Kelly M – Pierce City, MO
I am a firm believer that everything that’s meant to happen will happen. I remember dreaming about the day when my brain would no longer be handicap to my mental health symptoms, but never did I think I would end up in the field as an “expert by experience”. I grew up in the mental health care system, seeing my first therapist and receiving my first diagnosis at age 6. I knew even at a young age that I was different, I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant I just knew that my emotions were more increased than peer’s my age. It unfortunately took a suicide attempt to open my eyes to the severity of my suffering. It wasn’t until I was in a hospital bed, restrained that I had this epiphany. Many emotions ran through my head as I processed the attempt. I remember thinking to myself, seriously when is enough, enough? I am so tired of feeling this way, I have to make an active effort in recovery if I want to get better. I have to take care of my mental health like it’s my full time job. This became a positive factor in the progression of my recovery. As I recovered I developed empathy, especially for those around me suffering mental health symptoms. The first 2 years of my recovery were strictly centered around me, healing my inner child and giving myself the support and acceptance I deserved. I used the time to provide myself comfort and peace in adulthood that I had not been granted during my childhood. I never imagined that I would work in the mental health field, I had hoped and prayed some day I might graduate as a patient, not knowing what my future would hold. I began working in childcare, at the time this felt like my calling. I wanted to give children a positive learning experience, I wanted to show them healthy love, I wanted to empower them so they knew their worth. As my growth continued, I craved more and this is the part where I feel that the universe puts you exactly where you need at exactly the right time. I was told about a position at a local community mental health center who was currently seeking applicants for Peer Support Specialist. I had little to no knowledge about what this position was or meant but was called for an interview. At the time I knew I needed a life change, I was enduring a incredibly toxic work environment that began to take a toll on my mental health. So I decided to give it a shot, completely unsure and not confident this would be a good move for me, I had been with my preschool for about 4 years and anything out of my comfort zone seemed unbearable. However I soon learned that working as a Youth Peer was everthing and more I had longed for, it was made for me, there is no better match for my personality, heart and soul. It gave me purpose, it gave me hope, it gave me the opportunity to give back to a community that had poured so much love and support into me as a child. As a Youth Peer Specialist my main priority is to assist client’s in empowering and advocating for themselves, I understand the hardships of traumatic childhood’s and have made it my personal goal to be the person I needed when enduring vulnerable times as a kid. I am the first Youth Peer that my company has hired and I have so enjoyed being a stepping stone in bringing Youth Peer services to our Children’s Case Management Program. I am proud of the growth I’ve seen in 10 short months and can only imagine the strides we will see in years to come.