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”.

Read More ➔

Classic Blog: Brene Brown on joy and gratitude

Vulnerability expert Brene Brown talks about the relationship between joy and gratitude and offers a few tips on how to cultivate more joy in your own life.

Check out Brene in our section of books to help your recovery.

‘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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Henry’s Story: Lost Days

Here’s a special young man… and a beautiful song which will bring tears to your eyes. The song is dedicated to Henry’s brother Tom, who struggled with an alcohol addiction and eventually lost his battle at a young age.

‘As a young singer and songwriter, Henry Maybury has already had his share of life changing experiences.

A talented rugby player and athlete, Henry was struck down at the age of 14 with a debilitating illness and then spent years in and out of treatment to ease the pain from the resulting arthritis. Quickly recognising that a sports career was a fading dream, Henry turned his focus to something else he loved; music.

Read More ➔

I Am Not Anonymous: Jodi’s Story, ‘Granny is in Recovery’

JodiText-1024x681(pp_w1000_h665)‘My name is Jodi Savits and I am a grateful person in long-term recovery. For me what that means is I have not used a drug or had a drink since October 14th, 2000. The 23 years prior to that were a miserable combination of both alcohol and drugs in one form or another.

I grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood on Long Island in New York. For all outward appearances it was a loving, supportive family. Early on I was a very intelligent girl who received good grades in school and was going to be a doctor or a lawyer.  I went home from school every day and did my homework. I had very few friends. I guess I was a nerd.

At the age of 13 I found marijuana in my father’s bedroom drawer when he asked me to grab a sweatshirt for him. I took some to school and all of a sudden other kids wanted to hang out with me. The best part was the feeling- the numb. I was smiling and laughing without having to try. And so it began. As the years passed by I found and needed more and more to maintain the numb.

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‘An interview with Matt and Amy Baumgardner’ by Veronica Valli

image1-200x300Here is a moving Story from Veronica Valli’s website.

A little while ago I was asked to review an extraordinary book called: From this day forward, A love story of faith, love and forgiveness by Amy and Matt Baumgardner. I had interviewed Amy Baumgardner previously for my Recovery Rocks interview series. Amy just has one of those jaw-dropping stories of recovery. Her story is so extraordinary that she was featured on Oprah’ Life class with Iyanla Vanzant.

Amy lost all sight of what was important to her and her drinking took over, one day she packed her kids into the car and drove them whilst she was drunk. She hit a tree and the accident left her 5-year-old in a critical condition. This was the beginning of the end for Amy, finally realizing she had a problem she began the long painful and guilt-ridden task of getting sober.

But how does a family recover from this? How does a husband forgive his wife for almost killing their child? How does a mother forgive herself? How can you repair a marriage with this kind of devastation and pain?

Read More ➔

‘The Power of Storytelling’ by Lisbeth Riis Cooper

lrcooperLisbeth Riis Cooper is another person whose blogs on Mad in America I really appreciate and value. Here’s one on storytelling.

‘Over the years, I have heard many powerful recovery stories. I’ve also had many opportunities to share our family’s struggle with mental health challenges and our recovery journey.

Each time I share my story, it gets a little easier. I feel a little lighter, a little more hopeful. And I realize how far our family has come, how much we have learned and healed.

Stories are powerful. And so is the process of telling them. Here is what I have observed over my last 10 years of storytelling:

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‘Recovery Rocks – Betsey Berry’ by Veronica Valli

photo-300x300Here’s a recent addition to Veronica Valli’s Recovery Rocks blog.

‘This is just one of those ‘blow you away’ recovery stories. I am in complete awe how Betsey Berry managed to put her life back together after a serious meth addiction.

Getting clean is challenging for anyone, getting clean of meth whilst having 4 children, a drug addict husband, going bankrupt and loosing your house is a whole new level of challenging. Not only is Betsey clean, she has just graduated college with a BS in Alcohol and Drug counselling. Betsey writes about her experiences on her blog Mom off Meth.

She is incredible, please read and share her inspiring story.

Read More ➔

Overcoming Drug Addiction: Darren’s Recovery Story

Here’s one of a number of short films abut recovery that is worth checking out.

‘The Alcohol & Drug Service (ADS) has been transforming lives for more than 25 years. Here is one true story about Darren, a young man from Grimsby, who has battled back from addictions to drugs to reclaim his life and rebuild relationships with family.

Darren was supported in his recovery by The Junction, a service which The Alcohol & Drug Service delivers in partnership with Rotherham Doncaster & South Humber NHS Foundation Trust.’

‘Experiencing Recovery – Part 10′ by William L. White: Recovery Paradigm and Addiction Treatment

The last part of Bill White’s 2012 Norman E. Zinberg Memorial Lecture from Harvard. Bill says he is not a teacher of these issues about recovery, but still a student. He encourages us all to be students of this rapidly changing ecology of recovery in the US. Bill also looks at what we need to do in the future in relation to recovery and recovery-based care.

I Am Not Anonymous: Adam’s Story, ‘An Open Book’

Adam-Text-1024x681(pp_w1000_h665)‘For the entirety of my addiction – many sad, painful years of car accidents, overdoses, barroom brawls and street fights, failed relationships, small-time legal skirmishes and stints at rehabs – everyone wanted me to admit I had a problem, to talk about it.

Then, after I got clean and sober and became a husband, father, hockey dad and a union president that negotiated my co-workers salaries and medical benefits, many people wanted me to put it behind me, to shut up about it.

The planet witnessed the train wreck, yet I was supposed to cover it up after I got that bad boy back on the rails, which was no small feat.

Read More ➔

‘Experiencing Recovery – Part 7′ by William L. White: Family Recovery

Bill briefly describes how many families fall apart during the early stages of recovery and points out that as a society we do very little about this. Stephanie Brown describes this effect on family as the trauma of recovery.

‘Support for those in Withdrawal Who Struggle With Family & Friends Not Understanding’ by Baylissa Frederick

bfrederickOne of the most challenging and frustrating aspects of withdrawal is that feeling of being misunderstood, unsupported and isolated.

If someone has diabetes, dystonia or other chronic illness or experiences a life event such as a bereavement, people will more often empathise and offer support. They understand these issues – the required dietary restrictions, medication, etc., and they will be able to tell you the stages of grief. Support of every kind is forthcoming because there is enough awareness, shared through every medium, on these topics.

Even an addiction to cocaine, alcohol or heroin receives more attention and holds more credibility than protracted benzodiazepine and antidepressant withdrawal. It is saddening indeed that those in withdrawal are so terribly misunderstood.

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Trailer for “OPEN DIALOGUE,” an alternative Finnish approach to healing psychosis

Check out this important film from Daniel Mackler.

‘In the far north of Finland, a stone’s throw from the Arctic Circle, a group of innovative family therapists converted the area’s traditional mental health system, which once boasted some of Europe’s poorest outcomes for schizophrenia, into one that now gets the best statistical results in the world for first-break psychosis. 

They call their approach Open Dialogue.

Read More ➔

‘Jaakko Seikkula Speaks on Finnish Open Dialogue, Social Networks, and Recovery from Psychosis’ by Daniel Mackler

Daniel Mackler interviews Jaakko Seikkula, PhD, a professor of psychotherapy at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland who is best known for his work with Finnish Open Dialogue.

He speaks about the value of engaging social networks in crisis situations, the development of the Finnish Open Dialogue approach, the idea that there is meaning behind psychosis, and some unexpected benefits in Western Lapland of including family members in therapy with people experiencing psychosis.

You  an read more abut this approach here.

‘An interview with Greg Williams – The Anonymous People’ by Veronica Valli

20956_610039903223_6779801_n-1-300x280Greg Williams and The Anonymous People are in the news a lot recently which is great. Exactly what we want. Here’s a new interview from Veronica Valli.

‘If you are in the recovery community then you would have heard of the movie The Anonymous People. A ground breaking movie that highlights the need for more advocacy and more access to treatment for addicts and alcoholics.

Many of the participants of the movie have been interviewed for my Recovery Rocks series: Emmy award winning actress and NYT best selling author Kristen Johnston, former NBA basketball player Chris Herron, Recovery advocate and media commentator Joe Schrank.

Read More ➔

My Favourite Blogs: ‘Experiences of a mother of two young heroin addicts’ by Mark’

IMG_4069A very moving blog which first appeared on Wired In To Recovery (WITR) in May 2009 and on Recovery Stories in June 2013. Mark blogged regularly on WITR until the community closed.

“We found my 20 year old brother dead of an overdose. He had just kicked the habit so tolerance was low. He started a job and the first payday was his last.

Mum wrote this after I got clean. Copy and use it anywhere it can be of use.”

Read More ➔

An Update From StoryTeller Iain Donald

iains-story-220x294“I regret to a certain degree ever getting involved with drugs, but involving myself with drugs and battling the chaos that goes along with that lifestyle has made me who I am. And I am really happy with who I am.”

I recently heard from Iain Donald, author of one of our Stories, This is Me. Iain, from Scotland, is coming up to four years drug-free.

In brief, his Story describes his addiction to heroin and crack cocaine, a period spent inside prison, time on methadone maintenance programmes, and support from a treatment service in Glasgow – amongst many other things. Most importantly, Ian met and fell in love with Nadene and her wonderful son William and they have settled down as a family – and had a new family member, Harvey. Iain works for the Scottish Association for Mental Health in one of their homeless units.

Read More ➔

Recovery Rocks: Gavin Crosisca

Gavin-Crosisca-210x300A long overdue visit to Veronica Valli’s excellent blog Recovery Rocks, this time involving an Australian sportsperson.

‘Recovery Rocks this week with Australian rules footballer Gavin Crosisca. Gavin played 246 of Australian rules football with Collingwood before moving into coaching for over 25 years.

But despite his successful sporting career Gavin hid a 25 year drug problem from his teammates and fans.

He describes his addiction as being ‘a fire inside of him’ as it slowly destroyed his life, finances and family.

Read More ➔

My Favourite Blogs: Ed Mitchell – Lost & Found

‘… documentary [from 2009] on the latest steps to recovery of former BBC and ITN broadcaster, Ed Mitchell, is broadcast exclusively on Inexcess TV – marking Ed’s return to television and first employment following his battle with alcohol and homelessness.

In his new role as editor at Inexcess Television, Ed produced and directed his latest documentary, Ed Mitchell: Lost and Found, the second programme to be broadcast on Ed’s life story, from living as a white-collar tramp to his subsequent recovery from alcoholism.’

This blog first appeared on this website in June 2013. Ed Mitchell no longer works for Inexcess Television. Check out the first documentary made about Ed’s alcohol-related problems. His book Headline to Hard Times is well worth a read.