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Sometimes, when the negative things in your life outweigh the positive, it is often hard to imagine that anything could be good. But it is not uncommon for good, positive things and personal triumphs to come out of tragedy and uncertainty. I moved around a lot, looking for answers—in and out of relationships that never worked, sometimes predicated with violence and emotional pain, not realizing until later that I was always looking for someone to love me and lift me up. I was looking for answers outside myself. I was looking for others to fix me. After suffering from agoraphobia for several years—getting better, getting worse again—I made a choice and took a risk. I left my house and my safety and drove across the country. I was not alone, but what was important was walking out the door. It was a totally successful experience. I knew that I would be better from that time on. Even after several years of being diagnosed with a life-threatening, very painful illness and being on very serious drug therapy, I decided to take another risk and I started a foundation for my disease almost single-handedly. I never believed I would be that person. Sometimes I still don’t believe that I’m that person. But I went from being house-bound to flying by myself around the United States and across the Atlantic. When the foundation and I parted ways, I decided I still needed to work. It took a lot of time and many rejections, but then the Wellness & Recovery Center took a chance on me. My life has been a rollercoaster of emotions. But I’ve learned a lot of lessons through my life and travels. I learned that it is so important to listen. I learned that not just saying the words, but working toward positive change is a risk worth taking. You may not always succeed, but you can say you tried your best and know that sometimes that’s enough. I learned that you can’t control another person. I learned that words and deeds can hurt, but how you process and react to words and deeds is in your control. I learned that forgiving yourself and others for just being a human being that makes mistakes and owning it can make you free. Before he died, my partner used to say that we’re all just passing through so what does it matter. But I say, let’s make a dent in the timeline of life and become the best people we can be. I believe we are all connected and how we live our lives and help others lives in the universe forever.
Janet is a graduate of the State University of New York system. She is the Founder, and was the Director of the International Pemphigus Pemphigoid Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping people living with the rare, autoimmune diseases pemphigus and pemphigoid. She is also a certified Health Coach, and Hypnotherapist. She is very grateful to be working at the Consumers' Self Help Wellness & Recover Center North.