An essay by Brian McLaughlin, Advocate
Far too often (and I will assert incorrectly); recovery from serious mental illness is defined by academic or vocational success. The secret to my success, and that of many of my peers is not dependent on making the grade or landing the "right job".
Moving to the head of the class, and or becoming gainfully employed can be a welcomed side effect of a persons progression towards recovery. However, relying on academic and or vocational success as a measure of recovery is in error, and I believe harmful.
Advancement towards recovery needs to be personalized and more broadly defined. To pin all of one's hopes on academic and or vocational success is like building ones "house on sand".
Recently I chose to "right size" my responsibilities. I also took some time away from work. Herein lies the secret to my success.
I awoke to my dog tugging at the blankets on the first morning of the "rightsizing". I looked at those big brown eyes and they looked back at me as to say "it is 6AM. Time for breakfast". I bounced out of bed and dished up some kibble. I listened as it was joyfully munched on. A simple thing but it made me smile.
Then I opened a new jar of instant coffee. In doing so I paused to enjoy the aroma. I have a lot of good memories linked to the smell of coffee. It occurred to me I don't "stop to smell the coffee enough." So I took another deep breath for good measure.
I took my morning meds. as directed and a Centrum Silver as I am getting to be "of a certain age".
Next, I carried my morning coffee out on the deck. My dog jumped onto my lap as soon as I sat down; equally a sign of affection as a desire to avoid the morning chill I suspect. No matter...I enjoyed the company.
I then took a moment and watched the Sun come up. The sky was ablaze with pink and orange. I thought to myself only God could make pink and orange look good together. So I told him so. I imagine He gets a lot of compliments on such things.
In closing, there you have it. The true secret to my success/recovery. The means:"rightsizing", a brown eyed dog named Joe, the crunch crunch of kibble, the aroma of coffee, remembering to take my meds., and a beautiful, never to be seen again sunrise. The outcome: a focused and peaceful mind.
Respectfully submitted for your consideration,
Brian Patrick McLaughlin MS/CPS
MH Consumer Advocate
Erie County, PA.
© 2016 Mental Health Association of Northwestern PA