"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
February 14, 2014
Using a WRAP to become Self-Reliant
by Sarah Hancock

Recently I began working at a psychosocial rehabilitation facility that helps people with mental illness get back on their feet. I am the new vocational specialist. I was hired to help people gain independence and become self-reliant through finding meaningful employment.

Sounds impressive, right? Believe me, I’m excited about the journey ahead. It’s really made me stop and think about my own recovery journey and how it all began.

After being diagnosed for 12 years, without successfully gaining control over my symptoms, I was fed up with my nonexistent progress and dismayed by my personal inability to become self-reliant. Little by little, my own expectations lowered as my providers’ prognosis became more and more grim.

I’d gone from being an independent young woman, flourishing in college with the world as her oyster, to a not-so-young woman living in an abusive group home, completely dependent on others, desperately searching for the hidden secret to living my life to its fullest.

If “men are that they might have joy,” was I doomed to not experience that joy until after this mortal life when I lived in my perfected form? Did I seriously have to wait until after I died to be happy? “Surely the thought [made] reason stare” (O My Father! Hymn 292, LDS Hymnbook, 1985).

I sat there on the twin bed in that horrific group home, mulling over my situation forwards and backwards. Obviously what I had been doing for the past 11 years wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to go to my doctor appointments, take my medicine as prescribed, go to counseling, inpatient hospitals, institutions, have electroconvulsive therapy and the countless other things doctors and counselors advised.

My health wasn’t improving. It wasn’t enough to read my scriptures, say my prayers, go to my church meetings, serve in the ward, attend the temple and strive to keep my covenants. I was doing it all and frustrated because it still wasn’t working I still felt empty. I still felt sick.

What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I do this? Why weren’t my treatments working? Why was I dependent on others for everything? Why couldn’t I figure out how to live with my illness? Why was I at the mercy of my symptoms for the past 11 years even though I was doing all I was told to do? It seemed that whatever I tried, nothing worked — resulting in a growing sense of helplessness.

Then and there, I decided that I needed to do something more. I decided there must be an answer so hidden that I hadn’t found it in 11 years. I believed that when I found that answer, I could become independent again. I also decided that when I did find my answer, I would then do all I could to strengthen anyone else searching desperately for that same magic bullet, but knowing not where to find it.

Soon thereafter I discovered creating a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) with a peer support specialist. While attending the eight WRAP classes, I learned that there were some basic things I could do to improve my wellness to create a lasting recovery.

This would not be a recovery where all my symptoms disappeared, but the true and lasting recovery of my life as it used to be, allowing me to become all I was meant to become. For me, the first step of rescuing and recovering my life with mental illness was creating a WRAP. Doing so allowed me to take back my life’s reins, becoming empowered, finding the hope and destroying my feelings of helplessness.

I’ve chosen not to continue explaining the remaining portions of the WRAP in hopes that those who are interested in utilizing this magic bullet will search it out on their own. It’s my hope that in doing so, I am enabling them to find support in their area, allowing them to create their own WRAP with a trained peer support specialist.

A person cannot create a WRAP by simply sitting down alone and hammering it out, although if she cannot find a local group, it’s better than nothing.

Heavenly Father counsels us through our living prophets and leaders to become proactive, independent and self-reliant in all things, including our health and wellness. Elder M. Russell Ballard said:

Ask your Heavenly Father to bless you with faith and courage, and He will help you endure any challenges you may face. He will help you overcome loneliness, feelings of desperation and hopelessness, setbacks of a personal, emotional, financial, and even spiritual nature; or will strengthen you when you are simply feeling overwhelmed by all of the demands for your time and attention. (Anchor to the Soul CES fireside for young adults, Sept. 6, 1992, 4).

I believe that Heavenly Father answered my prayers when he led me to my first WRAP group. Using that tool allowed me to not just endure my life with a severe mental illness; it allowed me to thrive.

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About Sarah Hancock

Sarah Price Hancock, a graduate of San Diego State University's rehabilitation counseling Masters of Science program with a certificate psychiatric rehabilitation.

Having embarked on her own journey with a mental health diagnosis, she is passionate about psychiatric recovery. She enjoys working as a lector for universities, training upcoming mental health professionals. Sarah also enjoys sharing insights with peers working to strengthen their "recovery toolbox." With proper support, Sarah knows psychiatric recovery isnít just possible ó itís probable.

Born and raised in San Diego, California, Sarah served a Spanish-speaking and ASL mission for the LDS Church in the Texas Dallas Mission. She was graduated from Ricks College and BYU. Sarah currently resides in San Diego and inherited four amazing children when she married the man of her dreams in 2011. She loves writing, public speaking, ceramics, jewelry-making and kite-flying ó not necessarily in that order.

NAMI San Diego's Fall Keynote Address: Living in Recovery with Schizoaffective Disorder

Having recently moved into a new ward, she currently serves as a visiting teacher.

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