Sunday, 9 August 2015

Updates and Opportunities

I can’t believe how long it has been since I last posted! Time certainly does fly by when you’re busy enjoying this beautiful gift of life.

Although I hadn’t written in my blog for a while, I continued to keep busy in my advocacy and other addictions work so I thought I’d give you a bit of an update on some of the things I've been doing. Please note the opportunities for you to get involved if you wish to do so.

Our SMART Recovery meetings are going great thanks to our wonderful team of facilitators and, most importantly, the inspiring individuals who attend our meetings. We’ve met some amazing people, and I know I speak for every member of our team when I say that we want them all to make it. Being a SMART Recovery facilitator is truly one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.  We’ll be holding another information session soon for anyone interested in learning more about becoming a facilitator. Please check back for details.

Nicole Publicover and I had the opportunity to meet with the residents of both Talbot House and Lacey House recently to share information with them about SMART Recovery. The residents and staff at both homes made us feel so welcome. We’ve received tremendous support for SMART Recovery from the management and staff of addictions services who are glad that their clients now have even more programs available to support their recoveries. There are great people working in the system, that’s for sure. We are grateful for their support.  

I also keep busy as a member of PEI’s Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council. It has been a great experience and I look forward to putting our recommendations forward when the time comes. I will be forever grateful to Health Minister Doug Currie and Chief Mental Health and Addictions Officer Dr. Rhonda Matters for offering me a seat at the table even though I’d spent a couple of years (at that time) in the public eye exposing the gaps in the system, which I painfully discovered when my son tried to access help. I was critical of the government’s handling of the mental health and addictions file, which desperately needed an investment. Minister Currie could have chosen someone who has never been a thorn in his side, but he didn’t. That meant a lot to me and said a lot about the level of commitment to this important cause. There have been a lot of improvements over the past couple of years but there’s still work to do!

Roni Wakelin Power and I are partnering with a national organization to host a couple of free events in the fall (one for professionals and one for the public). We’ve been busy working out the details, including picking the topic that we felt would be most beneficial and a speaker who is well-versed in that area. The national organization is covering the expenses, including flying in the guest speaker. We’ll have local speakers as well. This is a wonderful opportunity for our Island community. Stay tuned for more details!

Roni and I are regular guest speakers at Jim Good’s family program at the Provincial Addictions Treatment Facility in Mt. Herbert. We spoke to another one of his groups this summer. It feels good to share information and spread some hope. We’ve both sat in those chairs at one time or another and know how helpless and scared we felt at that time. We want the families to know they are not alone and that there is hope for recovery for them and their loved ones.

Nicole and I also had the opportunity to be guest speakers in one of my daughter’s high school classes in June. The topic was mental health. I think I was more nervous about this talk than any of the others I’d given (except for my very first one) because my daughter was going to hear me speak publicly for the first time. It went well and the students were engaged. My daughter and her partner did such a great job with their part of the presentation. I was a proud mom that day (and everyday!).

I recently received word that a story I had submitted to “Chicken Soup for the Soul” has made it to the final selection round. I still have to pinch myself. I can’t believe it! My story is about addiction but the topic of the book is something else altogether. This means that if my story makes it into the book, I will reach many people who may or may not have any experience with addiction. This is a wonderful opportunity to open minds and hearts. I should know in September whether or not the story will be in the book. Fingers crossed!

I saved the best update for last! Our son is now 22 months into his recovery and doing great. He graduated from Holland College in the spring and is now working and enjoying all of the things that life has to offer. We were so proud to watch him walk across the stage at the graduation ceremony to get his diploma. That piece of paper represents so much more than the new skills and knowledge he’s acquired in his field. It represents hope and love and all that is possible in recovery. We are truly blessed. Individuals can and do recover. Never give up!

I hope to see you at our next SMART Recovery Facilitator session and/or at our public event in the fall! Together we can make a difference.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!