Monday, January 18, 2010

Emotions and Recovery

From Gerald Butler…..


Possibly one of the greatest lapses in the system of treatment has been the failure to acknowledge that our emotions are the same as every other human being.

     If someone feels as if they were treated disrespectfully at a business they are patronizing the average person would no longer utilize that company. It is a natural human emotion to shun environments where one feels mistreated. As consumers we often do not have that option so we must find other ways of dealing with demoralizing treatment. Many of us build walls around our psyche to keep from being hurt and/or discouraged. Building walls is a defense mechanism that keeps us from emotional harm, but it also keeps potentially destructive emotions buried inside and undealt with.

       Having an illness does not mean we no longer possess basic human emotions. Personally, I feel emotions are somehow elevated during the healing process. The desire to feel validated and to be listened to is another vital emotion as it provides a sense of belonging. Emotions play a vital role in how well we do in recovery, however there are times we must suppress certain feelings and/or emotions. The main component to a recovery-centered environment is its ability to make consumers feel safe enough to freely express our emotions.

      It’s no secret; the system of mental health treatment in the U. S. is antiquated and must change. Too often, time and energy is wasted attempting to adapt new recovery models to fit the old system. This can result in the unconscious dilution of the recovery aspects of the new model. As we transform the system, meeting consumers where they are, requires providers who are willing to move from positions of leadership/control to support status. This encourages folks who are in recovery to take charge of their lives and help others who are where we used to be.

       Luckily, we are seeing more providers willing to admit to and change (on a personal level) their stigmatizing views of us. These people are the leaders of the transformed system of treatment.  They appreciate that folks in recovery have a lot to offer a recovery-oriented system so they listen to and learn recovery from us. Transformed providers are busy making changes systematically, opening doors, removing obstacles, and paving new roads to recovery.

     The desire to feel respected is a basic human emotion. The CHARGE recovery-enhanced environment promotes individuality, encouraging consumers to take charge of their own healing processes by, 1) self-awareness: “I am a person, not a disease” 2) providing a transparent, genuine, safe atmosphere that encourages people to utilize their natural talents/gifts as recovery tools. The process of honing ones natural talents also increases self worth.

      Since July the Recovery Band and the ‘Visions of Recovery Community Choir have played for many community based organizations. We have established and nurtured working relationships in the community. CHARGE has adopted the ‘Visions, Mission, & Values’ of the Michigan Recovery Council and an Addendum to the IPOS from ‘Project Doors’ in Lansing. We have utilized our talents in the fight against stigma. We even did a spot on T. V. thanks to NAMI. We long to be role models of recovery, encouraging others to do the same.   The cool thing is that despite not having a place to work out of, we have done these things and more on our own.

     Primarily, we are asking to be allowed to share what we have learned with others in a recovery-centered environment, designed and run by consumers for consumers. We enthusiastically seek leaders willing to view us as partners in transforming the system of treatment in the U. S. 

Gerald Butler

Certified Peer Specialist

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