By: Ian Christensen
When I first attended Intensive Outpatient Treatment for substance abuse, I didn’t like to talk
about my problems. I thought people would judge me, think less of me, or just be annoyed. For
most of my life, I tried to go it alone; white-knuckle it, you might say. But when I started going to
the groups in this substance abuse program, I felt something I’d never felt before: acceptance.
For years, I thought something was wrong with me, that my addiction and anxiety were
something to hide. Now, I felt a weight lifted off of me, like I wasn’t alone.
Learning to accept myself, as I am, has been one of the most important skills I’ve learned in
recovery. And it IS a skill! Working as a Recovery Support Specialist at the NAMI Metro
Suburban Living Room helps me live these concepts every day. At its core, the Living Room is a
place where you can show up, as you are, and be accepted. We’re not here to change you or
tell you how to live; we’re here to support who you are and who you want to be. Working in a
place like this has helped me grow and learn so much about myself.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time with NAMI, it’s that everyone is unique and
worthwhile. I used to think that these kinds of ideas were sappy or lame. Now, I live by them!
The Living Room is such a unique place because I can show up as myself, and help people do
the same. When you’re at the Living Room, you’re never alone.