People with Mental Illness Supporting One Another

Figuring out what to do for a living after a mental health crisis is NO JOKE!  I worked in competitive sales environment for most of my career and that was not going to work anymore.

What do I do?!  Self care is imperative and I need a job that is in line with that idea. It took me 4 years to figure that out and I can’t promise you that I made the right choice.  What I can promise you is that I am doing my best to trust that I am following the path that keeps showing up on my map.

After a lot of soul searching and research,  I made the decision to become a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS).  I completed training October 20th and after reviewing the opportunities in the Twin Cities job market, have chosen a to work for a residential treatment center focused on person centered care.

What is a Certified Peer Specialist?

Essentially, a Certified Peer Specialist is a person with a lived experience (someone in recovery from mental illness or addiction) that is there to support individuals struggling with mental health, psychological trauma, or substance abuse.

Going into training, I assumed it’d be a breeze.  Just being honest. I had always been empathetic and loved helping people so I figured I’d fly through training and get to work!  Although training was great, it wasn’t easy  I learned  a lot!! 
One of the most profound realizations I had involved empowering others. For years, when I helped others, I’d wrote their resume for them, complete tasks for them, or provide advice. I learned that when you ask ooen ended questions and support the individual, they find the solutions on their own and feel empowered. I guess it’s like the teach a man to fish story that I’d heard for years, but it finally clicked.  

I have no idea how this is going to work out, but in my heart, it feels right.  I’m taking a huge pay cut, but the meaningful work will hopefully make up for that. Working with people like me that have struggled with mental health. The idea that we’re not alone. I feel like this model is ground breaking!  Sharing stories, best practices, empathizing and relating.  It sounds amazing.

I’m still working on my writing, too.  I have multiple books I’m working on.  I’m spending most of my time on one that is going to require A LOT of research and due diligence, but my gut tells me that it is going to be worth it.  Even if nobody reads it, I can say that I committed to something and took it to the finish line.  I’ll learn a lot on the journey and I’d like my daughter to see that.

It’s great to hear about people that have found a way to thrive in life after being diagnosed with a mental illness.  The ups and downs can be so damn exhausting, but hope is so powerful!  

Here we go!

By Crista Lentsch – Minneapolis Mother, mental health advocate, author, blogger, musician, and Certified Peer Specialist

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3 thoughts on “People with Mental Illness Supporting One Another

  1. Very true! It’s so hard finding something workwise after a mental health ep.. good luck with your mentoring. I’m not sure if there’s work like that here but you’ve given me hope I can change my career path too 🙂

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