The Journey of Wellness And Recovery

Although I am an American, I grew up in a Caribbean household where the words “I love you” weren’t exactly the norm. I longed to be accepted and loved by my parents and attempted to receive it by getting good grades and through consistent obedience. When my behavior wasn’t acknowledged, I felt rejected and unwanted. This began the dark cycle of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. My disease caused me to do harm to myself from age 12 to 20.

May 5, 2010, I hit rock bottom and decided I wanted to end it all. I planned my own suicide believing no one would even notice. As I was getting ready to complete the act, I heard an audible voice whisper “you have a purpose”. Those words broke my heart and I began to think about others, specifically youth, who may feel as though they don’t have a purpose as well. I didn’t want anyone to ever feel the pain that I did.

I can proudly say I have been in recovery for six years now. I know that audible voice was God and He saved my life. Today, I believe I have a purpose and that is to give youth strength and hope through my experiences. When I heard about Youth M.O.V.E. Broward, I knew immediately that I would be involved and encourage young people to use their voice and live out their purpose. Recovery is an everyday journey and I am glad to be on it.

“The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away”. – Pablo Picasso

By: Soraya Papayoute


Peer Support Saved My Life


After a long night of smoking crack cocaine I finally had a moment of clarity. I said to myself “there has to be more to life than this.”

I was homeless, scared and had no true coping skills—all I had was a little bit of hope that my life could potentially get better.

I was taken in by friends (peers) once they knew I hit bottom and was willing to go to any lengths to get better.

After a few slow months of recovering from my relapse, I was introduced to Youth M.O.V.E. Broward. We created holiday ornaments because it was the end of the year. I really enjoyed the people I met that day and wanted to continue to hang out with them.

I told Youth M.O.V.E. Broward’s Coordinator that I was very interested in building my wellness. The next month she took me to my first training.

There, at the training, young adults were facilitating Youth Mental Health First Aid and I was BLOWN away. I did not know that there were any good souled youth out in the world. Their knowledge of mental health services and how to help others was astounding. I wanted to be just like them.

With my new spark of interest in human services, I got even more involved with Youth M.O.V.E. Broward. I attended all the events that they offered and with time, I discovered that I had this “voice.” That voice is my opinion and life experiences matter, and overcoming my trials and tribulations were some of the best assets of my life.

Youth M.O.V.E. Broward’s peers assisted me with defining my purpose in life- I want to help others realize their voice is important to the world. The peers at Youth M.O.V.E. to this day continuously support me and help me grow into the man I had always wanted to be.


  • Adam Nooe

My Life Coach; My Hope

The wind blowing around a 3-year-old girl on a dark path. Her young eyes soaked from the flow of tears. Enclosed within the small child’s hand are the remains of her tiny heart. She wanders lost on this dark uncertain path alone. In the darkness, she feels lost to uncertainty as soft voices arouse among the dark abyss before her:

Burdens, mistake, worthless. The whispers can be heard all around her, as she walks through the darkness. The child closing her fists as the sharp words cut her. Lowering her head as her purity and innocence come out of the cuts like blood. Her little arms, legs and face being cut by those hateful words. She continues to walk aimlessly, fearful of stopping. Tears rolling down her cheeks as the words cut and tear as her clothing, making her feel ashamed, hated. In order to protect her small heart, she closed her fist as the fluttering of her heart slowly stops in order to protect it from further harm.

Her pain and sorrows are clearly visible as she slowly lifts her head, a tear dropping off her red puffy cheek. Her blue eyes are searching the gloom for hope. She is desperate for some sort of understanding, light and guidance. Trying to ignore the voices that stocked her.

“Home wreaker, liar, outcast!” the voices chant, as the girl starts sobbing trying to fight off the pain as her body trembles and bleeds. “It’s not my fault” she cried. “I didn’t want to do it. Leave me alone.”

Unable to take the pain and torment, She runs forward trying to escape them. The voices followed her, getting louder and louder as she ran sobbing. Her body shifts from a 3 year old to a preteen. Her short brown hair is growing longer. As she runs her heart pounds– heavier and faster. The fear, and anxiety suffocates her. She quickly closed her fist and shut her soaked eyes. She trips and falls onto the path, gasping from pain, her body desperate for air. She can barely feel her heart within her blood-covered palm. The voices surround her, her heart cracking more from the pressure.

“help me…” her voice weak as she struggles to shut out the voices hurtful words. Depression engulfing her. The feeling of being worthless, unloved and unwanted sinking in as her abused heart finally dies. Her spirit breaking as she goes numb. Keeping her head down she slowly got up. Her eyes opening, as she start to wonder along the path broken and unfeeling. Her eyes dazed, soaked from the tears now emotionless and empty. Her grasp on her dead heart growing weaker with each step while she shifts into a young woman. Unable to deal with the internal pain anymore, she stops. The once bright glowing, fluttering heart is now gray ever darkened by the depression, abuse and is now shattered and cracked. She gazes at it, her eyes hazy and drugged from the poison injected into heart by the voices which broke her. A single tear rolls down her cheek as the heart starts to shift into dust.

A warm hand covers her broken heart. She looks up to see a woman. Her face is kind, supportive and compassionate. Her beautiful brown eyes filled with life and hope. “Come, you’re almost there.” Her voice promising as if she was an angle sent for the heavens. She offers her hand to the young woman. The young woman’s heart grows warm and glows brighter as the cracks start healing from under the woman’s touch. For the first time the young woman smiles, embracing this foreign feeling. Her eyes are coming back to life. Within moments voices start screaming “illusion, fake, temporary..!” the women before the young woman whipping her tear away, “Come I will show you the way.” The woman stands up again offering her hand. The girl slowly stands up, memorized by the new feelings that were blooming from her tiny heart. Her gaze widens, behind the woman is a growing light. The young woman’s eyes start to shimmer with hope.


The voices grew weaker and started to fade along with the darkness around her. They walked down the path together. A massive weight off the teens shoulders as she turns to the woman. “Thank you. “The woman simply smiled looking back at the teen. “Your welcome. I will always be here, I will be your life coach.”


By: Betty W.

Finding Balance

We live in a world of instant gratification(more, better, bigger, now);happiness is in retirement; the list could be endless. I am a young person living in this culture who works full time, goes to school full time, and attempts to pay all of my bills on time. The expense of living is insane. I am the product of a single parent, and I am proud of it. There is chaos within and there is chaos among me. How do I escape the madness and find peace?

Yoga. I breathe in and I breathe out. I go to Yin classes, which are a slow paced yoga, and I go to vigorous Vinyasa classes when I have an excess of energy that I need to release. I become flexible and strong; both spiritually and physically. I oftentimes leave a Yoga class feeling grateful, calm, and with a feeling of satisfaction. My life is busy. My world is busy. Balance, mindfulness, finding my peace is not an option or a luxury. It is a necessity to my survival.

In fact, there was a period of time not too long ago that I did not participate in the activities that keep me sane ( such as yoga, you will hear about the others at a later time), and man… I felt it. I magically did not like people, I did not like my life, I did not like my job, I did not want to help anyone, I hated school, and my personal relationships were in turmoil. I was in full fledged isolation mode with a feeling of uselessness. Darkness plagued me, and I had to refer back to my wellness plan. I finally realized I was treating my passions as options and not as necessities.

My life is meaningless without passion– or it feels that way anyway. I am grateful and ecstatic to report that I have regularly been running and going yoga. I have not character assassinated my peers mentally and I have plans to spend time with my friends this weekend. I went to yoga last night after locking myself out of my apartment. I laughed about it inside of becoming angry at things I cannot control. Life is good and I won’ take myself so seriously today. Thanks for listening… stay tuned for more blogs from myself and other Youth M.O.V.E members.

#Wellness #YogaLife #YMNational

–Justine Castaneda