Commitment to Care and Caregiving

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RECOVERY FOR PEOPLE WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS AND THOSE CARRYING A MENTAL HEALTH DIAGNOSIS CAN BE A LIFETIME ENDEAVOR. GIVEN THE POWER OF SUPPORT, AND MORE PROFOUND EVEN, TO BE AN ALLY WITH A SUFFERING INDIVIDUAL IN THEIR JOURNEY WITH CHRONIC ILLNESS IS A SPECIAL MITZVAH TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. ABANDONMENT CAN BE A SOBERING SURPRISE AND A BLOW TO MORALE FOR PEOPLE RELIANT ON THE HAND OF A HELPER. HERE AT RECOVERY NOW, WE ARE A TEAM, A COALITION OF PEOPLE COMMITTED TO OUR HEALING. NEW TREATMENT PATHWAYS AND MEDICAL COURSE CORRECTIONS CAN POSE AS A INTERRUPTION TO THE HEALING PROCESS. ALL NEW SHIFTS IN TREATMENT SHOULD BE FIRST EVALUATED on the basis of priority and MEDICAL AND PSYCHIATRIC NECESSITY.

IN THE END, THE IMPORTANCE OF CHOICE AND FREEDOM IN CHOOSING OUR CARE HAS BECOME A RIGHT. 

THE DECISION TO BECOME AN ALLY TO A CHRONICALLY ILL PERSON IS A LIFELONG COMMITMENT. THE COMMITMENT AND SUPPORT FOR SMI FOLKS TO HELP THEM ADHERE TO HEALING IS ENORMOUS. WHEN PEOPLE INTERFERE WITH THE HEALING PROCESS, DESERT THEIR POSTS (abandon friends requiring support), OR CONTRIBUTE NEGATIVELY TO ANYONE’S RECOVERY, THE IMPLICATIONS TO A PERSON NEEDING SUPPORT CAN BE DISASTROUS. 

I RECOMMEND TAKING STEPS TO ENSURE PERSONS WITHOUT SUPPORT. SEEK IT OUT ACTIVELY. The search for FRIENDS OR ‘allies’ TO WALK ALONGSIDE THEIR PEER IN THEIR GRIEF, NEGATIVELY, AND BAD-DECISION MAKING SKILLS WILL PROCURE and TRIGGER RECOVERY. 

CARE & CAREGIVING EXTENDS TO BOTH SELF CARE AND THE CARE OF OTHERS. THE CAPACITY TO SELF CARE WILL BE CRUCIAL IN MAINTAINING OUR WAY OF LIFE AND QUALITY OF LIFE. NURTURING NEW AND EMERGING PERSPECTIVES OR PATHWAYS TO INTERACTING AND LIVING IN THE WORLD. THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT AS TIME UNFOLDS WE CHANGE. HOWEVER, WHILE WE MIGHT CHANGE, OUR FUNDAMENTAL DUTY TO CARE FOR OURSELVES AND OTHERS DOES NOT CHANGE. FOR EXAMPLE, THE RUNNER MIGHT NOT RUN AS FAST AS HE OR SHE ONCE DID OR THE SINGER MIGHT NOT HIT THAT EUPHONIOUS TONE OR PITCH AND YET, WE MUST MOVE FORWARD IN OUR HEALTH & HEALING.

AS WE HEAL, WE NEED TO ONLY RE-LEARN OUR CRAFTS BUT ALSO IDENTIFY HOW OUR SKILLS AND BEND ON UNDERSTANDING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WORLD HAS ALSO SHIFTED. THE SKILLS YOU ONCE HAD ARE STILL THERE, HOWEVER, UPON ACCESSING THEM, THERE WILL BE A CAVEAT TO EFFECTIVELY EXECUTING THE TASK AS YOU ONCE DID, AND, QUITE FRANKLY, IN PRACTICE, IT MAY FEEL COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. TO HARKEN BACK TO THE MUSICIAN, YOU MIGHT HEAR THE MUSIC IN A MANNER THAT REQUIRES DIFFERENT KEY STROKES, OR MAYBE YOUR HANDS ARE ARTHRITIC, AND YOU REQUIRE ASSISTANCE TECHNOLOGY TO PLAY.

I CAN’T HELP BUT CITE THE GREAT MOHAMMAD ALI, WHOM, AFTER RETURNING TO BOXING AFTER YEARS OF POLITICAL EXILE, WASN’T AS FAST ON HIS FEET AS HE ONCE WAS. HE LEARNED TO LEAN ON THE ROPES WITH THE FAMOUS ICON “ROPE-A-DOPE” STRATEGY AND OUTPACE HIS CHALLENGES WITH THE IMPOSITION OF WILL & HIS UNRIVALED STAMINA. SO, WHEN YOU SEE SOMEONE “STRUGGLING” AT SOMETHING, THEY WERE ONCE A PROFESSIONAL, GIVE THEM TIME TO HEAL, & RE-DISCOVER THERE ABILITIES GIVEN THERE NEW BIO-SOCIAL- PSYCHOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE.

About the Author

J. Peters

J. Peters is the Editor-in-Chief of Mental Health Affairs.

Award-winning book author and Bold 10 Under ten award recipient J. Peters, LCSW. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Mental health therapist and disability rights advocate Mr. Peters fights for those without a voice in various care systems, such as the New York City Department of Social Services, the New York State Office of Mental Health, or the city's Department of Corrections.

Mr. Peter's battle with Schizophrenia began at New London University in his last semester of college. Discharged from Greater Liberty State Hospital Center in July 2008, Jacque's recovery was swift but not painless and indeed brutal after spending six months there.

He has published several journal articles on recovery and mental health and three books: University on Watch, Small Fingernails, and Wales High School. He is also a board member of the newspaper City Voices. Mr. Peters currently sits on the CAB committee (Consumer Advisory Board) for the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene in NYC and the Office of Mental Health (OMH) as a peer advocate.

Owner of Recovery Now in New York, a private psychotherapy practice, Mr. Peter's approach is rooted in a foundation of evidence-based practices (EBP). Jacques earned a master's degree in Social Work from Binghamton University and worked as a field instructor for master's and bachelor's level students in NYC.

He is blogging daily on his site mentalhealthaffairs.blog, Mr. Peters regularly writes articles relating to his lived experience with a mental health diagnosis.

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