September is known as Recovery Month, an opportunity to highlight those who’ve made the choice of recovery and to offer support to those who need help with their mental health and substance use challenges.
MHA’s Recovery Coach, Deja Wallace, has always wanted to help people, especially those who struggle with addiction, like she did. Since becoming a recovery coach for MHA, what Deja enjoys the most about her job is using her own experience to help others in need. “I enjoy working with people. It’s love, it’s unity, it’s that togetherness, like ‘Hey I did it, and I’m going down this path, and if I need a hand, Deja’s got me.’ I have that lived experience. I also had addiction in my family, so I can tell people of my experience through two different lenses. This can happen to anyone.”
When Deja talks to her clients who are in recovery, she tells them that the road to recovery is a daily battle, but to make a real change, it starts with them. “They have to want to truly recover. When you’re high, and you’re crying and telling yourself that you want to get clean, but then the next day you do it again, that doesn’t help. It’s going to take time and a lot of resilience. Find what works for you and stick to it. Even if you don’t want it now, that’s ok, but when you do, you have to be willing to fully commit.”
As a person in her own recovery, Deja admitted that every day she has to overcome challenges to remain clean. “One thing I always remind myself of is that it can be done, and that others have succeeded. It’s about reminding myself that I have the ability and the power to see the victory, but I have to sustain the power and ability. If my mind gets too weak and those voices come back, I have to constantly resist that voice.”
To Deja, Recovery Month means, “getting back things you’ve lost along the way, whether it’s finding yourself or rebuilding the relationships you’ve lost. As former users, we’ve taken a lot of losses. I am so honored that we get a month to shed light on recovery…Recovery is an S.O.S. symbol, that power within oneself, that acknowledgement. You are working to rid yourself of the shame, the guilt, and the embarrassment. Do not be afraid of asking for help; you never know what doors may open for you.”
All year, MHA celebrates individuals who have chosen the path of recovery and will continue to help anyone who is struggling. To MHA, recovery is real and recovery is possible.
If you or a loved one would like to start the journey to recovery, MHA is hosting “Coffee with a Recovery Coach”, a free event where our recovery coaches can answer your questions and provide resources and support. The event will take place on Saturday, October 14th, and Saturday, October 28th, from 10am-12pm at 1 Federal Street, Building 103, Springfield, MA 01109.
Those interested in more services can also check out MHA’s BestLife Emotional Health and Wellness Center that is available to anyone who needs support for mental health and substance use recovery. To make an appointment, please call 844-MHA-WELL or visit www.mhainc.org/bestlife.