Power in the Group

 

 

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We have had chats with J, K, R, M and Y, peers at Recovery Innovations.  This is blog 2 of a series of 10 blogs on this topic.  When recovery culture happens, is it through groups, people meeting together, learning how to do things? How does it work?

They do one on one support, supporting their peers. R shares, “We embrace all cultures, because there are a lot of different ones to embrace!” Embracing a person’s culture allows him or her to feel included, not feel set aside or put off by the fact that they are there to develop a recovery for their mental health challenges. Recovery is possible for everybody, not just one culture or gender. We all have our own unique ways and bring different things to the team.

R adds, “When I come in to work each day, I come in unjudgmental to my job and treat everyone like they’re really something special, because they are. They’ve helped me in my recovery and it’s a journey to me. It’s not just recovery, it’s a journey and you can have high points and low points but you always finish out on top if you just keep that hope for yourself and others!”

It’s obvious that there’s a lot of power in the whole group, that hope together with everybody supporting each other in that process.  Y says, “They understand what we are trying to relate to them and also relating to them, that we’ve been through what they’re going through.”

R described how she felt alone in her crises and in her mental health challenges.   “But, in the recovery environment, you feel equal to everybody else there…without the stigma mental illness puts on a person.” She reveals “just having that camaraderie with people that meet me where I’m at and accepting who I am and not look at me and say, ‘Well, she’s got this diagnosis.’ Or ‘She’s got that problem.’ You know, I can be myself.”

The recovery peers feel that a part of the power of the program is that they are also working toward wellness. They don’t focus on illness or getting treatment. As part of that, everybody defines their own idea of what wellness is for them across those five pathways.

In the next segment, the counselors will share some of their experiences in the wellness program.

 

The Five Recovery Pathways to Wellness

IMG_1026We have had a number of discussions with the great set of people from Recovery Innovations International, including M, Y, J, K and R. Vernon has been a drug and alcohol specialist and was introduced to 12 Step Programs and the principles of recovery.   Wellness is a goal that we achieve and illness is something that takes away from wellness. Quite often in mental health, it is a process of one-on-one counseling, maybe group therapy, everything very confidential. There is a lot of stigma and issues related to having an illness needing treatment and needing support. Vernon had a very refreshing experience when introduced to Recovery Innovations now Recovery Innovations International. This is an awesome team of people who have helped family members and have been a great resource in our community. They understand the processes of wellness and recovery using a holistic approach. The next few blogs will review a little about their program. What makes it powerful in the collective world of mental health treatment as well as in the lives of the recovery specialists individually?

K reveals that Recovery Innovations started in 1996 as Meta Services. Their philosophy is based on the five recovery pathways. The first one is Hope. It’s a turning point, when we realize things are getting better. For her, “that was the key of my recovery, to get some hope back in my life.” The next pathway is Choice and the courage to make a choice. As K says, “It was a choice for me to recover, not somebody else making that choice but me making the choices by myself and the more we choose, the more we recover.” The third pathway is Empowerment, reclaiming the power to think for oneself, express feelings and opinions, succeed or fail, or to just have fun. In recovery culture, there is Value. Finally, Spirituality is finding new meaning and purpose in life. As K confesses, that’s what I needed to do with my life and that’s why I’m part of people that serve people with mental health challenges.”

The system and the culture of recovery allow a chance of fulfilling goals for each person and then that helps the person give back to that community.

Choice, hope and empowerment are the kinds of things that make it worthwhile to get up in the morning and go to work. In the next segment, we’ll review how some of this happens in the recovery culture.

Life After Robin Williams

I didn’t want to blog about Robin’s death by apparent suicide until I could grieve some on my own. He was one of my favorite actors and comedians. So many could identify with or look up to him as he struggled to overcome his challenges, despite fame and fortune!  And, many of them are left behind to question why.

So, Robin, it’s your personal decision to leave us, and it’s a loss.  I, like many others, feel your decision personally and have taken it personally. I don’t just mean your loved ones left behind, but many others who have or suffer from depression, with or without the consideration of suicide.  Your reach has been far and wide, Robin. I’ve had a few admitted to the hospital feeling so shaken.  If you could, why couldn’t they… After all, you had a lot more to lose, given your successes.  That is the sad state of mental illness in the world. We forget it’s an equal opportunity employer. Come one, come all. There are openings for novices and experienced people in sorrow and despair, careers in regrets, and progressive promotions to lost time, relationships and life itself.

We must remember that Robin was no different from any others who succumbed to this disease of depression, one of the leading causes of disability and lost productivity worldwide. 

Then, there is the aftermath of suicide. It increases the risk for loved ones to follow the same path and often brings unbearable pain and loss to those left behind. Let us pray for them and not just seek refuge in the words of those who accuse him of being selfish for what he did.  As they say, “it’s complicated.” 

Each person does bear the responsibility to reach out for help when it’s starting to get dark, before one is so consumed he or she is no longer able to fight alone.  

So, we go on with life after Robin.  “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” said Mother Mary Harris Jones. 

Life After Robin Williams

I didn’t want to blog about Robin’s death by apparent suicide until I could grieve some on my own. He was one of my favorite actors and comedians. So many could identify with or look up to him as he struggled to overcome his challenges, despite fame and fortune!  And, many of them are left behind to question why.

So, Robin, it’s your personal decision to leave us, and it’s a loss.  I, like many others, feel your decision personally and have taken it personally. I don’t just mean your loved ones left behind, but many others who have or suffer from depression, with or without the consideration of suicide.  Your reach has been far and wide, Robin. I’ve had a few admitted to the hospital feeling so shaken.  If you could, why couldn’t they… After all, you had a lot more to lose, given your successes.  That is the sad state of mental illness in the world. We forget it’s an equal opportunity employer. Come one, come all. There are openings for novices and experienced people in sorrow and despair, careers in regrets, and progressive promotions to lost time, relationships and life itself.

We must remember that Robin was no different from any others who succumbed to this disease of depression, one of the leading causes of disability and lost productivity worldwide. 

Then, there is the aftermath of suicide. It increases the risk for loved ones to follow the same path and often brings unbearable pain and loss to those left behind. Let us pray for them and not just seek refuge in the words of those who accuse him of being selfish for what he did.  As they say, “it’s complicated.” 

Each person does bear the responsibility to reach out for help when it’s starting to get dark, before one is so consumed he or she is no longer able to fight alone.  

So, we go on with life after Robin.  “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” said Mother Mary Harris Jones. 

3 Quick Hits To Improve Your Work Outs and Health

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Some of us are seeking better health and wellbeing via diet and exercise. Often the numerous workout protocols and dietary options can be confusing. We can easily get into a rut or wind up spending a lot of money on equipment, trainers or memberships. I learned my lessons taking my son to a few performance enhancing shops during his quest to be a nationally recruited football player to a Division I school. He already had successes in high school but the Division I world was quite competitive, notwithstanding the need to have your own plan for marketing your skills to your favorite schools. I learned a lot and even spent time in their “adult fitness” program, during which I had the chance to meet some professional athletes in different sports. The take-away messages you may want to consider:

  1. Don’t forget your core—often we work on particular exercises to get a certain look or reach a goal. We need to break from the tendency to follow a regimen by taking one day a week out of our routine for core work that is totally different from the usual routine. I found that jumping rope gave me a different work out that could be expanded by changing from traditional to heavy ropes. There are tons of core exercises to check out.
  2. Develop your own form of gassers—those are the exercises where you push yourself to exhaustion, such as running between two points until winded. Hey, you don’t have to go over the top!  Another effective one is progressively raising the elevation on the treadmill while running 30 seconds of sprints alternating with 30 seconds of rest.  The body recovers just enough to make the next run, but cardiac output still stays relatively high even during rest, so you still burn calories and increase endurance. The goal is to keep the heart rate up for the entire exercise.  We run two sets at each level and work our way up in half step increments on the incline and speed: 4, 4.5, 5, 5.5 and so on. I also like going to the local high school and running sprints up the stadium steps with rail pushups as the break between sprints. Of course, you can start by walking and work your way up to running.
  3. Check out fitness blogs or You Tubes to find different exercises to vary your routine. It helps to break up muscle memory.  Many personal trainers will give you different work out combinations over a few sessions or even one visit. It’s important to prearrange the reason for the use of their time. It’s easy money for them and if you like what they did, you’ll come back for more later, or give them a referral.
  4. I know this is number 4 but at the end of the day, consistency and persistence are the hallmarks of your fitness foundation. So keep up the good work. And put in your time. It always pays in compound interest in the end! Take it from me, at 61, my wife and  I do a boot camp on weekends whenever we can, beside our weekly routines. It keeps us feeling like we’re 40!
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