In defiance of a cascade of personal and professional struggles, Craig Lewis chooses to be happy. During the past five years, Craig has been healing from a traumatic brain injury caused by pharmaceutical medications. What a terrible situation it must be to have the medicine prescribed to heal us wound the brain— the most important organ in the body— instead?
Following the advice of John Lewis, he got in “some good and necessary trouble” speaking out truthfully and bravely against the family dysfunction and abuse that scarred him as a child and as an adult. This abuse left deep scars that are still visible. For ten years and through his own experience, Craig worked tirelessly in the Boston area as a Certified Peer Specialist. He helped others challenged by trauma, mental health and substance use. Two months into a new job, Craig did what no mental health worker wants to do, yet is required.This meant to not only follow the ethics required of the job, but also to protect those who are voiceless and vulnerable from abuse and neglect. After reporting the ethical concerns he was eyewitness to concerning his coworker and his defenseless clients, Craig and the report were shut down . The facility’s management chose this shameful outcome, despite the veracity of Craig’s reporting.
At the same time, Craig was disowned by his dysfunctional and abusive family who continue to be unrepentant. He courageously entered a self-imposed yet lifesaving exile. Spending 15 months homeless and mostly in Europe, he gave more than 50 professional mental health training and community empowerment events in more than one dozen countries. Most of the organizations that hired Craig were unaware that he was homeless until he shared this news during the workshops.
Craig took his painful experience and spoke about it honestly. This was not only for him to survive, but to help others who were struggling to have their experiences heard by the world. More importantly, Craig, sharing his truth and shouting “Me, too!” gave others suffering the tools of survival. There is a quote by Ehraz Ahmed, an informational technology entrepreneur, that says, “One day you will tell your story of how you’ve overcome what you are going through now, and it will become part of someone else’s survival guide.” Craig has lived these words; instead of giving up, he set an example for others’ struggling, by speaking out, speaking up and by simply showing up.
Currently, Craig has just celebrated his one-year anniversary of living in Mexico where he arrived with nothing but a backpack and the clothes on his body, knowing very little Spanish. Craig has published the “Better Days – A Mental Health Recovery Workbook”, which is currently available in 10 languages as well as “You’re Crazy” an anthology series of Punk Rockers from around the world sharing of their experiences in surviving trauma, mental health and substance use. In the next few months, he will be publishing three new books including a coping skills workbook based on what he has learned from his struggles during the past 5 years titled, “The Craig Lewis Guide to Surviving the Impossible”.
Craig lives his life with Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust Survivor, Psychoanalyst, and author of “Man’s Search for Meaning” and other brilliant spirits whispering in his ear. These beautiful souls of the past and the compassionate individuals of his present help him find beautiful meaning in the truth of each day he truly lives. With his steadfast bravery, commitment to truth, and radical self-acceptance in defiance of the ruthless nature of our society, and unstoppable and irresistible determination to help others overcome their past and present struggles, Craig lives each day with love. If he falls (as we all do), he gets back up. Craig survived all that he has to show others that it is entirely possible to survive the impossible.
Interview By Christoffer Francke – All-round good guy, mental Health advocate, Punkrocker, sometimes educator and always truth speaker.
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