“Fear Traps Me Into Being WHO I Am Not Many Times”…Guest Article by “World Of Psychology” Shares It Well.

“Fear Traps Me Into Being WHO I Am Not Many Times”…Guest Article by “World Of Psychology” Shares It Well.

I told myself at midnight new years’ eve, I was going to write, share, and be more open and transparent about my mental health issues this year. So when I came upon this article and gave it a read, I knew I had to share it today as many of us who maintain recovery from addictions are dually diagnosed with mental health challenges like myself. And those who don’t understand what it is like to battle agoraphobia along with depression and a few other disorders I have been working through, many seem to cling to “The Stigma” around all of the ABOVE.

Now, yes, I do understand that those who have not been touched by mental or emotional problems or disorders or know or have a family or friend who does, not all people are sorry to ‘ignorant’ about these topics. However, there some who don’t think mental health problems, like Tom Cruise, even exist. HA!

I’m here to say they do and about 42.5 million American adults (or 18.2 percent of the total adult population in the United States) suffers from some mental illness, enduring conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, and more.

That is 1 in every 5 people suffer in just the United States alone. So, sorry Tom Cruise and L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology, YOUR WRONG. Here is an article that helps us have insights on how paralyzing “FEAR” can make us feel TRAPPED…By 

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How Fear Traps You into Being Someone You Are Not…

“The fear response is triggered when facing danger.”

The “danger” could be not measuring up to a desired or imposed standard, not getting done what you set out to do, not fulfilling expectations (your own or someone else’s), being seen as less than perfect or failing at something. There is also the “danger” of not fitting in and being noticeably different from the norm. All these fears and anxieties stem from questioning your ability to cope with life’s challenges and people’s responses to your actions.

External messages from the media and authorities are also powerful triggers of anxiety and fear. Believing the world to be a dangerous place creates a pervading sense of powerlessness that undermines your personal power and inner strength in many different ways. 

  • Fear manipulates you into forgetting how strong and competent you really are.

  • Fear negates your resilience. Feelings of helplessness trick you into believing that you do not have what it takes to tolerate hardship and bounce back from adversity.

  • Fear narrows your focus to mainly notice problems, damage, hurt or harm.

  • Fear impairs realistic thinking so the scale and likelihood of potential danger are often overestimated. Unless you live in a war zone, a dangerous neighborhood, an abusive relationship or have just experienced a significant natural disaster, most commonly assumed dangers are less prevalent or disastrous than imagined.

  • Avoidance is one of the responses to fear. Self-imposed restrictions on where you go or what you do limit your options and shrink your world.

  • Fear can sabotage creative self-expression. Instead of aiming for your aspirations and dreams you may censor yourself and remain within the safety of your comfort zone.

  • Fear prevents you from living in the here and now. Worrying what might happen and anticipating dangers and calamities in the future removes your attention from the present, the only place where you can function to the best of your ability. Dwelling on past events instead of focusing on the present also clouds your perception to the realities and opportunities of the now.

  • Survival emotions such as anger (fight); worry, panic and anxiety (flight); depression and hopelessness (freeze) limit your emotional expression and narrow your emotional range. Negative feelings drag you down and deplete vital life force while positive emotions such as trust in yourself, courage and hope strengthen and nurture you.

  • Fear cuts you off from the flow of life and universal benevolence you could tap into.

  • Destabilized by fear you lose your firm grounding in your own power. This diminishes your ability to recognize potential agendas by external sources of fear. As a consequence, you become an easier target for manipulation and abuse.

Fear is the result of a physical mechanism involving the adrenals and various other body systems. In cases of real and acute danger, this is useful as it alerts you to the need for action.

However, the same kind of responses are also triggered by imagined danger. With the lines between real and imagined danger often blurred in modern life, fear in all its forms can become chronic. Like with ‘Agoraphobia’ or other panic type disorders.

“Tricking you into believing that you are weak and without inner resources or that a catastrophe is imminent, fear and its allies are some of the most damaging emotions to allow into your life. You have a choice what you do with your fear: stay in its thrall or make the decision not to be pulled into it and question it is associated — and usually automatic — thoughts.”

 
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There are many different ways to defuse fears. All of them involve feeling it without trying to suppress the feeling or run away from it. Like other emotions, fear follows a bell curve where it rises, peaks and eventually subsides if you stay with it as a witness rather than disappearing into it. When you have weathered the emotional storm and feel calmer, take a good look at your thoughts and the reality of the situation.

Examine your triggers and the beliefs associated with them. What is their origin, do they reflect the truth? What is your fear about? How you see yourself, how other people might think of you, what you are told about the world? What keeps you in a state of fear?

Depending on your situation, devise your own path to freedom. You may decide on “gradual exposure”, i.e. approaching a feared situation not at once but in several small increments over a number of days or weeks.

You could also draw a “fear ladder” with your “little” fears at the bottom rungs and the “big” ones on top. Begin addressing the less difficult ones and gradually work your way up. It will show you that you do not have to give in to fear and let it define your life and how you see yourself.

Enlist help and support if you need it, but ultimately no one can do this work for you. Remember, you are much stronger and more resilient than fear will allow you to know.

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About Christiana Star

Christiana is a counseling psychologist and writer with a strong focus on self-help, personal growth, and empowerment. Combining professional experience with a spiritual outlook on life, her work offers new perspectives, insights, practical tips and easy strategies that can be applied straightaway. When she is not writing, Christiana can be found in nature: tending her fruit and vegetable garden with various degrees of success or exploring Sydney’s beautiful Northern Beaches with her very quirky little dog.

Download the free ebook “10 Keys for Moving Forward when Life Has Changed”, receive the monthly newsletter or access her weekly blog at www.christianastar.com.


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This part of her article HIT ME, “Fear can sabotage creative self-expression. Instead of aiming for your aspirations and dreams you may censor yourself and remain within the safety of your comfort zone.”

That is me! I feel safe in my places within my “Comfort Zone.” It truly is debilitating and then I get depressed as it feels like looking out a window as LIFE is passing by WITHOUT ME In It…

So, what role does fear play in your life? What have you found useful in overcoming fears? If you are struggling, what is your difficulty?  Please share your feelings and comments with me.  Maybe together we can help one another…


Author and Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon 

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Holiday Recovery Resource Pick addictionblog.com Has Help From Many Addictions…Even From Gambling

Holiday Recovery Resource Pick addictionblog.com Has Help From Many Addictions…Even From Gambling

Today I am shining the spotlight on one of my favorite blogs I enjoy reading good articles and always who has great information about gambling and other addictions. They have an array of recovery resources and suggested treatments options they display on their site as well. I am a firm believer that reading and research to stay educated maintaining recovery is vital.

It is also the same for family and loved ones of the addict to have places they can get help and suggested information on how to safeguard themselves while looking for help for their loved one or friend. This article does just that. So I hope everyone gives it read and it helps others and written by Sydney Smith LPC, LADC, NCGC-II for Addiction Blog. org

 


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A Gambling Problem Can Be Difficult To Detect

Problem Gambling can be hidden for a long time which often makes it very difficult to detect. By the time the problem surfaces and the family finds out, the devastation and wreckage can be tremendous. Family members tend to know that something is wrong with their loved one but due to gambling addiction’s invisible nature, especially in the early stages of the disease, it can be extremely hard to identify.

In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of, and ways to identify if your loved one has a gambling problem. Then, we’ll invite your questions about how to get help at the end.

Determining If There Is A Gambling Problem

As a family member, we may or may not know the extent of the gambling problem or how long gambling has been an issue for our loved one. We may know about the gambling, but still, have much uncertainty as to whether there is a gambling problem. So if you are asking yourself,  “How do I know if my loved one is a problem gambler?”

…the following are questions and information that may help determine if there is a gambling problem.

SIGN 1: Time away. If I know the person is gambling, the amount of time spent gambling or engaged in gambling activities increases. The gambler can be gone for long unaccounted for periods of time.

When the gambler in my life gambled, he often gambled while he was at work. So, in the early stages, I did not know how much time he actually spent gambling. As his gambling worsened, he would not come home from work and would disappear for 24 hours at a time.

SIGN 2: Obsession to find money. Is the gambler becoming preoccupied or obsessed with obtaining money to gamble or thoughts of gambling? The great obsession can be on coming up with ways to borrow money, taking out loans, pawning items for cash, or planning their next bet.

Living with a gambler in the past, I would frequently have jewelry missing or items of value just disappear. Later I would learn that my gambler would pawn these items to obtain gambling money or to chase his losses. Later in the progression of the disease, the gambler may be physically present but not there, as the mind is preoccupied with gambling.

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SIGN 3: Emotional volatility. Does the gambler have moods swings or gambles as a means to cope or change feelings? A gambler deep into his addiction can exhibit mood swings similar to those of a person diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The extreme up and down in moods can be hard on both the gambler and the family members. The “up” moods can follow a win, and the gambler may even brag about the winnings. The “down” mood can be very depressive and the gambler may experience anxious or depressed mood, anger, and become irritable.

Gambling is used to change the way the person is feeling and the family members may hear the gambler make statements such as, “I had a stressful day at work and I just need to go gamble to unwind.”

SIGN 4: New Secrets. Are there secretive behaviors or hiding? Is the gambler becoming very secretive in his actions and with his money? Hiding of gambling wins or losses, hiding lottery tickets, tax documents, etc. becomes common.

In my therapy practice, I often hear the spouses say, “I found payday loan papers, or while cleaning, I found ATM receipts from the casino.”. The family may begin to lose trust in the gambler as the hiding, concealing, and lying about gambling grows.

20 Questions Family or Spouse To Ask Yourself

 

These are a few of the more noticeable warning signs one may experience with the gambler. In addition, Gam-Anon created a simple list of 20 questions for family members to ask themselves.

Family members of problem gamblers will answer “YES” to at least seven of the twenty questions.

  1. Do you find yourself constantly bothered by bill collectors?
  2. Is the person in question often away from home for long unexplained periods of time?
  3. Does this person ever lose time from work due to gambling?
  4. Do you feel that this person cannot be trusted with money?
  5. Does this person promise that he or she will stop gambling, yet gambles again and again?
  6. Does this person ever gamble longer than he or she intended?
  7. Does this person immediately return to gambling to try to recover losses or to win more?
  8. Does this person ever gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties?
  9. Does this person borrow money to gamble with or to pay gambling debts?
  10. Has this person’s reputation ever suffered due to gambling?
  11. Have you come to the point of hiding money needed for living expenses?
  12. Do you search this person’s clothing, go through his or her wallet, or check on his or her activities?
  13. Do you hide his or her money?
  14. Have you noticed personality changes in him or her?
  15. Does this person consistently lie to cover up or deny his or her gambling activities?
  16. Does this person use guilt induction as a method of shifting responsibility for his or her gambling onto you?
  17. Do you attempt to anticipate this person’s moods to try to control his or her life?
  18. Does this person ever suffer from remorse or depression due to gambling sometimes to the point of self-destruction?
  19. Have you ever threatened to break up the family because of the gambling?
  20. Do you feel that your life together is a nightmare?

What Can You Do Next?

This list can be found on the Gam-Anon website or in Gam-Anon published literature. If you can identify with any of the information listed above:

  • Continue to educate yourself about gambling addiction through resources and literature.
  • Reach out to a trained professional.
  • Attend a Gam-Anon or any 12-step support meeting for friends and family of addicts.

If we believe our loved one has a gambling addiction, it is OK to encourage them to seek help, however, it is vitally important for us as family members to seek out our own help.  We are not alone, there is hope, and life can get better. 

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I’d like to add that the addict does need to make the first step. Yes, it is vital and important that the spouse and family SEE through the anger and disappoint them may feel when first learning they are living with a gambling addict like my husband was. But once you look beyond that, your next step is to reach out for help to first safeguard your finances for you and your family. Gama-anon can help but also look into help from a professional. 

Maybe a financial advisor or a friend. Contact your local health department to see if the State Lottery has funded treatment and help for you and the gambler. My own treatment and my husbands guideness counselor were free and paid for by the Oregon State Lottery, including my crisis center stays and treatment. I do meetings with Gamblers Anonymous online, but there are many options for the addict and the family. And, yes, after everything we went through with my gambling addiction, my husband and I worked through it and are still married today over 28-years. You can read all about HOW in my Memoir…

WE DO AND CAN RECOVER!

Catherine 

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Veterans, A Holiday Spotlight on My Guest “Make The Connection” – Gambling Addiction Services and Much More For our Vets.

Veterans, A Holiday Spotlight on My Guest “Make The Connection” – Gambling Addiction Services and Much More For our Vets.

Gambling addiction has no boundaries on who it will touch. It can be men, women, teens, seniors, and even our veterans that have or are serving in the military. I was doing some research for an article I was writing for a paper and came across my guest who I wanted to spotlight as part of my Holiday Blogging series as we are seeing our veterans not just battling homelessness or drug and alcohol problems, but now gambling addiction.

“In between deployments my buddies and I would hit the casino. But we ended up losing our paychecks and so I had to start coming up with creative excuses why I didn’t have any money for my family.”


So if you are a veteran of any military branch of service? Know there is Help, Hope, and now Treatment Options for all types of addictions including gambling and find it here at “Making The Connection . Net”  Here is more of what they do and about addicted gambling among our veterans.

 

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“MakeTheConnection.net is an online resource designed to connect Veterans, their family members and friends, and other supporters with information, resources, and solutions to issues affecting their lives.”

There are millions of Veterans and family members who have reached out for support during tough times. Their lives got better. Yours can too. Over 400 Veterans and family members from across the country have shared their stories of strength and recovery. On MakeTheConnection.net, it takes only seconds to find a story that is just for you. Try It: Find the Story for You  In addition to powerful stories, MakeTheConnection.net provides information about life experiences you can relate to. You also can explore information about signs, symptoms, and conditions that are related to mental health and well-being.

MakeTheConnection.net also will help you…

Locate Nearby Resources.

 

When it’s time to reach out, MakeTheConnection.net’s resource locator can help you find resources, programs, and facilities in your area, no matter where you are.

They have many different resources listed as well Crisis Lines and more with now 2,918,331 ONLINE Supporters waiting to help VETS.

 

“Make The Connection has resources available for Veterans having a problem with gambling addiction.”

Gambling is a problem when it negatively affects your finances, job, relationships with family or friends, or your health. Are you sometimes unable to pay the bills because you’ve spent your money on lottery or scratch tickets; card, slot, or dice games; sports betting; horse or dog races; or Internet gambling? When you lose money gambling, do you think that you need to bet more to win it all back? Have you tried to hide your gambling from family or friends? Is gambling the only thing you like doing, or do you spend most of your time thinking about ways to gamble?  A “yes” answer to any of these questions may be a sign of a gambling addiction.

Gambling is betting something of value on the outcome of an event — like a football or baseball game, a card game, or a race — when the likelihood of winning or losing is uncertain. Although many people gamble occasionally, some people gamble even when it causes problems for themselves or others. They may want, need, or have tried to stop gambling but feel like they can’t. They may start gambling more often or taking bigger and bigger betting risks. These are some of the warning signs of a gambling addiction.

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For some Veterans, gambling starts as entertainment, but then can become a major way to relieve stress or boredom or to feel better when going through a tough time. Some Veterans may gamble for its sense of risk and thrill. Gambling can be a distraction, or perhaps a way to avoid coping with some of the difficulties that may arise when transitioning from military to civilian life. One of the symptoms of a serious gambling addiction is continuing to gamble even when you no longer find it enjoyable.

When gambling becomes a habit, it can cause problems with your job, relationships, and your mental or physical health. People who gamble compulsively may have financial issues, go into debt, or keep turning to others for gifts or loans. They may even steal from family, friends, or even their employers so they can keep gambling. The need to gamble, the problems it causes, and the stress of not being able to stop can be related to guiltdepressionanxiety disordersalcohol or drug problemsbipolar, even OCD and PTSD and health other issues.

If I’m experiencing a gambling problem, what can I do about it right away?

  • Acknowledge that gambling has become a problem in your life.
  • Recognize that it is possible to make a change.
  • Make a list of reasons not to gamble that you can refer to when you feel the urge to gamble.
  • Write down a list of things — including people and places — that make you want to gamble, along with ways that you can avoid them.
  • Practice relaxation exercises such as deep breathing to help you manage stress and to manage feelings if you feel the strong urge to gamble.
  • Make a list of activities you enjoy that you can do instead of gambling.
  • Spend time with supportive people in your life who do not gamble.

Trust me, people who are close to you may have noticed you’re having a tough time, even if they are unaware of your gambling. You may want to talk to your family and friends about what you’re experiencing. They may be able to provide support and help you find solutions that are right for you.

Take the next step: Make the connection.

It can be difficult to handle a gambling problem on your own. Every day, Veterans who served in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard connect with proven resources and effective treatments for the issues they face and find solutions that improve their lives. You can also consider connecting with:

  • Your doctor. Ask if your doctor has experience treating Veterans or can refer you to someone who does. If you feel comfortable enough with your physician, he or she may be able to help you find tools to manage a gambling problem even without direct experience with Veterans.
  • A mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor
  • Your local VA Medical Center or Vet Center. VA specializes in the care and treatment of Veterans.
  • A spiritual or religious advisor
  • A gambling helplines like Gamblers Anonymous or self-help groups

Explore these resources for more information about gambling problems in Veterans.


Please learn more about what you can do if you are experiencing specific concerns related to gambling, such as
 anxiety disordersdepression, and alcohol or drugs problems.

Problem Gambling Confidential Helpline Network
The National Council on Problem Gambling provides a toll-free, confidential helpline throughout the U.S. for anyone seeking help with gambling issues. Dial 1-800-522-4700.

Gamblers Anonymous
This website can help you find a local support group for people dealing with gambling problems. The nationwide toll-free number for immediate help is 1-888-GA-HELPS.
www.gamblersanonymous.org


Vet Center
If you are a combat Veteran, you can bring your DD214 to your local Vet Center and speak with a counselor or therapist — many of whom are Veterans themselves — for free, without an appointment, and regardless of your enrollment status with VA. In addition, any Veteran who was sexually traumatized while serving in the military is eligible to receive counseling regardless of gender or era of service.
www.va.gov/directory/guide/vetcenter.asp


VA Medical Center Facility Locator

Gambling may be related to other health conditions that need attention. VA provides world-class health care to eligible Veterans. Most Veterans qualify for cost-free health care services, although some Veterans must pay modest copays for health care or prescriptions. Explore your eligibility for health care using VA’s Health Benefits Explorer tool and find out more about the treatment options available to you.
www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp?isflash=1

Join the Conversation

Make the Connection is more than a website. It is a nationwide, online movement of millions. Join us and share Make the Connection on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Your words can encourage someone in need to reach out for support and treatment.

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I want to say a warm Thank You, to each and every one of our Veterans and Military personnel for your Sacrifice and Serving our Country. You should never have to deal with homelessness, addictions, or feel alone. YOU have a voice and I am here to make sure your voices are heard and you learn about all the HELP there is for you! And Thank goodness there are helpful sites out there ready to help our VETS like “MAKE THE CONNECTION . NET ” TODAY!

God Bless,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Advocate

Guest Holiday Recovery Post By Author, Alek Sabin About Childhood Trauma.

Guest Holiday Recovery Post By Author, Alek Sabin About Childhood Trauma.

Why It’s Essential to Tackle Childhood Trauma, Early

by Alek Sabin

 

Every year, we are beginning to learn more and more about the effects that trauma in childhood has, as victims get further and further into adulthood. While it’s been known that behavioral issues and development problems can frequently stem from traumatic events that occurred in childhood, new research is coming out that shows how other mental disorders (such as clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder) can develop out of childhood trauma. Individuals who have experienced childhood trauma are significantly more likely to struggle with addiction in life, which is why it’s something that anyone involved with addiction should be informed about.

 

This emphasizes the need to get help to children who suffer from trauma while they are still children, rather than assume that it will go away as they reach adulthood. Here are some reasons why it’s important to tackle childhood trauma, early…and in early recovery.

 

PTSD in adults often comes from childhood events

 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has many symptoms that can severely impact a person’s quality of life, including nightmares, aggression, anxiousness, struggles with socialization, and rapid changes in emotion, among other things. Recent studies have shown that a large portion of adults who suffer from PTSD developed the disorder after a traumatic event that occurred during childhood.

 

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Since this disorder has a profound impact on a child’s development into adulthood, and can impact their social, mental, emotional, and even physical health, it is better to deal with these traumatic events when a victim is younger, so that the impact of trauma doesn’t shape behavioral responses, when they are older.

 

Youth suicide is becoming more common

 

Suicide is a major killer of young people, today. As a matter of fact, the suicide contributes more to the mortality rate of teenagers and young adults than a combination of cancer, stroke, AIDS, pneumonia, influenza, lung disease, and birth defects. Nearly 3,500 teenagers and young adults commit suicide, on average, every single day in the United States.

 

When it comes to the indicators of suicide, trauma can be a major factor that leads to a mental state where a young person attempts to take their life. For this reason, it’s important to help a child’s mental health heal from trauma when they are younger, so that this trauma doesn’t develop into something even more sinister.

 

Complex trauma is more difficult to tackle, later on

 

It is common therapy practice to consider the environmental influences of an adult patient, particularly from childhood. As stated above, it’s been found that trauma experienced in childhood is a very common source of mental disorders found in adults. However, the problem with dealing with these traumatic events as an adult is that the person has been forced to develop their own coping mechanisms for dealing with that trauma, throughout the course of their life.

 

This means that the true source of trauma can often be buried throughout other behavioral influences, and can complicate the therapy process. The earlier we are able to tackle trauma in a child, the easier it is to address the source of that trauma, head-on, which makes it easier to identify and move towards healthy progress.

 

Children don’t just get better from trauma

 

One of the biggest misconceptions that keep trauma-suffering children from getting the help that is going to enable them to work through their issues is that they will get over it as they get older. While certain traumatic events may not be at the forefront of their mind after several years, the reality is that their development and behavior are going to be influenced by that trauma, which means that it can have a profound impact on a person’s identity, years down the road.

Mental health problems are like any other problems. They don’t just go away. Problems need to be addressed, talked about, and worked on, in any field. This is especially true for therapy, which is why it is so important to get a child to therapeutic and/or psychiatric health when they are younger. It isn’t impossible to deal with these things when they are older, but the issues are buried under less experience, which makes them easier to tackle.

 

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I would like to add a little as Alek’s article brings out some very good points. I am a childhood sexual trauma survivor, and it is not easy to talk about. I even skirted around going into details about what I went through within my current book. However, I am finally able to embrace this part of my life.

Through much processing in therapy, I have been able to learn my past childhood trauma was some of the direct to “roots to my gambling addiction as I was using it to “escape, cope,” and not feel that past hurt little girl. So, it is important to begin the work from the trauma of any kind early in your recovery journey. “Let Go and Let God” as he’ll help you learn to “forgive” yourself. It was never your fault, and you are not alone… 

Catherine XoXo  

 

Christmas Past Blast Throwback. Reshare Article of Mine From Christmas Past…

LET’S QUIT TO WIN THE HOLIDAYS!
By Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon ~ “Keys to Recovery Newspaper”

 

group at holiday dinner table

 

“Now that the holidays are upon us, those of us in recovery can have a tough time around the holiday time. I know I have in the past with self-sabotaging my Christmas season. How do you ask? Let me share a “war story of Christmas past.” We can learn and grow in recovery in when we safely look at the “Then & Now of Christmas’s Past”, as an addicted or problem gambler.”

 

Many of us in recovery advocate to show to others who still suffer from this cunning addiction the importance of sharing our experiences, strength and hope with others when we do tell some of our “war stories.” It does show how insidious this addiction is. It is one of the areas I don’t feel is proper about 12-Step programs. They tell us not to share war stories as it could maybe trigger someone in a meeting.

But, if we don’t learn from these mistakes or choices, how do we look back and find growth in our recovery? Yes, you can see growth by just doing the 12-steps, but may need more than that to recover fully. I know I did. I recall one Christmas that has to be my worst within my gambling addiction and will never forget. And it is why I make sure all holidays now are safe, happy and full of JOY. It was back in 2005.

Our home we had lived and worked very hard for, had to be sold through a short sale or we would have lost everything we put into it. But even then, it felt like we lost it as we are still paying on the balance that was not covered by the sale. It also caused me to make a few bad choices, residual addicted “thinking,: I had committed a crime, that big catastrophe! I wrote about it in my memoir, and I was reeling.

I stopped taking my bipolar meds, then took them all at once! I was so angry with myself, feeling so much shame, guilt, low self-worth and again suicidal because I knew it was because of my past gambling is how we got into this mess in the first place! Of course, no excuse’s, just insights. We were so financially broke. I remember being in JCPenney walking around aimlessly wishing I could buy this or that for the family for Christmas and again in Walmart. Luckily, all our family lived in other states than Oregon. So I had to do the same lame thing I had done for many past Christmas’s, just send a card.

It was tough already that we both had job loss, the very beginning of the economy and markets were getting ready to pop. We had a hard time finding good paying jobs, and I ended up back in an addiction/mental health crisis again with another breakdown right after the holidays. It was all too much!

When I got released from the crisis center, I knew I had a lot more recovery inner work, which included financial inventory to take and work on. I had been doing well in my recovery and gamble free at the time, but something was nagging at me. See, you need to know that no matter what the addiction is, it’s always waiting for us.

 

STOP Desperately Gambling For The Holiday 

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Like the holidays for instance and the point of this post, we can have a lot of temptations around us at this time of year. There are holiday parties for both personal and work-related that can be stressful. We may have had fall outs due to the holidays, (thanks to our addictions and why we have step 9… make amends where ever possible) with friends and family. Many different reasons that can become a trigger or bring on urges. The stress of the season, lack of money for presents, a slew of things swirling around in our heads! The “cycle” if not broken or interrupted will keep you either in the addiction or just on edge waiting.

That is what I needed the second time around after coming out of the crisis. I chose to work with a gambling addiction and behavioral specialist. And he would not “cut me loose” until I could tell him how the “cycle” of addiction happens, and tell him the skills and tools to stop it which took me a year. Once I learned and applied those skills and tools, I began on the road to long-term recovery.

So my point is everyone needs a relapse plan. A solid plan that will help you avoid these pitfalls. I had been given a workbook that I now have listed on my recovery resource pages, for all to come and use for their recovery from gambling here: Holiday Relapse Prevention Guide.

It shows step by step what is needed to make a plan to prevent relapse for any occasion, like the holiday season, life events like a loss from death, a job loss and much more. These events and the holidays will come. So you need to prepare before, not after they happen. Be prepared and use those tools taught and learned in treatment, or a 12-step program, maybe in therapy or however you choose, to reach out and start your recovery journey. And learn about “the cycle” of addiction.

 

When you do, I guarantee you will have many, many ‘Happy Holiday Seasons’ to come!

 

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“You Are Worth It In Recovery and a Happy Holiday Season!!
Catherine 

Happy Sober, Clean, Bet Free Holiday Article Share Series. Were Getting Through Holidays Together!

Hello, And Welcome Recovery Friends and Visitors,

 

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Since this year for me has a been a bit cray – cray with co-writing a memoir with another, also book promoting for authors, advocating and recovery article writing, and guest blogging much more, I decided to do a little something different this year on my recovery blog. Most know I am passionate and adamant about being around through the Christmas and New Year holiday for those who may be struggling, need more support or feel tempted to stray maintaining recovery.

It can be a “risky” and tricky time for holiday parties, booze, desperate gambling due to lack of money for gifts, and party time means more recreational drugs around. Sad, but it is true. So I thought, why not share many Holiday articles with a mix of a few of my own this year and we help one another as a collective!

I have had some awesome guest recovery authors and articles this year and decided to share a few of them, along with some new ones I have permission to share as we all need support from as many people and places as we can get. So I will begin with an article I just read that will help with ideas of staying safe over the holidays on Sober Recovery!

*Three Reasons To Connect With A Recovery Community Through Holiday Time by  Toshia Humphries *

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The holiday season is upon us. Many are traveling to be with family while countless others gather with friends and significant others to celebrate the festive time of year. However, not everyone has a picturesque holiday experience.

The forces that could pull you into relapse tend to get stronger around the end of the year when you’re likely to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and reconvened with people who likely saw you during your addicted past. Now more than ever, it’s important to build up a support network to ensure you stick to your commitment.

Here are three reasons why you need to connect with a recovery community during the holidays.

1. Prevents isolation.

Staying connected to the recovery community can prevent isolation which is typically a precursor to relapse. Isolation can also worsen symptoms of any dual diagnosis such as depression, anxiety, and other mood or personality disorders. All of these can escalate to relapse, accidental overdose or even suicide.

2. Provides a sense of family.

Staying in touch with the recovery community allows for a substitute family experience if family holidays are not possible due to either death, distance, or estranged. And, if the family is an option, the family dynamics make relapse more probably, the recovery community can act as a chosen family; one that is ideally far more supportive and less dysfunctional.

The recovery community is also equally as necessary for those who have families and enjoy being around them. In fact, possibly more so, as it is easy for those individuals to forget they need the recovery community or recovery itself. Often, these individuals begin to think that sobriety alone is enough—it’s not.

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3. Keeps you active in recovery during the holidays.

Staying connected to the recovery community keeps you active in your recovery throughout the holiday season. It provides consistency and gentle reminders that relapse has nothing to do with having a dysfunctional family. It has to do with you. And, if you were an active addict with a picturesque family, then you could easily be in relapse with the same.

The key to getting through the holiday season is not to lose sight of your recovery. Staying connected to your recovery community keeps you plugged into that recovery process, keeps you accountable and allows you to do the same for others. Most importantly, it serves as prevention against relapse and provides everyone with a sense of family, even if they don’t have one of their own.

For these reasons and more, staying connected to the recovery community throughout the holidays is a life-saving choice for everyone. Wishing you all a happy and safe recovery throughout the holiday season!

~ Author/Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon ~

 

 

 

“Love For The Unlovable” by Delight In Disorder…I Too Have Some Holiday Blues

I am happy to support my dear friend Author, Tony Roberts and his fundraising campaign to begin a new Mental Health Podcast as he needs our support and kindness in the form donations that come with perks! So I hope you will join me as they can be made here:  “Revealing Voices – The Mental Health Podcast”

 

 

And like Tony shares in his new post, this new one about to share, I too have had some “holiday blues and depression” the past few days. Is it because I just turned 55 the other day? It is just another little mental health cycle? I’m not sure, but knowing my buddy has too? makes me feel that I am not alone as Tony shares…

 

Overview of New Podcast Coming and You Can Help Make It Happen!

Several podcasts touch on mental health. Others bring up topics of faith. We offer a unique faith-based, peer-led perspective. This is a project that has been born out of our own need and a recognition of the needs of others. Revealing Voices will dig deep and share honest stories of ways faith and mental health care can work together to promote healing. We also offer humor. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. Like the Apostle Paul on lithium or Sigmund Freud at a weekend revival.  🙂

 

Many people with mental illness feel alienated from faith communities. Many faith communities fail to understand the value of mental health care. We have lived in both worlds and found both to promote healing. Prayer and pills. Worship and therapy. Bible study and support groups. Revealing Voices (the podcast and website) will build a community where people listen to and dialogue with others who have been impacted by mental illness and struggle with faith. We don’t pretend to have the answer, but we will raise your questions and share your prayers.

 

We need your financial support for the equipment needed to produce a quality podcast, including:

* MacBook Pro

* (2) Shure SM-58 microphones

* Cables, stands, accessories

* (2) Headsets

* Equipment for broadcasting phone calls

* Marketing to make a greater impact in a broader area.

* A portion of donations exceeding our goal will go to NAMI-Faith Net.

Studies show that at least 20% of the US population struggles with a mental health issue. Research also suggests that very few pastors and churches are equipped to address the needs of persons with mental illness. Your contribution will foster dialogue that offers hope for people who have troubled minds. Hope.  Compassion. With your gifts, you can invest in this vital mission. 

If you are not in a position to make a financial gift at this time, we get it. There are other valued ways you can support our mission:

* Pray. Prayer is not a magical panacea to manipulate giving. Yet, through prayer, needs are met.

* Share. Tell others about our project. We’d be delighted if you’d put it on your social media.

We want to express our gratitude for your support, so we are offering a wide variety of bonuses, from a “Making of Revealing Voices” audio recording to signed copies of Delight in Disorder and Watershed. Up to an opportunity to dialogue with us on the show. 

Our Revealing Voices campaign is going well. We have raised $700 towards our goal of $3,000 for pre-production equipment to launch our podcast in March. Based on our research and personal contacts, we firmly believe such a program will meet a great need in a unique way.

We will be perhaps the only faith-based, peer-led, story-driven mental health podcast on the net. On this Giving Tuesday, we hope that many who value our mission will contribute — through praying, sharing, and giving. Your support is much appreciated.  🙂

“LOVE 4 THE UNLOVABLE”

“I have been mired in a holiday depression. I texted a friend about it and we had this exchange”

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Friend: What do you think started the decline. Let’s break it down.

Me: Nostalgia over past holidays. They were not likely as good as I remember them. But my loss still seems palpable.

Friend: In Hebrews, the author talks about hearing God’s voice. and entering God’s rest. He ends up talking about the power of God’s Word. That has helped me. The idea we can enter God’s rest here — today.

Me: I’m not really connecting with the “rest” part. It’s more like I sleep and lie in bed to escape.

Friend: Would you say that nostalgia over past holidays is fundamentally a belief that there was a time when God was with you, and now God is not?

Me: I have always believed God is with me, even now. But now I feel God’s anger.

Friend: Can God be angry with his beloved child?

Me: No. I mean it’s different after Christ’s sacrifice. I know this, but I don’t feel it.

Friend: You may not, but it doesn’t change the Truth. So, first, you feel unloved.

Me: Maybe. It’s more that I feel unworthy of love and I’m not accepting grace.

Friend: Do you believe that thought was the seed for the decline? Unworthy and not accepting grace.

Me: Yes.

Friend: Do the holidays increase feelings of unworthiness and lack of grace?

Me: You’re right. I just feel numb. And my gut is wrenching.

Friend: I know. Do you have to write tonight?

Me: I don’t have to write, but I could write about something less personal, like a book review.

Friend: What feels most loving to you?

Me: The question I raise is what would be most helpful for my readers? Holiday depression is a real struggle for many of us with mental illness. If I could make some sense of it, I think that would help me and others. Doing at least one thing each day to engage others helps me feel better about myself. At the same time, I need to be careful that what I put out doesn’t bring other people down with me. I want to uplift.

Friend: Unlovable would be a good topic.

Me: Good. “Loving the Unlovable.”

Friend: I like that idea.

Me: Okay. Do you mind if I work something up and send it for your review? I don’t trust myself when I am off.

Friend: Good idea!

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But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

 

I don’t feel lovable, but I know that in Christ God has loved me. This knowledge gives me a reason to get out of bed each day. Even if it is 4 pm. Even if the voices inside my head are telling me God wants no part of me. Even if I feel like shit and don’t want to do anything. Even if the thought of going for a walk, making my bed, or taking a shower seems like running a 3-minute mile.

God does not compare me to my previous self. God does not measure my goodness according to any standard others set for me. By the grace of Jesus Christ, God loves me even when I feel unlovable.

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Help us bring the message of faith to those struggling with mental illness. Pray for that we meet our Indiegogo campaign goal. Share our page on your social media. Give according to what you have received and how much you value our ministry. (To give, click on the title below. It will direct you to our Indiegogo page where there will be a button that says, “Back it.”)

Revealing Voices: The mental health podcast raising unanswered questions, sharing unanswered prayers. 

 

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