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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 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
12 step AA alcoholism anxiety Co-occurring Uncategorized

Powerless and Unmanageable

I am starting to work on the first step of Alcoholics Anonymous. My sponsor has me writing down how I am powerless over alcohol and that my life has become unmanageable.

It is hard. I like to think that with enough willpower I can do anything, but I have tried quitting on my own and that did not work. I have gotten sick, saying “never again” to go out the next night and drink again. I am endangering my physical and mental health, but I did not stop until very recently.

I considered the bottle to be a friend. It was always there, never let me down. I think I was developing a tolerance. I was having trouble getting a buzz. I was letting daily activities go to the wayside. I am terribly shy and needed a drink to socialize.

I was talking with a friend who is very involved in aa. She started telling me rules. You aren’t supposed to make changes the first year and I should be journaling were a couple. She was scaring me. I wondered what I was getting into. I called my sponsor and she said those things can be good but not required.

The meetings I have been going to are over Zoom. I can’t wait to meet people in person. I have just been going to women’s meetings. The ladies have been nice. I have 25 days sober. I am still a newcomer.

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
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.

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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

Categories
12 step AA alcoholism CBT Recovery schizophrenia SMART Uncategorized

Someone Has A Sense of Humor

I have attended a few Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings. They are supposed to be more of a spiritual, than a religious program. I never felt like I belonged at the few meetings I went to. It also felt more religious than I am comfortable with, from the higher power, to the Serenity Prayer.

I looked around for alternatives and found SMART recovery which is cognitive behavioral therapy oriented. Many people do both AA and SMART together, but for me it is a good secular alternative. I have been attending meetings in-person and on-line since September. I have found a meeting where I feel I belong. I have learned a number of tools already and there are still more.

I work as a peer mentor and am excited about this program and have approval to bring it to my work 😀

I have a different group that is at a bad time, when the center is slow, that almost no one comes to. I was told to find something new. I found an organization called schizophrenia alliance and asked for materials. When they arrived, I found they were formally Schizophrenia Anonymous and it is a 6 step program, based on the 12 steps of (AA). It looks like something our members will enjoy snd I will run it.

I feel awkward. Why me of all people? I know about schizophrenia, and recovery, but not about this program.

My co-worker is going to help me prepare and I have all the material.

Who knows, maybe I will learn to appreciate step programs more.