by Mo Karnage in Richmond, VA
Craig Lewis is a Boston punk. I met him when he came to Richmond in the Spring of 2013 to do a presentation on punk rock and mental health and recovery. I was intrigued and got in touch with him before he came to town. Craig was incredibly friendly over email and we met before the presentation at a local coffee shop to talk. Craig’s compassion struck me only a few minutes into our conversation. Talking to him was like talking to a therapist- which makes sense, because Craig is a Certified Peer Specialist and works in the mental health and recovery field in Boston. What is really neat though, is that Craig is really passionate about supporting punks specifically. He comes from that culture, and cares a lot about punk.
At the presentation, Craig shared his story, the good and the bad, in order to connect with the audience. The conversations that were held there were ones that happen too infrequently in punk and radical communities. Craig has a positive attitude and encouraged folks to make movement towards their own recovery.
Craig has just recently published a book- a mental health recovery workbook to be exact. The book is a tool for folks or groups of folks who want to address their mental health or addiction and take steps towards better days. The book is 8 1/2 x 11 and 82 pages long, and published by Better Days Recovery Press. The basic format is one of brief essays, and then pointed questions. It is easy to see how this workbook could be used by individuals or in group settings to spark discussion. And with 36 different topics and corresponding work sheets there is enough material in the workbook to last a decent while.
The underlying theme of the workbook is basically empowerment of the individual. Craig promotes a hands on, do-it-yourself, type of approach to mental health and recovery. But importantly, he doesn’t shun needing help from others, institutions, medication, etc. I would almost compare the book to something that might come out of the Icarus Project, a radical mental health organization. The book is a tool, and it won’t do you any good gathering dust on a shelf. It is clearly the sort of book meant to be deliberately used by people on the path of recovery and towards mental health.
For me, some mental health stuff can have a cheesy ring to it. I think it helps to know that even if my macho defense mechanisms rile up, that the person behind the book isn’t a religious person trying to convert me, and they aren’t a yuppie trying to indoctrinate me. I can lower my defenses because this is coming from Crusty Craig and he is not trying to make anyone stop being punk. He just wants everyone to be the happiest, mentally healthiest and best punk and person they can be.
Hopefully this won’t be the last we hear from Craig (I’m pretty sure he has more tours and books on the way), and hopefully this won’t be the last positive mental health book and presentation coming out of the punk community. Punks have a lot to offer each other, and we could use a good bit more of this type of positive and empowering thought being shared.
If you want to purchase the book for yourself, a friend, or a group, you can buy copies from www.betterdaysrecovery.com and you can also get in touch with Craig yourself through that website.