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WE’VE GOT EACH OTHER

By Jode Freyholtz-London, Founder, Wellness in the Woods

I am guessing that there are some words in the English language that most of our community is weary of hearing. “Unprecedented, Shelter at Home, Isolation, unknown, closure, etc. etc.”. The reality is that most of us are experiencing all the emotions and the fear associated with how different our lives have become. For individuals who have lived with mental health challenges these are not novel sensations. I identify as one of “those people”.


Many of us are feeling a sense of anger. We aren’t exactly sure who to be angry with. The COVID19, leadership, the neighbors, our partners…whoever gets in the way today when I am feeling that I can’t control my environment? What we are experiencing is grief. It’s OK. We have lost what we knew, what we expected, everything to graduations to vacations to loved ones and time together. Can I say “It’s OK not to be OK” right now?! It’s OK to be angry for a while. One of my favorite authors and leaders is Brené Brown. She has this to say about anger: “Anger is a catalyst. Holding on to it will make us exhausted and sick. Internalizing anger will take away our joy and spirit; externalizing anger will make us less effective in our attempts to create change and forge connection. It’s an emotion that we need to transform into something life-giving: courage, love, change, compassion, justice.” Could this be the time for self-transformation? Could this be a step back into a time of interdependence?


In reminiscing with family, friends and colleagues about how we have survived difficult times in the past, the most frequent answer was that we relied on each other. As a child our farm family communed with other farmers during Friday night card games and a lunch of egg salad sandwiches and chocolate cake. Farm families worked together with neighbors and shared when needed without an invitation to even do so. In interviewing one of my female friends about how we received support before there were therapists and psychiatric hospitals, she said the answer was simple: in her community. The women gathered and made quilts. If anyone of the group was struggling, there was an unwritten plan of action for enlarged system of support. If “Mary” was having a tough time, one of her friends would check on her during the week between sessions and report back to the troupe. It was a community expectation that peer support happened and was expected to provide the needed human resources to regain a sense of hope.


One of the major concerns during times of distress is how will others in our community view us if we don’t maintain the strong, capable facade that is expected of adults. We want to be courageous and hide our vulnerabilities so as not to be labeled “weak”. The reality is that when we do not identify our deep feelings and emotions, they can wreak havoc on our lives. Wellness in the Woods is a team of 40+ colleagues who have survived extreme mental health experiences and use those occurrences to support each other and Minnesota. It is our mission to use the skills we have learned to support our communities. There are several no cost ways that anyone can be supported by our trained staff. The Peer Support Connection Warm line is available every day from 5 p.m. overnight to 9 a.m. at 1-844-739-6369. All calls are anonymous, and you can talk to warmline operators about anything on your heart. If you are in crisis, please call a crisis number of 911 or 1-800-462-5525.


During daytime hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. you can join a virtual peer support group through Zoom. If Zoom scares you, (it’s really easy and free), you can just call in to 1-646-558-8656. To access the virtual peer support group just head to www.mnwitw.org and click the virtual peer support group logo to be part of a virtual support group and stay home and safe.

WELLNESS RECOVERY ACTION PLAN VIRTUAL TRAINING

The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP®) is a personalized wellness and recovery system born out of and rooted in the principle of self-determination. WRAP is a 15 hour evidence-based seminar that assists participants in creating their own wellness plan. Each plan is personally designed and managed by the participant. WRAP participants have reported an increase in personal empowerment and improved quality of life. This virtual course is free to attend thanks to funding provided by Lakes Area Medical Development Fund and is taught by Copeland Center trained facilitators. When you register, you will receive materials via USPS along with log-in details. 15 CEU hours are available for peer support specialists and peer recovery coaches.

DATE: April 30-May1 2020

TIME: 9:00 am-4:00 pm each day

FEE: Free, but registration is required

REGISTER: Go to www.mnwitw.org and click on the VIRTUAL WRAP TRAINING image

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