovery story is a messy thing. It has dozens of beginnings and no final ending. Most of the conflict and drama is internal, and there’s a lot more inaction than action. The lead character hides in the shadows much of the time, so you can’t even see what’s going on. I joined up with depression around the age of 8. There are snapshots of me in the shabby brown [...]

One Response to “Recovery Stories”

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  1. priscilla james says:

    I was raised in a good home. My parents always worked hard to help us kids. My family comes from Jamaica, but I was born here in the United States.

    I take a lot of pride in my family’s heritage. Growing up was hard because I had left a private school called Mt. Zion in Utica, New York and began going to public schools. I was very nervous and I struggled throughout high school always wanting to fit in and be popular.

    I hated myself because I was living a life no one would imagine. I was unsure of myself and afraid. I told some of my friends growing up that I struggled with identity issues. I lived a separate life not knowing what to do. My parents’ marriage was failing and my father was abusive to my mom.

    My mom got enough courage to leave him even though she lived in fear. She remained strong and never gave up hope that things were going to get better. This was all going on when I was 16.

    I had dealt with some abuse when I was about 12. I always held it inside because I was ashamed. I had many friends, some who gave up on me and walked away because my lifestyle was out of control. I was drinking a lot, partying more than ever. I got into doing drugs and that’s when my life changed forever.

    I started getting so heavily into drugs that I started getting very depressed. My relationships weren’t always the greatest and I would always pull away. I broke hearts. I lived my life in chaos. I had lost jobs over the years. I always felt alone and that no one could help me.

    I’m 26 years old now. There was one person that always made me feel like I was alive and that was my high school sweetheart. I knew I loved her more than anything in the world but I turned her world upside down. I never could forgive myself for that along with many other things.

    I was a broken soul that needed lots of help and on October 15th, 2010, I did the scariest thing you could imagine. I overdosed on pills. I also had cocaine and beer in my system. I wanted to die so bad and, well, I did.

    My mom went upstairs and she found me with a note, passed out slowly dying. I had burned my face with a cigarette. I’d left a letter telling my mom I would never fit in and that I had identity issues for a long time. Well my mom called the ambulance were she works and they rushed me to the hospital. That’s when everyone in my family waited to hear my fate.

    Well my mother had shouted at the top of her lungs saying we need a miracle and told the doctors that they needed one that time, then the doctors said they were loosing me. My mom called the pastor of the church I was born in, Mike Servello, and his wife Barb Servello of Redeemer Church, and they all prayed for me in the church.

    Then my aunts in New York City put my name across the radio for prayer and I had woken up the next day. I was in a coma for a long time. When I woke up, I looked at my mom and her friend that kept my mother company the whole time and I asked, “What’s the matter? Why are you crying?” They nearly passed out.

    I was in Rochester Strong Memorial Hospital in the ICU. They brought me to the part of the hospital where I could get a new liver. My liver completely failed on me, but I never had to get a new one because I was healed.

    I was there for a month. I had to learn how to walk all over again and it was about three weeks before I could get my energy back because I was so weak. The doctors that worked with me explained I had a disorder called Bi-polar and major depression. I never knew I had this all these years. I knew I was depressed my whole life but couldn’t figure out why.

    Well from there I left to another hospital called MVPC in Utica, New York. I was there for 6 months and it was the hardest thing I ever went through in my whole life. I did everything I was told to do. And that kept me from staying there any longer. I told my doctor that I would do whatever it takes to get my life back together and when I told him that he was surprised because he never knew what I meant that day.

    He diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Anxiety. Well after knowing about my disorders and learning about them, I challenged myself to stay focused on getting out and becoming clean and I went straight to McPike Rehab center.

    I only left the hospital about 4 times out on pass because I had wanted to recover and do it without any distractions. Going to rehab was fun. I left there, I wanted to go to this place called Conaford Park, another rehab place were they had a buffet and a pool. I really wanted to go and got my hopes up, but then was told I was going to McPike.

    When I was there I was a little afraid but knew if I could go through two other hospitals and do this, it’s worth it. And my counselor loved me there. A lot of people liked me even in the hospitals. I was always worried what people would think about me and now I’m a lot stronger than I was before. This place was a great place for my recovery. I was so proud of myself when I got my medallion with the Serenity Prayer on it. I carry it everywhere I go.

    When I talked and gave my speech, I thought of what my mom always says. “No matter what any of you do or what you have gone through, everyone deserves a second chance.” And she was right. I was given back my life and I’m here today to share my story, and my journey and what I had to do to get here. I did it all on my own and I am ten months sober today. October 16th will be one year for me. I’m going the long way and staying happier with my medications, great friends to talk to when I need help and a loving church that supports me.

    My life is totally changed and I’ll never be the same person again. Now you can catch me volunteering in church or doing some kind of benefit walk, plus my favorite hobby Zumba salsa dancing. I have a large support network and I know what to do when I need help. You see, I spent my whole entire life suicidal, always afraid to tell my mother and we share such a bond now that I have been very blessed and fortunate.

    My father died on December 21, 2007, and my grandfather died just four days later. It was a very hard year for my family so even with that I kept all my feelings inside about how I felt about it. I never got the closure I wanted because the burial was done without us and I always blamed myself but it was never my fault. I say what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger and I learned a lot of lessons out of this to just talk about it.

    You don’t have to fit in to be popular and I am unique for a reason. We all have a plan and purpose and I’m just glad I’m able to help others and reach out to them especially because I know how it feels to not have anyone to go to.

    This is my story and I consider myself a miracle, more than just a hero. Now my life is starting its new chapter of happiness.

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