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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.

 

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anxiety bipolar Coping skills distorted thinking Medication mental health mental illness NAMI psychosis Recovery schizoaffective schizophrenia stigma Therapy

In Our Own Voice Presentation

Yesterday I did a presentation for NAMI Orange County on my recovery.

https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/8I-z9RKNONCJ958C7klIYBjCf3ZzCXs_BD743CKZD0QUzGcCtPbtjjVcYygq5hk.nKTSbzmA_Jj3DrvG


Passcode +6$T%coQ

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.