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Unread 06-20-2009, 03:40 PM   #1
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Default Aiming to work in the Mental Health Field ... with Mental Health Difficulties?...

I have many Mental Health Difficulties/Illnesses/Disorders, whatever you want to call them, and my aim is to work in the Mental Health Field (ie: psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, etc).

I realize I do have to improve on my health both mentally and medically before I can even do the courses to get to a field in the Mental Health, so I am asking for those of you who are working to get to or are in the field of the Mental Health Care system, and also have struggled or struggle with Mental Health difficulties/illnesses/disorders, how can I get there, too? Any advice or tips?

Thank you.
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(P.S I don't mean how to get there course wise, by the way)
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Unread 06-20-2009, 04:03 PM   #2
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Default Re: Aiming to work in the Mental Health Field ... with Mental Health Difficulties?...

When I was getting ready to head off to college I expressed very similar concerns to my therapist. What he told me was very reassuring. He said that therapist and doctors are people too. We all have problems. Heart doctors still practice if they have heart disease. Doctors can have diabetes and still practice too. In fact, he told me that he himself had been in therapy for nearly 20 years. He explained to me that the mental health field would be more difficult for me, that I would have to develop new kinds of coping skills and be really good at them, but it was always possible to be successful and he would be there for me for as long as I needed him.

What I would reccomend (as I am a person in your situation too) is express to your doctor (or find one if you need to) your goals and aspirations and have them help you meet them.

Anything is possible... especially if you're crazy.
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Unread 06-20-2009, 04:13 PM   #3
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Default Re: Aiming to work in the Mental Health Field ... with Mental Health Difficulties?...

Haha, thank you for the smile and uplifting spirit in the last line...

I think I'll take a year off to work on myself, and perhaps do what you've suggested
"What I would reccomend (as I am a person in your situation too) is express to your doctor (or find one if you need to) your goals and aspirations and have them help you meet them."

Thank you so much for your reply...
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Unread 06-22-2009, 01:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: Aiming to work in the Mental Health Field ... with Mental Health Difficulties?...

Everyone has some sort of abnormality, for some it's physical, others mental but there's always some abnormality. Doctors are no exception, they're people also and they have their flaws or abnormalities.

If you have some sort of mental one, then that can be a plus for you because it gives you insight that a textbook cannot always teach. If you're discussing a topic that pertains to you, then you can reflect on it and give information that you have first-hand experience with.

If you want, then tell your therapist, doctor or whoever it is about your plans. I'm sure they will also give you some motivation and as university or college can be stressful, they can understand an increase in stress and help you deal with it better.

It's better as a doctor or therapist to have some experience of your own with a disorder(s) that way you can understand the patient beyond simply looking at what the textbook or therapist manual says.

You can also use it as motivation to better help yourself and others.
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Unread 06-22-2009, 11:27 AM   #5
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Default Re: Aiming to work in the Mental Health Field ... with Mental Health Difficulties?...

Daniel Fisher, Patricia Deegan, Rufus May, Frederick Freese: These are all names of psychiatrists or psychologists who were once diagnosed with schizophrenia previous to becoming doctors. Two of them have made complete recoveries, two of them still struggle at times with symptoms but all of them continue to practice.

As a result of having achieved what they have in spite of their illness/experience, they serve as mentors to other people who are also trying to recover, as well as those people who also want to become professionals.

Consider also that its not always necessary to be a professional in the field to be able to help people. In some ways, being a professional can tie your hands. I've chosen to not go into the field because I would not want to place myself in a position where I was forced to act against my own instincts and convictions; this would likely become a necessity if I was financially dependent upon an employer and that would make my job sheer hell.

My choice was to work in a field completely unrelated to mental health but to offer support and advocacy as a peer, primarily within the online environment. I would not be able to make some of the recommendations I do or even say some of the things I say if I carried a professional label. I have more freedom to act and speak as a peer/advocate.


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Unread 06-25-2009, 09:19 PM   #6
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Default Re: Aiming to work in the Mental Health Field ... with Mental Health Difficulties?...

thanks for your post, spiritual emergency.

do you know if any of those professionals you mentioned have published books? when i first became ill one of my lecturers got me to read jamieson's "an unquiet mind" and that did help me want to continue to become a professional in the field one day.

i agree that there are many ways of helping besides becoming a professional, and these are things i want to try out first before i commit myself 100%.
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Unread 06-26-2009, 09:51 AM   #7
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Default Re: Aiming to work in the Mental Health Field ... with Mental Health Difficulties?...

Hi deliquesce!

I think it is wonderful you are considering the mental heath field! I am also a student in the same field. I have some friends who are T's and I guess the most important thing they have told me and others is to get your own issues worked out as much as possible before you EVER get in a position where you are being a T, whether just in training or other wise.
If you have had any trauma in the past, make sure you get that worked out because your work can very easy trigger your past. I think T's owe it to their future clients to make sure they can be as strong as possible. It takes a huge about of strength to be a good T. The best T's are the ones who have had lived through some pain in their life, but only if they worked on their issues. I know too many students who haven't worked on their past, or even strong enough to handle their own life, who are practicing on other students as practice T's. This is so dangerous, to the both the student and the T in training, and so unprofessional.

All T's will encounter problems, just like everyone else in their life, but you have to make adjustments to make sure you don't hurt others. My one prof. who is a full time T said that when he was going through his divorce, he stopped taking any couples or individuals that are having couple problems.
For me, I am working on my child abuse past, to desensitize the trauma I experienced. It is very hard work but one I feel is very beneficial to myself and my future clients. Nobody is perfect, but if you don't work out your issues before trying to tackle others, you will be like a time bomb waiting to explode. Who will be hurt? Your client.
So for me, who can't really afford therapy because my heath benefits are so poor, I use my student loans to help pay for therapy. I feel it is really part of my training to be the best T I can be. Good luck deliquesce. There are many good books to read, even part of this site there is a student message board for T's in training. There are books recommended on there that are very good ones.
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Unread 06-26-2009, 11:17 AM   #8
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Default Re: Aiming to work in the Mental Health Field ... with Mental Health Difficulties?...

deliquese: do you know if any of those professionals you mentioned have published books? when i first became ill one of my lecturers got me to read jamieson's "an unquiet mind" and that did help me want to continue to become a professional in the field one day.

I'm not sure if they have books although I know Daniel Fisher, Patricia Deegan and Rufus May all have websites. I'm pressed for time at the moment otherwise I'd link them up for you. Plenty of info can be found on them through a search engine however. I also have some limited information on each in my Voices of Recovery blog.

~ Namaste

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Unread 06-30-2009, 12:06 PM   #9
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Default Re: Aiming to work in the Mental Health Field ... with Mental Health Difficulties?...

I'd like to echo exoticflower's observation. I'm studying in a grad program, and see a variety of backgrounds, too. Some struggle with a wounded background, some not so much. I've also checked in with my therapist before undertaking this study. I've come to belive that it's not so much the ability/disability we have, it's what we do with it that matters. If we enter the field with a primary purpose of healing ourselves, we do a disservice to our own path and present the potential for damaging others who come for help. A person who has suffered and learned and can put that into service has a natural advantage over another who has not trod that path.

It's truly valuable advice to take stock of how far we've come and ask the hard questions early: how successful is my coping system? Can I put my needs aside and be of service to others? Will others' trauma trigger painful things in me? Can I control my display of emotion? If on meds, am I fully stabilized? How much patience do I have for another person who doesn't want to do the work I've done? Can I handle it when my help fails? Do I have the tenacity to be of service when I don't want to? Am I able to be compassionate when I have a hard time respecting or understanding someone? Are there people I can't bear to be a room with? Who are they, and what will happen if I am in a job that does not allow me to refer them out? How flexible is my thinking about what I think I know?

These are just a few of the things that came up for me while deciding to pursue this path and in the early part of my program. I applaud anyone who takes the time to really think about it and step forward in the right direction - whichever that direction leads. I wish you growth and peace as you make your decision!

~Gayle
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Unread 07-03-2009, 07:48 PM   #10
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Thumbs up Re: Aiming to work in the Mental Health Field ... with Mental Health Difficulties?...

I'm new to this site, & this grabbed my attention! I, too, want to work in the mental health field. I'm in outpatient therapy for anorexia, OCD, I have low self-esteem & anxiety issues, & I have self injured before, too. I'm also on medicine for my OCD. I've been in therapy for a year & a half & I'm doing better, but I don't consider myself recovered. I have an AA in Psychology & a BA in Deaf Services, but want to go back to school & become a research psychologist & put my love of psychology, working with deaf & hard of hearing, & nutrition together. I planned to go back to school this Fall, had enrolled, signed a lease on my apartment, & was really excited. Lately, though, I felt like I wasn't ready like I had been.

Recently, I had my psychologist send a letter to the college & my apartment telling them I will not be there this Fall & why. I need to send a lette, too. I will, though, go back next Spring. I have mixed feelings about postponing school, but think I did the right thing.

I know I need to be recovered first, & it's hard. I think Gayle7 asked some good questions. Even though I plan to research, they're still helpful. I thought of another question-what if I'm working with a patient who becomes violent suddenly? Will I be able to remain calm & get help for this person? I'm not saying that will happen. I remember a time when I threatened self harm in front of my T, & she said, "Do you want me to take you over & have them evaluate you for admission?" I said, "No, no, no!" She told me I'd spend a minimum of 72 hours there & I said, "Three days? I can do that!" It was like it was no big deal to me, but thankfully, she didn't take me over there to have them evaluate me. I actually wanted to self harm again yesterday in front of my T, & she would have taken me over or called security if I had done it. Please don't let my question & experiences scare you.

I wish you well. You'll make it! I think you can do it! I believe working in mental health is a very challenging & rewarding career & it takes a special person & a calling from God.
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