February Year of the Peer Theme – Authenticity

Celebrating Year of the Peer 2023

What does it mean to be authentic in your life and recovery? Being authentic means being your genuine self.

Examples of it can include speaking on the subject of mental health, whether in front of legislators, especially those considering how much money will be spent in the various capacities that they are in charge of. It can be speaking to share your story, the very act is a stigma breaker.

As a peer helping other peers, just listening and ‘holding space’ for that person when necessary is a real and authentic sharing of who you are with another person, and can be of great help. Think about the best situations that helped you in difficult times, what made you feel that you matter and the fact that there are others that have gone through things and continue to do so. The opposite of authenticity or genuiness is to hide behind a mask, to hide who you are, or give in and live with fear.

I like to focus on kindness and the authenticity of being loving to other people and listening to them. As a peer I need to take care of myself so that I can give to others. Taking my medicine, getting sleep, drinking lots of water, and doing hobbies that are good for my soul are all paramount for me to be able be an authentic peer.

As I have aged, I feel like it has become easier to fight my negative thoughts. I also recall that my mood swings were more difficult to contend with as a younger person. I am so glad I hung in there. I find that being my authentic self brings the peace that I always craved.

I got the chance to talk to a coworker, Robert, about authenticity. He remembers times earlier in his life when he was putting up a façade in his normal, daily life. He didn’t get connected to his authentic self until after we first met him at Trillium.

Much of his life before Trillium found him exuding a more tough persona. When Robert first came to Trillium, he had a very specific spot, ‘Robert’s corner,’ that he felt comfortable and safe. No one tried to coax him out, or tell him he had to participate in some way.

He noticed that people seemed happy and he couldn’t really understand how people who had mental health problems could be that way, and he kind of resented it. But after a while, he wanted to be happy, too.

Little by little, he began to talk to some of the facilitators, and slowly his life began to change and improve. Robert now has a group of people that he considers his support system. He is definitely now more in touch with his authentic self, and even though he’d ‘kill’ me for saying this, he is a joy to be around.

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