by Howard Diamond
Another month over, another one about to start. Now that summer is about half complete, we must march ahead. No, it is late July, not March. For many people July was hot and uncomfortable, but we must do all we can to help others that are struggling for any reason whatsoever. Wait a minute (or two)! Is that not what all of us as Peer Specialists aim to achieve during all twelve months of the year, not just every March. So, do we march ahead?
Basically, we march ahead slowly and steadily. Most important, we are moving in the correct direction, AHEAD. There are increased need and different opportunities that are being created to become Peer Specialists. An added plus is more and more individuals are marching and being employed as Peer Specialists and making this their career.
When I resumed marching in my journey of Mental Wellness, I was as an Assistant Case Manager. It was on October 11 1994, I felt that this was the only way of me reentering the workforce. Working 10 hours weekly for 40 hours monthly gave me a reason to get up and march both Tuesdays and Fridays and prepare my other days accordingly. At that stage of my life, it was ten hours of being productive, helping others and imagine that I even received a small paycheck as well. For now, the focus was not on me. It was the people I worked with. Yes, it was their turn to march forward for needs, wants and their responsibilities being pushed to the forefront.
Overall, it made my days more vital and I was getting stronger emotionally and yes marching ahead, also. In fact, several months later, I was given the opportunity to march ahead. Now to the next level. Assistant Case Manager II at 15 hours weekly and a higher per hour rate. Then, I received a series of short term ongoing assignments to aid people with their life goals. Also, I worked one night from 5pm to 9pm at an Evening Program running groups and one on one with different members.
Then I marched for 17 or 18 hours weekly. One group was named, Panic and Anxiety Group. Hey, everyone does this sound like what a Peer Specialist does today? However, we were still in the mid 90s, and referred as Assistant Case Managers. Marching ahead, in February of 1998, I was offered a full time position as an Assistant Case Manager III. During that time, I handled a variety of tasks, including holding down a caseload of my own. Suddenly in 2002, I marched ahead by helping in the successful merging of the Assistant Case Management Program and Consumer Link.
Wow! Wow! Marching ahead years, in October, I will be working as a professional as an Assistant Case Manager/Certified Peer Specialist for over twenty five years. Nice accomplishment, but I still would like to march ahead even more. Unfortunately, I have visual issues, which causes severe headaches, so it is difficult for me to drive around for extended distances and or for any length of time. No poor me or any type of self-pity to keep me down. Just lots of frustration and anger because I cannot work.
On the 19th of June 2019, my mom died at age 87. No, I did not get depressed. Of course, I was sad, but I marched ahead. When her dementia was getting worse and she did not always know me, she died (in my mind) then. So when she actually died, it was easier to handle and I was able to march ahead and continue. Bye mom, I will miss you. Also, on 12 June, it was the sixth anniversary of the death of my significant other, Maureen. Yes, Mom and Sweetie, I still miss you both, I still love you both and I still wish both of you were here. Enjoy the rest of our lives as:
TIME MARCHES AHEAD! Yes, I said, everyone, March Ahead!!!
See you in the NewsBlogs.
Howard Diamond is a New York State Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island