I am a mother of 4 children ranging in age from 7yrs. to 25 yrs. I am diagnosed with bipolar disorder, panic disorder, borderline personality disorder and severe depression. I am an active WRAP facilitator. I live my WRAP.
At the age of 15 I attempted my first suicide attempt, prescription drug overdose, my world was just too much to live in. I was sent to a family physician received a prescription of Valium and my parents were told it would pass. No counseling was received. I quit taking the medication after a week, it made me a shell of myself. I continued in school and life striving for excellence, every day was a challenge. At the age of 17-I drove my father’s car into a tree, I wanted to escape forever. I was treated for a mild concussion, and the whole incident was treated as an unfortunate mishap.
I proceeded onto college, with total focus and obsession over grades, sports, cleanliness, and weight control. I was considered an overachiever, yet inside of me was a constant panic of not doing enough, not being enough, and never achieving enough. I lived in panic and obsession. I married, had two children, worked, and drank to mask the pain.
At the age of 34 I was hospitalized for severe anorexia, I had to learn to walk, eat and live all over again. No mental diagnosis was given, just 4 days of IV’s and council with a nutritionist. I left with an attitude that this was my new beginning, but was clueless as how to continue a mentally well life. I would be hospitalized 3 more times, this bout was in mental facilities, and the previous stated disorders were diagnosed. I received counseling, said what they wanted to hear, but still had no clue on how to live my daily life. I at one point was on 20 different medications to stabilize my mood swings and depression. I never told anyone outside of my immediate family of my diagnosis. I struggled through every day, until at the age of 45 I succumbed to the idea that I could never and would never live a normal life.
Then a door opened. I was introduced to WRAP through an article in the local newspaper. I sought out further information on WRAP, attended ewrap classes and trained to be a crtified Wrap facilitator. WRAP has been a life ring for me. I have hope, a plan, self-esteem, and acceptance and constantly educate myself and others on living well with mental illness. I am no longer on any medication. I awake each day with a positive outlook and an agenda to help at least one person to live well for that day. I speak to mental health staff and administrators on how to “get it” to understand that we are people first and not a diagnosed label. We can make educated choices if given the chance, we will still have bad days, and relapses, but more often than not with the active guidance of our WRAP we will grab that life ring before it is too late and the lights go totally out.
I have had to use my WRAP on a daily basis; it is my way of life. I recently was falling into the whole of darkness, but with my WRAP experience was able to pull myself out, recognize the triggers and my personal changes from a state of healthy to unhealthy. I am here, and truly living a life of hope and wellness because of what WRAP has introduced to me. WRAP is not an end all be all remedy, WRAP is a way of life. It has become for me a road to a life of wellness after traveling through so very many detours. I am now planning to go onto further training in WRAP. I want to involve the entire family and children of those touched by mental disorders. For every closed door there is a window with a ray of sunshine seeping through.
Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, developed Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) with a group of people with lived experience who were attending a mental health recovery workshop in 1997. She is the original author of the WRAP Red Book, as well as dozens of other WRAP books and materials. She has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to learning from people who have mental health issues; discovering the simple, safe, non-invasive ways they get well, stay well, and move forward in their lives; and then sharing what she has learned with others through keynote addresses, trainings, and the development of books, curriculums, and other resources. Now that she is retired, and that, as she intended, others are continuing to share what she has learned, she continues to learn from those who have mental health issues and those who support them. She is a frequent contributor to this site.