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.

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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.

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‘5 Reasons Why I Could Get to Katahdin’ by Phil Valentine

springer_mtn_ga_at-225x300I couldn’t resist putting up this Hooked on Recovery blog from Phil Valentine. [If you missed out on my blog yesterday about Phil’s amazing trip, please check it out.]

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

I’ll be on Springer Mountain, Georgia in just a few days (03.19.15) to start my Appalachian Trail (AT) adventure. I set up a card table in my man cave and have started to get all my gear in one place. I bought a warmer sleeping bag because of all the cold, cold weather in the south this spring. As I talk to people daily about the AT, I’m usually asked…

“How are you feeling, Phil? You must be excited?”

Ya, I’m excited. Partly. And other parts are terrified, nervous, calm, anxious, determined, peaceful, relieved, sad, grateful, happy, curious, … Um, probably others too, but I have never been too good at describing my emotions. I am, after all, a typical male.

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Recovery Walks the Appalachian Trail

Phillip Valentine ’87 (CLAS) on Jan. 15, 2014. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)“Phil Valentine’s call to walk the Appalachian Trail is a vivid example of moving beyond recovery FROM life-threatening illnesses as a means of recovering TO a life of extraordinary possibilities. Thousands of us who have shared the challenges and unexpected gifts from such recovery journeys will be walking in spirit with him.” Bill White

A great Recovery Story starts soon, on 19th March 2015. Well, the Story is already happening, but a new phase starts on that date. Phil Valentine, Executive Director of Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) begins his amazing walk of the Appalachian Trail.

Phil is already a great example of what one can achieve in recovery. But now he takes his journey to another level. We’ll be following Phil from time-to-time on his journey and I strongly encourage you to follow him directly via: https://twitter.com/pvalentine59 and https://instagram.com/pvalentine59/.

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‘Cultural Genocide Survivor Walking The Red Road’ by Wayne William Snellgrove

a07bb170c4a36161aa1f8f4859c19794_LI can’t begin to appreciate what it must have been like to have been removed from my mother at a very young age and be brought up in a culture I knew was not my own. This happened to so many Indigenous people in Australia, Canada, USA, New Zealand and other colonized nations.

When I read stories like the one below,  I know I am doing the right thing with my life, trying to help Indigenous people through Sharing Culture. I marvel at the healing that is illustrated in stories like the one below. I know that we must pass on such stories, so many other people can be inspired to Walking the Red Road. That they can take their own journey of healing.

Here is the story of Wayne William Snellgrove, which appeared on the I Love Ancestry website.  

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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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‘Healing From Trauma: Owning Your Self’ by Bessel van der Kolk

UnknownThe Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk is one of the best books I have read in a very long time. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the healing of trauma. Here’s a short excerpt:

‘Nobody can “treat” a war, or abuse, or rape, molestation, or any other horrendous event, for that matter; what has happened cannot be undone.

But what can be dealt with are the imprints of the trauma on body, mind and soul: the crushing sensations in your chest that you may label as anxiety or depression; the fear of losing control; always being on alert for danger or rejection; the self-loathing; the nightmares and flashbacks; the fog that keeps you from staying on task and engaging fully in what you are doing; being unable to fully open your heart to another human being.

Trauma robs you of the feeling that you are in charge of yourself, of what I will call self-leadership in the chapters to come.

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The dilemma of residential rehab

I first met psychologist Pavel Nepustil from the Czech Republic nearly ten years ago in Cardiff when he came to meet us and find out more about Wired In. We got on really well and have kept in contact since that time.

Pavel has a keen interest in Stories and in recovery from addiction. He has spent time working in the UK, USA, Mexico, Netherlands and Austria, and is still closely linked with the Taos Institute. His PhD thesis was entitled ‘The process of adjustment after the end of long-term meth use without professional help’.

Here, Pavel listens to Markéta tell her story about meth and heroin using. About what helped her to stop. And what did not help. 

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‘One Gutsy Woman’ by Daisy Anderson

dandersonAn inspiring, beautifully written story from Mad in America about being drugged by the biological psychiatry industry and a courageous battle through drug withdrawal to recovery

‘Part One: Becoming Psychiatric: Easy as 1-2-3
Living with a mental illness is hard work. I know because I lived as a psychiatric patient for over thirty-seven years. Working to become well turned out to be even harder. I know because it took everything I had to recover. Even though eighteen psychiatrists treated me, my health only got worse. I recovered completely after hiring a private psychologist. Now, I take no psychiatric drugs and see no psychiatrists.

My almost-completed book, which I call The Daisy Project, tells the story of how I first became a patient in my home province of British Columbia, Canada, why I was sick for so long, and the hurdles I went through to fully recover. This blog provides a brief overview of my journey.

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‘A Personal Tribute: Ernie Kurtz, 1935 – 2015′ by Bill White

EK Photo 2008‘Ernest Kurtz, who made landmark contributions to the study of addiction recovery, died January 19, 2015 of pancreatic cancer. Following publication of Not-God:  A History of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1979, Kurtz focused his studies on the growing varieties of recovery experience, the healing of shame and guilt, and the role of spirituality in addiction recovery.

 
Ernest Kurtz was born in Rochester, New York, September 9, 1935 – only two months after the meeting of two desperate alcoholics in Akron, Ohio marked the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Kurtz attended St. Bernard’s Seminary and College and was then ordained as a Catholic Priest in 1961.

Following five years of parish work, he began his graduate studies at Harvard University where he completed an M.A. in philosophy and a Ph.D. in the history of American civilization. His Ph.D dissertation on the history of A.A. marked a turning point in the scholarly study of A.A. and the larger arenas of addiction recovery and recovery mutual aid societies, both legitimizing such studies and setting a benchmark by which future studies would be evaluated.

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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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‘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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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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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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‘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 Walls’ by Mark Ragins

rsz_markHere’s some great earlier writing on recovery from Mark Ragins, who set up The Village in California. This is what recovery is about!

‘In 1989, the California State Legislature authorized the funding for three model mental health programs, including the Village Integrated Service Agency in Long Beach, in part to answer the question, “Does anything work?”

We created a radical departure from traditional mental health services basing our entire system on psychosocial rehabilitation principles, quality of life outcomes and community integration. Arguably, we have created the most comprehensive, integrated and effective recovery based mental health program anywhere.

In recent years, encouraged by our success, both our attention and the legislature’s have turned to the further question of “How can our whole system be more like the Village?” Undoubtedly, there are numerous serious beaurocratic, funding, and system design issues relevant to that question, but I would like to focus on the personal issues staff must face.

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‘Prison-Based Recovery Advocacy (The San Quentin Story)’ by Bill White

San Quentin ARC Group Counseling Image‘The stage is set for a recovery-focused advocacy and peer support movement within the U.S. prison system.

The mass incarceration of drug offenders in recent decades, the growth of prison-based addiction treatment, the growth and diversification of prison-based recovery mutual aid, increased disillusionment with incarceration as a policy strategy of addiction containment, and the rise of grassroots recovery community organizations in local U.S. communities have all been part of this incubation process.

There is a growing critical mass of people in correctional institutions who are initiating and sustaining addiction recovery and who are pursuing service to others as part of their recovery processes.  Leaders are rising to articulate ideas and launch programs that address the particular needs and aspirations of people seeking recovery within the shadow of the criminal justice system.

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Classic Blog – ‘Losing a Self: Lying to Yourself’ by Stephanie Brown

rsz_41a-shrpktl_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_sx342_sy445_cr00342445_sh20_ou02_I’ve made reference to Stephanie Brown’s brilliant book A Place Called Self: Women, Sobriety, and Radical Transformation in past blogs. I’ve recommended this book to several women in early recovery and they have really like it.

Here, Stephanie describes how one’s self (or identity) changes in a negative manner during the process of addiction. She focuses on lying to oneself.

‘… addiction develops over time, and it involves changes in the way you behave but also changes in the way you think: the way you think about drinking, the way you think about yourself, and the way you think about life.

You start to build your sense of self on a a false belief, the belief that you can control your drinking or other addictive behavior. This isn’t an easy thing to do. Since you really don’t have control, you’re going to have to lie to yourself in order to believe you are not addicted.

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