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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration


Last Updated: 7/7/2008

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)

 

Celinda Jungheim's Story

When I was committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital in California for yet another suicide attempt, after rotating in and out of both private and State hospitals, after many, many shock treatments, medications, and almost daily visits with the psychiatrist—all to no avail, I certainly felt hopeless and thought there was no life for me. Hence the suicide attempts.

I was committed with the diagnosis of schizophrenia, however that has never been confirmed, and I am more likely bipolar (although that has never been confirmed either). I do know that I had bouts of depression as a young child that got worse through my teenage and college years. My complete breakdown to a nonfunctioning state happened in my mid-20s.

While at the hospital I started to attend the Recovery, Inc. meetings that were held twice weekly, and I knew instantly that the common sense techniques that I would learn in that group would help me get well. It was a long, slow climb, but by attending the meetings, getting support from the other members of the group, and practicing what I was learning, I began to feel better and function better. Soon I was able to get a job, and my son came back to live with me.

I combated stigma as it came along. When I started my job I felt certain that I would never be able to do it because I was afraid that they would "see" my illness and fear. One member of the staff said, "Don't be nervous. You'll do fine." It made me realize that they weren't seeing my mental illness. They just saw someone nervous about doing a good job.

When I was asked to be interviewed for a newspaper story, I was excited to think that I could help other people know about Recovery, Inc. and the possibilities of getting well. I forgot that all my friends and colleagues would also see it. The response was amazing. I got calls from so many people that were either interested in Recovery, Inc. for themselves or a friend, or just to applaud me. There were a few that made snide remarks; I chose to ignore them. After all, if I was functioning at my highest level ever, then why should I be ashamed of it?

Since those early days I have made more attempts to break the stigma by telling coworkers and friends about my illness, and by speaking out in the mental health community. I know there are many places where stigma still exists, but we can keep fighting it a step at a time.

I'm proud to say that today I feel "well." I still have periods of strong symptoms, but I have learned to manage them using my Recovery, Inc. techniques. And Recovery, Inc. has also taught me when I need to see a doctor for additional assistance.

Celinda Jungheim


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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.