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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Classic Blog: ‘Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count’ by Brené Brown

If you are trying to do something creative then you’re going to get your arse kicked. So sayeth Brené Brown. If you’re trying to do something creative in this field and help improve the way that we help people overcome addiction and mental health, you will get your arse kicked. So sayeth I.

This talk is essential viewing for learning how to deal with getting your arse kicked. Or at least deal with the people trying to kick your arse.

‘There is nothing more frightening than the moment we expose our ideas to the world. Author and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown shows us how to deal with the critics and our own self-doubt by refusing to “armor up” and shut ourselves off. “Not caring what people think,” she says, “is its own kind of hustle.”

Instead we must “reserve a seat” for the critics and our own self-doubt. “Tell them, I see you, I hear you, but I’m going to do this anyway.”’

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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‘“Do I Have to Feel so Badly About Myself?” – The Legacies of Guilt, Shame and Anxiety’ by Peter Breggin, MD

pbregginGuilt, shame and anxiety are intimately tied to addiction. Here is a blog on these emotions by one of my favourite people, Dr. Peter Breggin, which appeared in Mad in America.

‘Guilt, Shame and Anxiety defines these negative emotions, shows how they act as primitive enforcers of anger management, describes many alternative methods of identifying their presence in our lives, enables us to discover our personal negative emotional profile, and shows how to reject these emotions and to triumph over them.

And now we can answer the question asked in the title, “Do I have to feel so badly about myself?” The answer is a definitive “No!”  You do not have to live with your emotions out of control.  You do not have to feel stymied by painful feelings whenever you seek to be more peaceful or relaxed, more creative, braver, more loving, more independent, or simply happier.  You do not have to live this way.

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Classic Blog: ‘How Forgiveness Can Change Your Life’ by Peter Breggin

Unknown-1-1I have a high regard for the work of the psychiatrist Peter Breggin. Here is an article he wrote on forgiveness for the Huffington Post earlier in the year. Forgiveness plays a key role in recovery.

‘Early in 1865, in his second inaugural address, little more than a month before his assassination, Abraham Lincoln stood before the bloodied, fractured United States to speak about forgiveness, the letting go of hatreds, and the binding of wounds. He implored the people of America:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

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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.

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Brené Brown: Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count

If you are trying to do something creative then you’re going to get your arse kicked. So sayeth Brené Brown. If you’re trying to do something creative in this field and help improve the way that we help people overcome addiction and mental health, you will get your arse kicked. So sayeth I. 

This talk is essential viewing for learning how to deal with getting your arse kicked. Or at least deal with the people trying to kick your arse.

‘There is nothing more frightening than the moment we expose our ideas to the world. Author and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown shows us how to deal with the critics and our own self-doubt by refusing to “armor up” and shut ourselves off. “Not caring what people think,” she says, “is its own kind of hustle.”

Instead we must “reserve a seat” for the critics and our own self-doubt. “Tell them, I see you, I hear you, but I’m going to do this anyway.”’

‘Shame & Empathy’ by Dr. Brené Brown

Here’s an early video (2007) from Brené Brown before her TEDx talks went viral. Shame plays a major role in keeping people locked into addiction. Developing shame resilience can play a major role in recovery. 

‘In an excerpt from her new psychoeducational shame-resilience curriculum, University of Houston researcher and educator Brené Brown discusses the destructive nature of shame and the healing power of empathy.’

‘Overcoming the stigma of depression’ by Douglas Bloch

dblochAn excellent article on stigma and on how people with depression can feel shame. Stigma and shame are roadblocks to depression.

“The last great stigma of the twentieth century is the stigma of mental illness.” Tipper Gore

One of the roadblocks to recovery for those who suffer from depression is our culture’s tendency to stigmatize depression and other mental health disorders.

After my first hospitalization, I remember the dilemma I faced in trying to explain my three-day absence to my employer. If I told the truth – that I was being treated for anxiety and depression – I stood a good chance of losing my job. Instead, I reported that I had been treated for insomnia at a sleep clinic.

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Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

“Shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection.”

Here is one of my favourite people. And, boy-oh-boy does this lady have a powerful brand. The talk here is one of the most viewed TEDx talks – over 13 million views.

Here’s the TEDx intro:

‘Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.’

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‘My Truth – On Relapse, Recovery and Getting Out of My Own Way’ by Ellie Schoenberger

Unknown-1Those of you who read my last blog, focusing on her interview by Courtney Webster, will know what I feel about Ellie Schoenberger. Here is Ellie’s latest addition to her One Crafty Mother blog:

For many, if not most, of the people in my day-to-day life I am the only alcoholic – at least self-admitted alcoholic – they know.

Or, perhaps more accurately, I am the only alcoholic in recovery they know. Over half the population in the United States has been directly or indirectly impacted by addiction, and many people are familiar only with the ugly, destructive face of alcoholism; the one that rips apart families, destroys childhoods and brings so much sorrow and fear.

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‘Your Recovered Life’ Series with Ellie Schoenberger

Couldn’t think of a better way to starting my blogging week. I was quite simply blown away by this interview. Ellie Schoenberger is quite simply one special lady. Here is what your host Courtney Webster has to say about Ellie.

‘Ellie wears many hats (see bio below) but I think of her most as a woman who takes a stand for bringing alcoholism and recovery out of the shadows –  Letting us know that recovery is not only possible but phenomenal and that no matter where you are in the process, you are not alone.

I have admired her work from afar for years and personally known many women whose lives she has touched with her advocacy for telling the truth and taking the shame and stigma out of our addictions. I was thrilled to talk to her for this project and am now honored to call her a friend.’

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Your Recovered Life Series with Greg Williams, Filmmaker

I really like the look of Courtney Webster’s new website, where she is interviewing inspiring people in recovery. First up for us is Greg Williams, who made the film The Anonymous People. Here’s part of what Courtney has to say about this interview:

‘Last spring I was minding my own business on Facebook when I happened upon a kickstarter video that rocked my world.

Greg Williams, was talking about a film he was making called The Anonymous People (see description below). I sat at my kitchen table with my little boy on my lap and was riveted. By the time my husband had come over to see what was making me so excited, I was crying the best kind of tears. It was so inspiring.

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‘The Street to Recovery’ by Kevin Kennedy

51-JLmnATJL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_Remember this guy? Well, he has a Recovery Story to tell, which you can read about in his new book. Meanwhile, here is an article from Addiction Today.

‘Kevin Kennedy – Curly Watts from TV’s long-running Coronation Street, and so popular he drew in 22million viewers for his TV wedding – has now been sober for 15 years. He shares his experience of alcoholism and rehab, strength of recovery and hope for the future with Addiction Today readers. Pdf

PROLOGUE: A FRIDAY IN AUGUST 1998
Sometime in the morning, I came round. I’d blacked out from the drink, with no memory of the night before. As soon as I opened my eyes, before I’d even focused on the room around me, I knew I had done it again. After all the promises, even swearing on the Bible and all the pleas for second chances, I’d still gone ahead and lost it. The four hideous horsemen – shame, remorse, self-disgust, and, worst of them all, fear – had found me, again.

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Beth’s Reflections

A series of blogs from recovery coach Beth Burgess of Smyls. Beth writes about recovery for the Huffington Post which means she has a large audience.

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‘RSA Shorts: The Power of Empathy’ with Brené Brown

An awesome short animation from the RSA involving one of my favourite ladies, Brené Brown.

‘What is the best way to ease someone’s pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own fragilities.

Voice: Dr Brené Brown. Animation: Katy Davis (AKA Gobblynne) Why not check out Brené’s full talk The Power of Vulnerability at the RSA?

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‘Psych drugs can strip folks of caring about hygiene & home environment’ by Monica Cassani

adlI really like Monica Cassani’s blog Beyond Meds. Monica say: ‘This blog documents and shares many natural methods of self-care for finding and sustaining health in body, mind and spirit. My own experience as both (now – ex) patient and a mental health professional allows for some interesting and sometimes uncomfortable insights into the mental health system in the United States.’

In the world of social services they refer to them as your ADLs. Activities of daily living. ADLs encompass more than care of self and home but I’m referring to those two things here as they are the most common and visible dysfunction quite often.

If you’ve been part of the mental health system you’ll know that mental health professionals quite often check in with you to see how well you’re functioning by asking about your ADLs. And people who’ve been highly psychiatrized quite often know the acronym. ADL.

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Transcending addiction and redefining recovery: Jacki Hillios at TEDxBoulder

Every now and again, I see something in the recovery field THAT BLOWS ME AWAY. And this talk does just that. One of the best recovery talks I have ever come across. Thank you Jacki, Scott and all your colleagues at Phoenix Multisports.

‘Why are some able to transcend their addiction while others are not? What do people really need to escape the shame of their addiction and achieve sustained recovery?

Jacki’s talk focuses on answering these questions and demonstrates how resilience of the human spirit intersects with social contextual factors to set the stage for those struggling with addiction to choose a pathway to health.’

‘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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Expectations in Early Recovery

rsz_prop-img-full-f3y0fv91-1i4rrdkllxwjkOne of the problems in early recovery is the person not knowing what to expect. And then not being able to deal with the ‘unexpected’ when it happens. Here’s some reflections from Stephanie Brown in her book A Place Called Self: Women, Sobriety, and Radical Transformation.

‘Sharp feelings
New recovery is painful on several levels. Firstly, new recovering women must deal with the normal feelings that most women have but which they have buried under addiction.

Second, they have to face the ambivalence they feel as they bring their own recovery needs  into balance with meeting the needs of others.

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