10 Life Lessons I Learned as a Psychiatric Nurse- and Patient

This is an amazing post about Mental Health and the Stigma around it. I know being dually diagnosed myself? Stigma does hamper me from sharing more of my personal experiences with my daily challenges, and even though I maintain recovery too from addiction, stigma seems a little bit tougher when it is around Mental Health …Sadly. Catherine

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10 life lessons

By Cortland Pfeffer

Over the past 25 years, I have been immersed in the mental health and addiction system as a patient, later as staff, as a Registered Nurse (RN), and eventually as a supervisor. My time in the mental health system officially began at age 17 when I was first hospitalized in a psychiatric unit. This preceded further hospitalizations, a number of treatment episodes for alcoholism/addiction, along with multiple stints of incarceration in jails. Eventually, through this experience, I was able to embrace recovery and ultimately gain employment at some of these same facilities in which I was treated.

Often I am asked about how I went from being a psychiatric patient and homeless drug addict to being a registered nurse and a supervisor at some of these facilities. While there is no magical answer to that question, there certainly have been some valuable life lessons learned along the…

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Flash Back Weekend Article Share. My Interview With Elaine Meyer ~ Now in The Pacific Standard – The Health Costs of Legal Gambling.

Flash Back Weekend Article Share. My Interview With Elaine Meyer ~ Now in The Pacific Standard – The Health Costs of Legal Gambling.

 

“THIS IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES IN AMERICA TODAY THAT NO ONE HAS BEEN PAYING ATTENTION TO. GAMBLING!”

“A lot of people think it’s a tax on the stupid,” recovering gambling addict Kitty Martz told the Oregonian. “Really, we’re behaving exactly the way the machines want us to.”

“Gamblers exhibit many of the same problems as other addicts. “Everything you see with substance abuse you can make an analogy to gambling problems,” Martins says, citing family strife, financial hardship, and struggles with depression or anxiety.”

“IF I WERE THE GAMBLING INDUSTRY, I WOULD WANT TO FUND PEOPLE WHO HAD THE DISEASE POINT-OF-VIEW … BECAUSE [THEY ARE] PUTTING THE SOURCE OF PROBLEM GAMBLING BETWEEN THE EARS OF THE GAMBLER.”

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HERE IS WHERE I WALK IN I was honored to be interviewed, and at the time was written and released by Elaine for ‘Columbia University and The Epidemiology Dept.’ I was happy to help contribute an “inside look” of what addicted gambling, the diseased side looks like deep within my addiction.

As an advocate of addicted or problem gambling and now almost 12-yrs “BET FREE,”  I aim to change the way the public is seeing only ONE SIDE to this so-called activity of  “Fun and Entertainment.”  Because for those who lose control and become addicted?  There is a nasty sinister side to this thing called “gambling” … 

LITTLE HELP AVAILABLE

People with gambling problems tend to elicit little sympathy. They are seen typically as exercising bad judgment when it is known that the “house always wins.” They have often hurt people they are closest to, both financially and emotionally.

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“Former gambling addicts readily admit to their flaws. But, like most people, they typically started gambling because it was available, entertaining, and provided a potential if unlikely monetary reward. However, unlike most people who gamble, they became “hooked.” That’s how Catherine Townsend-Lyon speaks of her gambling addiction. “
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Catherine began playing video lottery terminals at delis and restaurants near her home in Grants Pass, Oregon, at the time, now living in Glendale, AZ. Catherine explains, “sometime after they were introduced in the 1990s, she became obsessed with a game called Flush Fever and soon began playing before and after work and during her lunch hour.” She lied to her husband about her whereabouts and started secretly gambling their mortgage payments.

She stole from the collection company she worked for.  Even when gambling at an Indian casino, sometimes wore bladder control underwear so she wouldn’t have to get up to use the restroom while playing. When she lost money, she played to win it back, and when she won, she played to win more. In an extreme moment, she skipped the funeral of a close friend to drive 40 miles to that Indian casino so she could win enough money to prevent her home from being foreclosed. Instead, she lost everything. She drove home in tears and attempted suicide by trying to slit her wrists but kept blacking out.
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“YOU DON’T HAVE TO EVEN BE IN ‘ACTION OR SITTING BEHIND A MACHINE’ BECAUSE YOU’RE CONSTANTLY THINKING ABOUT: WHEN AM I GOING TO GAMBLE? WHEN AM I GOING TO WIN OR LOSE? IT JUST COMPOUNDS.”

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“It’s like a battle you have with yourself with the triggers and the urges and the obsessiveness. You don’t even have to be in action or sitting behind a machine because you’re constantly thinking about: When am I going to gamble? When am I going to win or lose? It just compounds. It’s exhausting. It’s never-ending,” says Townsend-Lyon, who, after seeking treatment several times, has managed to stay away from gambling for the last seven-and-a-half years.

Catherine says she turned to gambling at a difficult time in her life. She had childhood trauma of sexual abuse, verbal, and her parents were heavy handed with discipline. Those memories kept haunting her and then, with her husband frequently traveling out of town for weeks for work, she found herself bored and looking for a way to fill the time and escape the “old pain” that resurfaced.  She had undiagnosed bipolar II disorder and on top of that had been sexually abused when she was younger, she had not been raised to know to seek therapy.


“I wasn’t a drug person or an alcoholic or anything like that, although I did drink more when I gambled. And because I was gambling, that was my coping skill. That’s what I was using to escape it, those feelings. I couldn’t stuff them away anymore. I would just use gambling to escape, not feel, zone out, you know what I mean?”
she said.

She published a book in 2013 about her former life, called Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat) “A Liar and Cheat” is what gambling addiction, this cunning disease turned me into.”  What troubles her is how easy it is for people in her position to gamble. She didn’t have to fly to Nevada or even drive to an Indian casino in her state. The video poker and slot machines she played, which are sponsored by the Oregon State Lottery, are allowed at bars, restaurants, and delis.

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1 in 5 Problem Gamblers Attempts Suicide!Still Think Your Lucky_(2)
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“[I]f these machines weren’t in the bars and delis, then I would not be gambling. It’s that simple for me,” says a 33-year-old man quoted in a recent series on the state lottery by the Oregonian. He estimates he has lost $15,000 over 12 years from gambling. “That may sound like an excuse, but ‘out of sight is out of mind.’”

For people who are trying to recover from gambling addiction, it can be difficult to find help. Calls per month to the National Problem Gambling hotline are over two-and-a-half times what they were 14 years ago, from 9,642 in 2000 to 24,475 in 2013, according to Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Yet funding for treatment centers, hotlines, and programs to prevent gambling addiction is minimal, says Martins. Funding for substance abuse treatment is about 281 times greater at $17 billion then public funding for problem gambling, at $60.6 million, although substance use disorders are only 3.6 times more common than gambling disorders, according to a 2013 survey by the Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators and Problem Gambling Solutions.

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I urge everyone who visits to take some time and go read the full article written by Elaine R Meyer as the ‘Costs to Health Care from Legal Gambling’ on Pacific Standard Magazine as it will surprise you. Yes, it a bit long but well worth it!  You will read how drug and alcohol funding for treatment is far ahead of gambling addiction treatment and even options available for gambling treatment and resources.

Again, I am aiming to change this by advocacy, writing, and sharing my own recovery from this cunning addiction … ~Advocate/Writer/Author, Catherine Lyon

 

 

 

 

Mega-Millions Frenzy … Really? A Message From My Friends of The National Council on Problem Gambling. Gamble Responsibly Please.

Mega-Millions Frenzy … Really? A Message From My Friends of The National Council on Problem Gambling. Gamble Responsibly Please.

There will be More Losers Than Winners … 

 

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Mega Millions lottery hits a record $1.6 bln after no winners in Friday’s draw

UPDATE – Personal Note:

Of course, I am NOT rubbing any noses in the fact that last nights Mega-Million drawing HAD no winners.  It just hammers home a wee bit that for those who happened to OVER BUY tickets, it seems today, just a waste of money that could have been better spent on something more fun or constructive.  See, I know there a boatload of people who CAN gamble just for the fun it.  AND?  Many don’t feel or agree that buying lottery tickets if real gambling. Sorry, but it is if you read the ‘definition’ of what the word “Gambling” means:

GAMBLE – The definition of a gamble is a risk.
An example of a gamble is the act of betting that a certain team will win a game.

Gamble is defined as to take a risk, or to play games especially with money for betting.

An example of gamble is to play the slots in Las Vegas.

When you place a bet for money or not as the outcome is uncertain and is a risk? That is gambling.  When buying lottery tickets for a CHANCE to win?  That is gambling.  Now that no one won, just think of those who are Problem Gamblers or even maybe addicted and think about where they will get the money for this next drawing?  Will it be there food money to feed their kids?  Maybe not a pay an important bill like electricity or their heat? Maybe forego a part of their rent or housing money just for a “CHANCE” … Know your ODDS before you risk all that!

No, I’m not a Buzz Kill …Lol.  I WAS an addicted gambler and know this disease and the thinking we trapped into.  It will talk you into doing ALL the above!  Because once gambling has you hooked?  The sickness takes over and we lose ALL the CONTROL.

Don’t waste loads of money for a tiny sliver of hope that you are going to win.  As most times you end at a loss. If you are going to take a Risk, then Gamble Responsibly …  

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Mega-Millions Jackpot Media Frenzy Offers Opportunity for Responsible Gambling Messaging.  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 19, 201

 

WASHINGTON, DC – As the Mega Millions jackpot has reached record levels, the National Council on Problem Gambling urges consumers to protect themselves against excessive gambling and calls upon lotteries and the media to promote responsible gambling messages.

Keith Whyte, Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, states, “The media and consumer interest in high lottery jackpots creates an opportunity to provide responsible gambling messages designed to help people who choose to gamble make informed decisions about their play.”  Responsible gambling efforts should be made by lottery operators and players alike.

Here are four simple responsible gambling tips to know and share:

– Set a limit of time and money spent gambling.

– Don’t gamble to escape feelings of anxiety, stress or depression.

– Know where to get help for a gambling problem.

– Minors are prohibited from most forms of gambling.

“Lotteries play an important role in reminding retailers and players about the minimum age to play and in educating their players about simple steps to promote responsible gambling.”

State lotteries and media are asked to incorporate responsible gambling messaging and the National Problem Gambling Helpline (1-800-522-4700) into their upcoming promotion and coverage of the Mega Millions jackpot.


The National Problem Gambling Helpline (1-800-522-4700
or www.ncpgambling.org/chat) is the single national point of access to problem gambling help. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in all 50 states. All calls are confidential and offer local information and referral options for problem gamblers and their families.

In 2017 the Helpline received 233,000 calls, an average of one call every two minutes.

 

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About the National Council on Problem Gambling

NCPG is the national advocate for problem gamblers and their families. NCPG is neutral on legalized gambling and works with all stakeholders to promote responsible gambling. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call or text the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700 or visit www.ncpgambling.org/chat for confidential help.

 

 

An Important Message and Op-Ed Letter and Submission – Our Nation needs Treatment. By My Friend and Advocate Ken Abraham.

Ken Abraham, CEO at “Get A Pardon” & Founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE. He resides in Dover, Delaware.

Ken Abraham

Ken currently advocates and educating for much-needed change to fix our criminal justice system, former trial lawyer Ken Abraham is a veteran of over 500 jury trials and more than 200 non-jury trials. He lost 2. Highlights of his legal career include trying the first case in the state under the new death penalty law (1976); and representing the first defendant in the state to be tried under a mandatory minimum sentencing law. He is unusually well prepared to do what he does!

After 10 years practicing law, Ken moved to Florida and went into business. He now heads CCJ and says, The dysfunction of the system affects everyone. People are being harmed by our “criminal justice system” every day. Apathy? It’s inexcusable. Get INVOLVED!”

Our Nation needs Treatment 

 

 

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Our nation is plagued by several unsolved major systemic problems. Some are in the spotlight, like the War on Drugs and mass incarceration. But three recent front-page stories, about the slayings of Molly Tibbett and the rape and murder of Celia Barquin Arozamena, the female golfer slain in broad daylight.

Who cannot the remember of the Las Vegas mass shooting by Stephen Craig Paddock (we still do not know the motive of this deranged mind) …I assume a problem gambler that just reminds me of the huge problem we do not talk about: America’s neglect of addictions and our mentally ill. We now know that the mass shooter in the Rite-Aid distribution center had been diagnosed with a mental illness, and all of the aforementioned murderers were mentally ill.


We need federal and state governments to step up and acknowledge this huge plague, and DO something about it. The primary purpose of government is to protect its citizens, yet people are dying every day due to government in-actions. There are dozens of articles on my website full of facts about this problem. Some are: depending on which study you read (nobody knows the actual number).

But between 35% and 55% of all violent crimes – rapes and murders – are committed by people with one or more diagnosed mental illness. Mental Health “treatment” in our prisons is a total joke and shameful, virtually nonexistent. At least 45%, and perhaps 60% of all inmates have one or more mental illness (again, the exact number is unknown).

And … our neglect of the mentally ill is costing us more than $444 Billion annually! That is an astonishing amount of money, but far worse are the societal and personal costs of our inattention to mental illness: the pain and suffering, the anguish, the loss now reaching our youth!

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Accurate statistics regarding our homeless Americans are even more elusive than the data on inmates. Best estimates are that about 3 million to 3.5 million homeless people inhabit America. I can find NO reliable study on how many may have or suffer mental illness, but based on my extensive experience with such people, at DIMH and on the streets, I would say that at least 30 % have one or more serious mental illnesses.

How many of them could become possibly working, tax-paying citizens, if they had adequate health and mental care? A million, I can safely say. Many addicts have mental illness, most often depression, by far the most widespread undiagnosed mental health illness in America. Many politicians and others finally now see that they need treatment, not prison, yet we lack the resources they need. We must call upon everyone involved – legislators, social workers, police, prison officials, victims, prosecutors, and public defenders – to “raise a ruckus” and get governments’ attention on this issue.

We need proper training for police and for prison workers, effective non-custodial treatment programs, aftercare, and more. Until they do “raise a ruckus”, more people will die from the inaction, just as surely as people are dying in the streets every day due to our failed “war on drugs”.

 

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Ken Abraham, Deputy Attorney General 1974-1979, founder of “Citizens for Criminal Justice, Dover, DE

 

    Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE

               MAKE it a great day!  ~  Ken Abraham

 

                   www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net

              Founder, Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, (CCJ)

 

           430 Kings Hwy., Suite 414, Dover, DE 19901

      Founder, “Adopt a Prisoner” Church Reentry Program,

          And founder of no more organizations this decade! 

                               1-302-423-4067

                                 

 

 

 

 

A Very Special Recovery Guest and Now a New Published Author and Advocate. Meet Jason Hyland.

A Very Special Recovery Guest and Now a New Published Author and Advocate. Meet Jason Hyland.

“Those of us maintaining long-term sobriety know that addictions don’t care if you are rich, famous, a sports pro, have status, …ADDICTION has no boundaries on who it “Touches.”  ~Author/Advocate Catherine Townsend-Lyon
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Through the years within my recovery and writing journey, I have met many amazingly talented people who have become friends and like me, they feel writing is a necessary part of maintaining our recovery and a part of the advocacy work we do. While writing two years for a popular recovery magazine, I have met and interviewed many high profile people turned friends like my buddies, former NFL pros Vance Johnson, Randy Grimes, and also tattoo artist Kat Von D! …No, I don’t get “star struck” at all, as my friend Jason Hyland is no different.

He was well on his way to go from the minors into the Major League of Baseball family until addictions derailed those dreams. Coming from a home with an alcoholic father passed to Jason, now clean and sober, he has a unique gift of inspiring and motivating others to enjoy your life even when maintaining recovery.

As Jason shares of himself; “I am a former minor professional baseball player. Boston bred, thick & thru. And I’m Living the Dream!” Not surprising as I find him humorous and to be an exceptional writer and author of his first published book that was released just this past June 2018 titled; Stop Thinking Like That: No Matter What.”

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Jason’s book is now available in both paperback and e-book formats on Amazon Books, Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and Walmart Online.  I am about to read it myself and will definitely come back when done reading it and add my ‘Book Review’ here on my Recovery Blog, Amazon, which he has all 5-star reviews, and GoodReads. Here is more about the new release and it shares a wee bit more of what Jason does to “pay it forward” to those who still suffer from addiction.

About Jason’s Book

Hyland’s charismatic, witty, and candid writing style brings you onto the couch with him as he takes you through the wallows of addiction and alcoholism at its greatest depths, to a rejuvenated, motivated, inspirational rebirth. He is an example that addiction does not discriminate and puts to rest the stigmas attached. He was a man who seamlessly had it all with a bright future ahead, but the power behind drugs and alcohol took a stranglehold on him, halting any progression. Stop Thinking Like That is not your typical addiction story leaving you sad and depressed, rather you end each chapter inspired and uplifted.


After a nearly two-decades-long run in and out of the bowels of the diseases, he finally surrendered and found the courage to ask for help. His journey in recovery gives hope to anyone facing great challenges in life, that no matter how far down you have dropped, you can pick yourself up, and be even better than you ever imagined. During his first couple months sober, a newfound passion and burning rush filled him within. This passion has brought to light what is now Stop Thinking Like That.


All the while living in a sober-home with upwards of eighteen other addicts and alcoholics, he relentlessly pursued his passion of spreading the message of hope. His tireless efforts ooze through the pages in his quest to find the greatest version of himself that exists. He leaves you wanting to jump out of your chair and attack life, with constant motivation and reminders of what we are capable of despite how lost we may feel we are.

Hold on tight, because this journey is one exhilarating roller coaster ride that will leave you inspired to be a better person and with the drive to help others. No matter the adversities you face in life, you can overcome them and live out the life you always dreamed of.

Hyland is living proof that anything is possible if you want it bad enough. 
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Now, Jason and I met on Twitter and he is my “Re-Tweet King!” When we see each other on Twitter, we have a chat through DMing each other as I learned pretty quick how amazing he was and how he truly cares about those suffering from addiction! As a matter of fact, he was so generous that the very firstRecoveryfest Music Concert” put on by ” Above The Noise Recovery Foundation” – Jason gave away 20 Free Tickets to it as Macklemore performed and many others!


He inspires and will motivate you to not just “Live Life Within Recovery,” he “Inspires” you to “Live Your Life 2 The Fullest” while maintaining recovery! I do believe the photo above Proves my point! Lol. As he shares on his ‘Tweet Profile,’ he describes himself like THIS:  
“Bestselling Author of Stop Thinking Like That. Former minor leaguer turned addict turned Recovery Coach, I live to Inspire, Motivate & Spread HOPE thru Sobriety 7/24/17!”

So, he was willing and gracious enough to answer some interview question about his talented writing style as the book reviews for his new book are exceptional, so he had to have done a pretty good job writing his first book … Here are my interview questions I asked him from more of a “writers perspective” and how he answered.

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1) What inspired you to write a book?

I entered detox on July 24, 2017, and with me, I brought an empty notebook. I figured I would have a lot of alone time on my hands and thought journaling would help take up as much as possible. I journaled every night about basic things, from what I ate that day, any people I may have conversated with, like those who liked me, who doesn’t like me, etc, etc, just stuff like that.

Nothing major, just used for time consumption. Then one day I wrote a story about what my mornings were like during the heart of my addictions to alcohol and opiates. To this day, every time I read that piece I’d get goosebumps and it brings me immediately back to that environment. I was shocked at how great this piece came out so I brought it to a counselor at the 6-month program I was now living at, whom I trusted and she was amazed, as well. She said she felt all 5 senses through my writing of the imagery, and I said I might be onto something.

I had shared in my early weeks of recovery, and during one of the group sessions that I was going to write a book, and of course, everyone thought I was crazy.  But after this piece, I knew it was going to happen. I went out and bought a 5-star notebook with plans to use each section for a particular characteristic needed to succeed in not just recovery, but life itself. On the first page I wrote down the chapters names, and at the point, each chapter would be about one of the characteristics and I’d include a personal story relevant to the trait.

This, of course, isn’t how the book turned out to be, but the journey had begun. At one point I was writing in three different notebooks while reading a book a week on personal development and inspirational stories. My mind was being consumed with nothing but positivity and it oozed out of me into my writing. Something within me kept telling me to keep writing, this feeling was so real, burning in my belly, to continue no matter what. Naysayers, critics, haters, family, friends, no one believed in me, but that was okay because all that matters was that I believed in myself.

 

2) Tell us about your writing process

The program I admitted myself in we could not have a cell phone, internet access, or a car, so I had to utilize the 2-hour gaps we were allowed to leave the house as best I could. I would write in my notebooks at night and then walk to the library to type it up the following day. I did this nonstop literally until I graduated that program on February 23, 2018.

It is great to look back on all the notebooks, print-outs, mini notebooks with certain words I liked from a book a read and wanted to put into my book, and so forth. I did the math and estimate I spent around a 1,000 hours between writing ‘Stop Thinking Like That: No Matter What’ and then editing and publishing. The most tedious and time-consuming part was uploading my book onto Createspace, Amazon’s publishing platform. Writing came easy to me, and while doing so you’re not thinking about things such as fonts, formatting, page #s, etc., so I researched the best fonts for a self-help genre and taught myself everything on the fly.

Literally, from the first page to the last, and front cover to back, I did it. I hired someone from Morocco from the Fiverr to put the book cover together based on a design I drew in, you guessed it, a notebook. I have the pictures to show the drawing to the actual cover, and it is a beautiful sight.

3) What advice would you give other addiction-recovery writers?

Do NOT listen to the noise. There will be a lot of people trying to make you go about your recovery their way, try to slow you down, or to tell you that you can’t, it is all BULLSH*T!

Don’t listen to anyone, just follow your gut instincts. The further along you get the more people will try and hold you back. Those are the ones you do not need around. Toxicity is not allowed. AND just as importantly, be HONEST! People want to know you’re authentic and real, so don’t fear to be as raw and candid as you must.

Remember, writing is your therapy first, others second, so do whatever it takes to keep you on the right path. You will notice more people joining your side and rooting you on the more honest you are, as well as people reaching out to you because they realize they aren’t alone in this battle. Your truth speaks wonders.

 

4) How did you decide how to publish your book?

A family friend has published multiple bestselling books, so I reached out to him for advice.  His only advice was “to keep writing,” stating many people ask him for help, but then never follow through.  I followed through, and he continued guiding me on the process.  He suggested self-publishing my first book for two reasons; build an audience for future works, and to save/make maximum money.

I wasn’t working obviously while in rehab, so I didn’t have the funds to work with a publishing company, nor utilize an editor but was fortunate that my much-smarter-than-me girlfriend offered to edit the endless amounts of work I continuously sent her.” The closer I neared the finish line the more motivated I got. I knew the end result before I even got there. I sent my mother an email back in November which I saved, stating simply,  “I will become a bestselling author!”

Within 2 weeks of  ‘Stop Thinking Like that;’ and the help of pre-orders, made it became at release a #1 national bestseller in multiple categories in both paperback and Kindle, at the same time! It was such a proud moment, I had tears streaming from my eyes because I did it.

Not only to prove to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to as mom always stated, but to show all those who are struggling and feel hopeless that they too can achieve anything they want.  I am nobody special, I was at the bottom stealing from family, going through rubbish for cans, and stealing toilet paper from Burger King bathrooms. Today, I can now call myself a bestselling sober author. I set out on a mission to show anyone and everyone that “The sky truly is the Limit.”



5) Why a recovery book?

Funny thing is, it isn’t really a recovery book, but more so self-help and personal development book. And it is NOT a memoir by any means, although it does include some personal stories about where drugs and alcohol took me, the power they had over me, and hitting bottom.

It is about finding yourself at your bottom, then crawling, digging, scratching, and kicking your way out behind discipline, perseverance, good ‘ole fashion’ hard work, and most importantly faith in yourself. It is about realizing you can still achieve all your goals in life, live out the life you’ve always dreamed of and then some. It doesn’t matter how far down you may be today, your new life can start at the snap of a finger.

I have been blessed to have this second chance, and it didn’t take long to realize I had a purpose. That was to use and share my story to help others as ‘Stop Thinking Like That’ has opened up those many doors for me.

6) What do you think about the future of book publishing for addiction/recovery books?

I know you will start seeing more addiction/recovery books being published for two reasons:

1) – Self-publishing has given the average writer the chance to show their work to the world. I am not alone in saying many do write to help their recovery, as people like myself can take all those journals, notes, and stories, and put them into a book with our name on the cover.

2)With addiction being an American crisis and epidemic, everyone knows someone that is affected by addiction, no one is immune. The general public is now aware that it doesn’t matter how much money you make, where you live, what color you are, or what job you may have, ADDICTION DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE. You are seeing more individuals building up the courage to come out and tell their story.

It is not about being anonymous anymore, people realize they are not alone and that it is okay to be vulnerable, which I believe is a sign of strength. It takes courage and vulnerability to allow yourself open up to the world. It is how we can not only heal ourselves but help others at the same time.  Admitting you need help is VERY difficult, anyone will tell you that. So when we do find that courage to do so, we realize we don’t have all the answers, and that takes guts.

7) What types of genres you write or would like to write?

I have read upwards of 30 books in the first 6 months of my recovery all about personal development and helping me become a better human being. From; ‘Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People’ to Chris Herren’s ‘Basketball Junkie,’  to Tony Robbins and John Maxwell. Everything I read helped me in one way or the other, and I quoted around a dozen of the books I read in my book. I am a very positive person because I have witnessed firsthand the power of a positive mind.

The human brain is extremely powerful, and a determined mind is the most powerful thing known to man. I love reading about success stories, industry titans, everyday people overcoming massive odds, and building up my “knowledge brigade” aka my brain. I like to learn, and there is an infinite amount of knowledge to discover within the pages of any book.

8)  Will, you write another book and why?

YES! Because I want to help as many people as I possibly can and for whatever reason, my Higher Power whom I choose to call God has given me the platform to do so with writing.  And it certainly doesn’t hurt that I really enjoy writing, too

 

9) Lastly, what is one funny thing NO ONE Knows about you?
When I was young my mother would put me to sleep by playing jazz music, in particular, Kenny G…and I still do that to this day. 🙂

Readers, you will enjoy seeing Jason on this “Catching Up with Katy, State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives video! – I welcome a very special guest Author, Jason Hyland.” 
An amazing in-depth interview with Jason worth a watch!

http://haverhillcommunitytv.org/video/april-2018-jason-hyland

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I want to thank Jason for allowing me to share some his story and about his amazing writing style with all my recovery friends and visitors. Please take a listen to Jason’s full story above and below at an outdoor Recovery Speaking event! They both are heartfelt and uplifting and a true example of how we can make it through the other side!

 

 

You can connect with Jason on social media and visit his  Website ~JasonHyland.   –  Twitter –  Instagram –  Facebook –  Amazon Profile and Book Purchase!

“Being of Recovery Service”~ Meet Jim Downs and His Wife Marisol of “Big Jim’s Walk, Inc.” Doing God’s Work To Stamp out ADDICTION.

“Being of Recovery Service”~ Meet Jim Downs and His Wife Marisol of “Big Jim’s Walk, Inc.” Doing God’s Work To Stamp out ADDICTION.

Hello Recovery Friends, Family, and Warrior Advocates,

 

I am happy and blessed to announce that I have accepted a volunteer position with “Big Jim’s Ride Around America!” Founder, Jim Downs and his beautiful wife Marisol are ready to embark on their next “Journey of Hope” and the second addiction awareness event through Big Jim’s Walk Inc., Foundation! I met Big Jim and Marisol last year while Jim was in the middle of his walk.

I could not believe why he was doing what he was doing and I thought this guy is crazy! But once I visited his website and Facebook as I watched via his sharing his journey by FB Live videos, I knew there was something very special about Big Jim. God was working through this man right before my very eyes. God called upon this big gentle guy to speak to the masses and help an addict get help through a spiritual path and to let “Jesus” take the wheel.

I can tell you, while on this walk, so many people were amazing to help Jim along the way. I saw the trials and roadblocks that came his way like not having enough money to sleep somewhere, camper problems or just to get a hot meal. But then, all watching including myself would rally on social media and BAM! People began donating right then and there and helped out to get it DONE!!

It was such a blessing to watch!  It was like watching GOD in action provide the blessings and solutions to help Jim on his path of walking to raise awareness and help shatter the stigma of addictions and to share that God, through his son Jesus Christ loves everyone, even those riddled with addictions!

So I began to help some and share where he was and what he was doing through social media just trying to help out a little. So let me share a little of his story with you now as he and Marisol gear up for the next event!

In doing so, I hope it will help inspires ALL OF YOU to help this amazing man and come aboard and be a part of the “The Big Jim’s Foundation Team!” as there are many ways you can like these amazing “Sponsors have already.”  Read more about this event and will welcome you aboard! ~Catherine

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“Big Jim, aka, Jim Downs stand is for love of God, family, and his recovery by raising awareness of the addiction epidemic, saving lives from addiction while shattering stigma through Jesus Christ, his Savior.”

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Jim Downs was not born into wealth, fame, or to an athletic family. Quite the contrary.

His hard life began at birth, as a child of God, but sadly an unwanted pregnancy and was given up right after his birth. When Jim turned three months old, new parents adopted Jim. His new parents welcomed him as he grew to be ‘the apple of his father’s eyes,” Then, tragically at three and a half years old, his father passed away, leaving him with only his mother.  A year and a half later she remarried, and his new adopted father never embraced him, Jim started feeling unloved and a profound sense of abandonment, a constant burden to his second father that lasted many years until his father’s passing.

Some of the underlying roots to why he may have turned to addictions while growing up. A need to numb the pain, haunting’s, and hurt as a child. Unbeknownst to Jim, his ‘Holy Father’ above was watching and waiting for him.  Jim began looking for anything to fill that void and feelings of emptiness, at 12-years old he started drinking alcohol and smoking weed. It progressed and at 14 -years-old he turned to hard drugs.  Meth became his demon.  All the while, God had been walking next to him.

Side by side, God traveled Jim’s road with him, the years of destruction and self-sabotage.  God never left him, Jim didn’t know who he was.  Besides, as addicts, we feel the massive shame and guilt of turning our backs on God as Jim had. Thinking; “how can God love or care about a man who lies, cheats, causes pain to others and a hopeless drug user like me?”

Then, a ‘Miracle,’ as homeless and deep within many of his addictions, Jim had seen a sliver of light that God had opened up for him.  He reached out to that light, and he entered a treatment program in Panama City, FL.  Here is where his life transformation and conviction within Christ began.  At that moment he chose life and walked into a recovery program at The Panama City Rescue Mission.

His first blessing and miracle from God.  Jim began treatment learning the recovery tools and skills that aid his recovery still today, but another test and trial came by way of losing his best friend Alex Peters only 4-months into his treatment.  At a crossroad, Jim not only felt Gods spirit in him but the stirring for his ‘Second Miracle’ was building that included losing Alex!  This lit a fire in him as God revealed and gave Jim his real mission and life purpose.

And so it began, “Big Jim’s Walk Across America.”

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After 16 months in the addiction recovery program, Jim left The Panama City Rescue Mission at 7 a.m., Feb. 1, 2017, and embarked on an eight-month walk/hike leaving the front door of the center. Going from Panama City, Florida, to Canada by walking “The Appalachian Trail” beginning in Georgia.  Why?  It would be his aftercare program like no other to keep him stable within recovery through his faith.  Jim said it best;  “I want anyone who is in the final phase of their recovery program to remember this event and be empowered not to go back to their ‘old life’ when they leave any recovery program,”

Jim said. “They need to step out within faith and let God guide them to a new way of life. There is life after addiction.

Jim shares;  “this hike and walk will be a spiritual journey for me, bringing me closer to God.”  “I’m out here to find myself, who I am, what I stand for.”  Jim did complete his walk and even got off the trail as God asked him to.  “God wanted me on the road, not a trail to talk to others and raise awareness of addiction.”  He did in honor of his best friend Alex who died of a drug overdose and seeing Alex’s family left heartbroken.

Along the walk, Jim carried a large wooden cross part of the way. Jim said;  “since God asked, I will witness and testify to anyone that will listen to me about how I turned to, and I accepted ‘Jesus Christ’ into my life as my Lord and Savior, He changed me and the life I live.”

As his walk continued a ‘Third Miracle’ was coming as God had a big one in mind for Big Jim that would knock him off his feet!  Before his walk, God had chosen an “Angel” who was watching on social media.  This angel told her mother she was watching Jim’s walk because she wanted to see how God, through Jim, was using him and guiding this “Big Guy” to share hope, witness, and educate those he spoke with and met along the way.

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This “Angel” is Marisol Lozano.  They slowly began a penpal friendship that of course, later on, turned into a beautiful relationship and a marriage along the walk.  An extra-special one as a prophet married them. Their beautiful prophetic ceremony solidified them to one another and brought them even closer to their ‘Heavenly Father.’  Jim completed his “Walk Across America” ending in Canada with God and his “angel”  Marisol Lozano by his side.

Today, Big Jim and Marisol along with an amazing Big Jim’s team is already in place and working hard before Jim embarks on the next “Miracle and Mission” God has called upon them to accomplish. This one is already shaping up to be bigger than the walk, more significant than we could ever imagine!

“Announcing “Big Jim’s Ride Around America ~ Jim Bikes America 4 Addiction Awareness.”

Jim will bike around America to raise awareness of the epidemic of addiction. Big thanks to Performer Cycles, so on Jan 1, 2019, Jim will leave from the steps of The Fort Myers Florida City Hall on a bicycle and pedal addiction awareness to all the lower 48 state capitals. Almost 14,000 miles in one year!

The event will be filmed courtesy of Bethel Film Production as Jim encourages thousands to enter recovery, bring communities together to fight for those struggling with any addiction as they share their stories and voices. Jim will talk with ‘State Capitol Politicians’ in hopes of changing the way they approach and pass legislation of addiction bills and issues.

You can help The Ride by Donating or Purchasing Jim’s Gear ~ And Help #BuildTheRecoveryHype 

Visit Big Jims’s Walk Foundation Website and Donate Today.

Become a #Sponsor of this event by contacting Marisol Lozano lozanomarisol2627@gmail.com or call her at (

Now you purchase Jim’s Gear and Equipment as a #FaithDonation right on FB Courtesy of  REI -Co op Outdoor & Sporting Goods Company! Located in Seattle, WA.

Everyone can Jim and Marisol get “Big Jim’s Walk Foundation” filed as a Non-Profit here at our Go Fund Me 501c3 Filing!

We #ThankYou in advance for your support with helping Jim stamp out addiction and PLEASE..please watch and share our ‘Official Video and Announcement’ for “Big Jim’s Year Long Ride Around America.”


God Bless,

Catherine Lyon ~ Social Media Manager “Big Jim’s Ride.”

Important Guest Article Reshare By Amy Dresner, Author of ‘My Fair Junkie,’ A Memoir. This Post Is About Recovery & Depression…

Important Guest Article Reshare By Amy Dresner, Author of ‘My Fair Junkie,’ A Memoir. This Post Is About Recovery & Depression…

Welcome Recovery Friends, Warrior Advocates, and New Visitors,

I am so happy and blessed that Amy agreed to let me reshare her article which comes by way of The Fix Magazine. She is an amazing “in your face –let it hang out” writer and blogger for them. The Fix share news about addiction and recovery from drugs and alcohol and is one of the top resource magazines around!

I happen to have signed up for there newsletter a while back and seen Amy’s article. Being dual-diagnosed myself and still have bouts of depression at times, I felt this article of hers really needed to be shared with all my friends here.

It is very informative and I just love Amy’s views on a variety of issues and her writing style! I hope you enjoy reading it and learn some from it as I did! Don’t forget to grab of copy of her book (link listed in her bio) if you have not read it.

It is truly a great read and her life memoirs are “one of kind!”  ~Cat 

Depression in Recovery: Do You Have Low Dopamine Tone?

By Amy Dresner 09/10/18 ~ Courtesy of The Fix Magazine
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((The Fix does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor does anything on this website create a physician/patient relationship.  If you require medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, please consult your physician.)

 

I just felt like shit and slept as much as I could. I showed up to work. I kept my commitments. I spoke when asked to, but I felt more than unhappy. I felt like I just didn’t care.

I just came out of a six-week depression. That might not sound very long, but when you’re in hell it feels like forever. Good news: I didn’t bone any 25-year-old strangers; I didn’t cut myself; I didn’t get loaded; I didn’t smoke or vape although I really, really wanted to. I didn’t even eat pints of Ben and Jerry’s while binge-watching I Am A Killer. I just felt like shit and slept as much as I could. I showed up to work. I kept my commitments.

I spoke when asked to, but I felt more than unhappy. I felt like I just didn’t care. I didn’t return phone calls. I didn’t wash my hair. Suicidal thoughts bounced around my head, but I ignored them like I do those annoying dudes with clipboards outside Whole Foods.

I’ve suffered from symptoms of depression since I was 19, so it’s an old, old friend. What really annoys me was that some (dare I say many?) people think at five and a half years of sobriety, you shouldn’t feel depressed. What I kept hearing from AA fundamentalists was:

“It’s your untreated alcoholism.”

“Listen to these tapes about prayer and meditation.”

“You’re not connected enough to your Higher Power.”

“You’re not going to enough meetings.”

“You need to do more service.”

Thankfully my sponsor, who has a foot in the medical world, did not say something along those lines.  One of my big problems with AA is that it looks at every mental problem through the paradigm of your “alcoholism.” If you’re suffering, you should look to the program for relief.

Nobody would tell you to “drive around newcomers!” more if you had diabetes or kidney failure, but if you’re feeling down, that’s what you’re told to do. As it turns out, AA is not completely off the mark: “Addiction is a not a spiritually caused malady but a chemically based malady with spiritual symptoms,” addictionologist and psychiatrist Dr. Howard Wetsman told me.

“When some people start working a 12-step program, they perceive a spiritual event but their midbrain is experiencing an anatomical event. When they’re working a program, they’re no longer isolated and they no longer feel ‘less than,’ so their dopamine receptor density goes back up [and they experience contentment],” he explained. But what if your program hasn’t changed or feels sufficient and you still feel depressed?

What if you’re working your ass off in your steps and helping others and you still feel like shit?
“Well, low dopamine tone experienced as low mood can be brought on by fear and low self-esteem (the untreated spiritual malady part of alcoholism/addiction) but it can also be brought on by biochemical issues,” Wetsman added.

Huh?

So was I experiencing the chemical part of my “addiction” or was I having a depressive episode? Perhaps my whole life I’d been confusing the two. Of course, all I wanted, like a typical addict, was a pill to fix it. But as I’ve done the medication merry-go-round (and around and around) with mild to moderate success, I was hesitant to start messing with meds again. I didn’t have a terrific psychiatrist, and SSRI’s can really screw with my epilepsy. And Wetsman was talking about dopamine here, not serotonin. Hmmm…

Dr. Wetsman has some interesting stuff about brain chemistry and addiction on his vlog. He mentions something called “dopamine tone” which is a combination of how much dopamine your VTA (Ventral Tegmental Area) releases, how many dopamine receptors you have on your NA (Nucleus Accumbens), and how long your dopamine is there and available to those receptors.

Stress can cause you to have fewer dopamine receptors and fewer receptors equal lower dopamine tone. He’d explained to me in previous conversations how almost all of the people with addiction he’d treated had what he described as “low dopamine tone.”

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When you have low dopamine tone, you don’t care about anything, have no motivation, can’t feel pleasure, can’t connect to others. In addition, low dopamine tone can affect how much serotonin is being released in the cortex. Low midbrain dopamine tone can lead to low serotonin which means, in addition to not giving a shit about anything, you also have no sense of well-being. Well, that certainly sounded familiar.

Dr. Wetsman has a very convincing but still somewhat controversial theory that addiction is completely a brain disease and that using drugs is the result, not the cause. I really suggest you get his book, Questions and Answers on Addiction.

It’s 90 pages — you could read half of it on the john and half of it while waiting at the carwash. It explains in detail why most of us addicts felt weird and off before we picked up and why we finally felt normal when we used. Again, it’s all about dopamine, and it’s fucking fascinating. No joke.

In his vlog, he explains that dopamine production requires folic acid which you can get from green leafy veggies (which I admittedly don’t eat enough of) but it also requires an enzyme (called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase or MTHFR for short) to convert folate into l-methyl folate. Certain people have a mutation in the gene that makes MTHFR, so they can’t turn folate into l-methyl folate as effectively, and those people are kind of fucked no matter how many kale smoothies they drink.

But it’s not hopeless. If people with this genetic mutation take a supplement of l-methyl folate, their brain can make enough dopamine naturally. Of course, once you have enough dopamine, you’ve got to make sure you release enough (but there’s medication for that) and that you have enough receptors and that it sits in the receptors long enough (and there are meds for that too).

So this all got me wondering if maybe my MTHFR enzyme was wonky or completely AWOL. Dr. Wetsman urged me to find a good psychiatrist (since I’m on Prozac and two epileptic medications) or a local addictionologist in addition to taking a genetic test for this mutation. In his experience, patients who had a strong reaction to taking the l-methyl folate supplement were frequently also on SSRIs. They either felt much better right away or really really shitty. But if they felt even shittier (because the higher serotonin levels work on a receptor on the VTA which then lowers dopamine), he would just lower their SSRI or sometimes even titrate them off it completely. And voila. Success.

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It’s all very complicated, and this whole brain reward system is a feedback loop and interconnected with all kinds of stuff like Gaba and Enkephalins (the brain’s opioids) and Glutamate. But you guys don’t need me for a neuroscience lesson so I’m trying to keep it simple. The basics: how do you know if you have too little dopamine?

You have urges to use whatever you can to spike your dopamine: sex, food, gambling, drugs, smoking, and so on. What about too much dopamine? OCD, tics, stuttering, mental obsession and eventually psychosis. Too little serotonin? Anxiety and the symptoms of too high dopamine tone. Too much serotonin? The same thing as too little dopamine tone. Everything is intricately connected, not to mention confusing as all hell.

Being broke and lazy and having had decades of shitty psychiatrists, I decided to go rogue on this whole mission (not recommended). I mean I used to shoot stuff into my arm that some stranger would hand me through the window of their 87 Honda Accord so why be uber careful now? This l-methyl folate supplement didn’t require a prescription anymore anyway. What did I have to lose? I did, however, run it by my sponsor whose response was: “I’m no doctor, honey, but it sounds benign. Go ahead.”

I ordered a bottle. A few days later I heard the UPS guy drop the packet into my mail slot. I got out of bed, tore open the envelope and popped one of these bad boys. A few hours later I started to feel that dark cloud lift a little. Gotta be a placebo effect, right? The next day I felt even better. And the next day better still. I didn’t feel high or manic. I just felt “normal.” Whoa. It’s been weeks now and the change has been noticeable to friends and family.

Normal. That’s all I ever really wanted to feel. And the first time I felt normal was when I tried methamphetamine at 24. It did what I wanted all those anti-depressants to do. It made me feel like I knew other people felt: not starting every day already 20 feet underwater. I found out later that my mother and uncle were also addicted to amphetamines which further corroborates my belief that there is some genetic anomaly in my inherited reward system.

When I emailed Dr. Wetsman to tell him how miraculously better I felt, his first response was “Great. I’m glad. The key thing is to take the energy and put it into recovery. People go two ways when they feel amazingly better. One: ‘Oh, this is all I ever needed. I can stop all this recovery stuff.’ Or two: ‘Wow, I feel better. Who can I help?’ Helping others in recovery will actually increase your dopamine receptors and make this last. Not helping people will lead to shame, lowered dopamine receptors and it stops being so great.”

So no, I’m not going to stop going to meetings or doing my steps or working with my sponsor and sponsees. Being part of a group, feeling included and accepted, even those things can create more dopamine receptors. But sadly I’m still an addict at heart and I want all the dopamine and dopamine receptors I can get. However, I also know that enough dopamine alone isn’t going to keep me from being a selfish asshole…

But maybe, just maybe, having sufficient dopamine tone and working a program will.

 

 

Amy Dresner

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Amy Dresner is a recovering drug addict and all around fuck up.

She’s been regularly writing for The Fix since 2012. When she isn’t humorously chronicling her epic ups and downs for us, she’s freelancing for Refinery 29, Alternet, After Party Chat, Salon, The Frisky, Cosmo Latina, Unbound Box, Addiction.com and Psychology Today.

Her first book, My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean was published in September 2017 by Hachette Books.  Follow her on Twitter @amydresner.