Personal Favourite: ‘A journey toward recovery: From the inside out’ by Dale Walsh

IMG_2364-220x165I’m going to take a breather for a few weeks from posting on Recovery Stories so I can take a break and then focus on some Sharing Culture work. Remember, there’s plenty of content on the website for you to look at, including over 700 blogs and plenty of Recovery Stories, articles, etc.

I thought I’d leave you with one of my favourite blogs, A journey toward recovery: From the inside out by Dale Walsh.

The Problem
“For many years I believed in a traditional medical model. I had a disease. I was sick. I was told I was mentally ill, that I should learn to cope with my anxiety, my depression, my pain, and my panic.

I never told anyone about the voices, but they were there, too. I was told I should change my expectations of myself and realize I would always have to live a very restricted life.

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‘Say ‘No’ to the Fiction of Brain Diseases: Towards a New Psychiatry’ by Robert Berezin, MD

UnknownSome of you will know that I was a neuroscientist for 25 years. I left the field because I did not feel that the idea of so-called ‘brain diseases’ and drug treatments were doing much to help people recover from addiction and mental health problems.

The more I read, the more I feel that parts of psychiatry – not all – has a lot to answer for. Here’s an excellent blog from the Mad in America website, by Robert Berezin from Harvard Universty.

‘During my lifetime I have witnessed the fall of Freudian psychiatry and the ascension of molecular psychiatry. Unfortunately, we have gone from the frying pan into the fire. I certainly do not subscribe to old-fashioned psychoanalytic ideas which had been beset by considerable problems throughout the years. Its practice suffered from dogmatic theories and miscast beliefs, which worked to the detriment of responsiveness to our patients.

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Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs and Withdrawal

ComingOffDrugsGuideCOVERBIGThe second edition of the excellent Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs and Withdrawal is now available for free download or purchase.

‘The Icarus Project and Freedom Center’s 52-page illustrated guide gathers the best information we’ve come across and the most valuable lessons we’ve learned about reducing and coming off psychiatric medication.

Based in more than 10 years work in the peer support movement, this Guide is used internationally by individuals, families, professionals, and organizations, and is available a growing number of translations.

Includes info on mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, risks, benefits, wellness tools, psychiatric drug withdrawal, information for people staying on their medications, detailed Resource section, and much more.

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‘Older Than America': A Feature Length Film by Georgina Lightning

I’m excited to post this blog and and link you to Georgina Lightning’s film ‘Older than America’. Put  your feet up and watch this outstanding film about cultural genocide and historical trauma. Thank you for making this available, Georgina.

‘A woman’s haunting visions reveal a Catholic priest’s sinister plot to silence her mother from speaking the truth about the atrocities that took place at her Native American boarding school.

A contemporary drama of suspense, Older Than America delves into the lasting impact of the cultural genocide and loss of identity that occurred at these institutions across the United States and Canada.

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Relationships, Connection and Healing from Trauma

UnknownI’m reading an excellent book at the moment, which I can strongly recommend to you. If you’re working in the trauma field, then The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And other Stories From a Child Psychiatrists Notebook by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz is an essential read.

The book really gives you a feel for how our understanding of childhood trauma and its healing has moved along over the years. Bruce Perry is a real leader in this field and I feel blessed to have learnt of both Bruce’s and Bessel van der Kolk’s work in the past year. Thank you Judy and Carlie Atkinson.

Here’s a little section from the book:

‘Trauma and our responses to it cannot be understood outside the context of human relationships… The most traumatic aspects of all disasters involve the shattering of human connections. And this is especially true for children…’

‘Because humans are inescapably social beings, the worst catastrophes that can befall us inevitably involve relational loss.

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Breaking Trauma Trails: Facilitating the Healing of Indigenous People (Part 4)

3702998I recently wrote three blogs about my other initiative Sharing Culture – which is focused on the healing of Indigenous people – and what we are trying to do [Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3]. It is time to continue with another part, which will focus on our activities over the past 18 months.

Progress To Date
The first development was the Sharing Culture website, launched in late-2013. We set out with the aim of developing a small website focusing on historical trauma, healing and culture, primarily using the voices of Indigenous people (which is why you see so many quotes) within an organised framework. We wanted our audience to gain a basic understanding of key issues relating to Indigenous healing.

The information (written and film) I provided was obtained from web pages, books, science papers and personal communications. A considerable amount of research, reading and watching of films was involved in bringing this content together. In addition to this content, I included Stories, both of individuals (e.g. Professor Judy Atkinson) and initiatives (e.g. the Native American Wellbriety Movement).

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Classic Blog: ‘Afternow’ – what’s next for the health of society? by Phil Hanlon

Professor Phil Hanlon from the University of Glasgow discusses such seemingly intractable problems as; obesity, overwhelming involvement in various ‘addictions’, loss of wellbeing and inequalities as emergent products of our late modern culture and social structures. He argues that these problems will not improve until there is a radical transformation of our whole society and the culture that has created it.

Phil Valentine Sets Off Today: Recovery on the Appalachian Trail

photo-224x300“First of all, celebrations to Phil on his five year recovery from cancer (Today!). And for over 27 years in recovery from addiction.

And if that is not enough he will – in 6 – 8 months time – be in recovery from walking the Appalachian Trail. But firstly, he’s got to walk – and today, get started!!

Wishing you the very best from down under, Phil. We’ll be following you, thinking of you, and spiritually walking alongside you. Enjoy yourself, good friend. Go, Phil, Go.” David Clark and Michael Scott

And for those of you who do not know what is going on, you can find out more here and here. We’ll be following Phil from time-to-time on his journey and I strongly encourage you to follow him directly via: https://twitter.com/pvalentine59 and https://instagram.com/pvalentine59/

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Classic Blog: ‘Mind Platter’ by Dan Siegel

“Wouldn’t it be nice if people had an idea of what a daily intake would be for their mind? How do you keep your mind healthy? So what I’m going to do is share with you what the healthy mind platter has, the seven activities that can help keep your relationships healthy and actually integrate your brain…”

“Finally, our seventh activity is called connecting time. Now, connecting time is where we connect to other people, hopefully in person, and to the planet, to nature. I try to remember connecting time with the phrase, ‘3G2P’.

The 2P is two people and the planet. 3G is we bring this sense of connection with a feeling of generosity, of kindness, of open heartedness. And we do with this gratitude, for being alive for our connections to other people on the planet.

Classic blog: ‘Recovery is contagious redux’ by Bill White

recovery-contagion-220x186Here’s the latest from recovery advocate William L White.  Wonderful words, just wonderful words.

‘Those of you who have been reading my weekly blogs these past six months will recognize two simple and enduring themes: Recovery is contagious and recovery is spread by recovery carriers.  Those notions first came to me on April 14, 2010 when I stood to speak at Northeast Treatment Centers’ (NET) dinner honoring NET’s 40th anniversary and the achievements of NET members.

Here are some of the words that came to me as I stood before a room packed with people filled with hopes of what their newly found recoveries would bring.

“This night is a celebration of the contagiousness of recovery and the fulfilled promises recovery has brought into our lives.  Some of you did not leave the streets to find recovery; recovery came to the streets and found you.

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Recovery Walks the Appalachian Trail: From Phil’s Family

photo-224x300Yes, Phil Valentine begins his amazing journey this week. I hope his family doesn’t mind, but I just had to show two beautiful blogs that wife Sandy and daughter Samantha have written for Phil’s travel website.

10 Days by Sandy Valentine (March 7, 2015)
‘It’s only 10 days until Phil hops on a plane to Georgia, and officially begins his adventure. Each day this week, he adds another item to the table of supplies he started. Each time I wonder what item will be the first to go when he’s worn that pack a few hours.

I also wonder – who will I blame when the tp roll isn’t changed? Who is going to clear the driveway a la the winter that never ends? Who is going to remind me “trust them (kids) til they give us a reason not to”? Who’s going to make the family brunch on Sundays?

No one can replace his presence in the house, but as we’ve done before, we will create a new “normal”.

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Breaking Trauma Trails: Facilitating the Healing of Indigenous People (Parts 2 and 3)

42115582. Working towards solutions with Sharing Culture
We developed Sharing Culture as a way to help tackle historical trauma (and its consequences) and facilitate Indigenous healing.

Sharing Culture is a grassroots initiative based on the core values of authenticity, connection, courage, creativity, empathy and forgiveness. We use a strengths-based, solution-focused approach that celebrates success and fosters positivity, acceptance and cultural pride.

We recognise that self-determinism is a central foundation of healing – solutions must come from Indigenous communities. At the same time, non-Indigenous people can contribute to this healing process in a variety of ways.

One major way that Sharing Culture will facilitate this healing process is to generate high quality educational content and Stories about Indigenous healing and the healing of trauma, and distribute it in the most effective manner to as wide an audience as possible.

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Classic Blog: ‘Learning Leadership: How to become a leader in the NHS’ by Professor Aidan Halligan

I’m watching again the excellent BBC TV series from the 1990s, Cardiac Arrest, and it reminded me of this film clip. Time to put it up again.

‘Aidan Halligan, Professor of Foetal and Maternal Medicine and Director of Education at UCL reflects on his experiences of being a leader in the NHS. He shares the stories of people he respects as leaders, and analyses the key features that make them so effective.

Leadership is “… going into the unknown with courage. People respect courage and they respect compassion.”

“We know when we see a leader. They inspire us and when we’re inspired we become determined. And when we are determined we go further. That’s what leadership is about… And it’s your example that counts, not your rank. And if you care about patients to the point of being selfless, people will always respect that.”

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Breaking Trauma Trails: Facilitating the Healing of Indigenous People (Part 1)

3702998“Indigenous people possess a gift. This is a gift of healing, strong relationships and a deep connection to land, from a culture that has flourished over many thousands of years.” David Clark and Michael Liu

1. Nature of the Problems
As a result of the historical experiences of colonisation (and associated violence and control), forcible removal of children, and loss of culture and land, Indigenous people of Australia (and other countries) have suffered a trauma that has been passed unwittingly down through the generations.

The consequences of this historical, or intergenerational, trauma include poor physical health, mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence and abuse, self-harm and suicide.

Today, the impact of historical trauma is exacerbated by economic and social disadvantage, experiences of racism and paternalism, and ongoing grief resulting from multiple bereavements. It is exacerbated by closing down of remote Indigenous communities, destruction of Indigenous sacred sites, and turning over of Indigenous land to the mining industry.  

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‘5 Reasons Why I Could Get to Katahdin’ by Phil Valentine

springer_mtn_ga_at-225x300I couldn’t resist putting up this Hooked on Recovery blog from Phil Valentine. [If you missed out on my blog yesterday about Phil’s amazing trip, please check it out.]

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

I’ll be on Springer Mountain, Georgia in just a few days (03.19.15) to start my Appalachian Trail (AT) adventure. I set up a card table in my man cave and have started to get all my gear in one place. I bought a warmer sleeping bag because of all the cold, cold weather in the south this spring. As I talk to people daily about the AT, I’m usually asked…

“How are you feeling, Phil? You must be excited?”

Ya, I’m excited. Partly. And other parts are terrified, nervous, calm, anxious, determined, peaceful, relieved, sad, grateful, happy, curious, … Um, probably others too, but I have never been too good at describing my emotions. I am, after all, a typical male.

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Recovery Walks the Appalachian Trail

Phillip Valentine ’87 (CLAS) on Jan. 15, 2014. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)“Phil Valentine’s call to walk the Appalachian Trail is a vivid example of moving beyond recovery FROM life-threatening illnesses as a means of recovering TO a life of extraordinary possibilities. Thousands of us who have shared the challenges and unexpected gifts from such recovery journeys will be walking in spirit with him.” Bill White

A great Recovery Story starts soon, on 19th March 2015. Well, the Story is already happening, but a new phase starts on that date. Phil Valentine, Executive Director of Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) begins his amazing walk of the Appalachian Trail.

Phil is already a great example of what one can achieve in recovery. But now he takes his journey to another level. We’ll be following Phil from time-to-time on his journey and I strongly encourage you to follow him directly via: https://twitter.com/pvalentine59 and https://instagram.com/pvalentine59/.

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‘Towards a Ban on Psychiatrically Diagnosing and Drugging Children’ by Peter Breggin, MD

Here’s the latest blog (and films) on Mad in America from one of my favourite people. I am so pleased that Peter has done these films. I believe strongly that the mass drugging of our children is absolutely disgraceful.

Instead of hope and enthusiasm for their futures, too many children now grow up believing they are inherently defective, and controlled by bad genes and biochemical imbalances.  They are shackled by the idea that they have ADHD and then subdued by the drugs that inevitably go along with the diagnosis.  Unless something intervenes, many of them will go on to pass their days on Earth in a drug-impaired, demoralized state.

I have put up a new series of three videos on YouTube about the psychiatric diagnosing and drugging of children.  The first children’s video is # 7 in my Simple Truths series; it describes the harmful effects and method of action of stimulant drugs.  These drugs include methylphenidate and amphetamine products such as Ritalin, Concerta, Focalin, Metadate, Methylin, Quillivant, Daytrana, Vyvanse, Adderall and Dexedrine.

The second video about children is # 8 in the Simple Truths series. It describes the negative effects of diagnosing children with ADHD.

The third children’s video, # 9 of Simple Truths, describes the horrendous outcomes of merely starting a mildly “hyperactive” child on Ritalin, including follow up studies over several decades.  This video calls for concerned citizens to take a stand against giving psychiatric drugs to children.

I believe it is time to set our sights on a day when children will be protected by a ban against giving them any psychoactive substances, including psychiatric drugs, which are more dangerous, damaging and demoralizing than alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes.

The video series has scientific support in my book Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, which cites and summarizes some of the most recent studies on how damaged “ADHD kids” become when reaching adulthood – including increased incarceration in jails and mental hospitals, increased suicide, increased drug addiction, increased dependence on multiple psychiatric drugs, obesity, shrinkage (atrophy) of the brain, shortened lifespan, and a general reduction in quality and length of life.

In addition, my new peer-reviewed article in the journal Children & Society [The link in Peter’s article does not currently work – DC] presents a scientific and ethical overview of the harm done to children by stimulants and by antipsychotic drugs, such as Abilify, Seroquel, Risperdal, Invega, Zyprexa, Geodon, Latuda, Saphris, Fanapt, and Symbax.  It cites many scientific studies.  The antipsychotic drugs are often given to children when their behavior and mental state deteriorates as a result of being given stimulants.

The drugging of children in America and increasingly throughout the world is a tragedy.  Millions upon millions of children and youth will never know their full potential because they grew up with an intoxicated brain – their neurotransmitters forever deformed by being bathed in these drugs during their formative years.  Additional millions will become career consumers of psychiatric drugs with a vastly reduced quality of life and shortened lives.

It is time to say, “No more of this!” and to directly confront the need for stopping this inhumane, destructive approach to our children and youth.

Understanding Indigenous Wellbeing

TristanSchultzArtwork“Indigenous people have a holistic view of health and wellbeing that incorporates the physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, scial and environmental. It does not just focus on the individual, but also on the health and wellbeing of the community.”

Indigenous Heath and Wellbeing
To appreciate the many ways that society can facilitate the healing of Indigenous people, we must understand the Indigenous view of health and wellbeing. It is different to that of western culture.

Indigenous people have a holistic view of health and wellbeing that incorporates the physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, social and environmental. It does not just focus on the individual, but also on the health and wellbeing of the community.

This view, which has been in existence for tens of thousands of years, is far richer than the western concept of mental health, which comes from an illness or clinical perspective.

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‘From Trauma to Transformative Recovery’ by Bill White

Trauma to Transformation ImageAnother wonderful blog from Bill White, recently posted on his excellent website.

Between 1986 and 2003, I served as the evaluator of an innovative approach to the treatment of addicted women with histories of neglect or abuse of their children.

Project SAFE eventually expanded from four pilot sites to more than 20 Illinois communities using a model that integrated addiction treatment, child welfare, mental health, and domestic violence services.  This project garnered considerable professional and public attention, including being profiled within Bill Moyers’ PBS documentary, Moyers on Addiction:  Close to Home.

My subsequent writings on recovery management and recovery-oriented systems of care were profoundly influenced by the more than 15 years I spent interviewing the women served by Project SAFE and the Project SAFE outreach workers, therapists, parenting trainers, and child protection case workers.  This blog offers a few reflections on what was learned within this project about the role of trauma in addiction and addiction recovery.

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Classic blog: ‘Talking About Psychosis, Part 1: Why Do It?’ by Marc Ragins MD

mraginsThe stuff on Mad in America just keeps getting better and better. Here’s a thought-provoking blog from another of my favourite bloggers.

‘I was taught in medical school and psychiatric residency not to talk to people about their voices and their delusions:  “It will only feed into them and make them worse.”  Nor was I supposed to argue with people with paranoia because they’ll just get agitated and won’t change their mind anyway.

We were taught that the psychoanalysts had wasted a lot of time trying to connect people with psychosis by trying to find meaning in their psychosis.  I was taught that there is no meaning.  All we needed to know about their psychosis was enough to prescribe medications and assess if the meds worked.

The venerable Chestnut Lodge where Frieda Fromm-Reichmann had treated the woman in “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” with psychoanalysis was successfully sued for not providing research-proven meds instead of talking with patients with psychosis.

Beyond that, I was told not to try to relate to the patients in the State hospital because they couldn’t handle relationships and when I left they’d feel abandoned and decompensate.  Most of my medical school class mates were more than happy to follow that advice and left the ward as fast as possible. They already knew that “people with psychosis are creepy and frightening and frustrating anyhow” without having met any of them.

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