I've posted a couple of blogs but nothing serious since January of 2015.
That blog I was moaning about being sick, and how I had nothing to do, it was almost my birthday, and I had nothing to look forward to when I got over that damn flu. I hadn't heard from that job that I wanted, and I decided I was just going to have to be one of the millions of Americans that go to work every day hating what they do. Then 3 hours later the phone rang. The organization I had been talking to for six months, the one I wanted to work for called to offer me the position. They asked when I could come in to finalize things, and I chose January 12th, my birthday; 3 days later I began work. Things have been AMAZING, I have met some wonderful people, I have people seeking me out to share my knowledge, and input. I'm also learning a lot from others that I work with, both with my company and from all of the boards and committees I sit on. At times, it's hectic and not perfect but it is beyond what I had even hoped for with this job.
So, many of you may know that I now work in the mental health field. I am the LGBTQ outreach coordinator for Mental Health America of San Diego County. It's a national organization with affiliates all over the United States. It's the job I dreamed of for some years; I get to work in my community and work in a field that is very personal to me. In June, my boss asked me to attend our national conference in Washington DC, which was a great honor considering I had only been with MHASD for less than six months. It was a great experience, and I look forward to attending many more conferences in the future. I LOVE to travel.
My job is to serve the un-served and underserved people within the LGBTQ community in all of San Diego County. I do suicide prevention training, Introduction to Mental Health presentations. I've worked with homeless youth, LGBT seniors, parents of Transgender children and so much more. I also give an LGBTQ 101 presentation to groups and organizations that need a little bit of help learning about the specific needs of the LGBTQ community when it comes to mental health issues. I go to resource fairs to have conversations with people and pass out information about our programs, as well as providing resources and referrals. I sit on a number of committees focusing on LGBTQ youth, I attend monthly Suicide Prevention Council Meetings, and I was recently appointed to the Mayor's LGBT Advisory Board because of my work in the mental health field. One of the things I enjoy doing most is advocating for my community, so often the LGBTQ community is not even mentioned, treatment facilities are not Trans* friendly or sensitive. I speak up whenever I can, I'm trying not to be that annoying guy that's always raising his hand asking a question, but I care about people in my community, and I want to make sure we aren't forgotten.
Something I wasn't expecting was having so many friends looking to me for help and advice. It truly blows me away that I went from a place of attempting to end my own life to now helping so many other people. I have Facebook friends I have never met reaching out, friends from junior high school asking me for advice for their adult children. It's a great feeling, although it gets overwhelming at times, it is rare that I have a day that I am not discussing mental health issues with someone.
One thing that has been somewhat challenging is working in an office with so many different people and personalities. Back when I was working in skin care, I worked alone in a quiet environment. Office life isn't completely foreign to me; I've worked in corporate environments before; it's just been awhile. OH and having a cubicle!!! I NEVER thought I would be that guy nor did I want to be, but of course I decorated the heck out of it, filled it with gayness and, of course, some peacocks. I'm not often in my cubicle. I'm supposed to doing outreach and of course presentations, so that gets me out of the office. I need to step my game up there; I do a lot of outreach via telephone and email though. It is not so easy just walking into a business or organization and doing a "cold call" about mental health.
The past six months have flown by, I'm probably the happiest I have been in years, I find my work very fulfilling and I know that I am making a difference in people's lives.
That's not to say that I don't have my low moments. I still LIVE WITH depression, but, for the most part, its manageable. Sometimes I get overwhelmed when I have too many things on my plate, or if there are many issues of conflict going on around me. But self-care is something that the people around me really understand, and if I need to leave the office early to go to the Chiropractor or even go home and curl up in bed and nap, I'm able to do so. I work a lot of hours outside of my regular 9-5 schedule, so I have plenty of time "in the bank" to use when I need.
My close friends often tell me how proud they are of me and how far I have come.
I am always appreciative when I hear encouraging words from friends. It's especially nice when people that are more than acquaintances but not quite "close" friends tell me how happy they are for me and acknowledge my journey. Yeah, I know I share EVERYTHING on Facebook, but I don't always know who is paying attention.
Well, I don't know what else to say here except thank you to everyone that had faith and believed in me. For those that never thought I could be in the position I am in now, I say SUCK IT! Those people had nothing to do with me wanting to try harder to prove them wrong. Someday they will be asking for my help, and I'm happy I am in now in a position where I can help them.