“Nothing about me, without me!”

I’m still here.

The call to action, “nothing about us, with out us!” was coined decades ago, by a group of mental health consumer/survivors who, through sheer determination, formalized the mental health peer movement and truly enabled the meaningful voice it has today.

No longer is the science behind mental illness denied. No longer are we at the mercy of what experimental treatments might be the latest en vogue. No longer do people deny that mental health and physical health are all part of one person, one wellness.

Well, most people don’t deny it; especially, understanding that 1 in 5 people, across cultures, across regions, across continents – will live with a mental health condition during their lifetime. (Currently, 58 million people in the United States!)

Everyone knows someone affected by mental illness. The peer movement, and now the peer support movement, are here to stay; and still here, to say that there is recovery, there is help, there is hope. We are better selves when we help ourselves, and when we help each other.

Also true, however, as with any journey, that any recovery can experience setbacks; no different than recovery from any physical ailment might. Its true for everyone. It’s also often the case that physical ailment can contribute to fluctuations in emotional wellbeing. Or perhaps, some sort of unexpected life detour puts up a roadblock. Let’s be honest. Any number of things can result in an emotional setback, whether you live with a mental health condition or not. Enough to sort of end up feeling in limbo, almost unable to take a next step, even if we know what the step needs to be.

Having experienced a similar crisis of confidence very recently myself; doubting my ability, doubting what help I’m actually being; I found it was the informal support of another peer supporter, that helped me recognize, out loud, what was behind my feeling of, well, “stuck”. More importantly, it brought me to realize that I am still contributing to the greater good, even during setbacks, because that’s what my goal is. That’s who I really am and what I feel called to do. It’s taken me decades to get to know me. I’m not going to lose sight of myself again, even though setbacks will come.  The journey is here for everybody. I’m no less a part of it by my condition, by my setbacks, or by my sometimes less than stellar confidence level. I am still here. I am on my journey, with all of its ebbs and flows and failures and successes, just like everyone else.

I will continue to make my voice heard, to promote mental health awareness, education and advocacy. I will stand up. Life isn’t about me, but I won’t have it happening without me, either. Because I’m still here.

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