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Hurting people hurt. Some hurting people choose to help.

Two people are abused as children. One becomes an abuser of their own children. The other becomes a children’s advocate and protects children.

What was the difference between the two?

One possibility is that the one who became a helper had a healing relationship that eventually taught her recovery from trauma happens.

A lot of people in the mental health field come to it, because of personal stories of mental pain either of their own or loved ones more so than intellectual curiosity. This fact although known among mental health providers is rarely known by mental health consumers, because there are rules about disclosure and professional distance.

I am one of them. I am a peer support specialist which means I have lived experience with both illness and recovery, and I have chosen to help others still in pain or early in their recovery. And, I can tell people my story of recovery, be a role model, and most importantly be a friend.

Friendship is the corner stone of building healing communities Healing communities create safe and therapeutic hot spots.

Without the responsibilities and joys of having a friend, we do not grow emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

When we shun or ostracize people for being different or being difficult, we stunt people’s growth.

We need to learn how to stop writing off difficult people and learn to write them in.

I have a lot of similar attributes as the person who shot the Roanoke news team.

I am sensitive to social justice issues. I have been fired from a lot of jobs. I have had mental health complexities that include homicidal tendencies, rage, and personality disorders. The list could go on.

The main difference, perhaps, is that my case worker introduced me to On Our Own of Charlottesville, a peer run mental health and substance abuse recovery house. There I have made lifetime friends and learned how to effectively deal with anger and stress management. There, I found people who were happy to write me and others like me in.

So, what can you do? You can support others who are doing this important support work. And, you can educate yourself about mental health complexities. Of course, you shun folks who you don’t understand or know. So, work toward your understanding and knowledge.

And, above all be a friend.

I think if there is any judgment at the end of our life, it is not about our achievements or philosophies or wealth, but how we treated human beings we did not like or we felt could do nothing for us.

So, be a friend.