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The Surviving Spirit Newsletter October 2019






Healing the Heart Through the Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy

Hope, Healing & Help for Trauma, Abuse & Mental Health

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”. Kahlil Gibran

Hi Folks, The latest edition of the Surviving Spirit Newsletter is posted at the website -

To sign up for an e-mail copy, please write to me @ or sign up @ Website via Contact Us, Thanks! Michael


The Surviving Spirit Newsletter October 2019   


Hi folks,

I'm hoping all is well for you in your corner of the world. For myself, I've been taking in the lovely colors of Fall here in New England, simply stunning. And also quite stunning, the leaves that keep falling down into the yard. Lots of leaf raking parties going on here in New Hampshire!


My mind has been quite busy these past few weeks with thoughts on the peer connection, stirred up by what has been shared from many of the articles.


I know from my travels of advocacy, in what I refer to the as the trauma, abuse & mental health arena, that the word peer means a lot of things to many people. Though there is community in these worlds, it can also be quite polarized in how some think what a 'peer' is or supposed to be.


For myself, I have had time to ponder these things over the past several years...I was and still am a peer among musicians. I identify as a peer who has lived in the worlds of trauma, abuse and mental health and all of the hurts, pain, suffering and joy that I have experienced from being a member of these communities. I'm a divorced husband, a dad, a father who has lost children to divorce and parental alienation and a grieving father of two children who did not make it into this world. I'm a brother, a survivor of suicide loss and survivor of suicide attempts. I felt connected as a peer to others when I attended Adult Children of Alcoholic meetings, ditto to support groups for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and peer support groups for those of us who have been labeled “mentally ill”. These are snippets of some of my life's experiences and how they connect me to others. I feel the same holds true for most folks, our experiences are many and that to me is what unites us, our commonality as human beings. Finding a way to bridge the divide that takes place in some camps can go a long way in our efforts to change the paradigm of how things are in this world.


I believe that Sarah Knutson has summed it up quite nicely, we are, “Peerly Human, We are human beings on a human journey. Nothing more, nothing less. No greater gift, no higher calling.


Sincerely, Michael


The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” Coretta Scott King

Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” Helen Keller.


Newsletter Contents:

1] The Sisyphus Cycle: How Everyday Stress Leads to Suicide By Sarah Knutson @ Mad In America - Science, Psychiatry & Social Justice

2] Shared Decisions and Agency: Better Engagement Tools by Cindy Peterson-Dana L.M.H.C. - Psychiatric Services Online

2a] Psychiatric Services Welcomes Two New Coeditors of Personal Accounts Column

Personal Accounts: Patricia E. Deegan, Ph.D.,; and William C. Torrey, M.D.,

3] Can neurofeedback training increase self-esteem in depression – Medical News Today

By Catharine Paddock, Ph.D. Fact checked by Paula Field

4] RAKtivists™ - Random Acts of Kindness You have the potential to change the world.

5] Orchestrating Change - a film about the world's only orchestra for people living with mental illness

6] Former Navy SEAL enters Yale as a 52-year-old freshman – Associated Press

6a] Former Navy SEAL Returns To School For His Freshman Year At Yale At 52 Years Old :NPR - audio clip of the 8 minute interview

6b] Touching the Dragon: And Other Techniques for Surviving Life's Wars memoir by James Hatch

6c] Eli Whitney Students Program - Yale College Undergraduate Admissions

7] How To Help Your Anxious Partner - And Yourself: Shots - Health News by Susie Neilson @ NPR

8] Sia's heartrending acoustic performance of "Titanium" -  LA LGBT Center - YouTube 3:44 minutes

9] Author & Visual Artist Jyl Anais Releases Debut Collection of Poetry “Soft Out Spoken”

10] CITY VOICES – The Newspaper for Peers & the Peers Workforce - Behavioral Health, Mental Health Recovery Current issue – city-voices-fall-2019_V4_color.pdf

10a] From Pg,. 1 - Preventing Deadly Encounters with Police By Carla Rabinowitz, Advocacy Coordinator, Community Access

10b] Trauma Informed Peer Support [TIPS] by Michael Skinner.


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