Appreciation Spotlight: April Miller

My story is filled with terrible choices, and ugly truths. It’s also filled with a major comeback, peace in my soul and a grace that saved my life.

I never dreamed that my story, my journey would someday make an impact on someone else’s life. I wasn’t thinking about helping others, I was thinking about myself, my pity, my sorrow, my trauma, my brokenness; then it seemed that I was just doing; I was doing the work, I was doing the healing; I was fighting for my life at all cost. Telling my story became my own puzzle piece to healing.

Five years ago I lost everything that was important to me, my marriage, my family, my kids, my home, my sobriety, my emotional health, my spiritual wellbeing and frankly, I lost myself. Years and years of sobriety and thinking that I/we had beat addiction all went away. I was slowly losing my husband, who was battling a deep depression and a pill addiction. I was slowly losing my husband to mental/spiritual warfare that in the end, claimed both of us. A DHS case and one final violent altercation, made me walk away from it all. I started out in a state of great disturbance, confusion and uncertainty and leaned into the world of addiction. I had never planned on getting back up, I had never planned on having a future past my traumatic circumstances. Slowly, there became a clear distinction between the path I was on and a path that held a future for me. I suppose I wanted to bring everyone with me, to the other side, but this was a journey I had to do alone. It became quite clear that for me to survive this battle, that I had to jump the line and decide what side I was going to be on. I either lived in perpetual sorrow and heartache or I had to decide to heal from my pain.

I became a Peer Support and Peer Recovery Coach at NAMI Central Iowa Mental Health and Wellness Center because I have real empathy for the brokenhearted. I have real compassion for those who struggle with their own mental health and the trauma that shaped them. I know the power of having a friend, of having someone speak life into another person, and I’ve seen firsthand the power of thinking positively. There is power in our words. What we say to others, both good and bad, can change someone’s entire day. I know how to pour into others. I invested in myself, and in return, I am now able to invest in others. I am able to share hope. I am involved with one of NAMI CI’s programs called “In Our Own Voice” where I am a presenter and share my story and journey with others. I’ve spoken in the drug treatment centers and in churches and if you had asked me five years ago where I thought I’d be today, I would have told you that I had no hope in a future.

It is important to not feel alone or feel judged and NAMI Central Iowa’s Mental Health and Wellness Center has been an amazing place where we create friendships and a healthy place where we accept peers where they are in their journey. Feel free to drop by and say hello!

One of April’s coworkers nominated her, saying she is “compassionate to our peers that drop in to the
center” and that she really does “go above and beyond to support each individual that comes in.”

Iowa Peer Network would like to thank April for all she does!

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