Interview by Aubrey Boggs

Born in Kentucky and raised in Missouri, followed by living in San Francisco and Albuquerque, Tim eventually settled in Colorado in 1998. At fifteen years old Tim started having symptoms of depression and at nineteen he was diagnosed with Bipolar 1. Tim ended up in the hospital after this diagnosis, and began to realize after a while that he was experiencing challenges with alcohol. In 2010 he had to be taken off his lithium because of issues with his kidney, and found himself in new territory trying to find the right cocktail of medications; this new journey felt like a “no man’s land”, as Tim put it. He started experiencing mania, amplifying the difficulty of changing medications and not knowing what would work. Eventually, however, Tim was able to find the right medication combination and got back into teaching.

When discussing his recovery journey Tim shared that he had worked to find wellness without fully understanding recovery or having a recovery plan. He found self-care essential to avoiding the urge to drink alcohol, but says that the mental health piece was still the most challenging aspect of this co-occurring disorders. After teaching for a while in an alternative high school, where he could create his own curriculum, Tim found the school district enacting some draconian measures towards the schools. He found himself spiraling into depression and anxiety and ended up in the hospital in 2011 for six days and then spend three weeks in outpatient treatment.

After treatment Tim began to really work on his recovery. He began meditating, using creative visualization, eating well, and exercising. Tim found his way out of his depression and realized that he hadn’t really known what he was doing before. He created a self-care plan, realizing how essential his self-care was to his recovery and wellness.

Today, Tim takes care of himself by seeing his psychiatrist and therapist and has filled his life with rewarding hobbies to further bolster his self-care. Tim has a great passion for peer support, loves to read, write poetry, play basketball, go hiking, work on meditation, spend time with his family (his daughter just started high school and does ballet), and ensure that he is caring for his mental health. Tim, along with colleague and friend Terri (whose story will appear on our page shortly), recently began a peer-based coaching business – Peer Recovery Support Services, LLC (PRSS). Through PRSS Tim and Terri (along with other peers) offer peer coaching services to individuals augmenting therapeutic treatment.

Tim was hired by Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners but did not have any official peer support training, they paid for him to participate while he was working. He found that he was able to garner essential training at the same time as he gained work experience, this worked well for him.

Tim says he appreciates CMWN for their peer training facilitators and how hard they work. Amanda Kearney-Smith, as the executive director of CMWN, participated in the training sessions with Jennifer and Joann and they all “worked their tails off.” The facilitators did a lot of work with the trainees and Tim says they are great people. He said that CMWN “gets what it’s all about” and he has been grateful to be involved with CMWN and is impressed with their work!

 

Amanda Kearney-Smith

I founded the Network as the Executive Director in 2011 and, before that, I was a program director at Mental Health Colorado. My educational background is in Developmental Psychology, but living with bipolar disorder has drawn me to this work. I'm most passionate about protecting the civil rights and dignity of others. In my free time, I love reading, practicing yoga, and spending time with my family here and in Illinois.

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