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From Madness to Healing and back again: An Odyssey through the Toxic Connective Tissue

From Madness to Healing and back again: An Odyssey through the Toxic Connective Tissue

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The readers of Mental Health Affairs should know and be fully aware that I have a mental health disorder. My identity has been something I’ve played with on this site figuratively, literally, and through my behaviors offline. I actively seek to raise the actions and literary devices from the text and very web of life to recollect. Only to report back here on this site for the reader to consume.

So, who am I? J. Peters is a prosumer, advocate, therapist, friend, and colleague. I am all of these things and more. I have also discovered that I am none of these aspects I claim with such high regard for myself and my so-called recovery and lived experience. Few people can or are even willing to dispute these aspects of my identity to my face, behind closed doors, or care enough to understand my journey’s details. For my identity is my own. I create, recast, and reclaim it almost every time I traverse Mental Health Affairs pages. After all, that is precisely what we do here.

Why, then, am I elaborating on the underpinnings of identity and its intersections. Perhaps this is because I have spent so much time being self-involved with my writing. I have spent so much time recasting, recreating, and redefining that I have evolved in my recovery and healing without spending enough time attending to my peers’ environment and status in my life. For some time now, my writing has been self-focused because it needed to be. That was where I was at in my healing. I needed to get my language up to speed as fast as possible to reconnect with the outer world in a meaningful way.

Until recently, I was unhappy with the level of language I had restored from psychosis. Given the recent connections I have made in the mental health community and collaterals across my life and interpersonal landscape. I have been advised and informed that my quest to restore pre-psychosis heights of rhetoric and meaning-making has reached its apex and conclusion. People say I’ve healed. People claim, my language is back. My friends cast me as advanced in my insight, adept in my judgment, and altogether different from psychosis’s destruction years ago. I should listen to these people and pay attention to their message. Because underneath its direct meaning is the self-involvement I gestured to before. It sits upon a veneer of neglect for the general status of where the world is really at. People are in their health, recovery, and character.

My victory was in language, speech, and rhetoric. All of these communication aspects reached a new threshold during my recovery. At the very height of my newfound ability to make meaning, and my persistence to interpret and insert myself into language is newfound loneliness.

Like I said, it’s been a necessary self-driven and self-focused decade of returning to my once great intellect. But, upon arrival, I have discovered that the healed Peer and the recovered patient is status that few possess or can achieve given the constraints of illness and unresolved, ongoing psychosis. Few people are similar to me in their healing, recovery. Whether it be their fortitude or lack thereof. Any number of factors keeping them from the progress I continue to experience, I am in a more isolated space than I was during my illness years ago.

This unique psychosocial destination has launched me into the great abyss of isolation and distrust from others. Even jealousy and anger if I am frank about human nature in its most brutal and straightforward form.

My significant departure from madness, into the distrustful shadows of healing, was achieved with a sadistic and scornful fulcrum. In doing so, I have traveled further than I ever thought I could see across the skies above the madness, around the disorder, and into the very pit of fear. My will to overcome my own disorder has landed me in a more challenging space than madness on its own terms.

Why? Because of my disorder, there was too much chaos to be truly lonely.

Isolated, absolutely, disillusioned, maybe, but fearful and agitated is the very space I ran from years ago so desperately and with such rigor. And yet, I have become the very social enigma that evokes fear amongst his own peers and creates a threat to others by his very presence. My newfound identity he held so closely and with such high regard for life and healing.

About the Author

J. Peters

Bold 10 Under 10 award recipient Jacques Peters ’08, MSW ’12 . Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), therapist and disability rights advocate, Mr. Peters fights for those without a voice in various systems of care, 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. Jacques is the author of University on Watch: Crisis in the Academy, which he published under the pen name J. Peters in 2019, and First Diagnosis, published in 2020. Jacques refers to his stance on recovery in his journal articles as “Too big to fail.” No obstacle too big, no feat out of reach, Jacques let nothing stop him in his path to recovery and healing.
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