I have been busy forwarding my career of mental health advocacy in recent days. I have also begun the process of building my mental health resume with my WRAP certificate. I am taking a Peer/Support training class, enrolled in Peer Employment Training in January and also volunteering with NAMI’s Side by Side program. I just went to the orientation for Side by Side the other day, and Alice already has someone she’d like me to be a companion for. As soon as my background check goes through, I’m likely to start meeting with a mentally ill peer and providing friendship, insight and guidance.
After accomplishments like that, I’m feeling quite good about my progress. I realize things are not going to rapidly unpack themselves towards goals, but steady incremental motions towards my horizon is all I’m hoping to pursue. I know what working 40 hours a week is like, and even in my advanced state of functionality, it’s a hard life to maintain without constant assistance. I support helping individuals find meaning through their workplace contributions, whatever environment they find themselves in. All of us need help finding the meaning and worth in things, especially when the news is negative. I do believe we have to think about progress in order to prevail. I hope to instill a sort of passion or vitality into my companions to help them see that life is still full of possibilities.
My MH career is just getting started, and I already feel the burden of stress lifted far from me. I don’t have to go to a place where I suffer for 8.5 hours in an environment where I am not wanted. I do not have to face the abuse and harassment of my coworkers who I am supposed to coach. I do not have to deal with supervisors who don’t understand my illness and do not sympathize with the way that I suffer with symptoms. Instead, I get to help people the same way I would have hoped to have been helped by those who could have helped me. I see where my boss and my peers went wrong in responding to my pain, and I learn from their mistakes for my own purposes. I know what it looks like to do things the wrong way, which makes me all the more capable of identifying how to do things a “better” way. Learn not only from yourself, but those who you see in the world.
I don’t mean to sound pedantic, but I am very energized about helping. This new career path is along the trajectory of progress towards better health. I know also that this is just the beginning and that many increasingly happy days are ahead. I hope my progress and enthusiasm helps inspire you to pursue mental health awareness. All of us are a community, and we should be looking out for each other. No one else is going to know what we’re going through, and it’s hard fucking work to help people see us. We should defend each other, and help the other percentage of the population understand. I want to start helping. I am helping. I will keep doing so for as long as I can.