August 17, 2005

 

Dear Melinda,

 

I was asked to write a letter to express to you what the S.P.I.R.I.T. Program has contributed to my personal development.

 

As I'm sure you know the purpose of the program has been to empower the students to become a future service provider in the mental health field.  With knowledge we gain power.  Over the past four weeks of class I have had the opportunity to gain resource material and knowledge on a variety of topics, from "What is Recovery?", Cultural Awareness of Disabilities, Community Emergency Resources, Medications, Dual Diagnosis, Crisis Intervention, DSM IV review, Person Directed Planning, Social Security, and Housing.  There are four more additional weeks of topic to add to my personal bulging Resource Manual.

 

Aside from compiling Resource material for future use when helping others find the resources they need, I have been given the opportunity to gain leadership skills, develop a loving and concerned peer support network.  The healing power of others who have known the pain and challenges of living with mental health issues is without measure.

 

But on a very personal note I must express to you what I have gained that I wasn't even aware I was lacking until I attended the first day of class.  We all need air to breathe, food to eat, shelter and clothing.  But the human heart needs hope to thrive as a human being.  Before this class I had been living without hope.  I only existed.

 

Mental Health Care Providers over time had convinced me I couldn't ever hope to have a high level of functioning I once enjoyed.  Before mental illness took over my life I was a woman that balanced getting a college degree as an adult, was raising a child on my own, and worked a demanding job that provided the material necessities for my child and me.  I was a strong, capable and determined woman.  Then ... mental illness eroded my strength, and robbed me of my power.  I had lost all hope of ever becoming a productive, useful contributing member of society.  From the first day of class and each day thereafter I have had hope restored.  The value of being given hope and fostering hope is something I didn't expect from this class, but has become the most valuable thing I could have ever received.  Hope is more valuable than knowledge, more valuable than a Resource Manual.

 

I became a consumer of Clackamas County Mental Health about four years ago when I couldn't find a psychiatrist that would see me with Medicare Insurance.  I needed help!  I wanted medication prescribed.  I didn't want counseling.  I had done in-depth psychotherapy a number of years ago to deal with my childhood trauma and didn't believe counseling would help.  However, medication management was withheld from me while I was coerced to comply with counseling against my will in order to get medication.

 

I could have used help with cleaning my house, having a personal trainer that would have helped to motivate me to exercise.  Now that would have helped!  I knew sitting and talking to a counselor wasn't going to help me get better.  I learned quickly I couldn't be really honest with the counselor because of my honesty about my experiences scared them.  I needed to be trusted and believed in.  I was not.

 

During this past four years I had a very conflicted relationship with my adult daughter.  The counselor invited her in for sessions with me.  It never helped.  After four weeks in the SPIRIT class I was able to gain insight into my relationship with my daughter.  I began to relate to her as I was being related to by my peers.  Comparing four years of counseling to four weeks of class has amazed me at the power of my experience in the SPIRIT Program.  I am so grateful to have the improved relationship with my daughter I now enjoy.

 

Finally, thank you for making this possible for me and the others in the SPIRIT class.  Your decision to give the SPIRIT program life and funding has made a big difference in my life.

 

Sincerely,

xxxxxxxxx

o gain insight into my relationship with my daughter.  I began to relate to her as I was being related to by my peers.  Comparing four years of counseling to four weeks of class has amazed me at the power of my experience in the SPIRIT Program.  I am so grateful to have the improved relationship with my daughter I now enjoy.

 

Finally, thank you for making this possible for me and the others in the SPIRIT class.  Your decision to give the SPIRIT program life and funding has made a big difference in my life.

 

Sincerely,

Student 003

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