Explaining “cooccurrent”

Why do I sometimes use the handle “cooccurrent?” Things that “co-occur” are multiple things (people, places, objects) or events present together or happening together at the same place and time.

“Cooccurring challenges” or “co-occurring conditions” is a psychiatric label assigned to people with challenges from emotional difficulties (“mental health”) along with difficulty from problem habits (addiction or compulsion). ” Other names for these experiences include “dual diagnosis” or “coexisting issues.”

I am a survivor of emotional and physical health challenges. I have several years uninterrupted abstinence from addiction to illegal drugs. I have been labeled non-consensually with a “co-occurring conditions” diagnosis. I choose to reclaim that stigmatizing label and return the word to its literal definition.

I see my challenges and lived experience with emotional suffering, as well as the lessons learned through overcoming addiction, to be a tremendous source of strength. For me, my challenges are a natural human response to surviving trauma, and diseases or illnesses. But because of the difficulties, I am more conscious about self-care and working towards a self-sufficient existence.

So far, my challenges have prevented me from obtaining and maintaining traditional paid employment. It is my hope that someday I will find a way to change that.

I strive to develop the resources and skills to change that, and help others by using my wide array of past professional experience and my education in information science and technology to assist others in work and life. I contribute also through other volunteering as far as my skill and resources allow.

I have also developed skill in group facilitation, recovery advocacy, and peer recovery support. I facilitate ongoing weekly SMART Recovery meetings in the greater Seattle area.

I am grateful for my support network – my spouse, family, friends, pets, and my community. I am thankful as well to have had access to the free tools/training/connections provided by SMART Recovery. All of these factors have been essential for me to realize successful long term recovery.

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