Reflections on Neesa’s Blog article: How My Schizoaffective Disorder Helps Me Help Others

Reflections on Neesa’s Blog article: How My Schizoaffective Disorder Helps Me Help Others

So, I was just reading an article by Neesa Suncheuri called: How My Schizoaffective Disorder Helps Me Help Others

In this article, the author likens the side effects (no pun intended) of not working and responding to the impact of paralyzing mental health symptoms as a strength. This is a bit strange to me and slightly problematic. Now, resilience is a strength. However, negative outcomes from lousy life circumstances are just that. In my opinion, they are not good and are not welcome (by me) to say the very least.

The realities of my day to day life and your life (constructed socially) or not, still shouldn’t be unpleasant to go through and if things can be avoided to save heartache, pain, grief and trauma, I say go for it.

Understanding limitations (yes, serious mental health conditions can cause them) is just as empowering as an honest and open discussion around a person’s (see, I still think of people I work with/for) have great and limitless potential for meeting their goals. However, a person successfully meeting their goals in a manner that Is healthy and lasting hinges upon great savvy and insight into another’s person’s situation. I fully believe, in no uncertain terms, that misguided peer work can and will result in relapse. Any misguided or misapplied work can result in relapse. So, passing off a distorted version of a peer’s likelihood to regain control in their life or feel better means doing the right thing and having a frank discussion around sustainable recovery.

As peers, or mental health professionals, we should be modeling recovery, in all situations. Even when healing is just healing, and not reclaiming lost functional ability. As a person modeling recovery, setting the bar at a place that doesn’t set people up for failure is so critical. I want to be clear. This isn’t setting a prognosis or saying someone can’t get to where they want to be. Instead, this means being honest and authentic about how to model recovery. This is just if not more important than the status of the world we live in and lessons in social constructivism. Your lesson might set someone up for premature readiness to commit to a lasting recovery plan or something along these lines in which they cannot sustain the steps they are taking in the recovery, and fall back into the system.

I truly applaud your positive outlook, but negative experiences and things to get over aren’t what makes me strong or anyone else strong. This is my ability, yes able-ity to overcome or avoid distressing stuff and keep moving until next shoe drops.

Listen, a lasting full recovery is different than regaining what was lost or reducing the impact of symptoms and their interference with your life. However, full recovery is doing all that you can do to restore what was damaged, heal and move in your life and goals.

Systemic and comprehensiveness (not certain what you are referring to here) means very little in the wake of gaps in the provision of treatment or the limits of care for your particular issue.

In the end, I’m glad you found hope. But this article sends mixed and problematic messages to the reader. Keep connecting with others, but take a minute to think about what’s being put out there lest someone get hurt.

J. Peters

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association. Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia. "I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others." "In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."
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