Introducing myself in the mental health field (Journal Entry)


I recently joined a revolutionary movement in the mental healthcare field. I was accepted into a training program to become a Recovery Support Specialist. I have only completed two classes yet I have learned more about recovery in sixteen hours than I ever learned throughout years of treatment. I have so much to say about this program but first, allow me to introduce myself.

A few years ago I went through Dual Diagnosis Intensive Outpatient Treatment (DDIOP). After fifteen minutes of speaking to a psychiatrist, I was diagnosed with PTSD, borderline personality disorder, and major depressive disorder. While in group I was told to introduce myself during each session by saying, “Hi my name is Maria, I am an addict and I am diagnosed with PTSD, borderline personality disorder, and major depressive disorder,” much like they do in Alcoholics Anonymous. They never explained my diagnosis, what it meant, how they reached that conclusion, or what steps I could take to heal from such illness. They simply drilled it into my head that I had these illnesses and I needed to do what they say.

The following is a statement written by Yvette Sangster, the founder of Advocacy Unlimited…

Language is power. Our words have the power to teach, inspire, motivate, and uplift people. Words also have the power to hurt, isolate, and oppress individuals or entire segments of society. It is not about semantics; it is about dignity and the right of people to be treated with respect. Many labels contributes to negative stereotypes and devalues the person they attempt to describe. It is only important to refer to the person’s disability if it is relevant to the conversation or situation.

So without further ado, here is how I choose to describe myself. I compiled this statement from quotes that were said during training:

Hello, my name is Maria. I am on a healing journey. Everyday is a mission to forget the misery of what was lost, and embrace the beauty of what remains. I am a traveler. I am not the same person today that I was yesterday and I will not be the same person tomorrow that I am today. If you want to go on this journey with me, let’s take it day by day.

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