Before I developed a personal W.R.A.P. (Wellness Recovery Action Plan), I had been recovering from what the medical profession labeled as “severe psychiatric symptoms” that caused me a lot of difficulty. I was taking ineffective medications with unacceptable effects and felt victimized by my symptoms. I have a supportive husband that truly held the hope of recovery when I could not. Through determination, courage and resourcefulness, I discovered what I needed to improve my mental health and increase wellness in my life. As I read books, researched websites, attended mental health conferences, utilized therapy and support groups, I figured out what worked for me to increase wellness. Along the way, I came across the work of Mary Ellen Copeland and I felt that it really articulated what I had discovered for myself in creating wellness and recovery in my own life. I wrote my own useful W.R.A.P. several years ago and have followed it successfully ever since.
As I was feeling stronger, I was delighted to hear there was a training program to instruct me on how to share this information with others through facilitating W.R.A.P. Workshops. I did not know of any W.R.A.P. groups locally, so I took the on line correspondence course to be qualified to take the facilitator training. Then in 2005, I flew from California to Vermont to take the facilitator training from Mary Ellen Copeland and became a certified Wellness Recovery Educator. I returned to my county and started offering workshops to the local community as a private consultant. Now I speak at conferences, agencies and organizations about making plans for one’s wellness and recovery as well as using Art for Insight.
In 2009 I took the Advanced Level W.R.A.P. Facilitator Training and have done trainings with the Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery to empower others to be facilitators. My true passion is working with those creating their own W.R.A.P. and supporting them in creating a visual of their W.R.A.P. through simple art projects with the Art for Insight curriculum that I have personally created. In my W.R.A.P. Workshops and Art for Insight sessions, I share fun, insightful craft projects to reiterate the concepts of the W.R.A.P. sections and people really enjoy the hands on approach and interaction in creating a visual of their W.R.A.P.. I conduct Skype sessions across the globe encouraging and sharing innovative ideas with facilitators to use art in their W.R.A.P. Workshops. I also have spoken at several mental health conferences about the benefits of using art with W.R.A.P. planning that involve hands on, interactive examples including the International W.R.A.P. Conferences in Philadelphia and Oakland.
I think of my wellness plan every day. Some times I look at it for review and I am still adding to it as I recognize more about myself. For the most part, now it is such a natural part of my life, it automatically comes to my mind when I am triggered or recognize the early warning signs that my wellness is being compromised. Since using these principles, I have not had to be hospitalized and have not had a crisis situation where intervention was needed. I am able to return to a place of wellness when life’s blows trigger me.
Now when I feel anxious, instead of taking anti-anxiety medication, I use wellness tools such as deep breathing and relaxation. When I feel down and overwhelmed, I use my action plan such as doing fun activities to get me in a happier mood. When I can’t sleep, I use self-expression to clear my head such as journaling or creating art and do not need to take sleep medications. I don’t have the unpleasant side effects of medications and I feel more empowered to make changes to increase wellness in my life. I have learned the value of speaking up for myself and being a self-advocate. Self-expression is my “go to” Wellness Tool.
I love sharing this hope of recovery with others and encouraging them by creating a safe environment in which they can write their own W.R.A.P.