Celebrating Mental Health Milestones

I recently planned my Drug Treatment Court Graduation. In July I will successfully graduate; the courtroom will be full of my guests and other participants. Each member of the seven panel treatment team — including the judge — will take time to give me accolades, followed by a recess in court so that everyone in attendance can congratulate me individually (it’s mandatory). After court, we will take pictures of me with my support team and my certificate of completion and my family and I will go out to eat.  

While the celebration of my sobriety is heartfelt, deserved and greatly appreciated, when was the last time you were in the hospital, in an elongated depression/mania, or simply in a state of clinical anxiety or distress? Did you receive “Get Well” cards? Were you welcomed home with balloons? Flowers? Did your hospital team clap for you when you left, wishing you the best or singing you a song?

Probably not.

So I started thinking about this dilemma and thinking about our massive efforts to destigmatize mental illness and I thought, “We need to celebrate milestones in mental health recovery with the same fervor that we celebrate other milestones in life!” So, I got on the internet and talked to dozens of mental health bloggers, organizers and activists. The consensus: We need this! Yesterday!

Based on their suggestions, I have jumped on the bracelet bandwagon (because, honestly, they are very visible and inexpensive). Suggestions for milestones included time without hospitalizations, time without self-harm, time on the same medication(s) successfully, recognition for reaching out and recognition for giving back to someone else’s recovery. Stones and colors were suggested and I’ve pooled the results to develop (along with my dear friend, AR, one half of Gypsy Productions) a Mental Health Milestones bracelet/kit.

The photo attached shows a bracelet celebrating increments of time for different colored categories. Time increments can be decided by the giver/wearer, mine is in six month increments, but there was a time that a week or even a day was a major accomplishment. The colors each represent an accomplishment:

  • White: Purity – Time free from Self-Harm
  • Pink: Beauty – Time Hospitalization free
  • Blue:  Peace/Meditation – Medication Stability
  • Gold: Riches – Reaching Out for Help
  • Black: Stability – Giving Back to the mental health recovery community or others living with a mental illness.
  • Lime Green: Mental Health Recovery Awareness.
  • The Tree of Life represents what we’re all doing: trying to stay healthy and alive.

My friend created the template/kit shown and is donating 10% of all proceeds to Mental Health Recovery Treatment and Awareness. She is a person living with Bipolar Disorder and she was one of my biggest cheerleaders when I was hospitalized in Florida for depression. You can contact myself or Gypsy Productions for pricing information, but I would go on to suggest parties, balloons, flowers and cards for any and every milestone for you or your loved one. After all, who has more to celebrate than us?

To order a bracelet, contact the artist on Facebook at Mental Health Milestones

Read the rest of Liz’s posts here

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