Responsibility: Consumers have a personal responsibility for their own self-care and journeys of recovery. Taking steps towards their goals may require great courage. Consumers must strive to understand and give meaning to their experiences and identify coping strategies and healing processes to promote their own wellness.
Hope: Recovery provides the essential and motivating message of a better future— that people can and do overcome the barriers and obstacles that confront them. Hope is internalized; but can be fostered by peers, families, friends, providers, and others. Hope is the catalyst of the recovery process. Mental health recovery not only benefits individuals with mental health disabilities by focusing on their abilities to live, work, learn, and fully participate in our society, but also enriches the texture of American community life. America reaps the benefits of the contributions individuals with mental disabilities can make, ultimately becoming a stronger and healthier Nation.
It is this last aspect- hope- that I believe holds the key to ….the spark of recovery…..What do I mean by that? Well, I think hope is the part of recovery that makes the rest of recovery possible. It takes courage to have hope when you have experienced pain, loss, grief, failure, stigma, discrimination, loss of functionality and loss of your dreams. I have a friend I know who has struggled with severe depression for the last five years of his life. He keeps trying to convince me that his case his hopeless. He does not have me convinced, and I have told him I will not give up looking for the spark of hope that I know he has buried. I believe we all have that spark and that it never dies….we just bury it deeper and deeper when our fear becomes so great that we do not dare risk the pain of hope. Sometimes we can convince ourselves that hopelessness and resignation, and pessimism are the answer……but you pay a high price for adopting this perspective on life. Holding on to hope is not for easy, but it beats the alternative.
This is my third time that I have had the honor of addressing you at our annual conference. (Isn’t that amazing!!!!) The first time, I shared with you that my mother had bipolar disorder, as well as borderline personality disorder. I can’t remember if I also told you that, in addition, she suffered from alcoholism. A key part of my own recovery and journey of healing was to participate in a 12 step program for adult children of alcoholics. I worked the steps and had a great sponsor…and I learned something that had a profound impact on how I choose to live my life. I learned that the opposite of fear is faith......and that I had spent a great deal of my time driven by fear. You know, if you live in fear long enough, it just becomes a backdrop to life, indistinguishable.
In fact, NAMI has a great deal in common with Alcoholics Anonymous. We are both grassroots organizations that focus on recovering from a chronic illness, and we are both based on the power of community. We recognize the power of peers supporting peers, family members supporting family members, and helping each other cope with illnesses that are heartbreaking. And we recognize that recovery includes not just the body and the mind, but our spirit as well.
As you know, at the core of every 12 step recovery is faith….faith in a higher power, which can be defined in any way that is meaningful to the individual. This is where spiritual recovery comes in…..I believe that faith really represents an invitation to