As I attended my second week of NAMI Peer-to-Peer, my 14-year-old son and nephew painted our family room wall a beautiful shade of light green sage. Thank you, boys! Job well done. The room is already more restful with the new color on a wall.
NAMI Peer-to-Peer is a peer-led course in which those of us with mental health diagnoses learn from each other with sincere, uncritical acceptance. In class two we reviewed the course’s values or Core Philosophy:
1. We have more in common than not.
2. We are all experts on our own experience.
3. We respect individual experiences and individual choices.
4. We are free to choose our own path.
5. There is no one true way to do or be anything.
We shared how mental illness is a traumatic experience, reviewed the consumer stages of recovery, discussed stigma and culture, and practiced mindfulness.
BRIDGES (Building Recovery of Individual Dreams and Goals through Education and Support) is a NAMI Tennessee copyrighted program that provides education and support to persons diagnosed with a mental illness. Here I list the BRIDGES Consumer Stages of Recovery from our handout. Each event and stage was briefly described and emotions and needs were listed for each stage.
Event 1 – Crisis
Stage 1 – Recuperation
Event 2 – Decision
Stage 2 – Rebuilding
Event 3 – Awakening
Stage 3 – Recovery/Discovery
This was written on the board, but I do not yet fully understand how we are to implement these steps.
F – Focus
A – Assess
V – Validate
O – Options
R – Reinforce/Reassess
I have never before thought of mental illness as something from which you recover. Instead, I’ve thought of it as something with which you live and cope. Similarly, my experience is far from linear. I have setbacks. My moods still cycle. I am sensitive to my environment. I cannot control all of the things that affect my stability. I did a quick search and found this abstract:
Applying stages of change models to recovery from serious mental illness: contributions and limitations.
They conclude that stages of change models need to more accurately reflect the non-linear nature of recovery, the fact that processes are influenced by person-disorder-environment interactions, and the fact that the persons own motivations for change and decisions in this regard while of central importance are by no means exclusive factors in recovery, as they do not take into account sufficiently such issues as discrimination and the presence or absence of crucial resources and supports. A richer set of concepts is needed as we continue to deepen our understanding of the complex, dynamic and ongoing process of mental health recovery.
Their conclusion more closely aligns with my own personal experience. Still, there is value to be gained, lessons to be learned in attending the classes. I look forward to adding more tools to my arsenal.