Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Message from Charlene Lee

My name is Charlene Lee and I live with bipolar1 mixed disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Having battled with these dual diagnoses for most of my life, it has been difficult, and impossible at times, to maintain any meaningful employment. Even though I am educated, and consider myself to be very bright and intelligent, my mental illnesses would oftentimes bring me to points where I would have to leave great jobs because of my battles.

I entered the Caramore program in October of 2003. It was my hope that the program would assist me in obtaining structure in my life that would eventually help me to move forward with successful employment. Even though I experienced some rough times after graduating the program in 2004, I was still able to bounce back and continue my journey to fulfill my desire of working and succeeding. I still strive for success every day of my life. I have a great story that I enjoy sharing with others who live with mental illnesses. Every time I am invited to share that story, I jump at the opportunity. Those who know me in the community know that I am not ashamed to say that, “Yes, I live with mental illness, but mental illness does not control my life.” I still battle, but with the help and resources that I have gained over the past five years through various mental health organizations, including Caramore, the struggles are much lighter and the results are more rewarding.

One of my favorite hobbies is writing. Aside from educating myself on mental health disorders by reading and reading and reading, I also write some. I have written a little acronym about Caramore, and would like to share it with you:

Awareness in my
Recovery process
Allowing me to
Move forward and to
Overcome fears so that I could maintain
Rewarding and meaningful

Thank you, Caramore, for being a vital part of my recovery! I often think back to my days on the cleaning crew at Caramore and think about how far I have come. The Caramore program was truly a blessing for me.

In October of this year, I will celebrate my second year of continuous employment at Staples in Chapel Hill. Also, I have been a part time van driver for Club Nova since February 2007, and was promoted to Transportation Supervisor in December 2007. I am also currently volunteering as a board member for the Mental Health Association of Orange County and for Club Nova, Inc.

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