|Ashley Smith, NAMI Georgia Member, |
Panelist at Emory University,
"Living With A Mental Health Condition Panel" - April 8, 2019
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Living with mental illness is not an option, however, recovery is. What is recovery?! In the beginning, I did not understand my diagnosis, nor how recovery looks. In fact, I borrowed a vision of recovery from others. My enthusiastic state hospital doctor in California told me I could return to school, which I did. My mother told me she could see me sharing with others how I made it through with schizophrenia, and I started blogging anonymously, in 2008.
Moreover, another pivotal influence, which shapes my optimism and outlook on living with schizophrenia was seeing another individual with my diagnosis facilitate a WRAP course. Mary Ellen Copeland’s Wellness Recovery Action Plan, or WRAP, guides peers in recovery on how to manage, plan, and overcome crisis, and relapse. Participating in this person’s class inspired me to become a certified peer specialist (CPS). A CPS is a peer who supports peers in recovery by sharing one's story of resiliency.
To me breaking through the illness web is overcoming poor societal views, redefining recovery, and creating a new perception of self, and recovery. After 12 years of different phases, changes, and experience of life, and recovery, I realize recovery is striving to maintain a good place. In other words, breaking through the illness web is changing perspectives on recovery, and also dis-spelling self-stigma. Over the course of recovery my understanding of it continues to expand.
My understanding of recovery was 1) to restore, 2) to maintain medication compliance, and 3) to stay out of the hospital, over the course of my experience. These definitions of recovery were phases in my own life with the diagnosis. Although the definition of recovery is to restore, a peer brought to my attention that the goal should not be 'to restore,' instead to improve! While I take medication to help manage my condition it was not effective. I was on medication prior to my breakdown, and hospitalization last year . Recovery cannot be based on staying out of the hospital. In fact, last year’s hospitalization ignited another phase in my recovery; growth, and a better understanding of my wellness goals.
Now recovery to me is to keep trying to stay in a good place! However, the true definition of recovery is unique. In fact, my definition of recovery may change, but for the moment it helps me to break through the illness web.
To learn more about the certified peer specialist (CPS) position visit the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network (GMHCN).
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