We must be united in the war against addiction! My mission is to unite organizations,support groups, and everyone else who needs a helping hand. I am here to educate equip and develop a Recovery resource Network. My hope is that everyone gets the help they need and no one is left behind or alone in their fight for freedom from addiction. Join me and lets fight the good fight! Our Philosophy: Instigate, Agitate, Educate, and Liberate!
Jesus Christ is the Truth the Life the Way !
A monthly publication created exclusively by peers for peers in recovery for mental health disorders and addictive disorders.
Welcome to our April newsletter and extended, special COVID-19 edition.
Get Ready, Get Ready!…you are definitely going to be inspired!
Peer Testimonies—Peer Scoop would like to thank the extraordinary peer leaders who answered our urgent call to contribute their inspiring stories of how they are coping in recovery during these trying times. It is our hope that other peers, who are also struggling to stay connected and maintain sobriety, know that they are not alone. Also, a special thanks to Trina for her technical assistance.
Featured Stories—Also, join us as we celebrate National Autism Awareness Month, Stress Awareness Month and Alcohol Awareness Month. Check out the empowering testimonials from peers with lived experiences on these topics!
COVID-19 Updates—As we brace ourselves during this pandemic, we understand the importance of finding creative ways to continue the mission of the peer support movement. Since Peer Scoop is available online, in PDFand digitalformats, nothing has changed and you will still be able to enjoy our monthly newsletters, which are published the first week of each month. Limited print versions may be available, depending on our budget and our print vendor’s availability. (Note: Be sure you click "view entire message" in your email to see all pages of newsletter)
Help Spread The Word—Please be sure to share our newsletter with others via email or on your social media platforms. Please help us in our efforts to help other peers in recovery get the resources they need and inspire them to utilize their strengths to stay the course. ###
“Seize the Day”, as tomorrow is not promised!—ReDDVoice, CPS-MH, MHFA
PEER SCOOP | PAGE 2
Alcoholism: 7 Ways To Avoid Relapse
BY B. SCOTT, CONTRIBUTOR & RECOVERY CHAMPION
Living with domestic violence between my mother and father was difficult. The “trolls under my bridge” were/are relationships, alcohol, drugs and sugar! I carried these issues throughout my 33-year marriage and raising 3 sons! In 2013, I was diagnosed with PTSD, major depression disorder and anxiety. However, besides the basics of avoiding “old playmates and playgrounds”, there were 7 things that help me stay clean then, and I’m using some of these same resources to remain sober and drug free today!
Group Therapy—Stress Management, Seeking Safety, Letting Go, Coping Skills & Living Well. These were the groups I sought for help at the the Henry County Counseling Center (HCCC).
Reformers Anonymous —This was a bible based addiction program. It was unbelievable because I was spending Friday nights 7:00-8:30 in church praying, “Less of me and more of you.” (to God)
Positive Affirmations/Faith Based Devotions— Reading my positive affirmations daily and journaling really encouraged me.
Respite Center/DTR— A Peer at HCCC gave me a flyer that said “Break the Chains of Addiction Before It’s Too Late—It’s Free!” The day I became sober is when I checked in to a local Respite Center and never looked back! While there, I attended a weekly support group called DTR for people with dual diagnoses, coping with mental illness and addiction.
Women’s NA Meeting —I attended weekly meetings in Griffin, Ga.
Jazz Music Therapy— I love music! I find solace listening to my favorite jazz artists.
NAMI— The weekly meetings was what I look forward to. Fellowshipping with my peers/friends. Discussing my struggles helps me tremendously. I want to thank my peers for listening! ###
PEER SCOOP | PAGE 3
April - Alcohol Awareness Month
Autism: One Peer's Story of Hope
BY STEPHANIE, CONTRIBUTOR & CPS-P, CPS-MH
A 24-hour drive in a 26-foot U-haul, with my then 11 yr old son and 1 yr old daughter, was the longest journey I thought I would ever take. However, it wasn't. Upon moving to the Atlanta area, I was told my son had ADHD & PTSD & that I had hypertension, PTSD, depression, & insomnia. So at first, I ignored the fact that my daughter was not advancing as I thought she should, mainly because I thought it was just me not doing a better job in teaching her how to speak or be social. At the time, I was battling some 'demons' and had moved my little family from a domestic violent situation in Texas. I actually broke down to my DFCS worker about it at a food stamp interview & she put me in a TANF program that is meant to help people receive Social Security for disabilities. Well, they had a speaker coming from the program so I got some information after their presentation & they set up visits to come to my home through “Babies Can't Wait.” It was decided they would do some testing for my daughter, whom was about to turn 3 years old. So we did some testing at a school. There was a panel of clinicians and testing done which diagnosed my daughter with autism. At the time, I had never even heard of autism and I thought that when people said that their child was autistic, that they meant artistic-like they were free-spirited or something.
You are free to reject the results, but I didn't. I wanted her to get as much help as she could get at an early age so she can function better as she ages. My daughter was given an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) & was able to start school for free the next day after she turned 3. Since then, I have been able to receive Social Security benefits for her, daycare assistance, and got her enrolled into the Marcus Autism Center. She has such a great support team of doctors in the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Network and I'm also able to have speech therapy in her school & they also come to her daycare center at no cost for me. My household has 3 people in it-myself, & my two children. We all have our impairments & are living with illnesses, but everything is day-by-day & everybody has their specific needs. ###
PEER SCOOP | PAGE 4
April - National Autism Awareness Month
7 Effective Coping Skills For Stress
BY REDDVOICE, CONTRIBUTOR & RECOVERY CHAMPION
PEER SCOOP | PAGE 5
April - Stress Awareness Month
Coping With COVID-19
Peer Testimony #1
BY KENYA, CONTRIBUTOR & CPS-MH, WHAM
There are many things that have come against me doing this time and season of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been a time of intentional hope and heightened spiritual relationship with God. My faith has and continues to be tested. My husband and best friend, Kenneth Lorenzo Phillips Jr, of almost fourteen years went on to glory on February 14, 2020 (Valentine's Day). This is indeed a new chapter in life.I am now a widow, a single mother of a seven year old daughter, living in a three generational household with my mother, recently lost my dream job; and all this while still actively on bereavement. I manage to smile in the midst of all the chaos and turn down the noise; when oftentimes, life presents itself to simply say - "But, God!!!"
This cannot be the end of the road. There must be a greater light at the end of this tunnel vision which life has unfolded. There must be some essence, some message of hope, or lesson in all of this. The departure, the constant transitioning, and the tone of each day has been heavy. This weight I cannot bear alone. I must find some since of refuge. I have come to lean on family, friends, peers, nature, and creation itself. But, then something magical happened. It's as if the prayers of my forefathers have been answered. I had to develop a relationship with the Most High for myself. I could no longer seek prayers. I must pause and take my cross to Him for myself. For, my Christian faith and bible says, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave you or forsake you (biblestudytools.com, Deuteronomy 31:6)." ###
Kenya "The Visionair" Phillips, Author, Poet, RI & Minister
PEER SCOOP | PAGE 6
Coping With COVID-19
Peer Testimony #2
BY JASMINE, CONTRIBUTOR & RECOVERY CHAMPION
As we all find different ways to cope during today's pandemic, many are finding creative ways to stay busy learning new trades and crafts or sharpening old skills.
My passion and absolute most valued hobby is cooking. After cooking as a professional chef for over eight years in the food industry, I later explored the idea of merging food and medical health science together to become a registered dietitian. And as a result, I decided to put down my chef hat for a while. Like many, I also suffer from anxiety. So being confined mainly to my home has definitely stirred some anxiety and stress for me and my family with all of the unknown factors of the world’s current pandemic.
Cooking for me has always been a great way to channel some positive energy. In a kitchen setting, I am able to focus and enjoy letting my mind wonder with creative thoughts.
Currently, while quarantined at home with all three of my small children, I find the art of preparing full meals for my family quite exciting. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I’m definitely sharpening my skills and doing what I love with the unforeseen time given to American families like mine. ###
"Currently, while quarantined at home with all three of my small children, I find the art of preparing full meals for my family quite exciting."
PEER SCOOP | PAGE 7
Coping With COVID-19
Peer Testimony #3
BY ELISA, CONTRIBUTOR & PEER LEADER
I’m coping with the COVID-19 virus in several ways. I’m only watching the 6pm news for about 15 to 20 minutes. Too much news intake about the situation gives me anxiety. I’m exercising daily. I’m journaling more. I pray several times a day. I find comfort in reading my bible.
I’m reaching out to my peers, checking on them, which in turns takes my mind off of what’s going on in the world. I’m remembering the good times I had before all of this started and have hope I will have many more happy times after this virus goes away. ###
"I have hope I will have many more happy times after this virus goes away."
PEER SCOOP | PAGE 8
Coping With COVID-19
Peer Testimony #4
BY NEEMA, CONTRIBUTOR & RECOVERY CHAMPION
For quite a while, I have been living by God's words of encouragement, strength and hope found in Isaiah 41:10 that I have personalized to fit my needs: "Fear not, Neema, for I am with you. I, Almighty God, am your God so be not dismayed. For I am helping you; I am strengthening you; I am upholding you with My victorious hand of righteousness." This has helped me through all circumstances and all crises with which I have been challenged...I have heard several people stating that they are bored with being subjected to home confinement. My antidote has been my guitar, my writing, my poetry, and different forms of creative expressions, getting closer to my God through prayer, praise and meditation, listening to positive uplifting music, joining online meetings, talking with my sponsor, network, and engaging my Step work and such.
Boredom would have me going back and forth to the refrigerator or glued to the tv, watching things that really don't nourish my soul, etc. I'd been going out for walks and riding my bike. But with the quarantine I can still exercise, stretch and pick up yoga again but inside my home.
Today I am going to purchase a jump rope. There are many healthy ways we can stave off boredom. To me, this is a wonderful time to explore myself and get to know who I am, what I am about. A time for self-reflection, self-examination and exploring my creativity. Prayerfully, it will be so for you too. ###
"My antidote has been my guitar, my writing, my poetry, and different forms of creative expressions, getting closer to my God through prayer, praise and meditation."
PEER SCOOP | PAGE 9
Coping With COVID-19
Peer Testimony #5
BY INDA, CONTRIBUTOR & PEER LEADER
During this trying time of this season of COVID-19, I find that fear rules nothing! Concern, yes...but fear, no.
I have lost a dear "sister" of mine due to the virus running rapid. It does, however, give me some comfort that she kept Jesus Christ up-front and personal.
I find that I am staying on the phone more and praying continuously.
I try to stay informed about any progress that may be taking place to eradicate this virus.
I find that I have spent much quality time with family members, as we quarantine ourselves together.
In Loving Memory of
Sunset: April 1, 2020
"I find that fear rules nothing! Concern yes...but fear, no."
PEER SCOOP | PAGE 10
Coping With COVID-19
Peer Testimony #6
BY CARMEN, CONTRIBUTOR & RECOVERY CHAMPION
I want to share my experience with other peers who are living with mental health challenges during the COVID-19 crisis. When I first learned of the pandemic in our area, I wasn't quite as alarmed because of what's been happening in other places. I realized that I had to immediately practice safety measures, for example, washing hands more and wearing mask when out in public. And please don't forget our beloved "hand sanitizer!" Well, little did I realize how much watching the news everyday, all day, would increase my anxiety level. Even causing some insomnia and depression. To top things off, most of our clinics, or therapist are only providing virtual visits. That "sucks."
So I realized that this is the time that I will have to put into action all the mental health recovery tools I've learned over the years of treatment and therapy. First thing I had to realize was, check anything that I may be doing to cause increased anxiety. The first thing was to decrease the amount of time spent watching the news on COVID-19. Second, I had to continue taking meds as prescribed and keep in contact with all medical facilities (where I may be receiving treatment) counseling. Stay connected to my support system of peers and other people, especially family members who are supportive. Journaling really helps release the baggage of the day and fine some solace or peace at the end of the day. I go for walks even inside my house or outside in my backyard. Vitamin D from the sun really helps alleviate my depression. I remember to eat healthy and drink plenty of water, which aids in keeping my immune system healthy. One thing I've learned about managing my mental health is that it's a holistic approach. I have to remember to address keeping my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual balanced as much as I can. I have moments where I felt really off balance and went from 0 to 100, but I really appreciate the opportunity of standing still more often because it gives me plenty of chances to regroup. I want to encourage all to stay safe and know that we can and will make it through this crisis. Who knows how many people we will be able to help by sharing our learned experience with dealing with this Crisis! ###
PEER SCOOP | PAGE 11
Coping With COVID-19
Peer Testimony #7
BY DEBORAH, CONTRIBUTOR & PEER LEADER
STAY AT HOME! —It is just that simple. Dr. Fineberg has research that says Coronavirus can be contracted by talking or by breathing. Now coughing or sneezing is not the only means for spreading COVID-19.
Also, practicing social distancing of staying at least 6 feet away from an infected person or an asymptomatic person is not enough because water droplets from talking or breathing can stay on surfaces and in the air even after the person leaves. Staying at home, practicing social distancing, also with our loved ones, and constantly washing our hands reduces infection rates. When we do essential tasks, (grocery shopping or picking up prescriptions), we must wear masks (or scarfs) and gloves and keep 6 feet apart.
KEEPING BUSY AT HOME—working or going to school online—doing hobbies, watching movies, or listening to music—most importantly, reading the Bible and praying—all can rid us of anxiety, paranoia, and depression. ###
PEER SCOOP | PAGE 12
Coping With COVID-19
Peer Testimony #8
BY ONNIE, CONTRIBUTOR & PEER LEADER
The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely caused a "stir" to say the least- on what many of us have considered normal in our lives. At the onset, the initial announcement of social distancing mandates shook my anxiety into overdrive. I thought about all of the what-ifs...everything that could possibly go wrong. In the midst of one of my what-if thoughts, something triggered in my mind and I suddenly felt drawn to my breath. My breath gave me a pause, and I took a moment to remember and reflect on my promise that I had made to myself months ago to ALWAYS find joy in the moment.
My breath is how I am continuing to cope day by day. My breath reminds me to inhale hope and to exhale doubt and fear. My breath reminds me that I do not have the power to control external circumstances, and that the more I find gratitude in each moment, the less anxious I feel.
I start each day with a written reflection in my journal. I use the prompts: I am, I release, I acknowledge, I am grateful for and I expect.
This mindfulness moment each day, helps me to focus my attitude and my energy towards something positive. I've also been getting out each morning for a leisure scroll to connect with nature by breathing in fresh air and listening to the birds chirp. These new daily activities may have been possible before COVID-19, but perhaps I was too busy being busy to make time for them. There continues to be much uncertainty surrounding this virus, but my breath, each breath, reminds me that I am still here- and for that I am grateful! ###
"My breath reminds me that I do not have the power to control external circumstances, and that the more I find gratitude in each moment, the less anxious I feel."
Disclaimer: Peer Scoop is a free monthly newsletter created exclusively by peers for peers in recovery from mental health disorders and addictive diseases. All contributions in this publication are based on lived experiences submitted by volunteers. Any content used herein is for educational purposes. Intellectual property and copyright restrictions apply.