I talk a lot about “recovery” as a Peer Support Specialist, as do many in our place of work. We have a “Recovery Mall,” but defining recovery is difficult. It means so many different things to different people. Each individual has his or her own goals. My recovery may seem too simplistic or too grandiose. It also depends on from what we are recovering. What does that even mean?
The working definition from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) is at the bottom of my email messages: “Recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” No matter what organization, governmental or grassroots, the definition has similarities. The running theme is that the person is able to control his or her own life. He or she takes charge of their own wellness and reaches toward goals. It is a process though, not a clear destination that can just end. It’s also definitely not a straight line from point a to b. To borrow from the Beatles, “It’s a long and winding road.”
Recovery is a journey for which each of us must arrange our own transportation. We can’t have our hands held the entire way. At some point, it is a decision. Once a spark of hope is ignited, a person goes from being constantly helped, to taking charge of their life. That was my recovery point. I spent years being helped; I went to my doctors and dwelled on my illnesses. I identified so strongly with my illnesses, that my identity was lost. Once I decided to cross over from being a consumer of services, to providing services, I could say that I believed I was on the road to recovery from my mental illnesses. The road never ends though.
Igniting that spark of hope is the premise of Peer Support. That is what hundreds across the state, mostly in a volunteer role, are trying to do for others. Peer Support is now known as an essential tool in the recovery process.
Rebecca Coursey, KPS
Peer Support Specialist
“Recovery is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” SAMHSA