Tuesday, February 10, 2009

“Recovery is now an expectation”

from Gerald Butler


is now an expectoration”.

Although we were a poor family of fourteen children, mom and dad
always wanted the best for us, and in the sixties, a Catholic school
education was considered the best. However, my experience was one of
total and complete control of not only my behavior, but also my spirit.
The most I remember about my first three years of school, is the beatings
I endured. Monday mornings were particularly scary, because if daddy
had not paid tuition, I was bought in front of the class. I was made
an example of what happens when rules were not followed, and from 8:
until 3:00 PM I was hit with that big yardstick. On days when the Priest
would visit we had to smile and say what a great education we were getting”.

Since as far back as I can remember, 4 and 5 years old, I had not been
able to sleep nights due to the voices in my head. By the sixth grade
I had pretty much accepted that I would never be able to talk to anyone
about them. It had been beaten into me that if my thoughts and feelings
were not in the curriculum, I had best keep them to myself. Two things
happened in 6th grade that changed my life forever. I began
drinking to silence the voices and I met Sister Richard Michael. Sister
Michael was a non-threatening, laid back nun who seemed to enjoy life.
Whenever possible we would talk for hours and she heard every word I
said.  For the first time in my life I had a sense of self worth,
and all she did was listen to what I had to say. She restored my faith
in humanity.

I had five other brothers in various grade levels that went to the same
school. We were in our forties when (
a family gathering
) one
of my brothers said something about his bad experiences at Holy Name.
It was as if floodgates had suddenly burst opened as we all began telling
our stories. It was both a sad and a cathartic time. After all these
years, this was the first time we all felt safe enough to talk about
something that affected us all, we each had thought we were alone. The
best way to describe what occurred that night is that we were in an
atmosphere where we felt safe enough to talk about our deep down secrets:
a recovery-enhanced environment.

, there are still pockets where people are treated
the same as we were treated at Holy Name. The difference is that as
opposed to Catholic school, these things are occurring in the mental
health system. As long as there are still places where consumers must
fall in line or suffer severe consequences, our work will not be done.
Until every consumer at least has easy access to a safe, welcoming environment,
and a Peer Specialist, we cannot rest. Just as there are some people
who practice peer support without having taken the training, there are
Certified Peer’s who do not practice peer support. As consumers, we
must seek out those whose hopes and dreams are the same as ours.

, we have leaders that want us to get into recovery
just as bad as we want to be there. If a plant is to grow and thrive,
someone must be willing to periodically put said plant in larger and
larger pots, otherwise it ceases to grow. This year’s ‘4th
annual Empowerment Day/Leaders in our Lives’
will be our chance to thank those leaders who have been willing to open
new doors and provide us new opportunities for growth. For a person
to do well in recovery, he or she must first have a basic sense of self
worth. We wish to honor those special ‘Leaders in Our Lives
who have found that happy medium between good leadership and compassion
and provided us a better sense of self-esteem. Without them, who knows?
But because of them Michigan is on the verge of becoming a National
Model, particularly when it comes to consumer satisfaction.


We want you to send in your experiences with such leader, all we ask
is that you do not send in the doctored version. Think of the time when
a leader said or did something to you and you knew it was real because
you could feel it. He or she just made you feel better. How about that
person who makes you a little jealous because they treat other consumers
as special as they treat you? We want to hear about him or her. Please
send essays, poetry, and/or journals of your experiences with positive
leaders to Mike Shaw
mshaw@co.wayne.mi.us Mike is the consumer editor of “Person
Point of View’ newsletter, and the last 2 issues were kind of slick.
I understand Wayne County has an electronic version of the newsletter
and you may consider getting on that mailing list.


I have been getting a ton of positive feedback and even more questions
about CHARGE. Rather than go into the technical details I need to say
this: the human spirit does not thrive in a cold, tense, controlled
environment. CHARGE is a place where folks in recovery can feel
safe enough to say what’s on their mind.  People must be able
to feel as if their thoughts and feelings matter. The
more consumers the band worked with, the more were realized that a person’s
self-esteem is directly related to how well he or does in recovery.
I remember when I was institutionalized how I was given ceramics to
work with. The relationship between the arts and mental illness is age
old. Unless the program is recovery-centered, we simply learn a little
more about a certain art but make little or no progress towards healing.
The Recovery Band designed CHARGE not as an arts program but as a recovery


Arts Program

An independent
A Southwest Solutions program

helping consumers                                     
Outside vendors’ direct recovery

non-recovery programming

directed recovery                                         
System Directed recovery

hope and ambition                                          
Provides art instruction

Based on
Peer Support                                         
          CMH directed

Find &
improve good traits, values                               
Helps people live with illness

Safe, recovery
centered environment                            
Controlled environment                                       

A recovery
an arts program

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