I have the privilege of working as a peer advocate at a residential mental health facility. I get to listen to others struggling like I once was. Not only am I inspired by their stories each day, but I have as much to learn from them as they do from me. We support each other, share coping skills, and talk about life. We dive into the deep conversations you can only have with someone who has been through a similar journey. A recent conversation I had with a guest (what we call our patients) took a weight off my shoulders I did not know existed.
A coworker and I were talking with two men in the lounge. One man was sharing his hardships and depression while crying. I felt for him. God knows I’ve been there many times. I was sharing with him how it takes time to overcome the emotions he was experiencing. That he felt so hurt and distraught now because the situation is brand new. Like all things in life, it gets easier.
The second man had been listening to us while watching the football game on TV. He reached for the remote and turned down the game. Turning towards us he asked,
“Can I say something?”
“Of course!” I said.
“I like what Chelsea said. It hurts now because this is all new, but after time you will learn to laugh at it! Humor is my way of coping. I like to make others smile and laugh. I laugh at my past now. ‘I got that drunk?! HA!’ ‘I went back to rehab? Ha, figures. That was a good time though, wasn’t it?’ I look at life as chapters. My most recent chapter started with an eight-month stay in residential treatment. Chapter two took me here (the treatment center) which helped me find a new apartment. I can’t wait for chapter three when I actually move in! Last year when my mother died, that was a hard chapter, and when I turned to drugs and alcohol as a crutch, that was difficult as well. But it’s part of my life and I can not change it. I accept it, write it in as a chapter, and look back later and laugh at some of my mistakes. Mistakes that were painful at that time. I picked myself up and started working on my new chapter rather than dwelling on the past.”
Chapters. I LOVED it! To me, it seems like a wonderful way to accept what has happened in life and prevent us from dwelling too long on it. People always say, “don’t dwell on the past” but it is hard to imagine how. Life’s Chapters was a fantastic suggestion. Especially with the New Year now here.
We all have such unique stories, with riveting chapters, shocking plot twists, many tears, but more triumphs.
Keep living, keep writing, and continue flipping those pages.
~ Stay Chipper Friends ~
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