We are a network of individuals who are on the path of recovery.
We identify as being in recovery from mental health, substance abuse and or addiction struggles. Together we share information, provide peer support, advocate with a united voice and improve the system. We come from places all across Montana, with different stories and experiences but together we make a difference. This is the Recovery Movement in Montana.
Recovery Talks Podcasts
Weekly podcasts on various topics relevant to people in recovery, the peer support workforce, and anyone interested in learning more about recovery.
MPN has several videos available for free including trainings, how-tos, 5 Good Minutes Series, & Recovery Stories
Standing up for what we believe is right, having a voice, making choices in recovery, and sharing our own recovery story are some of the things that make up advocacy and self-advocacy.
Let’s start with self-advocacy which refers to an individual’s ability to effectively communicate, convey, negotiate, or assert his/her own interests, desires, needs, or rights. It involves making informed decisions and taking responsibility for those decisions (Van Reusen et al., 1994).
Knowing yourself and your strengths, needs, and interests is the first step toward advocating for your rights. Once we begin to find our way on the path of recovery, we may want to begin to advocate for ourselves with those around us—peer supporters, friends, family, service providers, and doctors. These conversations may be difficult, but having them is vital to your recovery. Remember, you are the expert on yourself.
It may be that prior to getting on the path to recovery, others were making decisions for you or acting in what they believed to be your best interest. Now may be the time for you to let others know what you believe to be in your best interest. You may find yourself in the process of taking control and making decisions affecting your life and perhaps others’ lives. This process of self-determination means making informed choices, problem solving, setting and attaining goals—essentially being a self-advocate.
Advocacy or advocating for others may be something you are interested in doing. Advocating for another person isn’t about acting in a person’s perceived best interest, but it is standing with a person to ensure they are able to articulate and obtain what they want or need. Perhaps you may consider speaking up and advocating for various changes in the services in your community.
Here are a few examples of advocacy:
- Speak to your legislature or a special committee.
- Get involved with an advocacy group or organization.
- Share your recovery story to support others in recovery.
- Whether advocating for yourself, for others, for your community, or as part of an organization, advocacy is very self-empowering. You can make a real difference in your life, the lives of others, and even the community.
- Reach out to Montana’s Peer Network and share your recovery story on one of our “Recovery Talks” podcasts.
Peer Advocacy and Leadership Project
In October 2019, MPN embarked on the next phase in statewide networking with the Peer Advocacy and Leadership (PAL) Project funded through SAMHSA Statewide Consumer Network Grant program (grant number 1H79SM081947-01). The PAL Project is designed to improve consumer/peer participation and voice in the mental health system through leadership development, advocacy, increased participation and training. We have seen that Local Advisory Councils (LAC’s) and Service Area Authorities (SAA’s) often struggle to meet the requirement that their membership have at least 51% consumers and family members. MPN would like to help these organizations increase their membership and train new leaders and advocates.
MPN is working on an updated version of the trainings that were developed under this grant. Check back for more information.
Peer Advocacy and Leadership Passport Podcast
Peer Advocacy and Leadership Year 2 Podcast
Realizing Recovery Blog
When I did this month’s webinar on the topic “Radical Acceptance”, one of the comments was on the word radical paired with acceptance. Radical commonly can be referred to a person who is an extremist in their advocacy on topics that are less than traditional. So, the thought was, I understand acceptance in life and as events happen that are less than acceptable, but how I am expected to radically accept these events as something I am putting an “I am ok with this happening to me” stamp on it?
Radical acceptance is like waking up in the middle of a dream and clearly looking at life for the first time. The reality of what I had created while I was asleep in my addiction was startling. The truth that I was unwilling to look at had built momentum, and the consequences of those choices were overwhelming. Recovery demands honesty; every courageous action forward balances authenticity and vulnerability. It meant I could no longer play the victim of life; I needed to be responsible for the life I could create with a willingness to work hard to heal and forgive.
We most often hear about radical acceptance in the context of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) but the concept can be applied with other therapies as well. Part of radical acceptance is acknowledging our thoughts about ourselves even if we aren’t in the right space to challenge those thoughts directly as with DBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Radical acceptance comes in moments of clarity, where denial transforms into connection. The test of my commitment to radical acceptance shows up when I try to fix, control, ruminate about the past, predict the future, or avoid pain.
When I think of radical acceptance, I think of when my only brother passed away. I was in Montana’s Women’s Prison and didn’t have a chance to go to his services. It hurt, and I was sober for the first time since I was a teenager. I was sober, but I wouldn’t say I was in recovery, because I was still living in a way that had many, many character defects.
I have struggled with mental health challenges and substance use for most of my life. In my early 20’s I was in and out of psychiatric hospitalizations frequently. I felt everything very intensely and my 20’s were filled with misery, agony, and despair. Though I don’t look back on that time of my life fondly, my difficulties opened the door for me to participate in DBT therapy.
You have probably heard that computers, phones, social media, and other apps are bad for your mental health. That can definitely be an issue as many things in our lives can affect our mental health. In general, too much of just about anything can be problematic. There are various ways in which technology can adversely affect us but there are great things that technology can do for us.
Mental Health Awareness month, what a beautiful way to bring awareness to a very important topic. Growing up I considered mental health to be very extreme mental health disorders. For example, depression/suicide, substance abuse/addiction, or diagnosis/personality disorders. Also, feeling statements that were commonly heard and used were simply happy, mad, and sad. Mental health is so much more complex than the ones I listed. I now believe those are the extremes, because mental health hasn’t/hadn’t ever been addressed. Navigating something within ourselves, without the knowledge and words, leads to a recipe for disaster.
What people see on the outside is just a hint of what is happening within. Moving through life and feeling the world while my trauma weaves stories about my emotions creates a mental storm legitimized by science as a mental health disorder. Some people call this empathic or highly sensitive, being tuned into what my immediate circle feels and carrying the unspoken weight of our disease. Mental health goes back as far as I could research in my family; it is the generational pattern that has been transferred from mother to child; it manifests as the burning of the internal turmoil in the middle of my life and replaces the peace my heart came here to feel.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and as someone who is in recovery from substance use disorder and mental health issues, I am grateful for this opportunity to share my story and help raise awareness about mental health. I live in Billings, Montana, and even here I’ve found that it can be challenging for people in our community to find the resources and support they need to manage these conditions. That’s why I feel it’s essential to talk openly about mental health to help reduce stigma and encourage people to seek help when they need it.