Blog Articles

Family Skeletons

 

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This is blog 4 of a series of 10 blogs on this topic.  One of our biggest family secrets is a family member who’s had a psychiatric condition or mental health challenge that was either pushed under the rug or just ignored. We had relatives, “country folk,” who would describe a relative as “he was just touched.” People would be allowed to go untreated and would not get services.   They wouldn’t get help and they would languish. People would talk about it as being a spiritual affliction, that it’s something going on spiritually.   They’ve been a bad person and that’s why they are being punished in this way by having psychiatric or mental health challenges.   People can feel they are being ostracized or being punished by people with that belief system.

We’ve been sharing some thoughts and experiences of peer counselors J, K, M, R and Y, working with Recovery Innovations both as participants in the system and as coaches helping others.

Y confesses, “My parents knew something was going on with me but I really didn’t know because at times I would self-medicate. At one time, I was mandated by the courts to get mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment. At that time, I really didn’t want to but then I think that was the best thing that could have happened to me to reach those support groups and get the support and educate myself on my diagnosis. It helped me find Recovery Innovations of Arizona to become a peer support specialist. At one time, I didn’t think I would be able to get a job because of what I was going through and being on a fixed income, but now, I’m on my journey to recovery and I know I can get off Social Security. I know I can get a job, a better job, with the company I’m with now and better myself.”

M admits that her family didn’t accept mental illness in the family and they never talked about it. Years ago, she was told she had to have shock treatments and her brothers finally realized “Oh, maybe she really is sick.” M adds, “It’s been a continuing thing trying to have them understand what’s going on and how I’ve made my recovery by not putting a label on myself and I’m an important person and I’m going to accomplish something one day.” Being there for the peers, the WRAP, Wellness Recovery Action Plan, put “me into a state of knowing, learning and continuing to learn all about everybody, especially myself.”

We’ll discuss the WRAP program more in the next blog.

Peers Tell Their Stories

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We’ve been sharing some thoughts and experiences of counselors J, K, M, R and Y, working with Recovery Innovations both as participants in the system and as peers or coaches helping others.  This is blog 3 of a series of 10 on this topic.  Here are some of their stories!

R says, “My first peer that I ever spoke with, I saw her a year later. She said that she got hope. Through recovery she got her family back home, she has her own home, and she says that she never would have been able to do it if it weren’t for other people who have experienced mental illness and were willing to share with these people and just be with them and let them know we’re there.”

Y relates, “It helped me with my recovery.   It keeps me grounded. If I’m going through some challenges, I’ll still get up and go to work in the morning.   It takes my mind off of me and I’m helping somebody else, my peers. It’ll take my problem off me for eight hours. Sometimes when I get home, I’m not even experiencing any more challenges because my job is rewarding. It’s therapeutic for me. I love my job.”

It’s very unusual for people to talk about how therapeutic their job is for them except when they come home they want to go to happy hour. Y can share with people some of the challenges she had to overcome. This reminds her of where she came from, and gives people hope. That certainly makes a job real important! “In this work, you open your heart to other people. This is not just about a therapy deal. This is about opening your heart to someone else and ‘meeting them where they’re at.’ It’s been invaluable both with inpatients and outpatients, to have something like that they can grab a hold of, a safety rope.”

M adds, “I share my story with them because once I share my story, you can see a wall come down because then they feel that they have something in common with me. I can get them to talk and be more relaxed when talking with me.” As providers, we appreciate this and recognize our limitations! We have a strong community we refer people to and we work with hand in hand to assist them to be successful.

In the next blog, we’ll summarize some of the forward strides being made in the mental health community