Author: Erin Faulkner

Special Education:  My Perspective

In honor of National Special Education Day on December 2nd, I am sharing my personal story in the hopes of dispelling stereotypes of what Special Education services means for students now and for their future.  Growing up, and even 18 years ago when my daughter started receiving special education services, I would hear terms like “short bus” or “sped kids” which referred to students who received special education services or had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  Though I don’t hear these terms as much today, I know they still exist and the negative attitude towards these students still exists.

A Miracle in Recovery

This story is very close to my heart. Anna is my sister. I have seen her struggle since her teenage years. At the heart of her struggles, and only discovered in recent years, is her diagnosis of several mental health challenges. She was also adopted from South Africa as a toddler and has struggled with feelings of abandonment and attachment her whole life. Anna has fought family and friends in search of what would make her feel better, feel more. It has challenged our family as she has lost battles in the past.

A Personal Gratitude Challenge

As I typically do when writing on a topic, I looked for definitions and synonyms to make sure that my readers and I are on the same page. Gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”. I like those words: thankful, appreciation, kindness. I think it is easy to say thank you, but more powerful to show appreciation and kindness. It is similar to how saying sorry is just a word, but an apology says why and how you will make it better. It carries more weight.

It’s All Relative: A Family Story of Depression

As a child, I viewed my mother’s depression in very simplistic terms.  She was moody, unreasonable, inconsistent and easily irritated. As I look back and “psychoanalyze”, I look at her depression as more of an empty hole.  My mother did an amazing job at giving us great life experiences and adventures and a happy life.  We went on vacations almost yearly.  As a single mom, she couldn’t afford big trips by plane, so it was car trips.  We went to Wisconsin to visit family, California to go to Disneyland, Calgary and Edmonton and the Black Hills for an annual reunion with the Wisconsin family.  Home was filled with laughter during game nights and movie nights.  In addition to giving us these experiences, I wonder if these things filled the hole, so that she wasn’t left feeling empty. 

Parenting in Stages

For this month’s topic, “Parenting in Recovery”, I once again had to turn to my internet friend, Google.  There are many kinds of recovery.  Recovery from substance abuse or other addictions.  Recovery from acute mental health events.  Recovery from physical injuries.  What does recovery mean for me?  Google defines recovery as “a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength” and “the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.”  That last word, lost, is what I connected with.  For many parents of children with special health care needs or behavioral health challenges, the expectation of what we envisioned for our lives and for our children is gone or changed, in a sense – lost. 

How to Give Back: A Personal Choice

This month’s theme is Service Work/Volunteering.  I thought about writing my article for several weeks, worrying about how to write about something that I don’t have much experience in.  Then I started feeling guilty and bad about myself.  I know that is not the goal, for me or for anyone reading this.  So, I started thinking more about ways that I might have “given back” that wasn’t in a volunteer status. 

What Would Great Look Like?

Here at MPN, all of the Peer Supporters, both in the Family Division and Recovery Division, are tasked with writing an article, or a blog, about the month’s topic.  This month’s topic is Radical Acceptance.  I had never heard this term before.  Many of you may be in the same situation.  It is to you that I share what I learned.

A Journey to Wellness

I recently learned about the 8 Dimensions of Wellness. Before I dive into these, I first want to define what “wellness” means. Wellness is the “act of practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to attain better physical and mental health outcomes.1” For many people, wellness is associated with physical health, but not necessarily with mental health. I know that was true for me for much of my life. By taking stock of different areas of my life and consciously making a plan for how to improve these various aspects, I can increase my quality of life. I am just starting this journey myself and have a ways to go, but I believe with guidance from these dimensions, I can make some improvements in myself.

Forgiving Ourselves

Go to your local bookstore or search on Amazon and you will find books to teach you just about anything. There are even books about parenting. The difference between a book about cooking and a book about parenting is that cooking is, for the most part, predictable and routine. If you have the skills and follow the recipe, you will most likely get good results.


When I was 4 years old, I got my first pair of hearing aids. For the next 7 years, I hated them. Everything was just so loud. I would take them out often and several times, with my mother, have to dig them out of garbage cans because I accidentally threw them away. We moved to Helena, MT when I was 10 years old. My new audiologist realized that my hearing aids had never been set correctly for me. Finally, I could hear comfortably.