Working with my Peers

Life is for living. I am devoted to the notion that recovery from mental illness is possible. I have been trained to work with my peers and model recovery. I began my internship about a month ago as a part of my certification process. The clinic I am assigned to has me working one-on-one with clients developing their Wellness Recovery Action Plans. Some are very enthusiastic about the idea of WRAP, and some are not. Many are indifferent.

WRAP changed my life. It rid me of years of negative self-talk. When the negative thoughts return on those rare occasions now, I can let them be, observe them, acknowledge them, and simply let them go. They have no weight like they did in the past. I don’t feel their burden.

I have two clients who desperately want to recover and regain a life resembling what they lost before they were diagnosed with mental illness. It’s a joy to work with them and watch them grow. I encourage clients to decorate their WRAP folders. Using creativity marks them as their own. One man placed stickers on his folder in a careful grid. Most clients draw. One young man used magazine pictures to demonstrate where he hoped to go with his life. Their creativity is limitless.

And then there is the one client who is argumentative. He told me the first time we met he would question everything we discussed. Yesterday, he crossed from argumentative to combative. He began by voicing his displeasure at our starting time. He debated about the posters on the walls. He took issue with the idea of recovery itself.

I thanked him for his ideas, and I tried to steer the conversation to our task of working on his WRAP, which he then proclaimed “lame.”

I thanked him again and confronted him with my own experience with WRAP. He changed the subject.

This client wants something in life to cling to. He has no family. He has no friends. What’s worse is he is almost chronically suicidal. Yesterday, he was like a wounded animal striking back at anything moving near it.

I am a Certified Peer Specialist Intern working with others who have severe and persistent mental illness. I am learning quickly that some of us want to get well, many of us don’t even know that recovery is possible, and a few are stuck.

9 thoughts on “Working with my Peers

  1. As we do in AA, all you can do is put the facts of your experience, strength, and hope before the person. Only they can decide to believe, accept, and try to replicate that experience, strength, and hope in their own life. You are doing all that is required of you.

    I love you.

  2. Somehow I fell out of your blogging orbit, but I’m back now. I was talking about you and your blog to a friend with bipolar last weekend and realised I’d not seen a post from you for a while. So I checked and re-followed you. Weird, eh?

    Good to hear that you’re actually doing the work you trained for and that some of your peers appreciate and are eager for what you’re sharing. Keep it up. x

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