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.

Read More ➔

‘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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I Am Not Anonymous: Ellie, ‘Come With Me’

EllieTextBlog-1024x682A Story from the excellent I Am Not Anonymous website is long overdue. Here is Ellie’s Story“:

‘When I was drinking, my life was ruled by shame.  It’s exhausting, living a double life. On the outside I was a put-together, active, intelligent woman.  I made sure my outside always looked okay, so nobody would look too closely at what was really going on, at my dirty secret.

Inside, I was a crumbling mess.  I felt less-than, unworthy and insecure.  I strove for perfection in all things, which of course is unattainable, and this left me feeling empty and ashamed.

I drank to fill the cracks, the emptiness.  I drank to numb out, escape.  I drank to feel okay with myself.  I found myself in my late thirties, a shell of a person, hollow and feeling desperately alone, even though I had a beautiful family, a job, and people who loved me. 

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‘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.

‘Healing is in Our Stories’ by Deron Drumm

ddrummHere’s an excellent article by Deron Drumm about the importance of Stories in helping people recover and change the mental health system which appeared on Mad in America.

“It’s important that we share our experiences with other people. Your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else. When you tell your story, you free yourself and give other people permission to acknowledge their own story.” Iyanla Vanzant

I have spent a lot of time talking to politicians, media members and those working in the mental health system about the failings of the current method of viewing and treating emotional distress. I have come to the conversations armed with stats and outcomes about the bio-medical paradigm.

I have found that the people I speak with do not doubt the facts conveyed. They seem to agree that the current state of affairs is not good. The difference is that I think the tragic outcomes demonstrate the failure of the current system. The folks I talk to tend to think things are so bad because “mental illness is just that serious.”

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Classic Blog – ‘The Four Stages of Recovery’ by Mark Ragins

IMG_3040-220x164Mark Ragins is a leading recovery figure in the mental health field. He was a pioneer in setting up MHA Village, a recovery community based in Los Angeles. His writings are well worth a read.

Here is what Mark has to say about the four stages of recovery in an article entitled The Road to Recovery. What Mark says here is just as relevant to people recovering from addiction.

‘Recovery has four stages: (1) hope, (2) empowerment, (3) self-responsibility and (4) a meaningful role in life.

Hope
During times of despair, everyone needs a sense of hope, a sense that things can and will get better. Without hope, there is nothing to look forward to and no real possibility for positive action.

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Classic Blog – ‘How do I know a treatment service is recovery-oriented?’ by Mark Ragins

Some treatment services today say they are doing recovery – using recovery-based care – when they are not in fact doing so. So how do you know that you are going to receive genuine recovery-based care when you sign up to a treatment service claiming to be recovery-oriented?

Here is some help from Mark Ragins, a leading figure in the mental health recovery field, about what to look for in a service offering recovering-based care. Mark may be talking about mental health recovery, but what he says is of relevance to addiction recovery.

In summary, Mark emphasises three key features of recovery-based care:

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Classic Blog – ‘What is a Recovery Carrier?’ by Bill White

P4071151-220x164I was recently reading an interesting Bill White paper on Recovery Carriers. Thought you might like to hear what Bill has to say:

‘Recovery carriers are people, usually in recovery, who make recovery infectious to those around them by their openness about their recovery experiences, their quality of life and character, and the compassion for and service to people still suffering from alcohol and other drug problems.

The recovery carrier is in many ways the opposing face of the addiction carrier – the person who defends his or her own drug use by spreading excessive patterns of use to all those he or she encounters. The pathology of addiction is often spread from one infected person to another; some individuals are particularly contagious.

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Classic Blog – ‘A journey toward recovery: From the inside out’ by Dale Walsh

IMG_2364-220x165My apologies for the pause in uploading blogs, but have been very busy working on our Sharing Culture initiative. More news on that front soon.

‘I read an extraordinary article by Dale Walsh written back in 1996 which really summed up what recovery and recovery principles mean to a person who has been suffering from mental health problems. I thought I would highlight some of the main points here.

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.

Read More ➔

‘Three Things You Should Know about the Suicidal Mind’ by Douglas Bloch

I love this excellent video. Please share.

Author and depression counselor Douglas Bloch shares what factors make people suicidal and how to find a way to hope and recovery. More information.

‘Am I Having a Breakdown or a Breakthrough?’ by Douglas Bloch

A new video is out from Douglas Bloch who I’ve blogged about a number of times on this website. This video is very interesting. I agree with what Douglas says. This is such an important message… and gives people extra hope.

‘In this video, author and depression counselor Douglas Bloch talks about how depressive breakdowns can be seen as rites of passage that lead to a breakthrough and a new birth.’

“The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.” Laurens van der Post

‘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.

Read More ➔

‘A Life Rebuilt’ from Dawn Farm

Spotted this on DJMac’s Recovery Review. As DJ says: ‘Here’s a beautifully shot, authentic short film which captures how hope powers recovery.’

‘Amy came to Dawn Farm’s Spera Recovery Center feeling “broken and hopeless and like [she] didn’t have a soul”. In detox, she found others who felt the same way, but also found hope and faith.

Slowly, she learned to face her fears with faith that, if she does the next right thing, things will work out. Two years sober, this faith allows her to confront her fears as her biggest supporter faced cancer.

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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‘Life is hope’ by Afiomai

81691_orig_970_0-1I found this very moving blog from Afiomai on the new ABC Open website here in Australia. Afiomai is a transgender person living in Sydney and is currently considered long-term unemployed. Afiomai took part in ABC Open’s Speak Your Mind project

‘Sometimes I think about suicide.

I think about the “painless” ways I could do it. How I would obtain the required drugs or chemicals to bring me “sleep”. But, as an Average Jo, drugs and the drug world are beyond me.

I then think about maybe “guns” or “gas” as viable options?

But, as I live in Sydney’s Surry Hills and not Skid Row USA, I wouldn’t know the first thing about obtaining a gun, or even how to use it. And besides, it would be too messy.

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 in an Age of Cynicism’ by Bill White

Recovery in an Age of Cynicism ImageThere’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”
For What It’s Worth, Buffalo Springfield (1966)
Lyrics by Stephen Stills

Recovery in an age of cynicism requires seeking the less traveled path.

We live in a strange era.  Pessimism seems to be seeping into every aspect of global culture – fed by leaders who divide rather than unite, who pander rather than educate and elevate, and who ply the politics of destruction to mask their own impotence to create.

Poisoned by such cynicism, we as a people act too often without thinking, speak too often without listening, and engage too often to confront and condemn rather than to communicate, until in our own loss of hope, we lapse into disillusioned detachment and silence – shrinking our world to a small circle we vow to protect. 

Read More ➔

Recovery and recovery-based care

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead, US cultural anthropologist

2007_0118walpole0118Here’s a little section I wrote for a book I am working on.

1. The Problems
Substance use problems represent a major concern in society today. These problems do not just arise from use of illegal drugs, but also from alcohol, solvents and addictive prescription drugs. They are intimately tied up with, and can be caused by, social, emotional and/or mental health problems. A person’s substance use problems impacts negatively on the wellbeing of family members and other loved ones.

Far too few people are recovering from the problems caused by drugs and alcohol, in large part because of shortcomings in the systems of care that society has developed. Many people circulate in and out of treatment, and much of the treatment system has become disempowering and lacking in hope.

The prejudice and stigma that exists in society towards individuals and families affected by substance use problems is also a strong barrier to recovery.

Read More ➔

I Am Not Anonymous: Lucas’s Story, ‘Seconds and Inches’

Lucas-Text-1024x681(pp_w1000_h665)My name is Luke Mosley, and I am in long-term recovery from alcohol and drugs. By that, I mean that I haven’t found it necessary to pick up a drink, a drug, or any other mind or emotion altering substance since November 10, 2010. And for that I am truly blessed and eternally grateful.

I say “I haven’t found it necessary,” because for the first 27 years of my life, I lived in emotional and spiritual bondage. More than simply having a drug or alcohol problem, I had a problem dealing with life in general.

What seemed to be day-to-day challenges to most other people were crippling burdens to me. Call it social anxiety. Call it restlessness or irritability. Call it being overwhelmed.  Whatever labels my concerned family, friends, teachers, doctors, or therapists applied, they never quite identified that “thing” in me that just felt off.

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I Am Not Anonymous: Kristina, ‘Change is Freedom’

KristinaText-1024x681(pp_w1000_h665)‘Recovery goes far beyond its definition or interpretation. It’s about embarking on a process; a journey of fulfillments, enriching lives without the use of mind or mood altering substances.

Before ever being introduced to this process I was left with my own devices. After years of struggle and degradation, and the lives I’ve hurt as well as my own brought me to my knees. Everyone and everything seemed to have vanished within a blink of an eye, as if I woke up from a bad dream laying in the fetal position.  My body was  aching in pain and I couldn’t recall much of anything.

Crying out in desperation I felt helpless and my vulnerability was eating me alive. I hadn’t bathed, ate or slept in days. I was nothing but a mere existence of skin and bone who had lost her soul.

Read More ➔