I believe in the Peerstar Recovery Advisory Board and its mission, vision, and overall objective to inspire recovery initiatives and wellness practices. When we look at mental health wellness and recovery as well as incorporating addictions, it is wise to use our community, natural, and treatment resources for our benefit. When I assist people with their recovery journey I like to introduce Wellness Tools to guide them with things they can do to help feel themselves feel better. As far as I know, the sky is the limit with utilizing community, natural, and treatment resources so let us freshen up and learn about what success may look like to some people.
Someone I know has been working with Severe Depression, Anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Bipolar II Disorder. Together, we acknowledge the signs and symptoms that this individual has been experiencing on a consistent basis dating down a timeline. It is necessary and responsible to identify the signs and symptoms (i.e., fatigue, mood swings, complacency, excessive sleep, isolation, poor hygiene, withdrawal from activities, avoidance, eating less, anger, impulsiveness, and sensitivity to certain things). We reviewed these persistently, what appears to be a pattern of signs and symptoms, and worked to redirect attention to more positive, enlightening, intriguing, and stimulating activities. This individual had a traumatic experience with psychiatric medication and refuses all medication even if the doctor guides that this medication can alleviate these feelings. We work on Wellness Tools with Action Plans to practice daily and weekly to learn a new activity, develop skill-building, and ultimately increase confidence. One Wellness Strategy that this individual found was his unconditional bond to his pet cat. As I worked over "time" to observe the pet bonding take place, I was mesmerized by how this activity acted as a "calming effect" for the individual. One day, he was not feeling well and confided he felt lost and empty and unsure why as he bonded with his cat, an instantaneous smile came to light and Pet Therapy became a consistent wellness tool for him. To this day, this individual has a Certificate acknowledging Pet Therapy for Mental Health Wellness as well as an I.D. Card too paid for by a Good Samaritan.
Someone I once assisted with Peer Support Wellness and Recovery was an extrovert as they found it pleasing to talk to people. Unfortunately, this individual had the tendency to walk into situations and became the center of the drama, gossip, and inappropriate conduct. As we met and learn more about each other, we began to learn more about the community in which he lived, learned, and worked. Indeed, this individual liked to tinker and seemed to have a skill with craftsmanship. As weeks went passed, we had a good schedule in place and talked about his goals, acting on them per his participation level. One thing I noticed within the first few weeks of the meeting was he had a natural instinct to consume alcohol. I found he would sneak around while we met, say, to use the restroom, go to the kitchen, or step "out" for a smoke, he would actually be drinking and he "masked" it well. I caught onto it within time and simply expressed my concern for his drinking habit while I was working in a professional position--I was concerned that I could get in trouble even though he was the one sneaking around. This individual apologized as he felt guilty but continued to drink as time went on. When I walked into the situation a second time, I politely asked him to refrain until I was done meeting with him, he was somewhat defensive about it but I explained I don't think Peer Support Services work well when a peer is actively drinking. I told him all I could do is ask and leave if I needed to, that is if he could not hold off until I left. In turn, I welcomed him to smoke all he liked and I would join him to drink soda pop, chew gum, or delve into blow pops to help curve his desire to drink alcohol. I knew I would not change his behaviors, but at least I could help try to redirect them while I was assisting with peer support. To note, I was respectful about it as it is not worth an argument but something I felt I should address as I think his alcohol consumption resulted in undue situations for him. At the end of the day...the Keywords are observation, respect, and redirecting.
As Peer Support Specialists and Supervisors, I believe we are working to strengthen ourselves as professionals and in our personal lives too. We may not have all the answers when providing Peer Support Services to our peers yet with a basic understanding, observation, and using our resources we can be more confident and assertive with our work.
Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder
Be Quick to Hear, Slow to Speak, Slow to Anger
To be continued...