A Recovery Revolution

July 1, 2015

Cause my dry bones to live and breath life into my soul. Awaken my senses. Fill me with wonder. May I speak with Spirit. Ezekiel 23 7:19

Again, you can replace "Spirit" with "Recovery."

As a feminist, I love the word and the notion of revolution.  As a Christian, I think all forms of revolution should be loving and soul-affirming.  That's why I loved the certified peer training - it was continually reiterated that we were part of a mental health recovery revolution dismantling the harmful beliefs and practices of the old medical treatment model.  The old system is patriarchal, dominating and invalidating, seeing people as problems, diagnoses and disorders who need to be controlled.  The new recovery way affirms the whole person, looking to build upon a person's strengths instead of their weaknesses, to motivate and encourage instead of simply stabilizing and managing symptoms.  Yesterday I had a job interview at the Decatur Peer Wellness Center and I was impressed on how the goal is to always support the peer, no matter what.  As I told the director, "if the person is not presenting an issue like a problem, then I won't treat it as a problem."  This is different from the old model that tells you whether and when you are ready for your next step, instead of letting the person decide on their own.  In my experience, when people do not put their own assumptions in the way of my dreams then I soar.

 There was a time while attending the treatment center, SkyLand Trail, that I expressed that I wanted a job.  The staff encouraged me to find one myself in something I was interested in and I got a volunteer job helping a music therapist.  It was great and I flourished.  When I had a family meeting a month later, a staff member said that they were glad that it was working out because they were worried in the beginning that I was becoming manic.  If they had acted on their fear and stopped me from applying to jobs, then my recovery would have suffered and my dreams would have been crushed.  Fortunately, they did not give in to their assumptions and I was allowed to soar.

 When we do not allow people the freedom to make mistakes, we also do not give them the freedom to fly.  Before one flies, one will fall - what we need is support, encouragement and resources for flight, not negativity, discouragement and preconceived notions of what we can do.  There is no way to know what one can do without trying it out first.

 We need to be encouraged to see mistakes as learning and growth opportunities and not as symptoms of our diseases.  We need validation that we are loving beings always capable of doing better.

 We are not manipulative, but seeking ways of fulfilling our needs.  We are not "non-compliant," but dissatisfied with our options.  We are not "attention-seeking," but needing encouragement and validation.

This is my revolution - let us awaken mental healthcare's senses and fill them with the wonder of what we can achieve.

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