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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
12 step AA alcoholism mental health mental illness peer support schizoaffective schizophrenia

Giving AA a chance

I had gone from abstinence to trying moderation with alcohol. I started having drinks after work, alone. The problem with that was I was letting other things go. My husband was walking the dog alone and I was not even showering as often. I have fatigue issues which only became worse.

I went to a zoom NAMI seminar and a psychiatrist I admire, Luis Sandoval, was talking about schizophrenia. Someone asked about substance use and he responded, You take medications to help you think clearly, why would you take something that interferes with that? Logically, I have known this, but for some reason this time it hit me. I decided to go to a zoom AA meeting afterwards.

I found a woman’s meeting that meets at the same time every day and have been going as often as I can. My start date is Oct 13, so I only have a week of sobriety so far. I have a friend who is very involved in AA and is giving me pointers. I asked a woman to be my sponsor and she said yes. She has me calling her every day and we will zoom once a week. I ordered the big book on kindle and have started to read.

I am not religious. My mom is Catholic and I recognize some similarities. Prayers, confession, etc. they asked me to end the last meeting with a prayer and the only one I know is the Serenity prayer, which was fine.

There are other options, as far as groups go, but I want to give AA a try. My sponsor says I can choose my higher power. I have not figured that out yet.

Categories
mental health mental illness NAMI Recovery Uncategorized

Why I Support NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

I was first introduced to NAMI when a friend told me about their Peer to peer program. I had heard of family to family, another of their signature programs. I signed up and was assigned to a class when one was starting up.

There were other people like me in the class and the mentors were doing well. That was the first time I had heard of recovery. We learned about relapse prevention, our illness, goal setting, advance directives and much more. We had a mindfulness exercise at the end of each session, I enjoyed it and even though I get really anxious, I signed up to mentor. I moved from that program to In Our Own Voice sharing my story of recovery. I still do those presentations.

I work as a Peer Mentor, but until very recently there was no standardized training. I took a mental health paraprofessional course years ago, have years of volunteer and work experience and recently took the NAMI Peer Support/Family Support Specialist training.

They also have support groups both for consumers and family, a warmline, and other programs.

The OC Warmline is only for Orange County, CA residents

Call or text: (714) 991-6412
Toll Free (877)-910-9276

They have an annual walk to raise money through donations. This year it was a virtual scavenger hunt. Usually it is a 5K walk. I walk to support NAMI because they have so many resources and have been able to help me and others.

Categories
mental health mental illness peer support politics Uncategorized

CA Senate Bill 803 Peer Support Specialist, signed

Governor Gavin Newsom

Just last week, CA Gov Newsom, signed senate bill 803, along with more healthcare bills. Senate bill 803 sets a standard for training and scope of practice for Peer Support Specialists.

I work as a peer mentor and take as much additional training that is available, but it is hard to know what to do when there is no standard. And, we are not reality recognized as part of the team.

We will also be able to bill Medi-cal which is new territory for me. I am sure there will be more documentation.

I am very happy it passed.

Categories
mental illness psychosis schizoaffective schizophrenia Uncategorized

What you see is just the surface

I saw this picture by u/schizocelia on Reddit and it really touched me.

My observable symptoms: responding to internal stimuli, inappropriate laughter, mood swings are the tip of the iceberg. You can’t see the hallucinations, delusions, loneliness and the pain.

When I had my first psychotic break, no one around me noticed. I am married and was working. People asked me if I was sad. I was isolating, and they can’t know what is going on inside your mind. (Although, at times i have believed people could know my thoughts).

Now, it is hard to tell if I am isolating or just following stay home orders.

I have been stable for years.  Sometimes, I worry i will have another break, but hopefully we (my husband and I) will be able to recognize it and act quickly.

Categories
bipolar Dysfunctional mental illness parenting Recovery schizoaffective Therapy trauma

Dysfunction Junction

My father had an undiagnosed mental illness, probably bipolar, but I did not know that at the time. He was just a moody, raging, jerk. People knew but no one wants to interfere. I remember we had an uncle who was physically abusive to his kids, maybe his wife, I don’t know. Everyone knew about it but nothing was done. We are all grown with families of our own now and the perps have died.

My mother is passive and anxious. She did not want to disturb anything. She would tell us our father was just joking and he is wonderful when he would say or do hurtful things.

My dad has passed and can’t hurt me anymore. My mom and I have a strained relationship. I don’t want to put any hope into it growing into more. But, we can be amicable and she does not upset me so much.

And, I had an older brother who had a psychotic disorder, maybe schizoaffective like me, but my dad did not believe in psychiatry so the only help he got was when he got picked up by the police for observation. He would stop any meds as soon as he got home. Nothing changed. He died young at 26. I don’t know if it was an accident or suicide. He fell at a waterfall. But, I felt I had lost my brother years before, when he first got sick.

Everyone else in my family is over it all. I don’t know if I should let it go or if I could heal.

I was watching a YouTube on dysfunctional “tricky” families and childhood ptsd. https://youtu.be/EBpF8sWycQQ

I could answer yes to almost everything and a few maybe’s. He suggests working with a therapist.

I have a new therapist. I don’t know what to work on. Day to day, things are okay. I kind of went through my family history with her last time.

Or should I be done with therapy? I am pretty stable and see a psychiatrist. Things in my day to day life are fine. My past is a mess, but maybe I should just leave it there. My father discouraged me from going to therapy. “You talk about the past and it just makes people sad.” I thought he was being ignorant. Of course, it is more than that. But, did he have a point?

I plan to ask my therapist next time I see her if she thinks I even need it.

Categories
Inner demons mental illness Responsibility schizoaffective schizophrenia Therapy Uncategorized

Inner Demons

I have shame about past behavior. I am not ready to disclose to anyone. I have a therapist but am not able to tell. I won’t repeat or get in that situation again.

I don’t know if any or all is related to mental illness. Probably some

I lied, sometimes for no reason. I did not ask for help when I was in over my head, for fear. I am not sure why I was afraid.

I regret things that happened 20 years or more ago. But I re-live it like it is today.

Categories
DBT life lessons mental illness psychosis Recovery schizophrenia stigma Uncategorized

How to Talk to a Person: my response to how to talk to people with X disorder

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You have seen the articles. How to talk to a schizophrenic or how to deal with someone with borderline personality disorder as examples.

I am not saying they do not have useful observations. After all, these are published by practitioners with much experience. Having contracts in a therapy relationship and firm boundaries is normal. Controlling your partner is not.

I just read such an article by Nancy Carbone, a couples therapist in Australia. It is a year old and I don’t mean to point a finger at her, it is just an example. I don’t happen to have a BPD diagnosis. I do not like articles on how to deal with other types of people, clumping us all together.

The first thing you should do, if you want to communicate with people is learn active listening and other communication skills. Maybe, if you pay attention to what you may consider nonsense, you will see there is more there.

If the articles on schizophrenia were about actually trying to communicate, like writing the key points down if the person is distracted by voices, I would not dislike these articles so much. That is not what these are about, though. It is “tough love” or I know what is better for you. It is about dealing with someone who is flawed and somehow that makes you superior.

I welcome comments. Sometimes I have knee jerk reactions and if I am off-base I want to know.

Categories
Autoimmune Brain Encephalitis mental illness schizophrenia Uncategorized

Brain on Fire : a review

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I just finished watching a movie on Netflix called Brain on Fire. I am going to post spoilers so if you have not watched it, go, get the book if you can’t get the movie. Don’t forget to come back.

I have trouble watching shows. If they don’t hold my attention, I do something else. This was one I watched all the way through.

It is a true story of a young woman who gets ill and no one knows the cause. All the tests are normal. The Drs suggest that she is working and partying too hard. Later they come up with bipolar and schizophrenia. She has seizures, acts manic, gets catatonic. It is a mystery.

A specialist is brought in. He has her draw a clock and she only daws numbers on one side. Then he knows there is something wrong with one side of her brain. They do a biopsy of her brain, which they made it look like a simple procedure.

The results come back and she is diagnosed finally. It is an autoimmune encephalitis. And, there is treatment. She had to relearn how to walk and talk, like she had a stroke. At the end Susannah ponders how many people have been mis diagnosed with a mental illness.

Then, right after I finished the movie, my friend posted an article from bp magazine about autoimmune encephalitis.

Bphope.com

Categories
Calories Fitbit mental illness Myfitnesspal Uncategorized Weight gain Weight loss Zyprexa

Weight: you gain some, you lose some

 

weight gain and psych meds seem to go hand in hand.  I gained 25 lbs when I started depakote.  I did an Atkins diet and lost the weight but I did not find that sustainable for me.  Zyprexa, I gained 5 lbs typing the  name, works really well at controlling mania for me, but I got fat and I did not care. Until someone asked, seriously, when was I due.

at my highest I was 198 lbs.  i tried calorie counting with my fitness pal.  It is a huge database of foods and their nutritional value. You type in what you ate and it calculates calories and nutrients,  you enter info about yourself and how much you want to lose and it tells you how many calories to eat.  There is a forum community that you can ask questions.  I lost 15 lbs, but stopped.

now, i am back. It adds the calories i burn from my fitbit steps, so i don’t feel too deprived.  I am basically eating the same foods, just smaller portions.  The badge above counts from when i started at 198 lbs.

I am not sure why the meds cause weight gain. I know I get hungry and really tired. I don’t know if they affect metabolism, too.

i have sleep apnea. I wear a specially made mouthguard and a belt that keeps me sleeping on my side. Not terrible fashionable, but I can sleep better. When I did not have it I was always tired. Now, i am able to work a few hours and walk my dog.

Weight loss is not easy, especially on these medications. I went from obese to overweight. My goal is a normal bmi.