I completed my training yesterday for the Peer Support Specialist.
It was an emotionally draining week with all the information that was given in 40 hrs. Needless to say it was intense.
There was a lot of role playing and sharing of personal recovery stories and how we are living day by day with mental illness. I myself, am dual diagnosed- alcohol and drug recovery and mental illness, (bipolar and PTSD with anxiety).
One thing I realize is that when someone is in recovery from drug/ alcohol addiction/ living with mental illness, a bond is developed when you are in a meeting, training, conference, at a rally or whatever with others who share recovery. When we all come together there is strength, support, encouragement and hopefully you walk away with a new friend. We need to have people in our life that truly understand what we have been through, are going through and the journey we will always be on.
People in our support system such as family members, friends, acquaintances, psychiatrists, therapists and counselors may understand from the clinical side, but for me, the reality is, if you have not been through it or are not living with it, you cannot begin to understand how I feel and therefore I am skeptical that you can help me get through those really though moments. Maybe those professionals who studied can understand without experience, however, I have always heard, “experience is the best teacher”. For me, show me or tell me your experience and then I will trust you with mine and then I will be okay with you helping me get back on my feet or move ahead.
My therapist is great, but she can only treat the parts that I am able to explain. With bipolar and other mental illnesses, there are feelings that you cannot put into words and only someone who has been there will be able to understand without you being able to articulate it. There is a gnawing pain that comes with depression but for me it has proven to be indescribable. When I begin to explain it to someone who has been depressed, they understand exactly what I am trying to say.
Get together with others who have a mental illness and are living well. Be involved with a group of great people in recovery from drug/ alcohol addiction. You just might find a person who really understands and can relate. It is just that vital.
love to all,
pb aka peanut butter