Leaving the Journey from Street Light to Street Light: Claiming Wellness through WRAP
Submitted by John Woodruff to the Empowerment Magazine
I grew up in a tiny town in northern Minnesota. No one knew that I left the house in the night and wandered the short blocks of our town- traversing from streetlight to streetlight, leaving a cone of light to dip into the darkness in the middle of the block and then back into yet another cone of light at the next corner. Eight years ago years I felt my entire life was just a series of those wanderings… and I didn’t want to be around anymore. I was stuck in the darkness in the middle of the block.
Then I picked up a small red book, Wellness Recovery Action Plan®, and considered visiting a group. Folks were collectively working on their own plans.
The Wellness Recovery Action Plan®, better known as WRAP®, is a system for self-managing uncomfortable and often painful physical and emotional challenges. WRAP® over the last decade has taken hold across the world in every aspect of mental health services for people seeking wellness. Developed by Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD., WRAP® is a different way- simple, safe, non-invasive and self-directed. People like it. And the research shows that it works. WRAP® is now listed in the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.
I figured not much else worked in my life why not go? I approached that meeting with every fear imaginable. I’d never done anything like this. I felt insecure and hopeless. Would others make fun of me? Would I be judged? Not sure how, but I entered the room expecting to flee within minutes. I hoped no one knew who I was (then no one could track me down after I left).
Wonder of wonders. I found others working on their own stuff. I wasn’t the only one with the feelings I had. No one judged me. I could just be me. That dreaded fear and loathing slipped away. I discovered I was in charge of my life- no one else. I let go of the blame and shame that I had clung to. I learned what would help me as I navigated my life. I discovered my voice and was able to advocate for my wellness because I knew what worked for me. I worked on my unique support system that helps me along the way. I realize I have hope in my life, I believe that things do get better.
We worked on what are called wellness tools. Talk about fun. Wellness tools are those things I did in the past or those I might want to try. They help me feel better when I’m not doing well. At first I was having a bit of trouble thinking of anything I enjoyed- go figure. Then I remembered I enjoyed jigsaw puzzles as a kid. I tried a 50-piece puzzle of puppy dogs. Yup, you guessed it; I still like to get lost working on puzzles. I tackle 1,000-piece puzzles now.
We started working on the six sections of a Wellness Recovery Action Plan®. I was no longer that wounded, labeled person who doctors told would never be able to work again. I trained to become a WRAP® facilitator and began facilitating ongoing WRAP® groups in Alameda County. A few years later I trained to be an Advanced Level WRAP® facilitator, a trainer of WRAP® facilitators. Just in time for New Years 2013 I moved to the Sacramento area, living in an apartment complex that has a pool and a hot tub- now that makes me happy.
While I don’t work full-time, I work, and I love every moment. I mended fences in family relationships, thrill to bicycle riding and hiking, and love my movies. Those bright cone-shaped lights and dark passages in between are no longer a description of my life. And WRAP® is why.
Many questions about WRAP® are answered at http://www.mentalhealthrecovery.com and http://www.copelandcenter.org. Mark your calendars for January 25-27, 2013. The WRAP® Around the World Conference meets at the Marriott Oakland Civic Center. Attendees from around the world will gather to network and celebrate the innovative ways WRAP® is promoting recovery, wellness and system transformation.