Steven Roger Smith DBSA Ambassador


Many Thanks to My DBSA Ambassador Network

In my humble existence and life experience there are few lifestyles that are as dark, hopeless and deadly than suffering from a mental illness, especially one that is attached to substance abuse or vice versa. Many laymen and some professionals (medical, clergy & humanitarian) fail to interpret or understand the actions of MI/SA (Mental Illness/Substance Abuse) sufferers correctly. Both are so misunderstood that these diseases are often seen as self-inflicted wounds that can somehow be "willed away." I became a DBSA Ambassodor to provide the necessary empathy, compassion, understanding and resources that will aid in the recovery of those suffering from these difficult mind and body illnesses.

DBSA Ambassadorship will also allow me the opportunity to assist and educate those laypersons and professionals who are inadequately equipped to provide the long term guidance and care all MI/SA patients like myself, need and who are in recovery or active in their conditions.

I am a good candidate for the DBSA Ambassodor position because of my ability to work well with anyone (supervisors, coworkers, users and clients). I am completely able to understand and accept people where they are in their MI/SA. I have a heart of love, compassion and empathy for any human being suffering from any illness. My specialty has to be where I can be most effective and that is serving in a capacity where I can honestly relate to the pain and suffering of my peers, help them on their journey, and ultimately enjoy the benefits of on-going recovery. I suffer from Bi-polar Disorder which is currently medically controlled and enjoy recovery as a previous substance abuser. 10 months ago I would have never been able to admit such a thing. This acceptance of who I am leads my heart, mind and soul in knowing I am now mentally available and physically able to help other suffering peers.

For me recovery means being able to breathe again. Whether it is MI, SA or both, In my active stages I felt trapped and limited in my view of life and self. My life was nothing more than a small closed off world I had created to safely exist in my on-going substance abuse and Bi-polar issues. I selfishly cared for no one and I thought no one cared for me.

Aside from the obvious of being sober and drug free, my recovery has been nothing less than amazing. It has awakened me to a world I thought no longer existed and an even better world that I had never seen before. In recovery, I regained feelings that laid dormant in my abuse. I am able to feel the love of my family and can now reciprocate. I could laugh without guilt and cry without being judged. I watch the sunrise and set as never before. I hear birds sing and crickets create their nightly musical. I see the beauty in all things and grasp every new experience from visiting the zoo to riding the roller coaster at Busch Gardens to eating at Outback Steakhouse. Being in recovery from MI/SA means to be resurrected from a world of darkness, death and despair, to a world created by a loving God who created us with the intent of living, loving and helping one another. Being in recovery means I AM ALIVE!

The most important factors of my recovery are first and foremost God. I cannot remember when I started but I know it was many, many, many years ago that I wanted to quit using drugs and asked God to remove this burden from me. I realized that I did not have what it took to quit doing something I hated and which only brought much grief into my life. So, I called on the almighty God. Although somewhat doubtful of His help after years had passed, I never gave up on that prayer request. I may have only prayed it once or twice a month but I never gave up. Only now do I realize that God had answered my prayer when I originally asked. The experiences I had, the struggles my family endured, the lessons I learned and the slight hope that remained in me throughout my use was the beginning of a God appointed journey that has led me to where I thankfully and gratefully stand today.

I would be truly remiss if I failed to mention my family as the weapons God used to bring me to recovery. I am thankful for my children believing enough in me after so many years of my substance abuse and misunderstood mental illness that they were open to God through prayer and where they would become the catalyst to place me on the road to recovery. The particulars of the story are too long to tell here but I am happy to pour it out to anyone who will listen. Our family remains intact and stronger than ever before as we go forth together in our new life. I would also be remiss not to mention the Clinical Director, Michael Bridges at A New Start II in Clayton NC for his strong belief in my recovery efforts, his on-going support, direction and suggestion that I would be "a perfect fit" as a SA/MI advocate, an idea of support he truly believes in and feels strongly about.

Finally, avoiding people and places I had interacted with for many years was and continues to be a very strong factor in my recovery stability. Previously, I cannot count how many times I swore I was not going to see them again and did. However, once I made that choice and actually started executing the plan by changing phone numbers, limiting my ability to move about freely and giving up my access to money and unhealthy people did I feel strengthened to be free of it all.

I am still settling into the whole idea of no longer hiding my mental illness and admitting that I suffer from Bi-polar disorder. I am no longer stigmatized by my MI or SA recovery. I have announced acceptance of my MI and SA while going through a 40 hour recovery/group therapy course at A New Start II in Clayton NC. I also regularly post to my Facebook account (Steven GallusOne Smith) opportunities for awareness to help with mental health issues such as http://www.gopetition.com, and through support of DBSA and NAMI organizations.

North Carolina is making progress in orienting its mental health system toward including recovery. I believe North Carolina may be a great place to become a advocate for DBSA because they are open to change. I recently read the following statement:

"Meeting the goal of orienting North Carolina's mental health care system toward recovery will take time; it is a lengthy process, not to be achieved by a certain date. But we must work toward that goal by holding the Division of Mental Health, the MCOs, and providers accountable for reshaping the system to adhere to the 10 principles of recovery. And perhaps the most important task of all is to involve those with illnesses in directing their own recovery." (Quote retrieved from http://www.ncmedicaljournal.com/wpcontent/uploads/2012/05/NCMJ_73314_FINAL.pdf

As MI/SA sufferers we were once considered to be our own worst enemy. Now we are the backbone and hope for all who are in need of truly genuine understanding support.


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