‘From Surviving to Thriving: Unleashing Creativity’ by Madeline Goldstein

IMG_20140827_133352_975-5-300x293Many things can facilitate healing and people need to find what helps them to heal. Here is a beautiful story about the power of photography, and creativity in general, by Madeline Goldstein from Mad in America.

“Adversity has effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant”
Horace

It started out innocently enough, with no preconceived ideas or expectations. I had no idea that what began as giving a gift would change my life forever.

I live in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. It is a college town nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. As of this writing, I am eighteen months drug free after having been on Xanax for twenty years.

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‘I Am “Pro-Healing”’ by Hilary Bryant

“Yoga helped me explore and reconnect with the body I’d abandoned and abused for years. My pain and sadness had me living exclusively in my mind, my body nothing more than a battleground for my inner wars.

Through yoga and meditation, I slowly began to love myself again, learning to treat myself with care and respect. I felt a greater sense of self-awareness, and a sense of connection to something greater.

This was a drastic contrast to the days when I felt as if god had forgotten about me, or like I was a mistake not meant for this world.”

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‘2015 – The Year of Reinventing the Wellbriety Movement’ by Don Coyhis

5de8955239fe8af6972c6889e71ffa26Don Coyhis posted this powerful message on the White Bison website recently. As some of you know, I think very highly of Don and the amazing Native American Wellbriety Movement.

‘As some of you know, I had a stroke on May 11, 2014, Mothers Day. Given the reality of the event, we made some choices and decisions regarding White Bison and the Wellbriety Movement.

We hired Carlos Rivera as the Executive Director, promoted Kateri Coyhis as the Director of the Wellbriety Training Institute, and I moved to Chairman of the Board to provide support to the new White Bison team.

Thanks to the prayers of so many, my recovery was touched by a miracle.   I had excellent therapists and moved from a wheelchair, to a walker, threw away the cane in August and was back to 90% recovery by September and have continued to recover since then.

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Classic Blog: ’15 Steps to Become Grateful & More Positive’ by Mindfulness Coach

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThought I’d end this week with a classic self-care blog which I first posted in November 2013. The author, John Shearer, has an interesting bio.

‘“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” Cicero

Being grateful is both a state of mind and perspective. One person’s idea of expressing gratitude may completely contradict another.

Most of us are not born eternal optimists, but being positive and grateful is something that can be imbibed even if a tad forcibly; such as by trying to tweak our sense of humour, the way we react to a given situation, by being more pleasant and believing others too have a mind, by smiling each time somebody says ‘thank you’, and by understanding that every person is on their own journey and accepting that it’s not your position to judge them.

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A great loss: RIP Ernie Kurtz

ernie_kurtz_egyptI was saddened to recently hear that Ernie Kurtz passed away on 19th January. Ernie was a brilliant and inquisitive man who helped very large numbers of people better understand AA and spirituality. Bill White recently described Ernie in the following way:

‘One of the distinctive voices within the modern history of addiction recovery is that of Harvard-trained historian Ernie Kurtz.

Spanning the 1979 publication of his classic Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous to the just-released Experiencing Spirituality (with Katherine Ketcham), Kurtz has forged a deep imprint in studies of the history of A.A. and other recovery mutual aid groups, the varieties of recovery experience, the role of spirituality in addiction recovery, and the personal and clinical management of shame and guilt.

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‘MIA Continuing Education: Help Us Get The Word Out’ by Robert Whitaker

Unknown-1Mad in America (MIA) is one of my very favourite websites and I check it out for new content every day. Robert Whitaker, who developed the website, is one of favourite writers – his books Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America and Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill.

What Bob and his colleagues have done at MIA is amazing! They have really challenged the psychiatry and mental health fields to have a serious rethink about they way things are done. They have challenged the very worrying trend of assuming that all emotional distress is biological and needs ‘drugging’. They have challenged the power of drug companies and biological psychiatry. They are trying to put humanity back into human conditions.

I spent 25 years as a neuroscientist before changing career, because I felt that the field did not have the solutions for helping people recover from addiction and mental health conditions. I was also disillusioned by the misinformation that was circulated in the field and to the general public – and the outright fraud that I came across. Fifteen years of working in the ‘real’ world, I feel that I made the right decision.

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‘Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD’ by Marilyn Wedge

MarilynSmileSmall_400x400Here’s a fascinating article by Marilyn Wedge from Psychology Today in 2012. Well worth a read.

‘In the United States, at least 9 percent of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5 percent. How has the epidemic of ADHD – firmly established in the U.S. – almost completely passed over children in France?

Is ADHD a biological-neurological disorder? Surprisingly, the answer to this question depends on whether you live in France or in the U.S. In the United States, child psychiatrists consider ADHD to be a biological disorder with biological causes. The preferred treatment is also biological – psycho stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.

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The Recovery Scholarship of Ernie Kurtz

Ernie GLAATC InterviewHere’s some great reading for you, from one great scholar and storyteller about another. Bill White starts the New Year with this excellent posting on his blog. Enjoy!

‘One of the distinctive voices within the modern history of addiction recovery is that of Harvard-trained historian Ernie Kurtz.

Spanning the 1979 publication of his classic Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous to the just-released Experiencing Spirituality (with Katherine Ketcham), Kurtz has forged a deep imprint in studies of the history of A.A. and other recovery mutual aid groups, the varieties of recovery experience, the role of spirituality in addiction recovery, and the personal and clinical management of shame and guilt.

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‘How Come the Word “Antipsychiatry” is so Challenging?’ by Carina Håkansson, Ph.D.

chakanssonThis is an important and insightful look at psychiatry today. Essential reading. The original is on the Mad in America website.

‘So here we go again; another meeting with another young person who describes how he is in an acute crisis – you may call it – and is diagnosed and prescribed neuroleptics. He is told by the doctor that he suffers from a life-long illness and he will from now on be dependent on his “medication.”

However, after a short while he starts to suffer from physical and emotional pain connected to the prescribed drugs. It scares him and he tells his doctor that he wants to stop taking it, and so he is told that he must not stop taking his medication and that he has to realize it is best for him. His family is told the same thing, and they are also told that if they cannot support him in this case they will need to find some help to do so.

Fortunately his family does not obey. Further they decide to find out about alternatives and so they get in touch with my workplace and we met some months ago. What happens is that the young person of course is very suspicious and he lets us – my colleague and I – understand that he does not trust us. What else to expect, re: his experience in the psychiatric ward, and how to make our meetings go in a different way?

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‘Why I drank’ by Veronica Valli

Unknown-4Here is some powerful writing from Veronica Valli, recently posted on her blog and taken from her book Why you drink and How to stop: journey to freedom.

‘I tried to drink like ‘other people’ because they looked ‘normal’ to me. Other people drank and they were fine; I could tell. I would judge them by how they looked on the outside and I wanted to be like that.

Something inside me was different and it wasn’t fine. Which is why I had to lie to myself – a big fat lie that ate me up and that I had to keep telling myself, because it kept a lid on the horror. I had to lie about what I was doing to myself. I had to lie about how I really felt. I had to lie about who I was. I had to lie because I was terrified of the horror inside me being exposed.

This may only make sense to someone who has had a problem with drink or any other mood or mind-altering substance. Or it may make sense to you if you have lived a life of desperate compromise and unfulfilled promise.

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‘Recovery and Renewal’ by Baylissa Frederick

recovery-book-coverRecovery and Renewal is essential reading for anyone trying to withdraw from benzodiazepines and anti-depressants. In fact, it of considerable value to anyone recovering from dependence and addiction.

‘This widely successful book is recommended for anyone in the throes of withdrawal, and for family, friends, professionals and other carers who will be able to better understand the experience and will be well equipped to give support. Doctors, counsellors, rehabilitation staff, recovery and mental health organisations will gain invaluable insight critical to providing best care.

‘Recovery and Renewal’ is regarded as a ‘lifeline’ and readers are inspired by the author’s courage and determination. It gives all the validation needed to eliminate the stress that doubts and uncertainty of what is taking place may bring, and does so with the reassuring feeling of one’s hand gently being held.’

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The role of GPs in the recovery process

I’m pleased that the RSA have been involved in advocating for recovery-based care over the past few years. Here’s a film they produced in collaboration with the SMMGP in 2012.

‘We set out to make a short film for local GPs and other primary care practitioners featuring local people in recovery talking about their positive and negative experiences of approaching their GPs for help.

It fast became a much more ambitious pilot thanks to the collaboration with the Substance Misuse Management in General Practice – SMMGP – which recognised the potential for this film to be an engagement tool for GPs beyond those at the two project sites.

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Classic Blg: ‘All it takes is 10 mindful minutes’ by Andy Puddicombe

When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking?

Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. (No need for incense or sitting in uncomfortable positions)

‘The Importance of Hope in Healing From Depression’ by Douglas Bloch

In this video, author and depression counselor Douglas Bloch talks about how hope can be your best ally when recovering from depression. Please check out Douglas’s website and book on healing from depression, which are top-quality resources.

‘“Do I Have to Feel so Badly About Myself?” – The Legacies of Guilt, Shame and Anxiety’ by Peter Breggin, MD

pbregginGuilt, shame and anxiety are intimately tied to addiction. Here is a blog on these emotions by one of my favourite people, Dr. Peter Breggin, which appeared in Mad in America.

‘Guilt, Shame and Anxiety defines these negative emotions, shows how they act as primitive enforcers of anger management, describes many alternative methods of identifying their presence in our lives, enables us to discover our personal negative emotional profile, and shows how to reject these emotions and to triumph over them.

And now we can answer the question asked in the title, “Do I have to feel so badly about myself?” The answer is a definitive “No!”  You do not have to live with your emotions out of control.  You do not have to feel stymied by painful feelings whenever you seek to be more peaceful or relaxed, more creative, braver, more loving, more independent, or simply happier.  You do not have to live this way.

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I Am Not Anonymous: Lauren’s Story, ‘Will To Bear Discomfort’

LaurenText-1024x682(pp_w1000_h666)I’m starting 2015 with some powerful writing from the I Am Not Anonymous website.

‘When I walked into the door to rehab in early 2008 at the age of 29, I was given a lengthy input questionnaire. I decided it was time to be honest for once.

There was just one question I had to leave blank. I pondered it for the better part of a day and kept returning to it with no decent answer.

What is spirituality? I didn’t have a clue. I reluctantly left it blank. By the time I left rehab almost three months later to return to the life I had left, I had a much better understanding of what spirituality was and how it could help me.

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Merry Xmas… and some words of Native American wisdom

IMG_0142I’m going to take some time off, so this is my last blog until the New Year. I’d therefore like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and relaxing Christmas break and all the best for 2015.

I hope you’ve found this website of some value. If you haven’t already done so, you might like to visit my other website, Sharing Culture, which is a part of an initiative focused on Indigenous healing I have developed with filmmaker Michael Liu.

I’d like to end this year with some pearls of wisdom written by Don Coyhis on the basis of what he was told be a Native American Elder in New Mexico:

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‘High Price: Thinking about Drugs with a Social Conscience’ by Carl Hart

I often read about psychoactive drugs being ‘evil’. However, drugs themselves don’t have the capacity to be evil. They are a powder, not a person.

Moreover, the psychoactive effects of drugs are not fixed. As I have described in an article on this website, drug effects are not just dependent on the chemical substance itself, but also on the person and the setting in which the drug is taken.

Drugs are often used by people to cope with psychological pain in their life. For example, many people who become addicted to the pain killer heroin have been abused in their lives. Many people drink alcohol excessively to help them deal with problems in their life. Sadly, society focuses on the symptoms (e.g. drug use) rather than the underlying problem (e.g. trauma).

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Classic Blog: ‘Family Stories, Secrets and Survival’ by Dr. Judith Landau

This talk will provide you with insights into intergenerational trauma and how addiction arises as a coping response. It will show you a way forward to recovery and healing, through Story. Understanding the past can help us deal with the present and help create a better future.

Judith, thank you for this wonderful talk! Here is the Youtube intro:

‘Dr. Judith Landau tells the story of trauma and recovery through generations and gives clues along the way for healthier families.

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Classic Blog: ‘San Patrignano, A Community of Life’

Professor Neil McKeganey told me about this special place after one of his visits. He loved San Patrignano and was so impressed with the progamme.

‘San Patrignano is a house, a family for young people who have lost their way.

It is a COMMUNITY OF LIFE that welcomes all who are afflicted by dependencies and exclusion so that they recover their own way through a path of recovery that is primarily a path of love.

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