Saturday, April 11, 2009

Justin and Jacob

Justin Mashburn and I attended the Orange County Chapter of NAMI's family-to-family a few nights ago. I gave my general overview of the program, and then Justin hit the floor, tapping out rhythmically his stint in the program thus far.

Justin spoke of his overall impression of Caramore as being a program that embraces individuals for their differences, and not by their mental illness. He concentrated more upon self-desire, determination, and will-power. He spoke of routine, a welcomed transition away from tired performances with family members, and he made it clear that he feels really accepted, a part of community, and a self-contributor. Not once did Justin speak of his mental illness. Instead, he spoke of his difficulties with getting up in the morning, coming to terms with his illness, and getting adjusted to a new routine.

In the end, Justin said that he was proud to be a part of Caramore, and when we were being bombarded with questions, he answered with no hesitation, and I never felt the slightest discomfort or unease. When asked, "How does Caramore bridge the gap between the greater community of Chapel Hill, and the community of Caramore, knowing that you have a mental illness," Justin responded very articulately, "We don't define ourselves in that way."

Justin has accepted his illness, and truly wants to grow. Growth is different for everyone. When given compassion, understanding, acceptance, and temperance, individuals feel free to grow in their own UNIQUE way, without fear of being judged. The moment this begins to happen, an individual surfaces with autonomy and self-motivation. Justin did that without any rehearsal, without any push, and without any reservation. No matter what is in store for his future beyond today, I can say confidently, and without any reticence, that the Justin that spoke tonight was not the same Justin that I met when he was admitted.

We never stop growing until the world tells us otherwise, and the world does not define us. Instead, we define ourselves, and the world learns acceptance, or turns away. Either way, the one is not contingent or dependent on the other, but they gently ask for cohabitation, and I am sure that we provide that.

Jacob Long

Admissions Director

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