I am in recovery from mental illness, and I believe that giving back to
my community has helped me tremendously in the recovery process.
I had heard about a program called 9Muses Art Center in Broward County,
Florida, where adults with psychiatric diagnoses take art classes and display
their work. At that time, I did a lot of isolating; and I was excited and
nervous about going.
Being out among my peers was a challenge, but I grew to love it. At first,
I attended classes. Then, as I made friends and began to learn other people's
stories, I discovered that I was not alone in the difficulties I had experienced.
As I began feeling better, I volunteered to teach an art class. I taught
jewelry making, collage, and greeting cards. I really began to grow as
a person, taking responsibility for my emotions and symptoms.
Eventually I was offered a position at the new consumer center, called
Rebel's Drop-In Center, teaching arts and crafts. Working with my fellow
consumers has enriched my life. I am inspired daily by the poignant struggles
of people in recovery. I feel more secure in my recovery than I would have
imagined possible back when I took my first art class with my peers. I
have learned to manage my symptoms. I hold a full-time job at Rebel's Drop-In
Center, and last year I was promoted to Project Director. I believe recovery
is possible for all mental health consumers.