Heather: Life Lessons

Heather realized that she does not want to take on the role of being a protector, because her loved ones do not want to be protected. She sees herself as a resource or anchor point for them and will always be there for them. She has developed skills that increase her effectiveness at work, including listening to the perspectives of others. She aims to develop leadership and advocacy skills to address mental health concerns from a social justice perspective.

Her relationships with her brother and husband are stronger as a result of her dedication to supporting them in managing life challenges. She knows her brother and husband trust her and she will be there for them. She recognizes her own strengths and what she needs to work on and communicates better with her parents and is more appreciative of their contributions.

The most important skills Heather has learned are listening and self-care. She writes in her journal, sought out therapy, and recently completed an interactive online program called “Beating the Blues” that helped her identify and stop negative thought patterns. She summarized what she has learned as “five ingredients to this happy better lifesleeping well, eating well, exercising, socializing, and not stressing out.” She noted, “It’s hard to put yourself first. But if you don’t, it makes all your other relationships and work harder.”

She summed up her approach as “listening, self-care, finding a way to express yourself, and then being really gentle with yourself.” She is reframing the traditional American dream away from the dream of her growing up years. Although her family assumed that Heather and her brother would each go to college and have their own home, a car, and a family, she realized that this American dream did not happen for either her or Brad. She knows her brother will not have enough money for his own home and car and will likely not get married. She wonders about his future. What will happen to him when their parents can no longer live independently? Heather noted, “Here I am pushing ahead and really working and focusing to be successful and it’s not falling into place for Brad. What does that look like if you can’t achieve that?”

Heather is balancing the reality of the worlds her brother and husband live in with acceptance of what they need to do to manage life. She channels her energy into activities that use her increasing knowledge and voice to contribute to initiatives that promote well-being for communities important to her.


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