Far too many stories and firsthand accounts of recovery are terminal and end with a cure or picturesque life for the consumer of services or “sick” person. This recovery narrative is different. This is a story about struggle, ongoing collateral pushback from friends, and internalized self-doubt.
Chronic illness, either rooted in psychiatric or medical symptoms, can be a lifelong road with many critical junctures for risk of relapse, suffering, and systemic issues with access to treatment. I hope my story sheds light on not only the aspects of healing that serve as hope to readers but also the plight of the consumer riddled with making ongoing difficult life choices due to the severe chronicity of their symptoms.
After finally returning home from college, after my discharge from the state hospital center in upstate New York, I began my long journey. This is a journey of heartache, despair, and all the negative emotions conjured by a chronic mental health disorder. Knowing full well that without applying the right measures and putting a plan in place I would be at risk of further issues, I applied the learning lessons of my past to my situation today. This is that story. After graduating and eventually becoming a social worker and disability rights advocate, I learned how to live with my symptoms (and, simultaneously, despite them).
I am Jacques Peters, and I will explain to those reading this story that chronic means just that. Ongoing, and a continuum of symptoms that will wax and wane as this story unfolds. These symptoms will impact the very fabric and quality of my life. My story is not unique, but it is largely untold—it is taboo for people in recovery to admit that when there is no cure, the only thing left to do is never stop fighting for life. As this book unfolds, the result of not stopping fighting, to never giving up, will become obvious to the reader and a warning to everyone with a longstanding and chronic illness to stay in treatment and never resign or surrender. The implications of doing will hopefully warn the reader in vivid terms to keep close to healing, even if a full cure is impossible.