“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” — Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
I start my Certified Peer Specialist Training in 2 weeks. 2 weeks of intense studies, exams and sharing. Nerves are tempting to acknowledge, but let’s face it, after a decade of experiencing every facet of mental health care and finally fine-tuning my recovery to a point I am fulfilled and thriving, I am well-versed in peer-based support.
This isn’t something that anyone can just walk into and expect to survive. It isn’t something that can be taught or learned. It must be experienced, first-hand, and at the end of the road, it is only natural for most of us who have been through it all to have a deep desire to give back, lift others up and encourage others to believe that recovery is possible and healing is a solid reality.
No one is going to walk your path for you or do your inner work, but along the way, there will be lamp posts guiding your way or pointing you in general directions. Getting from here to there doesn’t have to be a forever thing. The length of time it takes to make that leap is entirely up to you and your personal calling.
In all my years spent in and out of hospitals and institutions, without a doubt, those I looked up to the most were those with lived experience. Including therapists. These were the ones who celebrate who you are as a person vs simply tolerating you or forcing you into a mold. These are the people who wouldn’t dare tell you how it’s done, rather they are the people who show you how they did it. Leading by example is ten times more effective because it’s laced with empathy, a light that gets brighter when shared and passed on, it’s a weighted blanket warmed with compassion and a deeper understanding and it’s the first spark in the eyes of those that desperately need hope to be tangible. It is about creating a safe space for individuals to fine-tune their own recovery and to experiment with how to build their bigger picture.
When people operate on your level, meet you halfway and share their stories, a natural bubble of safety envelopes the relationship, a bond is born and letting our guards down becomes a welcomed relief. In that safety net, vulnerability is the catalyst for true healing and the ability to be one’s authentic self has the potential to spark strength, motivation and perseverance to overcome any roadblock to personal recovery.
Years ago, I wished to be at the forefront of a paradigm shift in some way, as it was only natural considering my experiences, fevered passion in spirituality, and strong desire to bridge the enormous gap between mainstream mental health care and spirit-led holistic care. I am not talking religion here, I am talking Universal and energetic spirituality with an emphasis on science (no matter how far-out there it is).
Helping others walk their paths, discover their zest and exchanging high-fives in their ah-ha moments, has always been natural to me, even if it lay hidden for some time. I may as well get paid for it because the reality is here … I need to support myself, feel productive and stay active in all ways.
Balancing my beliefs and mainstream mental health care is undoubtedly going to be my biggest challenge. Luckily, holistic care and alternative healing methods are becoming more the norm these days as people wake up to their true potential. It’s time to realize I have been set up for this and that I am quite capable of handling it.
This will be step one.
Seeing the bigger picture is the carrot on the stick. Setting intentions and making my desires known to the Universe, while simultaneously matching the energy of my future calling, are the mental, emotional and energetic seeds I plant. Taking one step at a time is the real-time effort I put forth in realizing the dream.
Luckily, the crisis center that I have come to love as my own people, are anxiously awaiting my certification. They have been encouraging me for years to join their team as a professional. Saying this with confidence and owning it – They would be lucky to have me and I, them.