How we Heal and Recover: Our Dreams, Language & the Power of Transformation

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Words can move nations to war and enact peace between bitter, long-standing enemies. Words are the most potent metaphysical device in our world. I am a believer in the power of language. I always had a relationship with languages and how words work. At the end of my college time, I put together a plan for my life ahead. After reflecting, and more contemplation, the idea materialized. I would apply to graduate school, and one day, become an English professor. I would spend my life engaging with young minds and cultivate new transformative uses for language for students to bring to the world outside of academia. 

When my psychosis became unmanageable, I lost not only my voice but my capacity to use language effectively. I could no longer convey my thoughts in a manner that was meaningful enough for others to understand.

They call it “word salad.” Sometimes “soup.”

Depending on the medical or psychiatric conditions, there are different words to define what is truly happening to a person’s speech. For me, loss of language was one of the most challenging aspects of my recovery. Not only had I lost a personal battle of entering a graduate English language program. Now, my illness disabled me from pursuing my core passions and life’s dream. 

Dreams inspire us through the unconscious spaces and far reaches of the imagination. In doing so, we see beyond our realities.

A decade ago, because of my new disorder, my life’s circumstances had changed. While my language loss was acute and temporary, it would be a slow uphill battle before years of learned knowledge would return. Ultimately, it was the power of dreams to transform my reality and create a fresh way of understanding the world that allowed me to heal and grow stronger. My recovery was more than reversing damage to the body. The transformation allowed me to heal. My dreams helped me redefine the very limits of my disorder. 

My dream is no longer to become an English professor but to work with language on a deeper level. I want to create a new language to understand health better and treat people’s mental health conditions around me.

My dream, now transformed, is as real and vital as the very moment I set out in a language world. My desire to turn my dreams into a reality is what I am thankful for today.

Rhetoric in its most platonic form is the most potent mechanism for transformation. In my most symptomatic days, I wrote a paper on transformative pathways for the evolution of power to wield language to manifest both good and evil in the world. To create and to destroy, heal & recover people from their most tormented realities.

I have the power to transform my dreams into a new language and gift it to others to choose to move forward with their healing and recovery.

Will you choose to heal or choose a life of pain and mental despair? 

Believe in your dreams & your power to be the person you can be through the transformative power of healing and recovery.


Edited: Autumn Tompkins

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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