Elizabeth's Story

Not just another beautiful face.

Somewhere during my recovery, I discovered NAMI. I think I saw a pamphlet in my professors’ office. I read it and became curious. Discovering NAMI was like finding my home. NAMI members accept one another for who they are–where they are, and one feels “normal” when in the company of other members. 

Elizabeth J. Brown-McCarty

Intake Counselor, NAMI Connection Support Facilitator

I grew up in the NYC metropolitan area, New Jersey to be exact. I was a resident of that area when 9/11 happened. I don’t think I was able to connect my feelings of sadness and hopelessness to the attack on the World Trade Center until the following year. It was on the anniversary of the attack that my symptoms got very bad.

I was still in college at the time—attending Rutgers University—and I remember the university doing a moment of silence for all those affected. I vaguely remember bells tolling at a specific time in remembrance—after that things slowly started to go downhill. Over the course of three months I became increasingly depressed and hopeless. I would go to work and come home to my apartment at the rooming house I lived in off campus. As soon as I would walk in the door and I knew it was safely shut behind me, the dam would burst and I would bawl my eyes out. No real reason that I can remember, I just cried. And this happened EVERYDAY. I began snapping on people out of nowhere and I could barely get up the energy to do my school work. I slept A LOT, and was living a very isolated life because I lived alone in that rooming house with other Rutgers students whom I’m sure didn’t know nor care about what I was going through—and it’s not like I was willing to share. Everything came to a head on December 31, 2002 when the pain got too great and the noise in my mind got the best of me—I wanted it to stop and made a very rash decision in my effort to silence it. I attempted to end my life in my room that day and was unsuccessful obviously. It was such a split-second decision and I’m thankful I failed. As soon as I realized what I’d done, I called a crisis line because I realized I needed help and then I went to the student health center the following day.

Then, at age 23, I got my diagnosis. In the beginning, it was really hard. After I’d gotten pretty well stabilized, thanks to psychotherapy, I knew that I was the kind of person who needed to share my story in order to heal from it. I tried to talk about my pain to others and most (if not all) people responded with disgust, discomfort, or disdain. I’ve had people tell me that I shouldn’t talk about it, and some ask me what was so bad about my life that I’d want to do that. It was bad enough that I already felt shame about it, and then feeling like I had to explain myself and justify my feelings made me retreat into myself and keep that truth to myself—for me that’s not good because I externalize in order to process so I essentially walked around with this huge pain and shame within me and it was a drag on my self-esteem and quality of life.

My family has always been there for me, even if they didn’t understand what I was going through or why I went through it. Now I’m doing what I tried to do earlier in my recovery: share my story. I don’t go yelling it from the rooftops, but I took the time to process my emotions and create something beautiful (at least I think it’s beautiful!) with it. I find ways to help others who may be experiencing pain in their lives. I want them to know that there is someone out there who cares and can empathize and who wants to listen. I went on to earn my Master’s degree in Community Counseling so I could do just that. Through the course of my studies I became involved with my local NAMI branch and even became a certified support group facilitator. I also facilitated groups for adolescents at The Boys & Girls Club and girls inc. My current job as an intake counselor also helps me to help other individuals challenged with their own crises. I’ve definitely taken the healing-through-service approach. Some of the things I enjoy. Ha! I’m a total geek for anything 80’s: music, movies, slang. I love it all! I also love superhero movies and glossy magazines. I love Mac & Cheese….but I especially love dressing; lots and lots of dressing. Thank God for Southern food!

Somewhere during my recovery, I discovered NAMI. I think I saw a pamphlet in my professors’ office. I read it and became curious. Discovering NAMI was like finding my home. NAMI members accept one another for who they are–where they are, and one feels “normal” when in the company of other members. Things that I would normally keep to myself—and struggle with alone—were accepted and validated when shared with the wonderful individuals I met through NAMI. I haven’t been to a meeting in a while now due to increased professional and personal obligations, but I feel secure just knowing NAMI is there and available if I should have any needs.

Since I have recovered, I realized a big part of my depression resulted from not taking care of myself the way I should. I think I did have warnings and indications that something was wrong—long before 9/11 happened—but I didn’t value myself enough to dig deeper and find the source of my pain—I put others before me. I have since remedied that and am working on helping others find the success and healing I have. If you’d like to know more please visit my website at www.elizabethjmccarty.commy Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter.

And always remember: Whatever you do, don’t isolate yourself. But don’t surround yourself with the wrong people either. Find a supportive and empathetic network of individuals to assist and encourage your recovery.

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