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June 21, 2012 Volume 3, Issue 23
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Call for Papers

Recovery to Practice is calling for personal and practitioner articles that illustrate the principles and potential of recovery. Whether they describe how self-directed care has changed the nature of your practitioner–client relationship, your journey of healing and recovery, a recovery-oriented tool or strategy, or how peer involvement has influenced your workplace, your stories deeply touch our readers and continue to advance RTP's mission and values.

To submit an article or recovery resource, please contact us at 877.584.8535, or email

My Recovery Journey
by Ziv
I remember many things from my dark era, some more vividly than others. One of them, which I refer to as "the chill," makes me shiver even today, 7 long years after I last felt it. The reminder keeps me at arm's length from revisiting a place that is unlike any other.

This somewhat grim opening to my recovery story is a poetic license of sorts, and it's meant to emphasize the difference between my life then and the life I've created for myself today.

Growing up in a small Israeli city was never a breeze. The feeling of being different was something I nourished in myself, and in some ways, it made day-to-day life more bearable. Our nuclear family consisted of my two older brothers, parents, and a domineering elderly grandmother. Up until high school, I could slog through the motions and do what was expected of me—getting straight A's at school, maintaining perfect attendance, and always being there for my grandmother.

At that time, the feelings I had channeled throughout my childhood began to boil over. The trigger for the hardship that followed was my grandmother's failing health and her move to a retirement home, which she referred to as a place you go to "die in."

Seeing her slow demise hit me gradually. As difficult as it was throughout the years to be together, coexisting in each other's suffering, nothing had prepared me for this. As the months passed, we had both changed dramatically. I stopped getting good grades, missed a lot of school, and eventually became a bona fide dropout. My grandmother was diagnosed with the "Big C"—lung cancer to be precise.

At the age of 16, I became a shut-in. I would sit alone in my freakishly over air-conditioned room (hence "the chill"), watching television and eating. As the years passed by, my condition worsened. I refused to see or be seen by anyone other than my parents, brothers, and the family dog. I gained a lot of weight and eventually became morbidly obese.

Despite my parents' attempts to reach out to me, I refused to get help. I was trapped in that little room and I hated every minute. I developed a habit of calculating how much time I had lost, while life seemed to carry on for everyone else in my family. I must admit I was irritated by how easily they could continue with their lives. But now I know their routine kept us from falling apart and me from going crazy.

About 3 1/2 years later, my grandmother died at the age of 88. I decided to be there for her one last time. I couldn't bring myself to face the people I hadn't seen in years, so I stayed in the car during the funeral. After everyone left, I walked over to her final resting place. My grandmother was buried next to my grandfather, not far away from their son. A part of my life ended right then and there, and a new one began.

That evening, I grabbed my parents' outstretched hands. They had been waiting, reaching out to me for so many years. I started taking medicine to help me sleep. A few days later, I began seeing a psychiatrist once a week.

Because it was impossible to afford private rehabilitation services for an extended period of time, I was treated by the psychiatrist for only a few months. The rest of my recovery journey was, and still is, facilitated by the public system.

Throughout the years, I've engaged in services at a community mental health clinic, weekly therapy with a psychologist, and bimonthly meetings with a psychiatrist. At times I have relied on Supported Living and Supported Employment—services sponsored by the Ministry of Health.

It has been 7 years since I left my parents' home to live on my own. I spent the first 2 in the big city of Tel Aviv, and the past 5 years in the city's suburbs working as a service-providing consumer. My life has changed tremendously from that very dark period, and I believe there are three reasons why things have worked so well for so long:
  1. Gradual changes. Before I moved to Tel Aviv, I completed my studies, received my high school diploma, and secured a job for the first time in my life. I thought about moving to the city for a long time before going through with it.
  2. My support system. These services have helped me maintain my independence in the community: housing (Supported Living), work (Supported Employment), and the community mental health clinic where I meet with a psychiatrist every 2 months.
  3. Hope. Always hoping for a brighter, better tomorrow.
Although I've been in therapy for a long time, the question "how do you define yourself?" has always troubled me. Today I have finally come up with the answer. I'm Ziv.

If you have questions about this article, please email the author at

NAMI National Convention Presents
Recovery-Oriented Practice Is a Multidisciplinary Practice
This year's National Alliance on Mental Illness National Convention will be held June 27–30 at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel in Washington. On Friday, June 29, the six RTP professional disciplines and Deputy Project Director Deidra Dain will lead a workshop demonstrating how recovery-oriented practice can be an integrative principle for multidisciplinary teams of practitioners. The workshop will provide an overview of the RTP project and available resources, introduce the professional disciplines and their curriculum development projects, and incorporate a role-playing session illustrating how SAMHSA's 10 components of recovery and recovery dimensions (health, home, purpose) can be practiced by treatment teams in an inpatient setting.

Recovery-Oriented Practice Is a Multidisciplinary Practice

Date and Time
June 29, 10:15–11:30 a.m.

Seneca Room, Seattle Sheraton Hotel

Family and Friends Support Recovery
Mental illness affects so many more than those suffering from a condition or disorder. It can lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness for family and friends, who might not know if recovery is possible.

Natalie Champagne was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder as a child. Today, she describes the importance of her family's support as she endured severe and rapid mood changes. Read about Natalie's personal experience with mental illness, including how she prepares for and manages unexpected episodes.

Working on Wellness
After years of psychotherapy, outpatient group support, day treatment, and inpatient care, Karl Shallowhorn published Working on Wellness: A Practical Guide to Mental Health. The 2011 manual is an easy-to-read compilation of strategies and systems that have helped Karl manage his life with bipolar disorder. His tips on wellness and spirituality illuminate the principal mind–body connection.

According to Karl, an important element of staying the course toward recovery is knowing when to ask for help. "By asking for help from others, we are able to acknowledge that we don't have all of the answers. When we open ourselves to the help of others, we are able to find the way to realize the life that we would like to live."

RTP Wants to Hear From
Recovery-Oriented Practitioners!
We invite practitioners to submit personal stories that describe how they became involved in
recovery-oriented work and how it has changed the way they practice.
RTP Wants to Hear From You, Too!
We invite you to submit personal stories that describe recovery experiences. To submit stories or other recovery resources, please contact us at 877.584.8535,
or email

We welcome your views, comments, suggestions, and inquiries.
For more information on this topic or any other recovery topic,
please contact RTP at
877.584.8535, or email

The views, opinions, and content of this Weekly Highlight are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect
the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.