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I feel like giving up.

As a young person in long term recovery from a primary diagnosis of bipolar disorder, I have dedicated the last 8 years of my life to establishing pathways for other young people with lived experience to step up and out of the circumstances which defined them as simply mentally ill, an addict, incompetent, etc. I have worked countless hours attempting to establish a peer-run recovery initiative for young people across this state. Yet, at the end of the day, it seems like individual organizations are more interested in having ownership over young adult programming, than actually investing in an authentic recovery-oriented system of care model.
What is a recovery oriented system of care model? It is the model that has been “guiding” our delivery system since approximately 2006. Despite the clear description offered both at the federal and state levels, we have yet to realize an equitable position for “consumers” of behavioral health services in the planning, implementation and evaluation of programming. It is disheartening that organizations within our state continue to promote themselves as recovery-oriented, yet fail to actually invest in the organization and mobilization of an autonomous group of young people who seek to inform policy and practice.
I just had a conversation today with a leader in our state, that included, “we” should consider organizing a young adult advisory board. What does that even mean? Why can’t you see that WE, actual young people with lived experience, are fully capable of organizing ourselves if YOU would invest in our infrastructure. WE already have the beginning of a peer-run, grassroots initiative whose vision it is to make the opportunity of recovery available to all young people across the state of Connecticut, who seeks to make this happen by sharing our experiences to influence policy and practice at the local, regional, and state level. WE already have outcomes that have clearly demonstrated that WE are fully capable of organizing ourselves and building capacity amongst our peers. It’s like we’re all ready to go, with no vehicle to get there.
Honestly, its just leading me to feel hopeless. I have spent so much of my personal time, and resources, going above and beyond what was expected of me, even investing in a graduate program where I spent three years research emerging adulthood and behavioral health during this developmental stage, trying to build the credibility needed to be given the opportunity to share and grow the peer-movement for young people in our state. Yet, at the end of the day I just look like a crazy person because I’m staying up until 12:15 at night sick of feeling like it’s not even worth pushing anymore. I just can’t imagine another program, initiative, or group for young people that is created without the direct involvement and subsequent investment in Join Rise Be.
It just really makes me want to give up and go get a f@*+ing desk job at an insurance company. At least based on the pictures posted to Facebook and Instagram my friends who traded the career that actually brought them a sense of purpose for a cubicle get to go to the Caribbean and have office parties where they decorate their co-workers cubicles. It would probably rob me of my soul, but at least I wouldn’t have to feel bad about myself for not saying the right thing, or not saying what I should have said a different way to another person. I’m just not sure how much longer I can beg for the opportunity to actually mobilize young people across the system through a cross-sector investment of multiple partners.
For example, go ask your bosses if you can come to a meeting in Hartford on September 17th, during work hours, to discuss the projects that your working on with an organized group of young people. Say that it would enhance your ability to effectively represent the young people in which you were hired to speak for. Because if we really take a moment to step back and consider why we are hired, it’s more often than not because we check a box and we’re motivated. When in reality, we actually have the opportunity to speak as representatives of the emerging adult cohort.
I just don’t get it… and I wish that some other young person would give a meaningful s$%# about this too.

3 Replies to “I feel like giving up.”

  1. RaiC says:

    That was very deep. I can tell that your heart and passion is in making ways for young adults in recovery. That’s truly remarkable and I do not think that you should feel as if its time to give up. With change comes a lot of confrontation, frustration, push back and what can seem like a lot of negativity when everyone does not see your point of view or the way in which you think someone should do something. Change never comes easy and if it’s honestly something you’re dedicated to, then do not let the hard road to making a difference knock you down off your feet. For every person who has dedicated their time and lives to making true strides in society for groups or individuals, they have taken a few hits or two and have even felt like giving up I’m sure. I know that you are a very strong, intelligent person so you will get through this feeling.

    When one person doesn’t listen, you have to find another way to connect to others. You also should give individuals a chance to explain their reasoning behind things so that they probably are not taken out of context. I def cant speak for the leader that you are quoting, but I would think when the leader said “we” that they were not trying to suggest that young adults in recovery were incapable of incompetent of creating the board…It feels as if they were trying to be inclusive and want to be a part of the process rather than take away anything from young adults in recovery. Organizations want to do what’s right and they want to create/invest in young adults but sometimes US young adults just have to reiterate what it is and how they should go about it. At the end of the day, we are giving our suggestions and opinions, all the millions of young adult groups who think the way in which they do things is best. No one group or delivery is the better than the other, since one way or group could never connect to or represent our cohort entirely. All groups bring something special to the table and these individual organizations are trying to bring that all together. Sure these organizations may seem like they “know it all” and may not be giving you the opportunity, but I do not think they are doing it out of spite and I think you may need to work on the way in which you “market” the care model or whatever it is that you want to do. You’re brilliant and you are a much needed voice for young adults in recovery. Don’t give up!

  2. Michael says:

    Hi Michaela. I did send you a private email, but wanted to respond here as well. After reading your post multiple times, trying to understand your point of view. You are superwoman, and there is nothing you don’t have your hand in. It must be frustrating to have your biggest passion and something you have devoted your life too, not moving forward at times.
    Rai wrote a beautiful response, so i don’t have to repeat her wisdom there, but it seems clear that you may just have too much on your plate and are burned out. I don’t want to give unasked for advice, but it is evident in your post that even necessary personal time is being taken up by work. I would have a discussion with yourself and try and figure out how to achieve the work-life balance.

    Take Care ~ Michael

  3. VRuiz says:

    Hey Michaela! We have resources about Join Rise Be listed here on the website, but would you mind explaining what Join Rise Be is for people who may not be familiar with it? Also, could you explain the Sept 17th meeting and who should come and why?

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