Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I didn't know I knew that

Last week, I "graduated" from yet another level of therapy.  I had been attending, for the last six weeks, a peer-run group called Wellness Recovery Action Plan (or WRAP).  It was facilitated by two women who are peer recovery specialists, and have their own experience dealing with mental illness.  The WRAP program is designed to help those in recovery, learn about what they need to do to maintain, figure out what their warning signs are, and come up with a concrete plan, in case a crisis arises, as well as a post crisis plan.  For the most part, the group was a reinforcement of the plan I have been sticking to, but now I have it all written down in a nice, neat binder with dividers. While it is nice to know that should I ever go into crisis again, I will have documents stating exactly what I want, (written when I wasn't in crisis), I hope I never have to use it.  I hope none of the people who have completed the WRAP training ever have to use it.  Except maybe to look back to see how far we have come.
Taking the training, made me realize just that.  I've come a long way.  I've been integrating the concepts on which WRAP was based, without even knowing it.  The first day we reviewed the five key concepts of Hope, Education, Personal Responsibility, Self-Advocacy, and Support, I felt cocky for sitting in my seat saying to myself, "Yep, I do that.  Oh yeah, that's another one.. Yup.  Got that one down.  Uh huh.  yep, that one too."  But that is exactly what I was thinking.  After that first class, I even wondered if maybe I didn't need to take the class, but I knew if anything, it would just reinforce that I am making the right decisions in my life.  Before the six weeks was over, the group facilitators asked me if I would be interested in taking the facilitator training which would allow me to run my own groups, and share my experiences on living with, and recovering from a mental illness, while encouraging others to formulate their own plan, based on their needs.
Part of what has helped me so much in the past few years, has been being honest, with myself and others, about what it is like to live with, and overcome life's obstacles.  It's why I started this blog.  My story may be unique, in that I haven't met a lot of people with my condition, but at the same time, it isn't unique at all.  Everyone experiences a crisis, in some form or another, in their lifetime.  Every once in awhile, that crisis, is what changes our perspective and motivates us to live a more meaningful life.  Sometimes, it has the opposite effect.  I've been on both sides of the coin.
The five key concepts of WRAP, are part of my everyday toolkit.  Even when things are at there best, I will not give up hope that they can get better. I am constantly looking to educate myself in one way, or another, whether it be by taking a training, researching the latest treatments, or learning from my experiences, as well as others.  I believe in taking a step back, and taking responsibility for what I say, what I do, and the impact that has on my life and the people I am connected to.  I have learned that the only person who knows me well enough to stand up and advocate for myself, is myself.  But the thing that keeps me motivated to put these concepts to use, is the concept of support.  It isn't just the people who support me, that motivates me.  It goes the other way as well.   The people in my life, are the ones who help me remember I don't want to go back to the other side of the coin.

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