We are often self-defined by our roles, titles, or even by the labels we are given and even the ones that we assume. It is when we can redefine ourselves through our actions to determine more of what we are really about. It is without clothes or cover, like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, after they had confessed to eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that they understood their bareness, or who they were. We too become us without our covers. I am not a black, middle aged male, college educated person with a psychiatric diagnosis, before I am who “I am.” I must be the first to define or refine what limits that I will place on myself by the actions and challenges that I choose to undertake, even if the deck is stacked against me, or if I am strongly advised that I am limited by the history of another who has shared my plight. I may find these limits to be true or may find them unfounded, not by only the low expectations set in place on another. Never underestimate the power of doing.
Psychiatric health I have discovered to have cause and affect dilemmas, based around labels and expectations, coupled with a disease that itself suggest that one is unable more that another. Psychiatric un-health is when we ourselves cannot continue to operate our own personal and social lifestyle. Yes, we may be unable to continue to work because of this, but this is just a side-effect of the disease and not the disability itself. Most people will not interpret this without having been through this first-hand. This is why many psychiatric professionals are still sitting on the sidelines waiting before encouraging the use of recovery-based practices. For this reason, and maybe this reason alone “peers” are going to work more than before. Unfortunately, they are working mostly, being used mainly as the role models to show other recipients of psychiatric services and their providers the way to understand and achieve a new sense of psychiatric recovery, based on the individual; not the symptoms, the diagnosis, the disability, one’s race or ethnicity, religion, gender, and of course, educational background. Anyone, given the chance can succeed or fail, just as much as the next person. This is why, we must be able to offer every psychiatric recipient (or any labeled group) the capacity to move forward in life, while defining and redefining their own recovery. Maybe then, we will realize how irrelevant all those labels do become.
This book is a compilation of my writings, in prose and poetry, how psychiatric health and other social dilemmas can be viewed through a peer perspective, or through the eyes of the ones directly impacted.
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