Categories
bipolar Dual diagnosis Forgiveness hams harm reduction Inner demons mental health mental illness moderation NAMI pandemic psychosis Recovery relapse schizoaffective schizophrenia sobriety suicide

What I Have Been Up To Lately

I had therapy last week. I started seeing this therapist after the pandemic, so all my sessions have been virtual. I forget what she asked but I mentioned I remember mistakes from the past, 20, 30 years ago or more and they torment me. She wanted me to share but I am not comfortable with that. I feel such shame and they were mistakes that I feel are unforgivable. If I did not feel shame there would be something wrong. But, I don’t want to delve into them.

My father did not believe in mental health treatment even though schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar run in our family. When I started therapy he discouraged it saying talking about the past just makes everyone sad. I did not understand what he meant until now.

My therapist wants me to work on forgiving myself.  I have to explain to her that some of these things are best kept hidden.

 

 

I have been able to stay alcohol free after my planned intoxication in April.  My plan is sobriety until our wedding anniversary in October.  It was pretty easy to get back to it.

 

 

I posted a link to an In Our Own Voice presentation I did for NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, in a different post. I have not been speaking much lately. I saw a different program by NAMI called VOICES. It is geared towards first responders. I signed up to be a speaker, but am having trouble figuring out where to start. My initial interaction with mental healthcare and police was not until I was 39, but since mental illness runs in my family that was not foreign.

My brother had a psychotic break in college at 20 (I was 15). He refused treatment and would get picked up by the police for 72 hour observational holds in the late 70s. His is a sad story. He was severely symptomatic for 6 years when he finally was placed on a different medication that he responded well to. But, he started becoming symptomatic again, paranoid, edgy, and probably needed his medication adjusted. He went to Yosemite while symptomatic and fell at a waterfall. I don’t know if it was accidental or not, but he died from the fall.

This is supposed to be a story of hope, but it is part of my story.  If I had not seen him so ill for so long I may not have accepted treatment, but I did not want to be stuck in psychosis like he was.  I think it is okay for first responders, but not sure if it will scare the general public who may be worrying about their own children.

My story is much different.  I did go in and out of psychosis for 3 years, but I have been stable since 2006.  I have not been hospitalized for 16 years.  I am married, have healthy grown children, work part time.  I still have some doubts about what was real from the past, but I can function.

 

Categories
12 step AA alcoholism depression Dual diagnosis mental health mental illness schizoaffective schizophrenia sobriety

Moods and Sobriety?

I noticed it in the tone of my texts. I am insignificant I told a friend. Another friend asked me to be on a podcast. At first I said yes, but now I am having second thoughts. No one would be interested in anything I have to say

My husband held me, the dog licked me and my son texted he loves me. I can’t feel it. I just feel sad 

I have schizoaffective disorder and take antidepressants and an antipsychotic.

Maybe it is a response to sobriety?  I am not going to drink  I will probably try to get sleep instead

Categories
alcoholism anxiety Co-occurring Dual diagnosis mental health mental illness peer support politics Recovery

What did I sign up for?

I volunteered to lead one day in my AA group. It is not very complicated. They have a format and I pick a passage from AA literature to read, talk about 5 minutes and then open for discussion. But, I have social anxiety. It is much better than in the past but I am still nervous. On top of that, I told my friend I would speak on her podcast in January. That I am a bit terrified about.

I picked a chapter from the Big Book, More about Alcoholism, and will talk about doubting we are alcoholics. I think it will be good for me to hear others experiences. I just finished step 1- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.

In my youth my life truly was unmanageable. I had rules for myself about when and where I could drink, by the time I stopped, to keep my drinking from getting out of hand. It is hard for me to see my life as unmanageable. I made a list and will continue to add to it, about being powerless and my life being unmanageable. I will refer to it when I have doubts.

As far as the podcast, I am going to be talking about myself, my experience with mental illness. I had an older brother who has passed away, who had a psychotic break in the 1970s. I am going to talk about his story, too.

My friend called to discuss the podcast with me. I froze on the first question. She asked me about being a mental health advocate. I think of myself more as my job title, a peer support specialist, or someone with lived experience. I have written letters for certain bills but am not very politically involved. We are going to talk again and hopefully I can relax. She can talk enough for the both of us. I just want it to go well.

Categories
alcoholism Dual diagnosis life lessons Recovery

Book Review: From Park Bench to Park Ave

https://anthonyhowardbrown.com/book/

I recently was introduced to the author of “From Park Bench to Park Avenue”, Anthony Brown, when he spoke via Zoom, to a group at work. His story is riveting. I have not been reading many books lately, but his was hard to put down, His writing style is like he is talking, telling you his story. And what a story.

When all you have are bad options, you make poor choices. He transformed his life from substance use, homelessness, incarceration to running programs and getting an education in nursing + much more.

He is turning a building, Brown Manor, into a home for homeless people, like he had been once. Proceeds from the book and donations are helping fund it.

I find him inspiring and definitely recommend his book.

Categories
alcoholism anxiety Co-occurring Dual diagnosis mental illness Recovery schizoaffective stigma Uncategorized

The Stigma of Co-Occurring Disorders

In my opinion, this is my best yet 🙂

Originally published on Psych Central
https://blogs.psychcentral.com/triple-winner/2017/03/the-stigma-of-co-occurring-disorders/

There is a great deal of stigma attached with both mental illnesses and addictions. That is one reason I talk about my experiences. So, others won’t feel alone, and, to put a face to these conditions. It is scary to get a diagnosis of a life-long mental health condition that all you have heard are extreme negatives. People can lose hope. And, people fear what they don’t know.

I also have shame, or self-stigma. I have worked on accepting the schizoaffective diagnosis and at this point am okay. There was a time when I felt, less than, because of the severe symptoms. Now, I know I could not control what happened in the past, and just work on staying stable.

Social anxiety is something I contend with daily, and I cannot seem to prepare enough. I don’t know if I can ever accept how limiting it is for me. There are some things, like volunteering at my children’s school events, that are just too busy for me. I cannot enjoy shopping or parties, I just want an exit. I have worked very hard on this and work with people now and even do public speaking, but it is difficult.

The alcohol addiction label is new to me. In the program I am doing, SMART Recovery, they don’t give labels. But, I need to call it something. The drinking is not new, just the acknowledgement.

There are choices of programs for changing addictive behaviors. Some people work more than one at a time. This was just one that seems to fit my philosophy. It uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) principles and I already learned some of those for my anxiety.

I haven’t had serious consequences from drinking. No DUIs or jail time, No relationship problems. But, I drink more than I would like to and it is hard for me to abstain completely.

When I started this blog, I decided I would like to write about the alcohol component along with the mental illness. So many of us have co-occurring disorders. I was excited, and then, I paused. What will people I know think when they see ‘alcoholic’?

Then I giggled. First, because I can’t decide which is the lesser of 2 stigmas (it doesn’t matter). And then, because they all have seen me drink. It isn’t really a surprise.

The secret is that I am working on it.

Info on SMART Recovery

Self-Help Addiction Recovery – SMART Recovery 4-Point Program – Alternative to AA

Info on Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
http://www.aa.org/