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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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.

Read More ➔

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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‘Newsflash – Heroin Addicts CAN Be Good Mothers!’ by Robin Sherwood

9e84425a-905c-44d9-a250-d4307755d13a-620x372Thanks to Mike Scott for finding  this great article in the Huffington Post.

‘I was eight years old when I accidentally walked in on my mum injecting heroin in the kitchen. I’ll never forget the confused look on her face – the warm embrace of the opiates blunted any acute feelings shame and panic, leaving her with an ugly, dumbfounded grimace.

Luckily, this episode was the turning point in both our lives; she knew that she needed to find help and enter rehab, otherwise she’d either OD or I’d be taken away from her. Sadly, not everyone is blessed with the same foresight.

Without knowing what kind of parent Peaches Geldof was it’s really hard to comment on the latest revelations about her death without sounding like a sanctimonious hack, but in my experience of growing up with a junkie for a mother, I’d like to make two points: 1: Being addicted to heroin does not necessarily mean you’re a bad mother and 2: They fuck you up your mum and dad (to paraphrase Philip Larkin).

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‘I am 14 years sober today!’ by Veronica Valli

ID-100227306-300x300Congratulations, Veronica! And thank you for your great blog.

‘Today is my 14th sober birthday. When you get to my age, birthdays aren’t something you necessarily want to shout about.

But recovered addicts and alcoholics have a different attitude to their sober birthdays. Every year we have under our belts has been hard fought for. This did not come easy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, so hell yeah; I’m going to let everyone know how proud I am to have got this far. [Too right! DC]

So here are the 14 things I’ve learnt about sobriety along the way…

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’12-Step Programmes Help Thousands, but Are Outdated and Sexist’ by Jessica Smith

Geological wonders: picture three‘Addiction is everywhere. The drug of choice may be alcohol, or it may be food, sex, romance, gambling or shopping, but the basic problem is the same; the inner void created by a culture that sells us the empty promise that reaching for external things will make us happy.

When all that striving for money and possessions, and for status through jobs and relationships, still leaves a gaping hole inside us, many of us reach for the bottle, the chocolates or the credit card – and the cycle is complete.

In an article in the Guardian on May 30, Damian Thompson argued against the disease model for addiction, as developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. The roots of addiction, he wrote, lie in environmental factors, in the fact that “contemporary capitalism is ruthlessly targeting our mental reward circuits.”

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‘Family Recovery, Al-Anon & Altruism: in helping we are helped’ by DJ Mac

w600_c83da257562805a91d9b09b368a04f2ePeer support is of immense value in helping people find recovery from addiction and mental health problems. However, what is it about peer support that is so important? How does it work? Here, DJ Mac looks at a recent science paper focusing on this issue. 

‘“Giving implies to make the other person a giver also.” So said Eric Fromm whose quote starts this research paper which travels to the heart of mutual aid. The clear message? In helping other, we help ourselves. The recovery saying “We only keep what we have by giving it away” hits the mark in this respect.

The researchers in this Finnish study looked at communication and support in Al-Anon groups, a 12-step mutual aid network for family and friends of alcoholics. In Finland, 97% of Al-Anon members are female and three quarters are partners of alcoholics. They conducted the research through questionnaires (169) and 20 interviews. In the survey they focused on two questions:

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’18 Ways to Live a Successful Life (That Have Nothing to Do With Money)’ By Alexa Cortese

Geographical wonders travel picture quizHere’s an interesting article from the Huffington Post. Picture is from The Guardian.

‘People are always talking about success. It’s a word we hear often and an idea that seems to be constantly dangling in front of our faces – just out of reach.

But what does it mean? How, exactly, does one measure “success?”

We read articles that promise to enlighten us on “How to Be Successful.” They always tell us to work hard, ask for that raise, be innovative, not to waste time being unproductive, not to surround ourselves with those loser friends who have no interest in climbing the proverbial ladder. Someday, these articles promise, enough hard work and the right amount of luck will make us successful. (In other words, very rich and very powerful).

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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.

Read More ➔

‘Recovery is contagious redux’ by Bill White

recovery contagionHere’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. 

Read More ➔

‘We Are Meant to Heal in a Community’ by Douglas Bloch

dbloch“Anything that promotes a sense of isolation often leads to illness and suffering, while that which promotes a sense of  love and intimacy, connection and community, is healing.” Dean Ornish

‘In my last blog, I talked about how I was attempting to cope with a “mini-relapse” without using psychiatric drugs. One Sunday morning in the midst of this episode I awoke in a particularly dismal state. I didn’t have a structure planned for the day. And without something to look forward to, both my anxiety and depression increased.

As I lay in bed, trying to convince myself to get up, the phone rang. It was a cycling friend, Sandy, calling to see if I wanted to go on a bicycle ride.

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‘My Story of Recovery: Prayer, Community, and Healing’ by Douglas Bloch

dbloch‘In his book, Prayer is Good Medicine, physician and researcher Larry Dossey maintains that praying for one’s self or others can make a scientifically measurable difference in recovering from illness or trauma. It is one thing to understand such a healing intellectually; it is another to know it from experience.

Such an experience came to me in the fall of 1996 when a painful divorce, a bad case of writer’s block, and an adverse reaction to an antidepressant medication plummeted me into a major depressive episode. For the next ten months, I was assailed by out-of-control anxiety attacks which alternated with dark, suicidal depressions. Each day felt like an eternity as I struggled to stay alive in the face of overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and despair.

My depression was called “treatment resistant” (a condition that applies to 10 – 20% of those who suffer from a depressive disorder) and for good reason. Medication, the mainstay of conventional treatment, simply did not work. Drugs, such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, made me agitated; others such as Lithium made me even more depressed; and the rest did nothing at all.

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Indigenous Circle of Hope

‘Welcome to the Circle of Life/Hope. This animated visual short film you are about to see is a story of prophecy.

The story of man going down the wrong path, with one day the possibility of finding the path of peace and love. What we are seeing around the world with wars, genocide, diseases, climate change such as global warming, and potential earth changes that have been foretold by many seers and indigenous peoples.

This is that story in animated visuals and soundtrack that will shake you to your roots. We must shift to this path, without hesitation.’

‘Out of the dark into the light: The beginning of the recovery journey’ by Rosie

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy good friend Wynford Ellis Owen of The Living Room Cardiff was a regular blogger on Wired In To Recovery. While he was on holiday, his ‘stand-in’ Rosie wrote some beautiful blogs. Here’s the first.

‘Leaving the dark place of my drinking and moving into the light of my new life has been a journey of self discovery – a journey of change – a painful journey at times – a wonderful journey – which has brought me what I was seeking most – peace.

I have come to understand that recovery is a healing process of mind, body and spirit, and time is an essential factor in this process. We cannot expect to recover from the illness of alcoholism or any other addiction overnight. We cannot undo the harm done in a short space of time. This is a fact which I believe is so often not recognised – people are not realising the importance of time in the recovery process.

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‘Figuring out self-acceptance’ by Matt Kay

rsz_unknownBy popular request, another Wired In To Recovery blog by Matt Kay.

‘Self-acceptance means accepting our whole self; the talents and strengths along with the bad habits and pain. When we deny, repress or hide any aspect of ourselves it is likened to rejecting ourselves.

The very things we want most in life include being accepted, loved and acknowledged, yet we often don’t give these gifts to ourselves. We are all here to grow, learn and enjoy life, and no one is perfect. Making mistakes, experiencing pain and embarrassing ourselves are all a part of the package.

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Do’s and Don’ts for Friends of Bereaved Parents

The J.O.S.H. Foundation have compiled a list of things to do (or not do) for people who have friends who have lost a child. This is an excellent slideshow, well-worth taking note of and circulating.

If you have not read them, please also spend some time reading Ian and Irene’s and Sue’s Stories of loss and recovery. 

‘New Life Acceptance’ by Matt Kay

Manchester-Art-and-Culture-getawayHere’s another old blog from WITR blogger Matt Kay, this one from April 2012.

‘I’ve not been on here for absolutely ages but I’m still living the dream. I made it to two years clean and sober (Aprils Fools Day too!) Just thought I’d share this with you… it’s called “New Life Acceptance”, hence the title.
 
1. I have a life-threatening problem that once had me. I now take charge of my life and my addiction. I accept the responsibility.

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From Discovery To Recovery: My Emotional Journey As The Parent Of An Addict

iStock_000017274301XSmall1-300x199Powerful writing from Ron Grover, a parent of a son with a substance use problem, which appeared on the Intervene website.

‘What’s it like being the parent of an addict? I’m not talking about the day-to-day experience with a crisis and drama around every corner. I mean what is it like inside the mind of a parent who has gone from discovery (of a child’s drug use) to recovery (from a drug addiction)?

As I take stock of my current emotional state – examining all of the emotions I have felt over the last 10 years – I wonder: Am I normal? Am I a survivor? Am I crazy? Maybe I’m just a composite of these experiences and it’s simply who I am now.

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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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On blaming

2007_0118walpole0076‘When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look into the reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilise, or more water, or less sun.

Yet if we have problems with our friends or our family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like lettuce.

Blaming has no positive affect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and arguments…

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