The wounded healer interview series features people who’ve dealt with significant mental health challenges, and who also work in a helping role to support the mental health of others.
This interview is with Meagon Nolasco of Prose For The Masses.
1) Tell us a bit about you, the helping field you’re in, and the mental health challenges you’ve faced.
I have been a consumer in the mental health field since I was 15 years old. Now, at 30 I work as a Peer Support Specialist using my lived experience to help empower and support others. My current diagnosis is PTSD stemming from child hood abuse which has led to severe anxiety, night terrors and restless sleep as well as bouts of severe depression.
2) What made you decide to go into your helping field? Did your mental health challenges play a role?
My mental health challenges played a huge role in my interest in the mental health system. Being a consumer for so many years, I saw first-hand how broken this system is and how it is geared towards the insurance companies more than the individuals it is put in place to serve. Also, I want to be able to share my experience so that others know they are not alone.
3) How have your own mental health challenges influenced the helping work you do?
As a Peer Specialist, my role is to share my lived experience with others while also connecting them to community resources and also being there to support them during difficult times. Being that I have had to use these services myself, I am able to help peers navigate the system. Also, I have a personal history with anxiety and depression and hope my experience helps others feel at ease and as normal as they can in those scary moments
4) Do you think you’re a more effective helper because of your own mental health challenges? How so?
Absolutely. Without having my own first-hand knowledge of what anxiety FEELS like and what depression FEELS like, I am just another therapist. I am just another person who is reading from a textbook and checking the boxes. As a Peer, I am able to take my lived experience and feelings towards things like mental illness and let others know I have felt that way, I know how that feels and offer empathy vs. sympathy.
5) Have you chosen to share your own mental health challenges with any of your patients/clients? What influenced that choice?
I have shared pieces of my history with certain peers of mine. I have both a mental illness history as well as a substance abuse history so, depending on what a peer is struggling with in the moment, I share a piece of my story that can relate and help them connect with me on a deeper level. Building trust begins by building bridges, my experiences are the bridge
6) Has your training or experience in your helping field changed how you approach your own illness or mental health challenges?
Yes, mostly in the realm of self care. You hear so many people talk about self-care and stress that it must be done but many of us just ignore this or do not make the time for it. Now that I am working in the mental health field, I am aware that I am only valuable to my peers at my best, and I am only at my best when I take the time to step back, unwind, meditate, read or anything else that takes my mind and body to another place.
7) What advice would you give to someone who has faced mental illness or other mental health challenges and is thinking about entering your helping field?
Be the change. All those complaints and qualms you have with your current providers or with current community services, be the one to make the change. Start petitioning for better funding for community resources, start offering groups and talks about things that most won’t sit through the uncomfortability to offer and above all LISTEN-do not just hear your patients/peers and/or clients, but listen. They will tell you all you need to know about them if you give them the time to explain.
You can find Meagon at:
Thanks so much Meagon for sharing with us!
I decided to start the wounded healers interview series to showcase the contributions that people from within the mental illness community have made to help others living with mental illness. I’m looking to interview people who:
- have lived experience of mental illness or other significant mental health challenges;
- are willing to share the impact of those experiences on their helping work; AND
- are working (or have worked) in a helping role supporting people with mental health challenges, either as mental health professionals or wellness-promoting roles (e.g. coaches) – students and retired helpers are welcome too
If you’re interested in doing an interview, email me at mentalhealthathome (at) gmail (dot) com. Let me know how you are a wounded healer, and I’ll send you the interview questions.