Photo taken by Raquel Lyons circa 2012; my older brother’s hands on a beach in Quincy, MA.
Article by Raquel Lyons
This article has been a long time coming. I wanted to write it back in spring 2016 but just didn’t get around to it. Now, I have the time and I have the inspiration to get it done. This piece has been highly influenced by the song by Mackelmore featuring Kesha “Good Old Days” because I find that song to be inspiring, recovery aimed and filled to the brim with dreams that sparkle and shine once you rub them off a little with your sleeve.
In this very moment, it is the first time in the nearly four years of struggling with mental health conditions where I feel so inspired, so happy, so content and so very fulfilled. I honestly believe that seeing the film “Avengers: Infinity War” has grounded my feet into the earth (or Midgard, as it were) as I remain steadfast looking onto my future’s horizon, watching the big bouncy houses inflate and wave around in the wind. I see a *future* for myself, one not where I never struggle, rather one where I struggle and I don’t fall as deep down the abyss. I can envision and really see a future for myself where I am stable (as I have been for about three months) and I utilize my learned skills in dialectical behavior therapy and so many other therapies to be *here*, to stay alive, to thrive and succeed. I didn’t have this just a few months ago. It’s exciting and refreshing and…amazing. I dream for this to be every day for myself. I dream of inspiring others to come forward and tell their stories. I genuinely believe that my story can help inspire others.
Advocacy is such a big role in my recovery journey. I’ve never mentioned it before, but I am a member, an In Our Own Voice presenter, and a trained peer-to-peer mentor for the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Massachusetts chapter since March 2016 for IOOV and fall 2016 respectively. In my IOOV presentations I talk about when I buy my first house (hopefully with a romantic partner) painting my front door a dark green color with a pastel yellow, green and pink fleur-de-lis on the outside and the phrase “Your life is worth living” on the inside.
I created my WordPress blog “Recovery to Wellness” in May 2016, where my slogan is “where survivors radiate badassery.” One day, maybe even in the next year, I want to create a nonprofit organization out of it. Recovery to Wellness is the birthplace of creative projects like “Recovery Home”, “Recovery Restoration”, “Recovery Raquel” and “Worldwide Recovery Recognition Month” with the latter being in August. My Recovery Home features a large house with a rainbow lighthouse on the property, a gazebo, a stationery room, my front door, a stone sign saying “Recovery Residence” on the grounds, with the house on a green hill overlooking a small town with a Barnes & Noble’s, Target, Michael’s, Jo-Ann’s, and Longhorn’s Steakhouse. Maybe, in light of “Thor: Ragnarok” I have some kind of very large statue of Loki, the god of mischief, on my house’s property, too. It brings a smile to my face, at least.
The goal of “Recovery Home” is to make the choice to choose spending my time creating this fictional place (and real life parts) in my mind of where I am happy and living a life that I enjoy rather than spending that time brewing in darkness and feeding the suicidal thoughts. I am capable of creating something beautiful out of something ugly, or I could just simmer in that dark place. I find having hope and light outshines the darkness just a little more each moment. It never eradicates the presence of the darkness and maybe that’s never been the point, because it’s about finding the balance in the cosmos.
My “Recovery Restoration” project at its dreamiest state involves pro-recovery artwork with about the artist and author’s journey in recovery on the back of each piece and the compiled photo albums to be donated to psychiatric inpatient units. It’s a way of providing hope, becoming a beacon for those at their most vulnerable and offering peer support until they themselves leave the hospital and re-enter the community.
“Recovery Raquel”, while also being my Twitter handle, is the persona I’ve created to represent the best version of myself, akin to a superhero, which has aided me and saved me multiple times over again over the years. She is me and I am her, inherently, and she represents hope, faith and light to me. She has worked within me as the light that maybe things will get better. Although she’s worked in very subtle ways before, I know she will always be there, no matter how dark it gets in my line of vision….
Annnnnd you have to wait until tomorrow for part 2! I’m gearing up towards blogging every day in May, so, buckle up your seatbelts and enjoy the ride!!
Honestly, I kinda cried a little in part 2 because this moment is just so beautiful and it’s so amazing to have gotten here. I wish it would never end!!
Take care, be well and stay safe, friends. You are loved, you matter, you inspire me. Let’s join lanterns and shine our light outwards tenfold. We can BE someone, become SOMETHING. That’s amazing. You’re amazing. I love you all. Thank you for being there for me when I couldn’t be there for myself. ❤ ❤ ❤
Love & light to you. ❤
PS I wrote this from 7-9p Saturday April 28.2018
PPS I will be including this song in one of my next mental health edition song a day awareness things. 😉 I’ll put that off for a next time, though.