Friday, September 6, 2013

About the Author (Re-post from 5/22/12)

I realized that I haven’t told you much of anything anything about me as a person.  I’ve given you some of my story in its relationship to my Bipolar Disorder, but not really any history on me as an individual sans the Bipolar Disorder.  I am sorry for neglecting this piece up until now.  This should have come way back at the beginning and I'm sorry for that. I haven’t even told you my name, unless you’ve read my name where it is written very small underneath the posting you wouldn’t know that my name is Sara.

I was born in Baltimore, Maryland on November 1, 1984. I grew up in Pikesville, Maryland where I was raised by two awesome parents. I have a wonderful sister who is 5 ½ years older than me and I have 2 amazing grandparents living in Pikesville.  Those are the 5 family members of mine that I have always been able to count on and always will be able to count on- they have been there through it all.

At the age of 15 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  At the age of 22- shortly after graduating college (and by shortly, I mean 2 weeks), I married my high school sweetheart.  And at the age of 25 I divorced my high school sweetheart.  Lasted long, huh?  That is a personal aspect of my life that I am not willing to broadcast details of.  What I will say is that we live and we learn.  I learned a lot from my marriage and the relationship in which I had with him.

I attended school in Pikesville- elementary, middle and high school, graduating from Pikesville High in 2002.  With High School being a time of turmoil for me, as touched upon in my posting “My Diagnosis with Bipolar Disorder” (February 25, 2012), my grades were lacking to say the least. A four year college was not even an option.  I went on from High School to study at the Community College of Baltimore County where I received my A.A.S degree in “Chemical Dependency Counseling” in 2004.  I performed an internship during this time at “Partners in Recovery” in Towson working with adolescents with substance abuse issues. Just to note: I performed phenomenally at CCBC, it was a complete 180 from where I was at in high school.

Upon graduating from CCBC, I moved on the attend University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) as a Social Work major.  During my first semester at UMBC I began experiencing a relapse in Bipolar symptoms and spent about a week at Sheppard Pratt, as described in my posting “My Short Stay at Sheppard Pratt” (March 2, 2012).  I decided it was best for me to drop out of UMBC at the time and I later applied to Towson University.  After some much needed time off from school, I went back to school at Towson University the following fall, Fall of 2005.  2 years later, I graduated from Towson with a human services B.S. Degree- where I followed a “services to children” track.  I had a job lined up for me prior to graduation as a Child Life Counselor at “St. Vincent’s Center” – a group home for children with histories of abuse and neglect. I worked there for about 2 years and it was the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life.  It was so hard to go into work every day and see the pain in these kids eyes.  This job broke my heart and still does when I look back on it.  There are some kids I’ll never forget- some stories I’ll never forget- some situations I’ll never forget.  That job broke my heart day in and day out.

Also, immediately after graduating college I moved on to University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) to pursue a Masters in Social Work.  I discovered after some time that this was not the path that would fit me best.  I withdrew from the university to give myself time to decide what path was for me.  A master’s degree is too expensive and time consuming to waste all that money and precious time on a degree that is not worth it to you in the end.

After St. Vincent’s Center I moved on to work with adults at CC in Baltimore City.  I thought that working with adults would be easier and in some ways I was right.  CC serves individuals with severe and persistent mental illness.  The majority of these individuals continue to be symptomatic despite the extremely large amount of medication they take.  There are strict criteria for a client to be a member of CC's program.  A state hospitalization or a number of community hospitalizations within a short period of time (I forget the exact number) are required to be a member of this program. The majority of the clients are admitted to CC upon release from a state hospital on conditional release.  For those that do not know, conditional release is basically the equivalent of probation for an individual who was found "Not Criminally Responsible" and was therefore state hospitalized instead of jailed.   My time at CC (about a year and a half) taught me a lot and gave me a lot of necessary experience.  However, during my time at CC, I realized that direct care was not for me.  I needed some time away from it and some time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

I moved on to work at a property management company as a leasing consultant for a short period of time- this was by no means for me but gave me some breathing time away from direct care in the mental health field.  Ultimately, I decided to go back to school for my MBA which will enable me to go into non-profit management.  I am in my final semester of my MBA and I am doing an internship at a non-profit organization.  I absolutely love the work that I am doing and hope to continue working in the same capacity upon graduation- either where I am now or at another mental health non-profit organization.

After time to think about it, I have realized why direct care positions were not for me.  The first reason is that you are stuck within a system where you have no ability to make any reasonable changes to the care or anything else for that matter.  I want to be able to make decisions, make changes and make a difference.  Making a difference in the lives of my clients wasn’t enough for me- I needed more.  I needed to be able to make a difference on a larger scale.  The second reason is- I took my work home with me emotionally- I cared too much (yes, there is such a thing).

So keeping that in mind, I aim to start my own non-profit someday soon.  I want the sky to be the limit when it comes to my ability to make change. I do know that funding sources will make it impossible for the sky to be the limit.  However, at the same time I know that I will be making changes in the areas that are most important to me- which is what my business mission, vision and goals will surround.

That is all that I can think of for now! That should give you a good basis for understanding a bit of my history, me as an individual, what my life has held up until now and what my goals for the future are.

‘Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” - Henry Ford

Thanks for reading, until next time….

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-