written by Heather Riemer
I have had strange and unusual experiences for a long time and I have a little bit to tell you about my experiences. Not the actual experiences per say but what happened to change my view of having experiences such as voices and visions. In 2016 I applied for a job as a peer support specialist for the Special Messages Project. Little did I know it would change my life. It was very interesting work, quite different from anything I have done before. Special Messages have hampered and blessed my life. I used to never tell people about my voices and visions. This is because when I have done so in the past, I have encountered stigma and discrimination. I was told I was ill. When that is not how I felt. Since that time I have held my truth close to my heart not really revealing them to anyone. I was happy to be working for the Special Messages Project. It changed the way I looked at things.
This was a great step for me and my life, having recently discovered the value of peer support. Anyway, PEERS partnered with a gentleman named Tim Dreby who founded the Special Messages Group. It started out as a grant program where they would train peer support specialists to be outreach workers who went out into the community and engaged people who had unusual experiences such as voices and visions, and encouraged them to embrace their reality. Doing this work has taught me many things. It has taught me to cope with my own unusual experience. Of course it did not cure me of them but I asked the question what is recovery? And to be recovered is highly personal. It taught me that my experiences such as hearing voices was not an affliction. I truly have changed my viewpoint since I started my work in special messages. I am not recovered but I am in recovery.
This is because of peers and special messages. At first it was very scary for me because I had always been told that it is bad to hear voices. When in reality it is something both negative and positive. Yes, now I view my voices and visions as a gift. This is because of special messages. Being a part of the group has allowed me to explore my experience with open curiosity. That allows me to engage in a relationship with the voices and visions with an open mind and develop my relationships with other people. The group is a supportive safe place where I have found community and acceptance from others. We work through an interactive curriculum that is interesting and informative. It is just plain cool. The Special Messages Project has become a weekly group where people come to share their experiences and help each other cope. We help each other with life and what we are dealing with their voices or visions or any other type of unusual experience. It is a safe place to share. I have found true friendship and acceptance from others here at the group. I am a facilitator of the group but that does not mean I am not a member. Because in Special Messages everyone is equal and accepted just the way they are. We don’t judge.
So if you’d like to join our community and group come on Fridays from 12- 1:30pm. The group is online I will see you when you come and hopefully you will find what you are looking for here at Special Messages. I love it, I think you will too.