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Voices of Recovery: Amy Shipman

Posted Aug 31 2011 10:18pm


Voices of recovery is proud to start off with the voice of my friend Amy Shipman from South Dakota.  Within the first few words of her story you will find out, as I have,  how courageous she is.  With all that has happened to her she has also find a way to be one of the kindest, fairest and most good hearted people I know.  She is the moderator for a yahoo group called CNECTD, which in a small way I am a member of that is well worth checking out if you are looking for any kind of online support network.  She is a person well worth knowing and a voice well worth hearing.

Here is Amy:

I am a resilient 38 year old that has survived many traumatic experiences. I also function through a variety of physical and mental health challenges each day. I strive to be a genuine, creative, honest, open minded, spiritual, understanding, and caring human being. I do possess a mental health degree and many related educational credits and experiences but this is only one of my major areas of interests and a piece of who I am. It is through the experience of connecting with others that my eyes are opened and I am constantly being refined. This my friends is my personal passion.

Amy Shipman

Recovery From What and What Does This Mean?

I have survived childhood sexual abuse and several rapes/sodomizations, manipulation /twists that would cause most to grimace, neglect, and the nastiest parental divorce I have ever known of. I began self-mutilation at four and carried it into adulthood. I began having anxiety attacks by age seven, chewing my finger nails down to bleeding stubs, and obsessive-compulsively pulling out my eyelashes. Having no idea why I did any of this and so much more, I loathed myself. I cried but later completely lost the ability to do so.

I have been depressed since the age of seven or 8. Family violence was severe enough to include concussions, broken bones, stitches, etc. to some involved. Ambulances and police visits were part of the regular home routine. Mother was a severely mentally ill alcoholic who married a drug dealer. I was stalked and almost had to change my name to get away from it all.

At the age of about 20, I plunged into a black hole so deep I knew I would never be the same. This was the first of multiple psychiatric hospitalizations, a barrage of medications, and efforts which have both crippled and saved my being. I so narrowly escaped one suicide attempt I woke up on a respirator. I was given excessive ECT treatments and have permanent resulting impairments. I experience depression, PTSD, a personality disorder, OCD, Dissociative Disoreder etc. I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who practices the twelve step program and is still attempting every type of therapy made available. I am forever separated from a husband who battles multiple physical challenges and mental health issues. I further lost myself trying to “rescue” him. Until the last few years I never knew what it was like to want to live, especially for myself. Today I can look to progress rather than perfection.

I am the product of a Timeless Soul who owes me nothing. This Truth created me anyway and loves me unconditionally. He/She continues to look out for me. Love cheers during my successes, suffers when I am lying in the gutter, and gently wipes my tears away. Yes, all of this and I still often lose faith. I give up on myself and everything around me, even my only Guiding Light, the very source of life itself.

Within the last 3 years I have suffered extreme new physical challenges which interplay terribly with my mental health. I now use a walker and must live with severe pain, weakness, and limitations. I am largely home bound. All seems so uncertain. My struggle to find balance is a ongoing lesson in humility.

What is the point when most of my dreams no longer seem realistic? The pursuit of previous passions seems unrealistic. Any sense of accomplishment is hard to come by. Having sworn off trying to harm myself or anyone else, I must further explore God’s purpose for my life. I desperately need it to survive. So I strive, with the help of the Great Spirit, to find and become what I believe.

I claim one spirituality – relationship with a higher power who believes in me. The Guardian accepts my many imperfections with mercy and grace, never asks for more than I can give, and my best efforts are considered sufficient. This Greater Being has my best interest at heart. I believe I will someday comprehend answers to the many the questions of this world. My Creator leads me through the darkness by way of what I often refer to as my internal compass. I know little more than the direction I am headed but a subtle internal voice reassures me when it is right. I follow God because my best efforts have failed. I am a fighter but always eventually end up fighting all and sabotage myself in the process.

Just when I think I have given up, I again realize once that I’ve been trying to force and mold other people, places, and/ or things to fit into my own ideals. Their natural motion or lack thereof seems to work against me. The only thing I can actually change is me. Recovery simply means this – I am trying, no matter how futile or misguided my efforts. As I learn I am being refined from deep within. Sometimes I feel great joy, peace, and satisfaction and others it is simply all I can do to hold on and not check out of the world. Wherever I am, the Great Spirit always meets me there!

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