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Freedom of Making Choices: Our Choice Matters

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It’s almost dawn. Maybe it’s 6:00 am. It’s still dark outside, so I first turn on the lamp near my bed, a nice soft white light that produces away so I can remove myself from my bedroom. Slowly, I get out of bed, walking the necessary steps to proceed into the bathroom.

Then, I drag myself out to the kitchen. Boiling a pot of water to make a mug of lemon soother tea today (it was Chamomile yesterday) and enjoying my tea and filtering through the radio stations for something to wake me further up to continue my day. 

Then, I choose to go back to my bedroom, flip on the bank of lights overhead, swing open the doors of my closet and stare perplexed at the obscene amount of clothing before my eyes. What to wear today? Thus begins my day. A day that, within the first 30 minutes, was filled with choices.

Being a peer specialist, choices happen more often and with exceeding hardness. With the remainder of this article, I want to share my thoughts and how to make it easier regarding choice. 

Do I take out the brown shirt or the tan one? Do they both match the pants I have already selected? Which of my sneakers do I use today, or maybe I put on my shoes that will do better justice on my feet and please everyone? Possibly, I can be daring and wear my sunglasses that look exactly like all those I see everywhere in my neighbourhood? Will these have been the choices that others made in this community? Probably not.

One of our roles as peer specialists is to assist others with their options, so we figure out alternatives and pick one. Some are more courageous than me, and some are made by very distinguished people that continued making choices around recovery, social change, sobriety for some, for a new direction with hope and courage.

Naturally, my choices are mine, and I have to live with them. For everyone else, most of the options are from previous actions from our predecessors, the men and women who had chosen to do respective jobs within the mental health system.

A choice is picking or making a selection when faced with two or more distinct possibilities. Also, it is a range of alternatives from which one or more may be ultimately decided. Simple choices that have a relatively low impact on our lives are better for overall physical and mental health.

More complex options might involve situations based on multiple influences and have more significant ramifications. Some of our choices are easier for select individuals, and some are more challenging. Freedom of choice is generally adored, while a limited or artificially restricted choice can lead to discomfort and unfavourable outcomes. However, in stark contrast, selecting numerous alternatives may lead to confusion. 

The choice becomes the ability of most humans to contemplate and make good and important decisions that bring all of us to every place we go in this world and on our unique journeys of self-exploration. Also, it is our process that we sometimes aspire to and yearn for, and ultimately it is our selection that we too often take for granted.

I know I did—my experience with various mental health professionals and working as and with peer specialists. Usually, we respected and revered with the limited options we had, and we were cherished to earn and achieve the greater choices to change the direction in our working and social lives. 

Freedom of choice is an opportunity for individuals with autonomy to perform an action selected from two or more alternatives, unconstrained by any external participants. In the US, freedom of choice is part of the fundamental rights of all citizens.

However, this is not constantly occurring, and the requests are challenged. People are still being dictated to in other places in our world, with little or no choice being offered. It was knowing that I also took choices as totally accurate in my past. Dealing with OCD made it difficult for me with lots of options. Ruminating each choice over extended periods was also not productive. Sometimes, I would focus my attention on a couple of my possibilities rather than the bigger picture.

Frequently my decisions are made with limited ideas and information, which limits my growth and development. To this end, I wish to thank the men and women of the mental health system who taught me the values and the importance of making my choice to become a peer specialist.

These pioneers modelled honesty and integrity in owning their decisions. In addition, they made their choice and dared to make different opportunities in an environment that may not necessarily support that. It was a tremendous experience of the new and empowered goals. These men and women have contributed to their recovery and restoration support in others, like me. When I make my early morning choices, they are done with much admiration to a series of individuals that blazed the trail before me. 

Ending this article with this paragraph is a choice. There are many options for me here, but I have narrowed them down to a precious three. Each of them has a few distinctive possibilities, but I am almost ready to choose. Now for the final three, one is to continue and labour on. The second is to finish my thoughts about choices for now and bring this to its climax. And third is making no choice, and this piece will linger in oblivion forever. Whether this will be a good choice is irrelevant, but it will conclude—my choice.

Howard Diamond is a certified peer specialist in New York.


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