Returning to the symmetry of everyday life after attending the activities for the Texas Certified Peer Specialists conference and Alternatives 2013 conference in Austin Texas, I have taken a moment to reflect and breathe. As always, I was reacquainted with past friends and colleagues across the world and became newly acquainted with many more.

Each Alternatives conference provides the opportunity to converge in one place surrounded by people who reflect my truth back to me – it is an incredible experience every time it happens. Ongoing education, skill development and spiritual and social learning opportunities constantly serve to reinforce that recovery is alive and well across this nation. It reminds me that we are in the midst of a recovery movement, a movement that is bigger than ourselves – a movement that will change the future of many Americans and everyone connected to them.

My own personal journey has not always been self-defined, nor was it easy. There have been times when I was unknowing, unwilling and hopeless. There have been many things I have had to look at differently and change – anger, guilt, regret, medications, services, supports, shame and blame – the list goes on. I am not angry anymore. Nor am I under attack.

I have reevaluated my values and emotions. I have let go and have taken the steps and changes necessary to constantly improve my health and wellness. I changed my belief – I now know that recovery is possible. I took the necessary steps through hope, education, support, determination, and self-responsibility. My decisions are my own. I also know that what may work for me (medications, etc.) may not work for others. But it works for me – I am always open to learning from others – however my own life experience (trial and error) speaks to my own recovery.

I now experience a holistic life of recovery and wellness and I am involved in a recovery movement that will change the world of mental health as we know it. I am not in this movement alone.

  • There are my brothers and sisters with lived experience that are gaining strength and learning that recovery is possible – defining their voice and choice about their own care and recovery, educating and sharing their recovery experience with providers and policy makers.
  • There are providers who, through no fault of their own and meaning no harm, are learning that recovery-oriented practices and supports are resulting in healing and restored health and wellness.
  • There are policy makers who are learning about the principles of recovery and integrating those principles into systems, calling on each of us for testimonies of recovery to ensure their complete understanding.