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Peer-to-Peer Quarterly Newsletter

Volume 1, Issue 3:  August, 2009

Quote of the month

"Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate, or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it. "

                                                                 -Henry Miller                                                

submitted by Diane (Medford, OR)

Feature Story

Alberto Castillio Abello is a recent graduate of the Peer-to-Peer course in San Francisco.  His class ended in May and he is already very interested in becoming a mentor for the course!  He will become trained at the next mentor training in their area.  Alberto lives with PTSD and OCD and decided to take the course because he wanted to learn more about his mental illness and mental illness in general.  His journey with taking the course has prompted him to continue the learning experience by helping others in the same way his mentors helped him. 

Alberto’s class was a very full one, which provided a challenge in terms of time, but also a wonderful opportunity to hear a variety of different stories and coping skills.  Although there were a great variety of diagnoses, Alberto was pleasantly surprised to see how similar everyone’s experiences were. 

“The group environment was great; there was a lot of sharing.  I only wish I there were more time to hear more,” Alberto explains.  “The guest speaker was also a real highlight.  I learned a lot about his relationship with his family member and how everyone is affected by it.” 

One of the things that Alberto really benefited from was story telling.  The feelings of loneliness often attached with mental illness subsided through the sharing of similar issues.   Learning about each other helped Alberto to learn more about himself and how to handle his own illness.  Story telling helped him to gain a wider understanding of what people might be going through.

Some of Alberto’s other favorite aspects of the course included mindfulness practice, the target, and the relapse prevention grid.  Alberto practices meditation every morning, so the mindfulness practice helped him to emphasize this.  The target reminded him that anything he can focus on, he can achieve.  He learned to be aware of his needs and focus on staying in control of his treatment.  The relapse prevention grid really helped him to come to terms with his illness because writing it down made him realize what was going on at the time and find new ways to prevent it in the future.  He explains that “with my illness, things overlap a lot, so it’s really helpful to distinguish specific events and triggers.” 

Although Alberto appreciated learning about what his peers had been through, it was difficult for him to hear about some of the strained relationships that people had been dealing with.  Others didn’t have many relationships or support at all.  He was glad that the Peer-to-Peer class could now be their support system and help them to cope.  Alberto says that learning about these different relationships made him more compassionate and reminded him that we all have different paths and experiences. 

Alberto summed up his experience in the following statement: “Peer-to-Peer is a great learning experience.  It helps you to improve your life; it’s so much more than just the material, it’s the sharing of experiences and breaking of stigma.  When you leave, you feel comfortable and you feel like things are going to be okay.” 

written by Kerry McCullough

Multicultural Excellence

Persona a Persona is the Spanish version of Peer to Peer.  The pilot has taken off in 4 sites: 

Santa Clara, CA
San Diego, CA
Southern Arizona
New York City (TBD)

We hope to be able to grow the program after learning about the cultural adaptations that may be necessary to make Persona a Persona useful for Latino students. 

Click to visit MAC (Multicultural Action Center)

Click to read about Persona a Persona in Spanish (en español).

Resources on MAC: (click underlined resources to view)

·  ¡Avanzamos! (Spanish Newsletter)

·  African American booklet

·  Fact Sheets/ Additional Info

P2P Journal

This is a poem I wrote in 1975, my first breakdown was in 1979.

I am a human being
My surface is your only judge
You see me as you want to see me
You see only what you think is right
Oh God are you wrong!
I may be pretty on the outside,
But the inside is empty
I have nothing to offer you
But my façade
If you can’t look beyond that
Then I am worthless to you
But not to me
For I am me
I have my feelings
My ideas
My dreams
My hopes
My frustrations
Same as you
But I have learned
Not to be afraid of them
I have learned not to try
To overcome or suppress
I have learned to be me
Free to enjoy to laugh
And to like to laugh at myself
To become a part of me
I am me
No one else and nothing more
For, I am me.

Liz McDermott, Connecticut

P2P Art

Miriam's Art 1

Miriam's Art 2

submitted and created by Miriam Yarmolinsky of Maryland