I am grateful of a gentleman who shared his recovery story at a partial care program that I was attending in December of 1989. He traveled out of county working for Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey, (CSPNJ) Inc. The guest speaker spoke of his challenges and the inspirational moments that gave him hope. He valued natural supports, acceptance of living with mental illness, achieving goals despite clinical diagnostic labeling, working full-time and more. Furthermore, I admired his courage to thoughtfully and intimately self-disclose his story with both peers and staff. His hopeful, genuine, and balanced narrative was exceedingly important to me.
I was submerged in lifeless depressive feelings, such as anxiety, stress, listlessness, apathy, isolation, invisibility, helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness, anger, guilt, societal stigma, labeling, suicidal ideation, and more. I was a month shy of my 28th birthday when listening to my first personal recovery narrative/ lived experience presentation. I began to develop internal motivation based on peer support. The “peer role modeling,” unearthed my buried and dormant insight of lost self-awareness and lost citizenship.
I now had the energy and interest to disrupt the systematic and personal dependency of routinely attending partial care. I took steps to re-pursue occupational goals of work and college. Here I will outline some benefits for encouraging and respecting the sharing of personal recovery (mental illness and/or addiction concerns) narratives.
Personal Recovery Narrative:
1. Creative written/verbal task planning and learning experience
2. Help building self-esteem, self-worth and confidence
3. Transforming an Illness narrative to a Recovery narrative develop positive self-talk, lessening perceived and real external (public) and internal (self) stigma
4. Opportunity to publicly “role model” hope- giving back, increasing citizenship feelings
5. Why self-disclose? Weighing benefits and addressing challenges
What has your experience been in utilizing people to share their personal narratives at your agency, school; corporate business, place of worship, home, community organization or other settings? What points would you like to make about sharing your own personal story? I am active in sharing my lived experience in varied settings. I will be building on my current comments and I look forward to your posts!