And the ability to speak frankly about the mental health world

Different-colored Autumn leaves hanging from a thread
Different-colored Autumn leaves hanging from a thread
Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Firstly, to all of my new subscribers: Thank you much for the follow! I know I haven’t posted in some time but many new ideas are in the works… which leads me to…

It’s occurred to me that some of the topics I’ll be discussing in the following new posts may be more contentious and will come directly from my experiences working in human services field for the almost seven years.

(And of course, my experiences as a “consumer” of these services through the years)

Working from within the field (as a Peer) has too often stopped me from posting…

Can we mend the Present when the Past still haunts us?

a drawing of hands tying string.
a drawing of hands tying string.
Photo by Conor O'Nolan on Unsplash

One morning, my boyfriend misses my calls. This is unusual. He tends to be an early riser. I begin to feel myself panic. Minutes later, I’m speeding down the freeway, three towns away, just to make sure he’s okay.

I’m hyperventilating. It reminds me of the cat-and-mouse mind games my ex used to play. Flashbacks zip through the mind like a film reel, racing with negative thoughts and images of deaths and breakups. I can’t see straight anymore. There must be something wrong, right?

At moments like this, I’m sure my amygdala going into full blast with surges of adrenaline…

a dark-hued rose on a solid black backdrop
a dark-hued rose on a solid black backdrop
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

The night of September 20th, 2014, I stared into the void of what was to come, after taking more pills than I ever had at once. I consumed three bottles and fell asleep.

I closed my eyes and leaned into the dark.

An hour or so later, I woke up-wildly hallucinating. The walls melted before my eyes and my furniture spun. Every object in my room became a pulsating ripple. I tried to stand up, but I doubled over and vomited instead.

Suddenly afraid, I gazed down at my futon bed with its sprawled, wrinkled sheets. It occurred to me…

Are we ready to remove our inner straitjackets?

Protesters with picket signs, one in the middle made of cardboard and the words, “wake up” and picture of a burning earth
Protesters with picket signs, one in the middle made of cardboard and the words, “wake up” and picture of a burning earth
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

From social workers and psychiatrists to patients and activists, Mental Health is going through a major paradigm shift.

ISPS [short for: The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis], held a conference in New Haven, CT, just this past November 2019.

Professionals, family members, and people with lived experience of Psychosis came together to discuss new ways and methods of understanding unusual, psychological experiences.

Instead of coming from a paradigm of hierarchy and control, participants were armed with a spirit of curiosity and discussion.

We’re riding a new wave

Changes in how we approach Mental Health, including Harm Reduction, Holistic care, Nutrition, and…

Can we talk?

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Image for post
Photo by Gary Chan on Unsplash

I saw you over at a Wendy’s parking lot this afternoon after picking up a few things at the Target across the plaza. The closest garbage can couldn’t have been more than a few feet away but while you were rummaging through your old, blue Toyota…

A plastic cup catapulted out of your driver’s side window, along with a flying orange straw right after. Both lay forlorn on the asphalt and already tumbling with the wind.


During the dawn of 2020, an age emerging as the most environmentally conscious, I was beside myself wondering how, with our cultural zeitgeist saturated…

How this training could empower anyone with a Mental Health diagnosis

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Image for post
Photo by on Unsplash

In 2016, I graduated from a program specializing in Peer Support, also known as Recovery Support. This training helped give me tools that both empowered me in a new career and how I live my life overall.

Not every Peer Support program is the same. Some programs may highlight some aspects of the recovery model over others.

In short, the Recovery model is rooted in using a Strength-based approach over one emphasizing someone’s perceived deficits. According to SAMHSA, users of mental health services benefit to a significant degree when receiving help from a Peer, someone who is hired because of…

One Documentary Explores a Different Perspective.

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Image for post
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

While awareness around Depression, Anxiety and other mental health diagnoses grow, someone who hears voices is still often considered beyond the pale in terms of treatment options.

People who experience voice-hearing are usually labeled Schizophrenic, Schizoaffective or Bipolar “with psychotic features”.

Most voice-hearers who come to the traditional Psychiatric model for help, are often met with forced hospitalizations, heavy-duty cocktails of medications, and are told to not talk about the voices because talking about voices “only makes them worse”.

Is the traditional psychiatric view the only way to understand voice-hearing experiences? Or could there be more?

Advocacy Unlimited, a state-funded…

We, Neurodivergent folks, need to be understood.

Microchip in the middle of blue hexagon patterns
Microchip in the middle of blue hexagon patterns
Photo by Jonas Svidras on Unsplash

According to Business Insider, Elon Musk discussed his excitement over Neuralink, “an AI-enabled chip that could be implanted in a person’s brain to stimulate brain activity.” on a Lex Fridman podcast, which aired this past Tuesday.

While I can’t speak directly to how this microchip would work with Alzheimers’s or Parkinson’s, we need to reflect on different possibilities in terms of Autism and Schizophrenia.

I deal with mental health challenges and a neurological impairment, and I for one, don’t need a microchip to “solve” my “issues”. Many folks on the Autism spectrum consider their Neurodivergence as a way of being

And use one of our greatest tools to heal.

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Image for post
Photo by Victor on Unsplash

After the initial sour tears and lurching in my belly, I lay in bed, wipe the dampness off my face and take a deep breath. And this is all I do for a few moments.

Breathe in. And out.



Through the nose and out of the mouth.

It sounds so simple, I know… but it’s powerful.

I watch those feelings rise and fall like ocean tides. I ride the wave.

No more gasping or grasping. I put my hand on my stomach and continue to center my attention around the breathing and all of its sensations. …

On using the ‘Recovery Model’ to question the status quo…

A woman on the beach watches the setting sun on the water.
A woman on the beach watches the setting sun on the water.
Photo courtesy of Eddie Ferris

En cada cabesa hay un mundo.

‘In every head, there is a world’.

I take this old, Spanish refrain literally and to heart. When we get to meet different human beings, we’re opening our visions to encompass ever wider perspectives — we discover a new world and a new part of ourselves.

I am learning life lessons as a Recovery Support Specialist (also known as a Peer Support Specialist) including using my life experience as a vehicle of connection and facilitating wellness for the club members I serve. One of my favorite parts of my job is the continual education…

Autumn Del Toro

I’m a Mind Explorer / Peer Support Counselor/ Mental Health Content Writer

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