By Candace Berger and Jessica Perez
Peer Support encompasses a range of activities and interactions between people who share similar experiences of being diagnosed with mental health conditions, substance use disorders or both. This mutuality, often called, “peerness” between a peer support worker and person in or seeking recovery promotes connection and inspires hope. -SAMHSA
My name is Jessica Perez and I have had the wonderful opportunity to work alongside Candace as her peer support for about a year and a half. Together Candace and I wanted to co-write this blog to express the mutuality we have established in our peer relationship. Candace and I were able to grow and learn together last year as it was both our first year participating in the social enterprise, Chrysalis Pops.
There is a saying in peer support, “Nothing about us without us.” Candace and I truly lived this expression while working in the garden for Chrysalis Pops as we planted, weeded, harvested and composted all while building a rapport together. We were able to share an experience of seeing the garden grow and flourish as we grew and flourished in our recovery. We also want to share about what we did outside of the garden that positively impacted our recovery. Candace introduced me to The Arboretum and the peace and serenity that comes along with being in nature. We also practiced using recovery tools together such as : essential oils, grounding techniques, coloring, writing in a gratitude journal and presently co-writing this blog. We were able to achieve all this together because right from the beginning we created a safe space knowing that we can come as we are with no judgement, no expectations and having it be truly person centered.
When Candace and I were writing this blog I asked her what peer support means to her. Candace openly and honestly stated, “I grew with Jessica in my recovery and the mutuality we shared helped me become more confident, more sociable and assisted in my mental wellness. Upon hearing this I thanked Candace and shared that being her peer support has helped me learn and grow immensely and the fact that we did all this mutually is the essence of peer support.