by Mandy Waite, Assistant Director
September 5, 2023
The past year has taken me on a whirlwind journey through the intricate tapestry of recovery. It has been a spellbinding blend of breathtaking highs that I never thought possible and grueling challenges that have reminded me of the continuous effort required to uphold the progress I've made.
In the beginning of this transformative year, I found myself stepping into the role I had long yearned for - Assistant Director of Montana's peer network. This was more than just a job; it was a dream woven into my aspirations. The path, however, was strewn with thorns of anxiety, especially when it came to conquering my fear of driving on the Interstate. As someone who grapples with panic disorder, the mere thought of this journey was a tempest of trepidation.
Undeterred by my own limitations, I was resolute in my belief that I wouldn't allow fear or the shackles of mental illness to hinder my progress. I embarked on a journey of resilience, undergoing six intense weeks of EMDR therapy tailored to dissolve the tendrils of anxiety gripping me. The echoes of my therapist's soothing words became my companions as I ventured onto the Interstate, each drive a testament to my determination. While the specter of anxiety still lingers, it's no longer a tyrant holding me captive. My journey through this year has seen me navigate the highways, from Helena to Missoula to Bozeman, with a spirit that's been nurtured by the courage to confront my inner demons.
And then came the pinnacle of adulthood - buying my first home. It wasn't just about acquiring property; it was an odyssey through self-discovery and financial revival. The road was littered with the remnants of past struggles, debts, and credit woes that once bound me. With unwavering tenacity, I dismantled these barriers brick by brick. I negotiated with collection agencies, nursed my credit back to health through careful credit card management, and scaled the ladder of financial responsibility. Each milestone I achieved wasn't just about improving my credit score; it was a testament to the strength of my commitment and determination.
The process of buying a home was an orchestra of exhilaration and anxiety. The symphony of questions swirled in my mind: Could I keep up with the monthly payments? What if unforeseen hurdles emerged? The symphony, however, played on, and I danced to its rhythm. I have a panic disorder, yes, but it did not stop me from embracing the excitement and apprehension of this new chapter. With each hurdle I overcame, I forged a deeper connection with myself, an unbreakable thread of resilience.
In the midst of these changes, I sought solace in the realm of mental health care. The journey to find a new psychiatric provider was marked by the echoes of past disappointments. I had hoped that my achievements and professional prowess would shield me from the stigma I had once faced. Alas, my first encounter left me feeling dismissed and voiceless, but it did yield a validating diagnosis. Yet, from the ashes of this experience, I emerged with newfound hope. I reached out to someone who saw me, who acknowledged the battles I had fought and the victories I had earned. With her support, I navigated the labyrinth of medication adjustments, a path fraught with uncertainties. Her unwavering understanding reminded me that seeking help is a mark of courage, not weakness.
Amidst the crescendo of challenges, a sweet refrain rang out - my wedding day. A celebration of love, a testament to resilience, it was a crescendo of emotions that left my heart both exultant and vulnerable. As I walked down the aisle, a journey of redemption unfolded before me. My dad, once distant due to the wounds of addiction, stood beside me, symbolizing a bridge rebuilt through perseverance. My daughter, a beacon of hope, bore witness to my transformation. The circle of family, once fractured, had mended, an embodiment of the miracles recovery can manifest.
The past year has been a symphony of emotions, a rollercoaster ride through uncharted territories of joy, pride, fear, and growth. It demanded every ounce of courage, every iota of strength, and every whisper of self-belief. I've tasted the sweetness of achievement, felt the weight of responsibility, and embraced the symphony of life with open arms. Through it all, my recovery has been my guiding star, the compass that steered me through uncharted waters. As I stand here, gazing at the path I've walked, I'm filled with a profound gratitude for the tumultuous, transformative journey that has brought me to this moment. The highs and lows have etched a tapestry of resilience, and I am ready to keep weaving, one thread of recovery at a time.