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
Spirituality is something I really struggled with in early recovery. It took me a long time to realize that spirituality was something that I defined for myself, it was a personal journey. I have a lot of religious trauma in my story and though I tried in early recovery to adopt other peoples traditional religious views as my spirituality, that created an internal conflict that I could not deny.
Spirituality is gritty. I spent many years trying to find God, sitting in meditation for hours a day attempting to make her something separate of myself that would give me a golden ticket into heaven. Attempting to be good enough to achieve unlimited access to worth, making up for lost time in meditation and prayer, life could be good if I said the right words and did the right actions.
The Peer Support Specialist Committee was formed in 2020. It was established so that the peer support workforce had a group of people representing the workforce, willing to take on challenges and work towards finding and implementing solutions for issues.
Spirituality is one of my favorite topics to talk about. I have no idea where I would be if I hadnt implemented a spiritual practice in my life. Lets talk about the evolution of how my spirituality came to be the cornerstone of my recovery.
Culture develops my belief system, that develops my traditions, that gives me a sense of self within a community. Culture gives me my values; it tells me how to live my life.
This month is National Native American Heritage Month, acknowledging Indigenous First Nations. I am a member of the Blackfoot Confederated Nation, the Amskapii Piikani Band. We are one band of a six-clan band, and the only band of our nation in the United States. Our culture is prevention on so many levels. Having a connection to both Indigenous First Nations knowledge and the Westernized knowledge can be very helpful in recovery.
There are many forms of culture that we can address when it comes to recovery. Over the years it has been a piece of my professional development that I have had to work on. I think for me I needed to understand my own culture to be able to recognize and appreciate other forms of culture.
As I am walking down the sidewalk, crisp leaves crunch beneath my feet and I cannot help but think about when I was a little girl, and my uncle would rake all the leaves into a big pile for us to jump in. My innocent years before I understood what my little life could become.
It’s the season of changes. During this time of the year, we can have a mixture of emotions that we are feeling, dealing, and coping with. Everyone in recovery has their own story and I know for me, mine involves a lot of good times, amazing times, and a lot of traumatic times too.
Seasonal change definitely has its effects on me. Initially it seems to have a positive effect. I get excited when the season changes from summer to fall and then from fall to winter. I love that my environment in my home changes as we decorate for Halloween and Thanksgiving and then again for Christmas. It’s a tangible signal that the holidays are coming. I look forward to togetherness, corn mazes, pumpkin carving, all the colors of the autumn leaves. I’m wrapped up in the love and magic of Christmas, the kindness of giving, to cozy inside and beautiful snow and lights outside. There are so many things that fill me up!
There are also plenty of things that can be overwhelming and anxiety producing during the holidays. I have a panic disorder and I struggle with depression. I have spent some time figuring out my anxiety triggers and working with my therapist to develop strategies and building coping skills to better navigate the extreme stress and anxiety that the holidays can bring for me. But its after the holidays that I really feel the effects of seasonal change. I kind of sink into this depression after my fancy holiday anxiety goes away. Its dark and cold all the time. I dont want to go and do anything. I just want to sit at home, wrapped in a blanket, and do nothing. The longer I do nothing, the more depressed I get. Now that Im working from home, I could see this get bad rather quickly. So, I make a plan with people Im accountable to. I make commitments to activities with people that require me to get dressed and leave the house for a couple of hours at least a couple times a week.
My family’s commitment to playing sports gets me out of the house for practices and games every other season of the year, but winter sports have not yet been a thing in my household. So, we will make plans with friends, do date nights and family fun nights. Its important for me to do things that require me to be somewhat active while Im out, such as bowling or axe throwing. I need to have activities that are fun and build relationships, like game nights with our friends. I need to make sure that eating and food isnt the main focus of all my outside commitments. I need to spend some time outside when the sun is out, sledding, having snowball fights, or just walking. Last, but not least, I need to honestly check in with myself and my family, at least every couple of weeks. How am I actually feeling? Is my partner noticing signs and symptoms Im unaware of? Its part of my plan to reach out for help if the activities in my plan are not helping. I have discovered that professional help is necessary sometimes and can be life-changing. I am willing to do the work I can to improve my quality of life, and ask for help when my mental health is suffering. If you struggle with seasonal change, you may benefit from developing skills and strategies of your own. And if youre struggling with your mental health, please dont be afraid to reach out and ask for help.