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HOPE FOR EVERY SEASON

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Since I became a Peer Specialist and later on in my life, I’ve noticed people need HOPE at all times of the year. Each human being has a variety of meanings for HOPE. I created my definition and acronyms for HOPE. This tool became necessary for me to use during my healing. 

Here are two examples:

Howard’s 

Own 

Personal 

Excitement 

AND

Having 

Our 

Private 

Escapade 

These are couple of the many acronyms I have used. Participating in various wordplay opened up space to cultivate HOPE.

The recovery movement in mental health began in the late 1980s, and shortly after that came the emergence of the peer movement. Adding a peer to a program’s employment roles initially was a token gesture to increase their employers’ numbers in hiring peers. Over time, Peer Specialists became the program’s willingness to take the peer initiatives and recovery causes as real and vital to a company’s or agency’s existence. As a newer profession, Peer Supporters face many challenges. Often these challenges are rooted in issues with other professionals who were often confused by our presence. The employers were also clueless about how we as peers can assist anyone or relate with others on a personal basis. 

What we had then and what we still have now is HOPE. Years later, when peers like myself began to integrate into treatment teams, crisis programs, residential programs, and hospitals, the resistance to our presence changed exponentially. Overall, wellness management was gaining in our lives through recovery processes while joining the ranks of qualified individuals in the workforce. Over the years, we were called Peer Specialists, not Patients. At least, most of the time. Naturally, most peers have hoped that this will progress the peer movement in the years to come and within ourselves as individuals. Only the future will answer this, so let’s continue to move ahead with HOPE.

Approximately three years ago, I contracted nerve damage inside my left eye, and it’s been about ten months since a different sort of nerve difficulty started traveling in my left leg along with that side of my body. What I needed here was HOPE, which was what I had because I wanted to improve my situation. My neurologist gave a strong recommendation that I go to physical therapy. Since December 1, I have been going twice a week to stretch out my limbs and walk without falling. Now, six weeks into PT, my gait has improved slightly, each leg is getting a little stronger each day, and my HOPE is growing too.

Previously, I worked for over twenty-five years as an Assistant Case Manager/Peer Specialist in the Mental Health Field. I want to return as a Peer Specialist. I found the work exciting and challenging almost every day by doing these jobs. No two days were the same. When I met with consumers, I assisted and encouraged the HOPE in them to move forward by organizing their residences or how to shop more efficiently and effectively. Sometimes, I offered a suggestion or two that they might not have thought of or just a recommendation that might help everyone proceed in a positive and a new hopeful way.

Every person has their own story about HOPE, and if they want to share, I’ll do my best to give them time and listen. Isn’t that what Peer Specialists do? I think so. Sometimes, listening is the most vital aspect of what a Peer Specialist can offer someone else. We can also listen differently without judgment, expectations, rules, or specific requirements. In turn, a suggestion can assist others in their HOPE journey.

I think about HOPE regarding my mental wellness during the entire year. Wintertime was my time to be lazy and not take as good care of myself, so I hibernated. No, I am not a bear. I am a human being who wants to be mentally, physically, and emotionally well. Being well is a state of mind, but we can do activities to improve things. To improve myself physically during winter has always been challenging, but I had HOPE. 

For instance, I do not skate or ski. Also, my walking is limited. As for mentally, I spend time on my tablet writing or researching through Google. Also, when the conditions outside permit, I supplement this by going to the library, reading magazines and newspapers, plus taking out the mystery and other books. However, my HOPE was still as important as ever.

Now, spring has sprung. It is time to clear my head and lungs, so maybe a song or two might help me. All sorts of possibilities, but let’s get real. Does one think about the consequences of one’s actions regarding bad mental health? Probably not! I do! I do! At least I try to think about my wellness routines. Yes, when spring has sprung and for me, bringing me new HOPE and opportunity. Everyone let us go outside and enjoy ourselves. 

Some people watch the leaves grow, and the flowers bloom or read to stay mentally sharp. Others of us run, jog, walk, and lift weights to be physically in good condition. Here HOPE is used as Heightening Our Physical Energies. Then, some have romantic relationships with a partner to keep themselves emotionally viable. A combination of everything is probably the best idea.

Take it one day at a time and focus on only what we can do.

Unfortunately, I had two significant personal losses before two different brutal summers. On June 12, 2015, I lost my significant other, Maureen, a big part of my emotional network. All these years later, she still is emotional support. Maureen may not be here in the real sense, but when I think about her (daily), she gives me support and HOPE to carry on without her. Secondly, my mother died on June 19, 2019. 

Throughout my life, mom tried to understand my symptoms dealing with my Mental Health Issues. She did what she could and gave me HOPE, but she often found this quite tricky. They both bring up another HOPE classification as Honoring Our Personalized Enjoyment by remembering each of them. In the summertime, I walk or sit very often on the boardwalk or in a park to recall my memories and release the tension and the stress of my life. Other days were spent with a friend at a local community pool to cool off the heat. Once in a while, I attend free outdoor concerts or art exhibitions to relax with the arts.

During autumn, I continue to walk on the boardwalk and in the park. Other people take courses at school or read to stay mentally sharp. Others join a gym to lift weights or swim indoors to maintain good physical condition. While in the park, I witness the leaves changing colors and eventually falling off the trees. One day the wind was gusting over 20 miles per hour, and many leaves were flying all over the park, landing in the water from yesterday’s rain as for me. Strolling around the garden gives me a feeling of relief like I’m free as a bird. And no, as much as I sometimes have flights of fancy, I do not think I can fly, while walking reduces my anxiety my nervous energies and boosts my feelings of HOPE.

Remember, take everything one item at a time and focus on only what we can do. Each of us is only one person. I tell myself not to become overwhelmed and or start to lose HOPE. Losing HOPE is not an option. Now, let’s take positive action and stay on the path of Wellness and Hopefulness. Take this advice, “No matter how bad things seem, having HOPE can make it better.” HOPE for everyone! Have Only Positive Excursions.

See you in the NewsBlogs.

About the Author

Howard Diamond CPS (Certified Peer Specialist)

Howard Diamond, CPS (Certified Peer Specialist) is a hardworking Editorial Board Member and eager contributor to Mental Health Affairs. He has worked in various settings all over Long Island and New York State where he resides. His articles are layered with incredible profound insights into his health and state of being, which resonate with his audience do deeply struggling with their mental health and connection to the bigger world. Howard has a dedicated following of readers and he also writes for other websites on his lived experience and ongoing thoughts on mental health. We are happy to have him working with the site and being so gracious with his time, energy, and dedication to our site.
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