‘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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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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‘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.

‘How Depression Can Bring Blessings in Disguise’ by Douglas Bloch

In this video. author and depression counselor Douglas Bloch talks about how depression and anxiety can bring unexpected blessings in their wake.

‘Setting the Intention to Heal: The Starting Point of Mental Health Recovery’ by Douglas Bloch

dblochHere is such an important blog about healing and recovery. Thank you, Douglas.

‘“The readiness is all.” William Shakespeare

In my work facilitating depression support groups, I have discovered three essential factors to healing from depression, which I call ”the three pillars of mental health recovery.”  In my earlier blogs for Mad in America I wrote about two of these pillars  – connecting with community and using a holistic approach to treat symptoms. Now I would like to present the first and MOST IMPORTANT pillar – Setting the Intention to Heal.

I define setting the intention to heal as “making the decision that you want to get well, even if you don’t know how.”  Setting the intention to heal does not require that a person know the exact path that will heal him from a major depression or other mental health disorder. It just requires that he or she wants be well.

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‘Experiencing Recovery – Part 9′ by William L. White: Recovery Advocacy and New Recovery Support

Bill talks about recovery as a new paradigm and its influence on treatment systems. He goes on to describe the new recovery advocacy movement and new recovery institutions and organisations. Most of this is occurring at a grassroots level.

‘Experiencing Recovery – Part 8′ by William L. White: History of Recovery Support

Bill introduces about the various types of recovery support that have existed historically: natural support, limited generalist support within the community, peer recovery (mutual aid) and treatment. He then goes on to describe how things have been changing in recent years.

‘Recovering From Psychiatry’ by Laura Delano

0-71Here is an excellent website from a very special lady. Please spend time exploring the website, including Laura’s amazing Story. Here’s what Laura has to say:

‘We search, and search, and search for answers to our emotional pain, until we realize they’ve been in us all along – not in psychiatric diagnoses, psychiatric textbooks, pill bottles, or the minds of the doctors we’ve surrendered ourselves to.  At least, this has been my experience.

What does it mean to “recover” from Psychiatry?  For me, it’s meant healing from the physical, emotional, cognitive, and existential trauma of psychiatric labels and psychotropic drugs, which has taken time, patience, acceptance, and unyielding determination. 

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Holding Space

Unknown-5I’m reading a very interesting and inspiring book  at the moment, Healing the Mind Through the Power of Story: The Promise of Narrative Psychiatry by Lewis Mehl-Madrona. I love the concept Lewis describes below:

“Holding Space is an important and rarely discussed concept. When we hold space for someone, we bear witness to them, their stories, and their pain.

We serve as a supportive audience member, sometimes a coach, sometimes a warm shoulder for comfort.

We hold the vision of the person being well, being happy, having recovered. The more people who hold that vision, the more possible recovery becomes.

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‘Reflections on a Pathologized Adolescence and a Vision For The Future’ by Laura Delano

0-71I’ve been working on a larger writing project for a while now, and am currently focusing on my ninth grade year –  the year I turned fourteen, the year I began to think about suicide, the year I discovered the temporary satisfaction that comes from escaping oneself, and the year I met my first psychiatrist and said goodbye to myself.

For many years, I carried great shame about all that unfolded during that year – about the things I did, the secrets I kept, the harm I caused, the darkness I was so immersed in.

Today as I write, I am full of love for that lost girl I once was, for I see that I was on a universal, archetypal search – for answers to my profound emptiness, to why I yearned to die, to why I felt so utterly convinced that I didn’t fit into the world.

I was searching for self-worth, for peace of mind, for a sense of safety in a world I didn’t understand. I was searching for the kinds of things that all young people search for, only I was never presented an opportunity to realize this.

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‘Benzodiazepines treat anxiety, cause long-term problems’ by Markian Hawryluk

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.clsThis article appeared in The Bulletin in Central Oregon.

Meant for short-term relief, these medications are prescribed repeatedly.

Over three decades, Marjorie Carmen had helped her husband, Milton, through many of his health issues. From heart surgery to cancer to a hip replacement, they had survived each of them.

But in 2007, as her husband slowly descended into dementia, it scared her. It was not so much the fear of him dying or leaving her alone. It was the angst over what the Yale-educated, highly successful real estate developer with his New England upbringing and sensibilities would have to endure, unable to fend for himself – the sheer indignity of dementia.

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‘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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Excerpt from Anna’s Recovery Story: ‘Should I or shouldn’t I?’

stories-02Through his heroin addiction and recovery, Anna’s brother has taught her so much about life, including the most valuable lesson she could ever learn – you can get through anything.

“… there’s no way I can tell this story without saying that my brother is truly the most inspirational person I know. I am in awe of who he is and what he’s achieved. He has taught me so much about life, including the most valuable lesson I could ever possibly learn – that you can get through anything.”

‘6. Emotional release
My parents could see that I wasn’t really coping with what was happening and they convinced me to go and see a counsellor. I went to see a very expensive psychologist for three sessions. The first two sessions were spent crying and telling the same story I’d told everyone else a thousand times.

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Adam’s Story: A Moment of Clarity

Adams Story 2I thought we’d have a period of having excerpts from our collection of Stories. Let’s start with the Story of my good friend Adam. I met Adam here in Perth and he now lives in the UK with his lovely wife and two young girls.

After years of having problems with amphetamine, alcohol and cannabis, Adam reached this stage:

‘Eventually, I ended up living in a caravan in Palm Beach, near Rockingham. I had sold my car for $50, which bought me two dope sticks. I got around on an old pushbike from the dump, but ended up selling that. I was just drinking and smoking dope to get blottoed, and often would wake up to find myself covered in vomit. The caravan, like me, was a mess. Eventually the dope ran out, then the money.

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Favourite Blogs: ‘A Day With Dave’ by Annalie Clark

This blog was first posted at the end of July 2013.

My lovely daughter Annalie heads back to the UK tomorrow, having spent a year here in Perth working as a doctor (along with her boyfriend Max) in the emergency department of  a local hospital. I will miss them both greatly, but I’ve had such a special year with them.

Here’s an article that Annalie wrote in the summer of 2005, when she had just finished her first year of medical training at the University of Edinburgh. It appeared in a June edition of Drink and Drugs News. The article is about Dave Watkins who used to be a top-class support worker at a treatment centre in Swansea.

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Barry Haslam – Addiction to Prescription Drugs

“Not only is it a national scandal, it is a political problem. And it needs a political solution. In fact, I’d go even further and say, it needs an independent public inquiry. We’ve had 50 years of prescribing these drugs which have addicted literally millions, certainly one and a half millions currently [in UK – DC] and they’ve injured, disabled, they’ve killed people…”

Here is a real courageous man, someone who has highlighted the problem of prescription drug addiction and tried to help people for years. You are a true hero, Barry! And you too, Sue!!

‘In conjunction with the imminent launch of our new service which we will be delivering in the new year, ‘ADS-Haslam Clinics for Prescribed Addiction’, we interviewed Barry Haslam, our partner and leading expert on the effects of prescription drugs.

During the interview Barry talks about his struggle with addiction to prescribed medicines and the devastating effects it’s had on himself and those around him. We also hear the story from a carers point of view from Barry’s wife Sue and collectively their resolve to make this national scandal understood.’

Recovery Stories Highlight: Untangling the elements involved in treatment

Unknown-4Here’s a summary of a piece of research that Lucie James and I conducted some years ago. I am very proud of this piece of work and it certainly opened my eyes to the importance of gaining a sense of belonging in the recovery journey.   

‘To understand how treatment helps people overcome substance use problems, it is essential to understand the elements that operate in the treatment process, and how they might interact to facilitate behavioural change and a person’s path to recovery from addiction.

Lucie James and I set out to gain initial insights into these issues by using a qualitative analysis of the views and experiences of clients on the RAPt treatment programme in one male and one female prison in the UK.

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Recovery from benzo addiction: Matt Samet

“One thing that helped me immensely was making contact with other people going through this. Just seeing stories that were so similar to your own and getting advice from people who’d been through this and knew there was another side…”

In my last blog on prescription drug addiction, Madeline mentioned Matt Samet during her Story. Well, here is Matt talking about his problems and recovery in a short Vimeo clip. You can read his Story here. Well worth the time!

‘The need to be honest, willing and open-minded’ by Rosie

rsz_cardiff_sightseeingEveryone needs a guide in life – for no one can be judge in their own case. We all need to have someone in our life we can totally trust – and none more so than the alcoholic seeking recovery.

I came to understand through being around others like myself, from listening to them and hearing their personal stories of recovery, that such a person was required – a sponsor – to guide me through the 12 Steps, the Programme that has brought thousands of people into recovery.

Through listening to these people, I began to get an idea of what the 12-Step Programme was about and of the important part it played in the daily life of the recovering alcoholic.

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‘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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