Project Report for The Georgia Peer Institute

I am a graduate of the ACT Team. The Assertive Community Treatment team through View Point Health. I was nominated for a scholarship by the ACT Team to attend training classes for The Georgia Peer Institute offered at Simpsonwood Lodge in April of this year. My scholarship nomination was accepted and I attended classes daily. My class time was cut short due to an ill son who needed medical attention. But I did attend the classes on The Five Stages of Recovery. So I chose to complete my project on The Five Stages of Recovery. I have experienced each and every phase of these 5 stages throughout my adult life since initial diagnosis in August of 2004 which my ten year anniversary of initial diagnosis is approaching. I have been a client of View Point Health for nearly ten years now and as of the last couple of years have attended and taught classes to my Peers at New Rock Day program though View Point Health. I am a Respect Institute graduate led by Mr. Joel Slack and have also attended conference at St. Simon’s Island in the past through scholarship from The Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network. I have the deep desire and hope to one day become a Certified Peer Specialist for the state of GA. I love the facts surrounding entry to becoming a Certified Peer Specialist and share of this program and all View Point Health programs through my Covington News community blog at my hometown newspaper.

I found out that the motto of The GA Peer Institute is “Each One Reach One” and with the facts of becoming a Certified Peer Specialist being :> Candidates must have diagnosis of mental illness or a dual diagnosis of mental illness and addictive disease and must desire to identify themselves as a person with mental illness current or former consumer of mental health services.> Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED and may be requested to provide a copy of this document.> Must demonstrate strong reading comprehension and written communication skills as indicated on their responses on the pre – test which is part of the application.> Must have demonstrated experience with leadership, advocacy or governance.> Must be well grounded in recoveryThese facts are taken directly from the Certified Peer Specialist brochure.There have been 997 Georgia Certified Peer Specialists Since October 2001.

I have given birth to two beautiful children and have legally adopted 3 step daughters in 1999. I am a college graduate of the Business and Legal Office diploma program and Paralegal Certification program through Dekalb Technical College. I have been diagnosed with a mental illness in August of 2004 left to cope with this illness. Not only to cope with my own illness and depression but to cope and manage being a codependent (the Caregiver) who supports and nurtures alcoholics, drug addicts and gamblers in my life in the past. I have served 90 days on the Forensic Unit at GA Regional for an arrest and conviction in 2005. I have received notification of all responsibilities and obligations of this arrest being met and cleared me of any further expectations or obligations. I am divorced and have lost everything in my past. Everything, even childhood mementos and photographs. When I say lost everything, I mean “everything.” I was never given my divorce award and was left with only the clothes on my back. I try to forgive and forget but it all hits me so hard at times that I feel almost catatonic. I have been a blogger at my hometown newspaper for nearly three years now. November marking my 3rd year anniversary. I am a very strong advocate for family violence victims, those that experience  parental alienation, parental reunification and the mentally challenged. I am a super power advocate for View Point Health, New Rock and The Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network. I am a firm believer in the WRAP, Wellness Recovery Action Plan and read from it weekly. I am a firm believer in self -help and read a lot of self –  help books and worksheets and blog of them sharing the information with my community. I am currently working on Self – Monitoring, Mood Monitoring and Symptom Monitoring and have been charting my life for the last several years online at WordPress blog and at The Covington News. I am all too aware of that fragile flame of hope and courage at the end of the day. The O.C.G.A. (The Official Code of GA Annotated now states that the mentally challenged have a right to be with their children. That family violence victims have a right to life with their children. Being alienated from my four daughter’s due to being hospitalized for marital abuse and mental illness in 2004 has nearly killed me and I still hold onto sadness in my heart and confusion in my mind as to how a pillar of the community goes to having no contact with her four daughter’s due to being hospitalized. Given the facts of the Certified Peer Specialist requirements and the number at hand since 2001 I feel I should have never suffered this anguish. But the record now reflects differently for the State of GA now that I have left a lasting legacy in the O.C.G.A. for myself, my children, my grandchildren and mental health patients in the future years to come. I often feel overwhelmed trying to make it as  a single mother alone advocating for my whole health.  I struggle financially to meet and make ends meet each and every month. But I have reached the Commitment to Change and Actions for Change stages. I still experience the impact of the illness and hold onto that fragile flame everyday of my life of hope and courage.

My plan is to present my project at New Rock Day Program through View Point Health on Monday, June 23rd to the PSR class of which there are 23 clients and will be two staff members present on Monday. I have  a job interview on Friday June 20th and may not be able to meet the expectations of presenting the project to my Peers. I will update as Monday draws nearer. I have grown to learn that it is so very true that mental health is Non – Linear and you never know when you may experience a set back or a relapse. I often recognize my triggers and stressors and am able to put them into check before having a relapse. The State of GA has forever wounded me and even given the fact that the state has rectified their mistake my life will never be the same again. Even though the O.C.G.A. has been updated and me and my daughter’s have won many hearing to our full behalf. The scars from the state remain and I am not 100% certain if I will ever be the same young lady with a college education, career and rearing children and being their primary care giver. So when I speak of the Five Stages of Recovery I am in the Commitment and Actions for change but until I have a full reunification process with my daughter’s I will never heal. And will remain in that constant state of Impact of the Illness caused by this State of GA. Attending the class The Five Stages of Recovery has taught me that I remain in a state of grief and in a cycle of all the Five Stages of Recovery. I advocate against the stigma of the mentally challenged and have blogged of my efforts, classes taught, conferences attended, graduations and self – help tools on a weekly basis. I have been alone for ten years now taking care of myself and live one day at a time. One month at a time. Praying that the financial means comes from somewhere to maintain housing and therapeutically involved in my community. It is so very true that small triumphs and simple acts of courage help you make it through your day. It leads to bigger doors and more open windows. I work hard and diligently at avoiding the depression cycle. The increased guilt, hopelessness and ineffectiveness along with low energy, fatigue and decreased interest in my community and blogging. I try and avoid triggers that would prevent me from neglect of responsibilities. I am in a constant state of reversing the depression cycle. I hope to remain an advocate and lead others to the state of hope and self – management through tiny acts of small triumphs and simple acts of courage. For these are truly what keep you hanging on. Having something to hang onto keeps one’s mind focused and heart in the right place for whole health benefit.

I plan to follow up with more report once  I know more if I am able to present my project at New Rock. I constructed a display board as my project and worked hard on the project board and posted several photographs of me at the training at Simpsonwood. Given the opportunity dependent upon my job interview I hope to be able to present my project to my Peers. I will post a follow up later this weekend. I thank you for your kind consideration in taking the time to share with me a few feelings on The Five Stages of Recovery.

Ms. April Fuller Sasser



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