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