Part 1 of story from the Pike County Express from January 10,2016.
Part 2 of story in the Pike County Express on Janary 10,2016.
Own experiences open path to helping others
By Nick Draper -
James Begley and Dianna Castleberry say those dealing with mental illness can learn to control their disorder instead of allowing it to control them.
BARRY — Dianna Castleberry and James Begley are hoping that by “bursting bubbles” they can help those suffering from mental illness — or just the stress of everyday life — liberate themselves from the debilitating symptoms that come with such disorders.
“I titled it ‘Bursting Bubbles’ because, through using it, I burst out of the emotional ‘bubble,’” Castleberry said. “I want people to burst out of their own bubbles and break the stigmas as I can. I want to let everybody know that they are special and everybody’s life matters.”
Diagnosed in 2003 with schizoaffective disorder, Castleberry said that she had intense symptoms such as paranoid delusions, depression and anxiety. Early in her treatment, she said that she was taking 26 different medications to control the symptoms.
“I was diagnosed with a mental illness and instead of running the other way, James decided to try and help me,” Castleberry said. “Knowing that I liked to journal and working with my counselors, we created a journaling system. Over time, we put his thoughts with my lived experience and we wrote the book.”
Through keeping doctors appointments, staying close and opening up to family members and using the techniques she details in “Bursting Bubbles,” she said that she is proud to say she is only taking two medications to manage her symptoms.
The book was written after recovery and one of the biggest messages it tries to send is that those suffering with mental illness are not alone, Castleberry said.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly one in five Americans suffers from some sort of mental illness.
“When I was first diagnosed, I felt very alone,” she said. “I thought nobody else was going through what I was going through. I now know that there are several thousand people who are going through what I was going through. You can control your illness and not let your illness control you.”
Simple things like keeping a contact list in case of severe bouts of depression or an anxiety attack are some of the methods the book recommends to overcome illness. The book itself also provides space to do journaling and tools for both families and sufferers to better understand what each is going through.
The book has been out since 2013, and since that time Begley said that he has seen the reaction of people using it and said their feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Through word of mouth we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback,” Begley said. “We work with hospitals right now and in the future we’re looking to work with the YMCA to work with soldiers who come back with [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder].”
With the help of John Wood Community College, the two are working on a two-week class in August that will be a workshop on overcoming mental illness and managing emotions in stressful times.
Nick Draper can be reached at 217-245-6121, ext. 1223, or on Twitter @nick_draper.