Categories
12 step AA alcoholism mental health mental illness Recovery sobriety Uncategorized

Gratitude

My sponsor has me send her a gratitude list. Five things I am grateful for every day, except when I forget. I have so much to be grateful for. My family, our dog, a home, food, furniture, our health and my sobriety, I am grateful my sponsor is understanding. I feel like my thinking is clearer. I have not had any other changes since stopping drinking that I have noticed.

I have moved onto Step 2. We read about agnostics and spiritual experiences in the big book.  She gave me an assignment but I will have to think about it.  I am not religious so she had me choose a higher power. I chose the Universe.  She wants me to write about how the Universe can help me.  I don’t know.  I will blog once I figure out what to write.

Today is Thanksgiving. I was invited to a relative’s but I have a cold, and my daughter wants to stay safe from Covid so we stayed home. I went to an AA meeting about gratitude by zoom. I am grateful for zoom meetings.I missed everyone but hopefully we can see them sometime soon.

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
12 step AA alcoholism Recovery sobriety Uncategorized

1 day at a time

I made it past 30 days of sobriety. My sponsor mailed me a chip. It says 1 month on the front and the serenity prayer on the back. I just see her on zoom or talk over the phone because of Covid-19. I am still working on the first step. I wrote down reasons I am powerless over alcohol and my life is unmanageable in my last post.

Everything I wrote is true, but I still have trouble. I identify as an alcoholic in the meeting, but I don’t completely agree. They say all you need to join is a desire to quit drinking, which I do. So, I am part of AA day by day. Today I will go to a meeting and call my sponsor. I won’t worry about tomorrow until it gets here.

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
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
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
bipolar life lessons Recovery schizoaffective schizophrenia Uncategorized

A Doodle of How I Feel

I am not good at drawing, but I doodled a picture of how I feel.  It is me with my hands on my ears with thoughts racing a million miles a minute. Yelling Stop in my head.

face2

But, to the world around me, I seem fine.

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

image
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
Coping skills DBT mental illness psychosis Recovery relapse schizoaffective schizophrenia support groups Uncategorized

Mental Health Conference

i went to a conference today. There were 32 workshops..

the first i went to was on Borderline Personality Disorder. It was very informative and i learned a lot.  The next was on support groups, that was good. There were a number of organizations represented.

the last one i went to was “ask the doctors” on schizophrenia. It was an open forum for people to comment, and ask questions. There were suggested questions on the screen.

one of the questions was, “what has worked for you?”  I would have loved to hear the answers to that one.

one thing that worked for me, was talking to people with similar experiences, either on-line or in person. I went to dbsa support groups, nami connections and eventually started a group affiliated with the national organization, schizophrenia alliance. I don’t run the group anymore, but i am glad it is still going.

another thing, that is a little different, was when i was very troubled with auditory hallucinations, my psychiatrist found a way to communicate. He wrote words while he spoke, circling and crossing out important words.

no, one had asked what my experience was like when i had a psychotic break. They asked about symptoms, but not what were the voices saying or what the messages were. Not until i saw a therapist who seemed interested. It felt lke a relief to be able to tell my story.

i would love if anyone would share what has helped them

 

 

Categories
AA alcoholism mental illness Recovery support Uncategorized

Finding Support for Mental Illness and Alcoholism

beachvacation

 

Originally published on Psych Central
https://blogs.psychcentral.com/triple-winner/2017/03/finding-support-for-mental-illness-and-alcoholism/

It can be hard dealing with a mental illness and/or alcoholism without support from a loved one. Perhaps, they don’t recognize it as a real problem. They may be frightened or not comprehend what is happening. Sometimes, partners may even try to sabotage your recovery.

There could be any number of reasons why you could use some outside help.

Friends and family can be of assistance, but oftentimes they don’t understand.

One way of getting help is to go to support groups. There are national organizations for many types of mental illnesses, addictions or co-occurring disorders. AA has sponsors (I have never had one). You can also make friends and have someone to contact if you are having a rough time.

There is something about peer support, and being with others who have been there, that is special. I remember the first time I went to a (DBSA), Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, meeting. I was frustrated because I couldn’t find anything that sounded like me in the textbooks. Then, I met people I could relate to at the meeting. I had found “my people”. Now, I choose to work as a peer mentor because I believe in the power of peer support.

Professional help is good, too, though, not as readily available. I call my therapist when I am not doing well mentally.

You can turn to the internet. There are all types of message boards and chat rooms where you can go for support. You can meet people from all over the world to share experiences with.

Social media is a way of meeting people and blogging is a way to be heard.

They aren’t very common, but there are clubhouses or activity centers for people with mental illnesses. I work at one such center. We have all kinds of activities: gardening, art, music and a lot of different groups. It is a nice place to meet others and be supported.

Volunteering and helping others can help you, too. It can be rewarding and if you work with people with similar issues you may learn new resources or coping skills.

The main source of support you will find is within yourself. You will be the one to resist temptations and cravings. You will be the one to act on warning signs and develop coping skills.

When you are on your way in recovery, you may find you are stronger than you know.

Photo courtesy Max Pixel
http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Nature-Ocean-Beach-Thinking-Pensive-Waves-1927359