This week, we continue introducing you to Advocates for Human Potential (AHP) staff who have both a personal and professional history with, and a commitment to, WRAP and its role in recovery. Today, Kristen King talks about how WRAP has become a lifelong tool for living well. 

Seven years ago, I found WRAP and it changed everything for me. Ever since, it has been a dream of mine to meet Mary Ellen Copeland and thank her in person. Earlier this year, I had the chance to cross that item off my bucket list, and it was a very special day for me. To say I was excited when AHP acquired WRAP would be an understatement.

As it does with many people, WRAP came into my life at an especially low point. In 2010, the year after I joined AHP, I was living in Virginia and attending a peer-led support group for people with depression and anxiety. I was grieving some deep personal losses and was still navigating the bipolar disorder diagnosis I’d received a few years earlier. Although the diagnosis had been something of a relief because it gave me an explanation for how I’d been feeling, it left me uneasy. I wondered, Is this who I am now? I worried that my life would be different with this diagnosis—this label—and not in a way I would have chosen.

People in my support group kept talking about how rap “gave them their lives back” and helped them move beyond labels. “Rap music did that?” I asked, confused. “No,” they said, laughing, “WRAP: Wellness Recovery Action Plan!” They described a tool that helped them make meaning of their own experiences and challenges and define recovery how they wanted it to be. I knew I had to learn more, so I attended an eight-week WRAP group and loved it.
WRAP gave me hope. It showed me that there were others like me who wanted to know how to do more and be more. I read about Mary Ellen and about her mother, Kate. I listened to the stories of others in my class. I witnessed the positive changes of my friends who’d been using WRAP. I learned firsthand that recovery is possible, and it looks different for everyone.

WRAP gave me structure. The thought of taking charge of my own wellness was simultaneously exciting and overwhelming. Fortunately, WRAP showed me that I didn’t have to figure it out all at once. WRAP provided a framework in manageable chunks that allowed me to create a total wellness plan specific to how I feel and what I need. It was immediately helpful.

WRAP gave me flexibility. I’ve outgrown a lot of tools in my life because they worked when I found them but didn’t fit anymore when my life circumstances changed—or they were confined to only one area of my life. What I love about WRAP is that it’s a living document, one that grows and changes as I do. I can choose which parts of it I focus on depending on what I need at the time. WRAP helped me get well, and it’s helped me stay well through a high-risk pregnancy with twins, a major move, deaths in the family, and other major life events. It’s also helped me manage communication and problem solving at home and at work, and it’s helped me tackle major personal and professional projects. WRAP supports all aspects of my life.

I was so impressed with WRAP that I knew I had to share it. In 2011, I asked for and received AHP’s support to become a certified WRAP facilitator. They gave me the time I needed to take the next step in my WRAP journey so I could help others use WRAP to change their own lives.

Since then, I’ve shared WRAP with dozens of friends, coworkers, and others. Now, near my home in Florida, I provide life skills training to adult residents of a transitional housing program for young moms with small children who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. These families are at a vulnerable point in their lives, much as I was when I was first introduced to WRAP. I’ve incorporated the WRAP “red book” and workbook into our life skills program, and it’s been exciting to see these young women redesigning their lives using this tool—one that will evolve with them as their situation changes.

WRAP is an amazing tool. It’s empowering. It’s fun and easy to use. It provides hope and structure. It’s flexible enough to last a lifetime. And as an evidence-based best practice, it’s proven to work. WRAP changes lives, one person and one family at a time. That’s why I feel incredibly grateful to be a part of WRAP’s long-term future. I have yet to meet anyone who couldn’t benefit from incorporating WRAP into their life. WRAP will continue to be part of my personal and professional journey, and I hope it will be part of yours, as well.