At age 68 I retired from my job and fell into a case of the blahs—a state of depression. When I asked my internist to refer me to a psychiatrist he told me that there were no psychiatrists who would take Medicare. I lingered in this depressive state feeling totally useless after having worked for over 50 years of my life. I felt that I no longer had a purpose.
Finally, my husband, God bless him, found a geriatric psychiatrist on the internet who did take Medicare. I made an appointment and enjoyed a very relaxed discussion with a laid back non clinical guy who referred me to the Wesley Woods Senior Transitions Group. He told me to try it for one day and if I didn’t like it we would try another approach. He sized me up and realized that I am a “people person” and do well when interacting in a group.
I fell in love with the participants in the group, many of whom were a good bit older than I was. Their wisdom, incite and humor were a delight. The counselors who led the group were wonderful. After several weeks of this therapy I felt rejuvenated and joined the Senior Depression Group that meets on Tuesdays at the Fuqua Center and is free of charge. I found that all of the participants in the group had similar issues and feelings. It was easy to connect with the group and achieve mutuality. Trust me, we don’t have pity parties. Listen in at the door when our group is meeting and you will hear laughter. We have a wonderful time together and we are a source of support to one another.
One day Cathy Rambach came to our group and asked for volunteers to take the Certified Peer Specialist training being held at Simpsonwood in Norcross, GA. The Fuqua Center would sponsor me to take the course. I volunteered. Certified Peer Specialists have a mental health diagnosis and can relate to the problems people have coping with mental health issues and the stigma that goes along with the diagnosis. The focus of the Certified Peer Specialist is on growth and recovery, not the illness.
After being certified as a Peer Specialist I saw an ad on the internet for a CPS to work at the Peer Support and Wellness Center in Decatur, GA. I began working there in October of 2009. Working with peers both one on one and on our warm line phone has been rewarding. I also facilitate a group on a weekly basis that focuses on whole health and smart shopping. The Fuqua Center at Wesley Woods and my work at the the Peer Support and Wellness Center have given me a new lease on life.