‘What does a person need in their environment in order to recover?’ by Mark Ragins

Mark Ragins believes there are four important things an environment must have to facilitate mental health recovery.

1. Relationships, as it is very difficult to recover alone. This is a little more complicated than you might think, as many people distance themselves from someone with mental health problems. A clinician may do this by talking about the illness rather than the person.

People must commit themselves to having a normal conversation with a person with mental health problems.

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‘Back in the Dark House Again: The Recurrent Nature of Clinical Depression’ by Douglas Bloch

dblochOne my favourite bloggers is in a dark place at the moment. He’s had the courage to write about it on Mad In America and what he has to say will help other people. My thoughts are with Doug, a truly caring and inspirational person.

“There is not one of us in whom a devil does not dwell.
At some time, at some point, that devil masters each of us.
It is not having been in the dark house,
but having left it, that counts.” Teddy Roosevelt

Eighteen years ago, in the fall of 1996, I plunged into a major depression that almost killed me. On the evening of my admittance to a psychiatric hospital I saw the above quote from a documentary on Teddy Roosevelt. For the next ten months, it informed my experience, as I did everything I could to leave the dark house I was in.

Eventually, I was healed without medication and wrote about my experience in my memoir, When Going Through Hell…Don’t Stop: A Survivor’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety and Clinical Depression.

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‘Dr Mark and The Village’ by Mark Ragins

Unknown-3Here is an article by one of my favourite people in the mental health field, Mark Ragins on Mad in America. Mark is the Medical Director at the MHA Village Integrated Service Agency, a model of recovery based mental health care.  His practice has been grounded in 20 years+ with some of the most underserved and difficult to engage people in our community.

‘My name is Mark Ragins.  Most people at The Village call me Dr. Mark, except those who have known me long enough to forego that pedestal and just call me Mark.  I’m a psychiatrist, a story teller, and the kid who used to drive his parents and teachers crazy asking “Why?” unendingly and then, never satisfied with their answers, looked for my own answers and returned to tell them that their answers were wrong.

When I meet someone new I usually try not to tell them I’m a psychiatrist too soon.  There are so many strange and scary ideas about psychiatrists and mental illnesses out there that I’m afraid I’ll be rejected before I even have a chance.

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Today, I am Alive

The drugs made me feel ‘normal’. They drowned out the feelings and the negative, self-destructive thoughts.  They were my medication to the real problem. The problem was ME.

Samantha_Paulus_Text-1024x681(pp_w1000_h665)Please check out this beautiful story on I Am Not Anonymous.

‘Where to begin…My life today is a beautiful thing.  It has reached measures and consistency that I could have never imagined.

I am currently 261 days into my journey and I am finally feeling awake and alive.  Today, I am conscious of myself, of the happiness of others and I have a love for life that I never thought possible.

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‘What is self-compassion?’ by Kristin Neff

Unknown-5Some of you will have seen Kristin Neff’s video on self-compassion on this website. Here is how Kristin defines self-compassion:

‘Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. Think about what the experience of compassion feels like.

First, to have compassion for others you must notice that they are suffering. If you ignore that homeless person on the street, you can’t feel compassion for how difficult his or her experience is.

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‘The Masks of Addiction and Recovery’ by Bill White

Masks of RecoveryThere is a discrepancy for each of us between the internal self and the personas we project to others.  Personal health, wholeness and integrity hinge in great measure on the degree to which these private and public selves can be brought into harmony.  That reconciliation is potentially life-saving for persons seeking the metamorphosis from active addiction to long-term recovery.

It is a unique medical disorder whose effective management requires living as authentically and honestly as possible, and yet it is that precise aspect that leaves many people viewing addiction recovery as a priceless gift that far transcends freedom from destructive drug use.

What makes this journey towards authenticity so much more hazardous within addiction recovery compared to the parallel journey for others is the degree of duplicity at the very heart of the addiction experience.  Addiction hollows one out, leaving only the mask of the moment.  With every repetition of use, the drug becomes more powerful and the self becomes weaker, its boundaries and internal substance fading, leaving only accumulating secrets in its wake.

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20 Things to Start Doing in Your Relationships

rsz_start-doing-in-your-relationshipsRelationships are key in recovery. So let’s look at some things that will facilitate healthy relationships, from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

‘Family isn’t always blood.  They’re the people in your life who appreciate having you in theirs – the ones who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways, and who not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be.  These people – your real family – are the ones who truly matter.

Here are twenty tips to help you find and foster these special relationships.

1. Free yourself from negative people.  Spend time with nice people who are smart, driven and likeminded.  Relationships should help you, not hurt you.  Surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be.  Choose friends who you are proud to know, people you admire, who love and respect you – people who make your day a little brighter simply by being in it. 

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Reflections on Healing: A Canadian Aboriginal Perspective

UnknownI’ve been reading a fascinating article from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation in Canada entitled Aboriginal Healing in Canada: Studies in Therapeutic Practice and Meaning. What of course is said in this article is relevant to recovery in the western world. Here are some interesting thoughts about healing:

‘The first thing that emerges from our work is that healing is a concept that is difficult to articulate, in part, because most [people participating in the research – DC] seem to feel that there is no need to articulate it and/or simply have never been asked to.

There is no dominant treatment paradigm at work here. Healing proved to be variable in meaning, often vague and fuzzy, and very idiosyncratic.

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On Healing: Mary

rsz_jimn_jim_falls‘You know, I don’t think most Murri people have idea about healing. A lot of people I know think healing is just going to the doctor and getting fixed up – getting some pills or something like that. Faith healers – religion – stuff like that.

Saddest thing is they don’t even realise that they’ve got all the coping mechanisms, and they’ve been healing themselves all these years. If it was pointed out to them, things would really start to happen. They would build on it, because they know things are wrong, but they just don’t know what to do about it.

What I’ve learnt is, healing is facing up to the fact that you’ve got choices, and there is no need to live your life in this pain. You can always get out of it.

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Marion’s Story: My Identity

Marion has a strong identity which has helped shape her into who she is today.

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Anna’s Moment of Clarity

stories-02Anna’s brother had developed a heroin addiction and she was becoming overwhelmed by the whole situation.

In her Recovery Story, here’s the lead up to Anna’s Moment of Clarity:

‘After this incident in the city, I became unhealthily obsessed with finding out as much as I could about heroin, as well as trying to monitor my brother’s behaviour and uncover his lies. I read every book I could get my hands on, including a few books I’d had as a teenager – Go Ask Alice, Junky and H: Diary of a Heroin Addict.

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Dealing with Betrayal and Abandonment

images-1Beth Burgess flagged this article which appeared on Hubpages. Sometimes things happen in your recovery that are difficult to come to deal with. Here is some excellent advice.

Remain Objective 
It is all too easy to blame ourselves when we have been betrayed or abandoned, and to take the actions of others as a personal affront. Most people’s behaviour is a reflection of their own shortcomings or mental state rather than a rejection of you personally.

Try to be objective about the situation – ask yourself if you genuinely did anything wrong, or was this situation brought about because of the other person’s issues. If you do feel that you were somewhat to blame, what can you learn from this occasion and how can you do better in future. 

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‘What a surprise. I don’t know everything!’ by Peapod

2007_0118walpole0094Life got a bit easier for me in early recovery when I let go of my need-to-know-and-understand-everything mentality.

My background and training before I came to work in addiction treatment was scientific. I had to break the world down into understandable components and had a fairly rigid and cognitive world view. In many ways I was trapped in my head. Science can explain everything and if it can’t be explained, I’m not interested.

Well, science didn’t help me particularly with my addiction when it arrived and I certainly tried to understand it. Do you know there are over 40 theories of addiction? It’s likely when there are so many that we won’t really ever agree completely on what’s going on. The funny thing is that I’m okay with that today.

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‘Reflections on my AA experiences’ by Maddie

P1010174_3At my very first AA meeting, I was carried in by strangers who found me crying, shaking and rocking in the doorway. And I promise I am not exaggerating. Gosh, I had forgotten about that, an event that took place four or five years ago. 

I would pop in and out of AA for years before I was really desperate enough to let the rooms help me. I used to have to have a drink to get in the door, and I used to go with vodka in my bag. However, I just keep going back.

It’s hard to explain, but you are carried and held when you are in the rooms in those early days. Without AA and the people I have met there I would have busted on Friday night on my nine months birthday. I have been experiencing incredible stress because of the very long hours I have been working, the intensity of a new project, and a boss who is trying to make my project fail! At times, it’s been too much.

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Ian and Irene’s Story, ‘Living through our son’s addiction and death: Our journey to recovery’

After losing their son Robin to a heroin overdose, Ian and Irene set up a support group to help family members avoid some of the problems they experienced.

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‘Today is the best day of my life’ by Braveheart

IMG_2495An inspirational blog from WITR, written mid-2009:  

‘The reason I write, “Today is the best day of my life”, is yesterday has gone and tomorrow is still to come. It it comes at all?

I awoke at 7.30 this morning and I’m in recovery from the disease of active addiction. I had no desire to use and there was no obsessing over what was my drug of choice. Today, I am FREE to make self-caring choices.

My day begins with me having a conscious contact with my Higher Power, who I ask to guide and direct me throughout the day and help me to stay safe.

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Natalie’s Story: ‘I didn’t plan to be an addict’ (Part 2)

IMG_3468I first met ‘Natalie’ over 12 years ago when I lived in South Wales. I will never forget how she emphasised the importance of providing online support for people with substance use problems. She had been desperate to find helpful online information when she trying to overcome her drug problem.

Natalie has always been such an inspiration to people around her. Mind you, many people had to first get over the shock of finding that such a lovely lady had once been a heroin addict.

We left Natalie in Part 1 of this Story in the pre-treatment part of a 12-step treatment programme.

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‘Remembering my son’ by Susan C

IMG_2398Some of the most moving blogs on Wired In To Recovery were from Susan C who lost her loving son Michael from a heroin overdose in 2010.

Sue contacted me recently and said how much she missed the old website. She found it to be a lifeline when she was struggling. I had the impression that writing helped Sue deal with her terrible loss, if only a little. Here is one of Susan’s blogs from 2011.

Next week, I start a three part ‘Story by Blog’ by Susan C entitled ‘Missing Michael’.

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‘Why I chose recovery’ by Tony A

imageTony A was one of my favourite bloggers on Wired In To Recovery. He certainly didn’t mess around on what he had to say and his blogs provided some invaluable insights into the recovery journey and also the UK addiction care system. Here is a great blog he wrote back in 2010.  

‘This is my personal perspective to why I chose recovery over addiction. You see for me my addiction fulfilled so many requirements in my life.

I enjoyed the effects of drugs, drugs suppressed my emotions, drugs gave me an identity and a reason to exist, drugs were my longest and strongest relationship, my ultimate form of support, my way of coping with the insanity of life.

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Reflections on Kevan’s Story (Part 1)

DSC00130Last week, I introduced you to the idea of me blogging about people’s Recovery Story.

Let’s start with Kevan’s Story. Let me say first that I have never met Kevan Martin, other than on Skype (from a distance of over 8,000 miles). However, I feel that I have got to know Kevan reasonably well during the process of writing his Story and through our subsequent communications. He’s also been very helpful and supportive with a past problem in my life.

Kevan is one of my heroes. Here is a person who shows what recovery is all about and what can be achieved. Kevan had a drinking problem for over 25 years. He was in and out of psychiatric hospital for eight years. He used to visit his GP to be readmitted to hospital to escape the isolation, fear and homelessness he experienced in the ‘outside’ world. He was someone that people, including his own family, had given up on.

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