“Addiction Does Not Discriminate.” The Higher You Climb, The Harder You Will Fall From ‘Grace.’ Memories From a Former NFL Pro Athlete…

“Addiction Does Not Discriminate.” The Higher You Climb, The Harder You Will Fall From ‘Grace.’ Memories From a Former NFL Pro Athlete…

Most of us regular folks can not begin to imagine incredible opportunities to come into our lives like those who play professional sports. And writing with Vance, it has been a fantastic journey thus far to be privy to all those memories and those shared by him and in his voice within the pages of his book and a new memoir.

Just like myself, I loved dancing way back in the day, lol and did compete loads as I was pretty good at it but never got to the level of a professional freestyle dancer. And that was ok. I knew what it took, all the grueling hours of practice and being creative enough to come up with “the next new move” to help stand out from everyone else competing.

Not that I didn’t want to put in the work, I sure did, but you ultimately want to get on a dance tour for a singer or band, and I was one not cut out for all the days and month of being on the road or flying here and there.

Vance had those attributes and the ability and the fire to make it to the NFL. He had the drive and conviction since that little boy throwing a football around with his father. He worked hard as he grew up to make those dreams of his become blessings. And those blessings can become for good or can become a “fall from grace” if you are not careful. Even with the best intentions and Christian upbringing.

Fast forward to today. While writing this book with a high profile person, I have had some fear and the reality of “am I doing a professional job with such a writing project?” Co-writing with a man that had such a fantastic pro football career and not knowing a “lick” about the game, lol, to be able to do justice to his past life, career, and his legacy.”

I am hoping so. Lucky for me, Vance is BIG on sharing his feeling on his Facebook page  about whatever is on his mind and touching his “heart.” He is like me and shares it all for his family, friends, and fans on his Facebook page so I can first, KNOW WHERE the heck he is, and second, know what he is feeling or thinking about addiction and his recovery journey.

The past few weeks he has touched on many relevant topics as he travels around the country advocating and speaking his truth and his testimony of why he is still living and breathing after addiction tore this ballplayers life to the brink of death. So here is his voice and he thoughts on why he does what he loves doing today!

Happy National Recovery Month. ~Catherine

 

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Many of you (my fans of football) remember this day, 1986 Championship game against the Cleveland Browns. I’m at the top of the photo, with one goal… help our team go 99.5 yards, then score a Touchdown to WIN the AFC title. The reason I’m posting this picture? Because it reminds me of another photo. Me in a coma after using & drinking myself nearly to death.

Just like many of you, struggling with an addiction to alcohol, pills, drugs, porn, gambling, whatever that hole you’ve dug yourselves into, and feeling as there is no way out. You are on the 99.5-yard line, and one step back, you die, game over. At this point in the game, no one believes that you can pull it off. No one believes after all this time, seeing no progress that you will pull off a miracle. Odds are they are right, so what are you going to do, give up?

Or are you going to get in the huddle, rehab, and make a play, and another one, and another one, aka 1 day at a time. Are you going to listen to the quarterback, therapist, and believe they know the path to victory if you will just have faith. It’s time to trust that there is a way out of this hell-hole you are in and that it takes a team to win this game. There will be bumps, setbacks, 3rd and long, maybe even 4th and long, but you can’t punt because if you do? YOU DIE…

 

“I thank God that Ihad already experienced this play in my life before, except this time it was life & death.

There was a death, the old me because what he believed was a lie. My game plan was to surrender to what I believed was right in my eyes, and the evidence was my history. It’s not about me anymore, Jesus take the wheel.

Thanks to amazing counselors, mentors, pastors, parents, John Elway, TREATMENT and a new way of thinking. “


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“I’m Owning My Sobriety, are you ready to make that play and own yours?”

Visit Today and I’ll help you WIN! ~www.vanceinspires.com  

 

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Another Post from Vance that touched my HEART:
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I spoke to 4th & 5th graders at Sand Creek Elementary School today. I opened up about not only an amazing life of fun, sports, friends, dreams, Super Bowl Rings, and the Denver Broncos, but I also talked about the tuff times, bullying, being shy, being around addiction and mommy and daddy not always getting along…

I talked about domestic violence and how it affected me. It got real quiet in the room of about 150 students. I also asked for a raise of hands if they knew anyone who suffered from drug, alcohol use or domestic violence…130 kids raised their hands.  😦  😦

After I shared I hugged the kids, and they thanked me for talking to them. In fact, 150 of them told me they believed in God, so I shared who they were in Jesus, and to remember that when they grew up. Walking out full of thanks and hugs, this 9-year-old beautiful little boy said: “what you talked about is happening in my home” we walked away together for some private time.

We cried as I prayed that the Spirit of God would fill him. I said: “I’m your uncle Vance now, and whenever you need me I will be there.” I gave a card to his teacher and principal and asked if they would contact mom about our new relationship.

 

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This is that beautiful young man (above) as I didn’t want to show his beautiful face for obvious reasons.

I hope your listening moms & dads, your kids are 💕❤️LOVED

OWN Your Sobriety and Stop Domestic Abuse 

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Long Time Recovery Advocate and Author, Christopher Kennedy Lawford Passes at 63. A Huge Loss to Our Recovery Community. My Tribute and Memories.

Long Time Recovery Advocate and Author, Christopher Kennedy Lawford Passes at 63. A Huge Loss to Our Recovery Community. My Tribute and Memories.

I was utterly heartbroken and shocked when I heard the news early Wednesday morning of the passing of Christopher Kennedy Lawford. We lost a huge addiction and recovery champion and tireless advocate of alcoholism as well as other addictions.

It hit me pretty hard as I was honored and privileged to have interviewed him by phone and have him as my featured article in the May/June 2017 issue of InRecovery Magazine where I was a former writer and columnist of  “The Author’s Cafe Column.”
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You can still visit the cafe’ column online and read the full article and my past interviews.  I also was an Addictionland Gambling Recovery expert blogger the same month as Christopher was in October 2014 blogging about alcoholism on Addictionland. When I interviewed him for my article for In Recovery, he was kind, not shy to be open about his past, and very gracious. He truly knew about real living while maintaining long-term recovery. Just some of what I learned about him.

Although, when I looked online to see how he passed, I could not believe how the “media” was reporting his death. He was being attached to the “Kennedy” name all over the news. I know he would not have wanted that at all as he was not close with many of the Kennedy family members as he told me in our interview. It was due to many of them still being heavy drinkers and recreational drug users except for John Jr. before his passing, and a couple cousins he spent time with.

And Christopher spoke about that in many interviews and articles in the media he said after we spoke. We all know even with family, we need to set boundaries around unhealthy relationships when we maintain recovery. And that was what Chris had done and was not shy about sharing this fact.

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And as news and media history goes, we know the many stories about The Kennedy families of drug and alcohol use and even cheating on their wives and husbands. Addiction does not discriminate on who it “touches.”

And when you are a famous or high profile figure, it can be more difficult for it playing out publically in today’s world of sound bites, media, and technology advances. He shares some of this in his many books he has written, but much in his book ‘Moments of Clarity.’ Sadly his passing has come on the heels of his new book release just some months back titled; ‘When Your Partner Has An Addiction.”

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Here is more about Christopher of what The Associated Press reports are reporting of his passing late Tuesday evening.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — “Author and actor Christopher Kennedy Lawford, who was born into political and Hollywood royalty, sank into substance abuse and addiction and rose to become a well-known advocate for sobriety and recovery, has died.

Lawford died of a heart attack Tuesday in Vancouver, Canada, his cousin, former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, told The Associated Press. He was 63.

Lawford was in Vancouver living with his girlfriend and working to open a recovery center. He had been doing hot yoga, which he did often, but the strain of it “must have been too much for him at that point,” Kennedy said.”

Lawford was the only son and oldest child of Patricia Kennedy — sister of John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy — and Peter Lawford — the English actor and socialite who was a member of Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack.” (Below Patricia Kennedy Lawford, Actor-husband Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, and Actor Tony Curtis.)

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“I was given wealth, power and fame when I drew my first breath,” Lawford wrote in his 2005 book, “Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption,” the first of several books he wrote about his substance struggles.

He wrote that his parents got telegrams predicting big things for him from Bing Crosby and Dean Martin and said he once got a lesson in doing “The Twist” from Marilyn Monroe. The cover of his books shows him sitting poolside as a child with his uncle and soon-to-be-president John F. Kennedy looming behind him.

He spent his youth frolicking with Hollywood stars on one coast and rubbing shoulders with political stars on the other, living between libertine Los Angeles and the hyper-competitive Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, where he was a big-brother figure to John F. Kennedy Jr.

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Christopher Kennedy and his cousin John F Kennedy Jr, in Hyannisport MA

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“You can’t get much more fawned over than being a Kennedy male,” Lawford wrote. (Above Chris and John Jr.)

His life with drugs began with LSD while at boarding school at age 14. In the years before he had experienced the assassinations of his two uncles and his parents’ divorce in 1966.

With heroin and other opioids as his substances of choice, Lawford leaped into deeper substance abuse in drug-heavy 1970s Hollywood, where his father also abused drugs and alcohol as his career faded. Peter Lawford died in 1984. Patricia Kennedy died in 2006.

In his memoir, Christopher Lawford told tales of mugging women for money, panhandling in Grand Central Station and getting arrested twice for drug possession before getting sober at 30.

“There are many days when I wish I could take back and use my youth more appropriately,” Lawford told The Associated Press in 2005. “But all of that got me here. I can’t ask for some of my life to be changed and still extract the understanding and the life that I have today.”

Patrick Kennedy, the former congressman from Rhode Island whose father is Edward M. Kennedy, said his cousin “did something very difficult,” airing family secrets and temporarily hurting his relationships within the Kennedy clan when he wrote his book.

“He had the courage to know that he had to find himself, and he wasn’t going to be able to do it while holding on to the old family narrative,” Kennedy said.

Lawford was “tormented by the fact” that for a time he was estranged from his sisters, Patrick Kennedy said.  “Over the years of recovery, he ended up reconciling with his sisters, happiest I ever saw him,” Kennedy said.

His life’s work became helping others recover — including his cousin.
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“He was the absolute cornerstone to my sobriety, along with my wife,” Patrick Kennedy said (the former politician had been addicted to drugs and alcohol). “He was the one who walked me through all the difficult days of that early period.”

After his memoir, Lawford authored several more books on addiction and recovery, most recently 2015′s “What Addicts Know.”

He worked steadily as an actor, with moderate success. He had a small part in 2003′s “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” made appearances on TV shows including “Frazier” and “The O.C.” and had recurring roles on the soaps “All My Children” and “General Hospital,” playing a senator in the latter.

He told the AP in 2005 that his famous dual identities both helped and hurt him in Hollywood.

“The names give you an entree, absolutely, but it’s a kind of a double-edged sword,” he said. “People do pay attention to you, but nobody gets ahead in Hollywood unless they are really lucky or they deserve it.”

He is survived by his sisters, Sydney, Victoria and Robin, and his children, David, Savannah, and Matt.

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In closing, here is a little more about his writing and activism per Wikipedia: 

In September 2005, Harper-Collins published Lawford’s memoir Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption (William Morrow 2005, ISBN 0-06-073248-2), which immediately became a New York Times Bestseller. In 2009, he released Moments of Clarity: Voices from the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery, a series of essays by public figures, athletes and entertainers who have struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Almost every interviewee sought help from a twelve-step program such as Alcoholics AnonymousNarcotics Anonymous or another spiritually based means of support for recovery. In his own life, Lawford battled a drug and alcohol addiction for much of his early life. Lawford worked extensively in politics, government and the non-profit sector holding executive staff positions with The Democratic National Committee, The Community Action for Legal Services Agency and in the Washington office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

He has held staff positions on numerous national, state and local political campaigns, as well as with The Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. FoundationSpecial Olympics and The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. He was later a Public Advocacy Consultant for Caron Treatment Centers and was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on the California Department of Public Health Advisory Board.

Yes, we have lost an addiction and recovery warrior, champion, and an outspoken advocate within September 2018 National Recovery Month. Even though I know he is in a much better place and is “Now Home.” It still hurts those who are left behind and especially when it happens suddenly. My thoughts, love, and prayers to his wife and children for this sudden loss, and to all his extended family and friends.

The Recovery world has a little less “Sparkle” without Christopher in it.

~Advocate and Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon~

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National Recovery Month. There Is a Rise In Those Recovering From Addiction and Being Dual Diagnosed With Mental Illness.

National Recovery Month. There Is a Rise In Those Recovering From Addiction and Being Dual Diagnosed With Mental Illness.

“I am a woman maintaining recovery from addictions and I am dually diagnosed with mental and emotional health challenges. My gambling addiction is what finally brought out my mental health symptoms to the point of trying suicide…TWICE.”

And I have not talked about it much. That comes from stigma. I don’t really want a label attached to me even though stigma is still prevalent among those recovering from addiction, but mental illness still has a long way to go. Of course, we have to have a name for the many forms of mental illnesses, but many times those who suffer become targets and ridiculed. That comes from NO Understanding and Lack of Empathy.

Just my own feelings. It is why I advocate, I try to help educate and inform the public that we who have mental illness are no different from others. We may just have a few more challenges than those who don’t have mental health issues. There has been an alarming rise of those recovering from addictions being diagnosed with some form of mental and emotional problem.

According to this article by my helpful friends of The National Alliance on Mental Illness and The Recovery Village. I treat my mental health just as my medical health. I am well managed, take my meds properly, and don’t use alcohol. I always keep my appointments and live life. I don’t let my challenges hold me back from what I enjoy doing! I do however need to be open and comfortable doing so. Here is a new attempt…Lol. I do hope all who visit find this article informative.  ~Catherine

Mental Illness and Addiction: America’s Struggle to Accept the Connection
Article By Staff at The Recovery Village.

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The United States is knee deep in a polarizing discussion on mental health and the best ways to help people struggling. Another topic Americans continue to wrestle with is how to address drug and alcohol addiction. But is there a relationship between the two issues?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, around 1 in 5 adults (43.8 million) in the United States suffer from mental illness each year. Additionally, 20.2 million people in the United States suffer from a substance use disorder and a little more than half of them also have a mental health disorder, known as a co-occurring disorder.

Despite the prevalence of both mental illness and substance use disorder, a cause-and-effect relationship between the two is not universally accepted by many people in the United States.

The Recovery Village, a leader in substance use disorder treatment and mental health, recently conducted a survey that uncovered an overlap between mental health and addiction among the respondents’ answers. This information could help more people accept that there is a link between the two, and acknowledge them as equally important illnesses, helping create a culture that promotes healing and treatment instead of criticism and blame.

What Is Mental Illness?

First, it’s important to define mental illness. Medical experts summarize the disease as any disorder or disorders that cause a person to experience an altered mood, thinking pattern or behavior. According to Medline Plus, mental health disorders include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Mood disorders or personality disorders such as antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia

From the survey conducted by The Recovery Village, approximately 62 percent of people said they either currently suffer or have suffered from a mental illness in the past. The most common mental health disorder that survey respondents said they suffered from was depression (78.46 percent), with anxiety disorders (70.73 percent) a close second. Mood disorders (37 percent) followed, and multiple respondents included post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a write-in answer.

Respondents were allowed to submit multiple answers, as many people suffer from more than one mental illness. The number of respondents who suffer from a mental illness is not the only evidence of the issue’s significance. Nearly 63 percent of survey respondents said they know at least one family member who suffers from a mental health disorder and 54.25 percent said they know a friend who suffers from this disease. Few people surveyed — only 57 out of 400 — said they don’t know anyone who suffers from a mental health disorder, a reason to believe that this issue either directly or indirectly affects a large majority of Americans.

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Connecting Mental Illness and Addiction

Many people suffering from a mental health disorder resort to drugs or alcohol as a dangerous form of self-medication. Additionally, many doctors prescribe over-the-counter or prescription medications to patients with a mental illness, and these drugs can be addictive. While some people misuse substances as a response to mental illness, others developmental health concerns after prolonged drug or alcohol addiction. For example, people who misuse cocaine or other stimulant drugs might experience long-term behavioral changes, including depression or anxiety, as the body functions alter permanently due to the substance’s effects.

How many people suffer from co-occurring disorders? A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that 7.9 million adults in 2016 suffered from substance use disorders and mental illnesses. Rates were highest among adults between the ages of 26 and 49. The Journal of the American Medical Association found information that links the two diseases:

  • Roughly 50 percent of individuals with severe mental health disorders are also affected by substance misuse
  • Around 37 percent of people addicted to alcohol and 53 percent of people addicted to drugs suffer from at least one mental illness

America Still Behind on Accepting the Connection

The survey conducted by The Recovery Village shows an even stronger connection between co-occurring disorders. There is a large overlap between the number of people who have been affected by each disease. Of the 343 people who said they know someone who suffers from a mental health disorder, 303 people (88 percent) said they know at least one person who also has an addiction to drugs, alcohol or both. However, since some people could know multiple people, one with each illness, this information might be open to interpretation.

The survey respondents’ first-hand knowledge and experiences with these two illnesses provide even better evidence of the relationship between mental health disorders and addictions. Around 39 percent of the people surveyed said they have struggled or currently struggle with a drug or alcohol addiction, and nearly 35 percent said that they have struggled with both an addiction and mental health disorder.

Out of the 156 people who admitted to struggling with addiction, around 89 percent said they also suffered from, or still struggle with, a mental illness. Yet not as many drew a definitive connection between the two. Only 59 percent of respondents said they believe there is a relationship between mental health disorders and addiction. While that is a majority, the respondents’ beliefs about the potential connection are not reflective of their personal experiences.

Destigmatizing Mental Illness and Addiction

As the United States continues to discuss ways to make mental health treatment more accessible, the conversation of removing the negative stigma remains on the frontlines of discourse. However, a similar negative view of addiction continues to fester in the country, creating a more difficult landscape for people to accept and find treatment for their disorders.

Claire Rudy Foster, a contributor to Huffington Post who is in recovery from addiction, summarized the public’s perception toward substance use disorder: “Never mind that I’ve been sober and in recovery for more than 10 years. That doesn’t matter to the people who don’t know how this disease really works. They expect me to be ashamed of myself. To them, addiction is code for Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, grunge, needles, misery. They assume that I shot up. I must have stolen and lied to pay for my habit. I must be a criminal.

Maybe I am morally infirm as well.” The negative perception about addiction that exists in the United States can often become a roadblock toward lifelong recovery. If people suffering from substance use disorder do not have support from their peers, the healing process becomes more challenging.

Many medical professionals stress that a link exists between mental illness and substance use disorder. Additionally, the survey responses show that a majority of people who have suffered or are suffering from one of these disorders have also experienced the other. Yet only a little more than half of Americans are certain that a connection exists, potentially allowing the negative stigma surrounding addiction to fester within the country.

Increasing awareness and understanding can help create a more positive environment for people seeking recovery from substance use disorders. For those who have an addiction to a harmful substance and also suffer from a mental illness, there are many resources and hotlines available.

Seeking and receiving help from medical experts can make a big difference toward finding peace and living with either or both illnesses.
~The Recovery Village

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September Is National Recovery Month

Mental illness is a growing epidemic in the United States. The disease has affected the mood, thinking, and behavior of millions of people across the country. However, many Americans remain unaware of the widespread existence of mental health problems, and some of those with psychological issues avoid lifesaving treatment.

To reduce mental illness, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created National Recovery Month. Every September, the organization helps people host events designed to educate the masses about mental illness… So Please Visit and be Educated addiction.

 

September Is National Recovery Month. My Thoughts and a Wee Bit of Venting…

September Is National Recovery Month. My Thoughts and a Wee Bit of Venting…

As we celebrate National Recovery Month another year, not much has seemed to change regarding addiction. The opioid epidemic and alcoholism rates are still rising, just as more expansion has been rising with more gambling options being legalized like the one for legal online sports betting now in several states.

So how does recovery fit into this as we are losing more and more lives to all addictions every day? Why are we celebrating when it seems all addictions are getting out of control instead of better? I feel our Government needs to step up and take some part of the ownership and accountability of this problem as they don’t seem to be doing enough and just side kicking it to all the individual states in the US to handle it “on there own.”

“This to me and to many in the addiction and recovery arena and to me is just unacceptable” …

My good friend Ryan Hampton from ‘United to Face Addiction’ and ‘The Voices Project’ has worked tirelessly, including on Capitol Hill to get laws changed and put new laws and legislation on the books regarding opioid epidemic and treatment, rehabs, and sober living facilities. To force higher standards that will actually help those looking to recover. We need more longer-term after-care for those who reach out for recovery. Not just paid for and only a 28-day treatment stay. This DOES include gambling addiction and treatment where Les Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling lays out in this article …

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Is it wrong for the addiction/recovery community, parents, advocates, feel that our Government could be doing more? Is it not right for me if I was still an addict to ask for a longer treatment stay for free and not be in bondage of the Insurance Companies on how I chose to be free from any addiction? We all know most cannot afford addiction treatment is we have NO INSURANCE right? Even the cost alone if YOU HAVE INSURANCE is way too much for what we receive and WHY treatment is cut off by about the 28th to 30 days benchmark.

So how do we change this arena? Many advocates and those who work out in the field know this is an area in desperate need of changing. Lord knows I don’t have the answers but I will continue to advocate loudly for these and many more changes. I tip my hat off to those like Ryan, Les, and even my co-writing partner Vance who travel all over the US, even to our White House to advocate loudly for change.

Change in how addicts get treatment paid for or if they have no insurance, and to shatter Stigma around those who do because STIGMA can prevent addicts to reach out and get help. It’s why I advocate and share a wealth of HOPE … I will close with this FB Post by Vance Johnson who is a recovering addict, former NFL Pro, and what he had to say that hit home for me. I am so blessed to be writing his memoir with me and to have him as a dear friend.  ~Catherine Lyon

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Whatever you misdiagnose, whether illness, relationships, even politics, you miss treating.  This post is deep so stick with me.

Recently I’ve run into a ton backlash and opposition with my 4.5 years being clean.

From family to friends and in between, some are convinced that I’m not clean for the right reasons. Start with Religion… Some think this new walk that I walk in Christ delivering me from the bondage of addiction is “Fake News” and only a reason for my new supposed found fame. I was addicted to fame, and fame made me drink and use drugs.

When I lost that fame and status as a pro-NFL player and after walking away from the game, I drank and drugged myself into a coma. Let’s move to Politics.

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I grew up around democrats, became independent, and decided at one point that only Republicans are true believers in God. I’m not dogging politics, it’s needed…. but what you misdiagnose you miss treating! Whether politics or religion, most of it can be agenda driven and being agenda driven can make you interpret circumstances incorrectly.

In relationships, you may have got information about your girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse, even your children that sheds a light on them that moves you directly into judgment. All because of your misdiagnoses and believing lies shaped in truth, that’s actually formed by an agenda.

Years of doubt, demonic interpretation has damaged your relationship. Although you see them never walk away from his or her commitment to love you, take care of your children and has never strayed.

Their devotion and walk in Christ echo their lifestyle. Don’t let religious or political prophecy become deluded or distorted by people saying they know what God is thinking.

In the Bible, Paul said lustfully pursue the gifts of the Spirit, especially that you may prophesy. I travel all over the country and share my testimony to thousands. I run into people all over, and the Spirit of God has led me to speak into people’s lives, and pray over them. I share the good news about what Christ has done for me in this new walk. I’ve seen miracles and lives touched while standing boldly redeemed and in conviction to Share Hope.

Thanks for letting go deep here, just wanted to share personal thoughts in this new transparent life I lead, to show myself approved in God’s eye, not man’s eyes… I encourage all of you to recognize what may be the spirit of deception.


You can think it’s a righteous stand while being “fed a lie.” No matter where the lie comes from.


Own your Faith, Own Your Sobriety.  ~Vance Johnson 


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Featured Guest Articles – ‘Do We Ever Give Up On An Addict?’ ‘Why Some People Become Addicts and Some Don’t?’

Featured Guest Articles – ‘Do We Ever Give Up On An Addict?’ ‘Why Some People Become Addicts and Some Don’t?’

I have been busy buzzing around some of my recovery sites and online mags I enjoy reading, including the ones I receive news by email. TWO interesting articles I read this past week were “Note Worthy” of re-shares by SoberRecovery as the articles are not only interesting but very informative about two topics that many of my recovery friends and parents who visit me want to know more about.

FIRST: Why do some people become an addict and others don’t?

SECOND: Do we ever give up on helping an addict?

So, here are two articles I found that share some insights and answers to these questions with some amazing advice. Even those of us maintaining recovery always need to learn more and read all that we can to be able to be aware and gain knowledge about all addictions. Learning can powerful and helpful tools for maintaining recovery …
Catherine 🙂

 

Why Do Some People Become Addicts and Others Don’t?

Courtesy of SoberRecovery  Mag, Staff

 

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There are many factors that can point towards a future addiction problem, but all in all, the nature of addiction is a mystery. Science may have a set of markers indicating future addictive patterns, but there is really no formula. Nor is there a set way to avoid addiction if these markers appear in a person.

Some people are born into families with long histories of addiction, but they will not use drugs or alcohol until much later in life. However, the behavior patterns of an addict may be present and noticeable from an early age.

Even more, not all addicts will drink alcohol or use drugs, further adding to the mystery of addiction.

Spotting Addictive Traits

Genetic traits may point to addictive behaviors in the future, but not everyone in an “addictive” gene pool will become an addict, and some addicts may have no family history of the disease. Those predisposed may work to control addiction by not participating in drinking or drug behaviors. They may show other personality traits similar to an addict’s, just not the use of addictive substances. They are also likely to become emotionally attached to the personality traits of an addict.

Some science focuses on early childhood patterns of behavior that may indicate addictive traits. These are most often characterized as risk-taking behaviors, a need for attention that goes beyond a normal level and sometimes early childhood trauma.

 

  • Risk-taking behaviors: These traits may be recognized in young children who are more active than their peers. They tend to repeatedly do things that place them in danger of being harmed. Very seldom do they know why they take these risks or why they are punished for behaviors that are not the norm.
  • Need for attention: This pattern may combine with risky behaviors. Some children will do things primarily because their need for attention is so great that they look at negative attention (punishment) as better than no attention. Many of them may develop this chronic need as a result of early childhood abandonment or abuse.
  • Early childhood trauma: A pattern of seeking safety can be developed around trauma. When children are exposed to a traumatic event(s), they may begin to seek a safe place. If none is available, they will learn to protect themselves in inappropriate ways. This can become addictive if food, gambling, drugs or sex become their tools for feeling safe. They can use these tools to dull their emotional pain. Since these tools offer only short-term relief and no resolution to the situation, addiction may ensue. 

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Some of these tendencies may be learned when children are raised in an environment that focuses on escape from all emotional development. This means that the family is not emotionally present for one another. There is no process for feelings that come up in the course of day-to-day living. No one is speaking about their feelings of pain, anger, sadness or grief.

This is a socially-imposed condition that has existed for many years. When parents do not teach children to talk about their feelings, there is no structure for healthy emotional venting. As we learn more about the importance of expressing feelings, this can change.

In a home where mom and dad are not emotionally connected to feelings, children learn to avoid those feelings that are termed “negative”.  These feelings become problems as they go unexpressed. As time goes on, pain becomes trauma, anger becomes rage and sadness or grief becomes depression.

Finding relief for these emotions can become addictive. If alcohol or drugs bring a feeling of relief, the addict will return again and again to this solution, which then becomes a problem.

Trauma and Addiction

Traumatic events in later life can also bring a person into addictive patterns. A person may have genetic traits that are channeled in positive ways, such as careers, education and attaining financial success, but a single event or crisis may tip the scales and patterns that were controlled in the past can start to become a problem.

  • Example 1: This may look like a young man who comes from a high-risk environment, but gets an education, develops a successful career, has a family and looks like a normal, healthy citizen. During this period, he may drink socially, even heavily at times, but is able to function and maintain a relatively good picture of success. Relationships are strained, but the family keeps up a good face, despite functional breaks such as poor health and other symptoms of addiction. At a later age in life, the children may leave home or another big change occurs; or the man may retire and find that what kept him going is removed. The fabric of the structure is under stress. One or more of the family may begin to practice addiction.
  • Example 2: A young man or woman may have relatively normal upbringing and behaviors when young. They may be involved in a traumatic event, such as a terrible accident or military combat. This can then leave them without coping skills to overcome the emotional impact of the event. They may turn for relief to drugs and alcohol. If this becomes a pattern, an addiction may become manifest for this person. Tendencies may have been present for many years that suddenly expose themselves to the person and those around them.

Seeing the Signs

Recognizing traits and patterns of behavior is the first step out of denial. Getting help at this point can look like this:

  • Learning new coping skills for stress, anger, and emotional regulation
  • Learning healthy relationship tools
  • Beginning a conversation with loved ones who are showing signs of addictive personality traits
  • Opening your mind to new options for dealing with life
  • Becoming willing to change what isn’t working for you

There are therapies and treatment available for everyone involved in addiction. When a family system has been impacted by addiction and behaviors leading to addiction, everyone needs to learn how to be supportive of changes needed to break the patterns. Everyone may need to learn new skills and how to communicate and support each other in healthier ways.

Opening the door to recognizing a problem is only the first step. Change must occur to break the patterns of behavior and poor thinking that create and support an addiction.

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When to Stop Trying to Save an Addict


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If you have a loved one suffering from gambling, drug or alcohol addiction, you’ve likely experienced one or more of the following heartbreaking scenarios:

  • Staying up late worrying about whether or not they’ll get home safely tonight
  • Waiting anxiously in the hospital waiting room for the doctor to break the good news that they’re going to pull through an overdose
  • Hearing the guilt-inducing demands for more money or variations of the “if you love me, you’ll let me be” comment?
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There are countless other painful day-to-day experiences one encounters when living with or loving a drug addict. Most of the time, you’re scared for them, you want to help them and you want them to change their ways but you don’t know how to get them to do so. And because you love them, you don’t want to increase the already-growing distance between the two of you—so you end up covering their tracks. Time and time again.

You give them the five more dollars that they’re begging for; you clean up the vomit in the bathroom from the night before; you tuck them into bed to sleep off an episode; you sign them out of the hospital early because they’re miserable and begging you to let them out. When does it ever stop?

 

The Conundrum

First of all, it is important to know that nobody is blaming you. Addiction is complicated and painful and we often believe that we can love those around us into sobriety. However, sadly, that is never the case. As difficult as it is to hear, behaviors, like giving your friend that measly five dollars or signing your son out of the hospital for early release, are actually enabling your loved one to continue down his or her self-destructive path. The addicted part of their brain remembers that they can always get money from Mom with guilt-tripping tactics or that they can always rely on their best friend to pick them up no matter what hour of the night.

As part of the disease, an addict will go to any means to get what they crave—even at the emotional expense of those they love. Although they often will exhibit guilt and sorrow for their behaviors the next morning, once the cravings kick in, they’ll be doing everything all over again. Addiction is a vicious cycle and drugs will continue to fuel that one-track thinking pattern of doing whatever is necessary to get that next high.
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It may be one of the toughest things you’ll ever have to do, but friends and families of addicts need to let go of the notion that they can save their loved one in order for there to be any chance at real change. By doing so, you can begin to explore your personal limits and define your boundaries.

Time to Pull Away

As much as it hurts, sometimes pulling away from the addict’s vicious cycle may call for ultimatums. This can include ending a romantic relationship, cutting off the addict financially, forcing him or her to move out of the house, or taking away their child custody rights, just to name a few.

By simply telling the individual to “stop doing drugs” or that “things need to change soon,” you’re just giving the addict either too broad an obstacle to conquer or too much wiggle room in which they can find ways to manipulate the situation (which they’re very good at doing). Therefore, the key is to be specific and unclenching with your boundaries. By implementing exact, time-sensitive consequences for their repeated bad behavior, the addict will then be forced to make a choice.
It is also important to keep in made that this choice is for your loved one to make alone and, as frustrating as it to watch, they may not want to choose recovery—even with all your inflicted consequences. He or she may need more time for the reality of the consequences to sink in before they take any action towards sobriety and, ultimately, it is only he or she who can decide to get out of the dark pit that has swallowed him or her up.

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Finally, in the midst of caring for your loved one, remember that you are also responsible for taking care of yourself. You can’t allow your loved one to fuel their addiction at the expense of depriving you of all your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Your health is of equal importance and by doing what is best for you—even if that includes walking away from the toxic situation—you are coincidentally also doing the best thing you can do for your addicted loved one.

 

If you or someone you know is seeking professional support, please visit SoberRecovery and their directory of counseling and therapy centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.

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Making “Amends” In Recovery. People We Have Hurt May Not Be Receptive To This Process. Even For Pro Athletes. Our Writing Continues To Evolve …

Making “Amends” In Recovery. People We Have Hurt May Not Be Receptive To This Process. Even For Pro Athletes. Our Writing Continues To Evolve …

Welcome Readers, Fans, Recovery Friends, and Visitors!

 

This week as Vance and I continue to write his memoir, GOD has shed the light on and about “the amends process” regarding Vance’s recovery and my own. It has also brought back some frustrations of my own past “amends” with some of my family members that, let’s just say, didn’t go very well. I sum this up by sharing my own father still has not spoken to me for almost 13-years. Even after trying everything to make amends.
An opportunity arose while I was on Facebook. One of Vance’s adult children happened to message me while I was doing my book and author shares there. As we began a message conversation, and then after speaking with Vance at length about it and revealing his child’s real feelings about how Vance has hurt everyone, it seems the proper time to address the amends process within recovery and be transparent.

 

His adult child and all his children need to be acknowledged and feelings validated about his father and the damages that were done by Vance when he was in “self” and in the worst of his addictions. I can tell you while writing Vance’s Memoir, he and I both agreed it will be about truth, honesty, and he has nothing to HIDE …


We are both “in the know” about his past, how he tried many times, even on the Oprah show he tried to make amends to some of those who he hurt in his past. The show was a “train wreck” and never should have happened as Vance was in NO shape nor in recovery at that time back in 1996. As it was taped in 2011 …And can be seen on Youtube still today. If we are not transparent in sharing all areas of Vance’s life, how do we then start to shatter stigma? How does the family begin to heal? That is why we are sharing. It is also important to share how addiction can be generational, someone needs to stop it, how it shatters relationships with family. Hopefully by sharing it may help others who may be going through this themselves and for all involved.

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Vance Johnson Reflects on His Past

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There was a time in my life when addiction hadn’t taken over. I had only been hurt once in a relationship. Pressures and anxieties of life didn’t have a firm grip on me. Until I began my NFL career …

My identity wasn’t on what I grew up around, but rather in Fame, Recognition, and Achievements. Entitlement started giving birth. Cars, money, toys stimulated my emptiness. Sex had no boundaries. Friendships were what you made of them … if it hurts when I found out you slept with the girl I slept with, without telling me, we aren’t friends anymore.

Religion was going to Church, sometimes. Jesus died so I could repent of my fleshly desires, and was only human after all.  Being good meant honoring mom & dad. Lastly, the Bible was whatever the Pastor preached on Sunday. OH, and “giving” to the Church so he could do whatever he wanted to do with my money, God would appreciate that. 10% was a little too much, I’ve got taxes, a vacation coming up, or bills. Who is the Holy Spirit?

All lies and ADDICTION, I was Satan’s child, a “ believer” living in Hell. Living in the flesh believing I was “BLESSED” because I was fast, successful, rich and famous.

THANK GOD FOR GRACE AND MERCY.  Please let your children know, “There’s a way that seems right to a man, that leads to “Death”!! So repent, be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit, pick up your Cross, and follow him, Daily!!!

Own Your Sobriety
www.vanceinspires.com
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So, when is making amends enough to those you have hurt? Amends to family members, ex’s, broken relationships, and to your children who may not want anything to with you be it from no understanding be enough? We as recovering addicts are aware of how much damage and wreckage we had caused, but there IS much “inner-work” done within our recovery before we even attempt to make “Amends.”

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What is “making amends?” ~ Answers are Courtesy of “ Hazelden – Betty Ford Org.”

“Making Amends in Your Steps to Recovery. Restoring justice as much as possible. Addiction creates moral wreckage. People who become addicted to alcohol, gambling, or other drugs might lie, cheat, or steal in order to get and use their drug of choice. Often what’s left behind is a trail of shattered relationships.”

 

“There is actually a huge difference between making amends with someone and merely giving them an apology. While a sincere apology is a crucial part of making amends, an apology alone is simply not enough to undo the irreversible pain and heartache that one’s addiction (or actions during addiction) may have caused. It needs action, but only if the party hurt is willing and open to it.


How do you make amends? ~ Step 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

  1. Take an objective view of what happened. …
  2. Face your mixed feelings. …
  3. Stand in the other person’s shoes. …
  4. Write down the reasons why you need to make amends. …
  5. Make amends with a clear heart. …
  6. Decide what it will take to make up for the damage that was done. 

     

Sharing how one of his children still feels today because it is important to share so others can learn just how “the family and children” become affected by the disease of Addictions …

 

 

“Hate The Addiction Not The Addict”

 

The Feelings of One:

FB Q: “Has my dad shared with you all the past hurt he has caused to his children, is it in the book?

 

I answered and then we began an hour-long conversation and I shared little so the adult child could vent and share with me the real feelings and about amends with father… I then even asked if they have talked yet?

The Sharing Begins:

“I did call him and honestly, it was exactly what I was expecting. Maybe you and I can touch base after he shares his side of the story.”

 

(I told the child I knew all of Vance’s side of his past and all his amends attempts to all of his children, ex-wives, and family and offered a phone call to talk, put to no avail.)

 

“I have a lot to say in regards to my relationship with him and it will probably take some time to share all of it with you. I know he’s made mistakes because everyone does.. but there’s a difference between making a mistake and making a poor choice. I’m happy he’s found the light within himself.. but even after my Vaughn died in a motorcycle accident, he was still the same person he’s always been.

 

I see people praise him on his Facebook wall for overcoming addiction and all of that crap. What these people don’t know is how his decisions have impacted his children over the course of the last 30 years or so. Social Media and popularity will only make him feel “better” for a short period of time. As far as I know, he has made little effort to make things better between him and his biological children.

 

Facebook “likes” and “shares” will never make up for the unpaid child support or empty promises he made when I was younger. To be honest, my Mom did an amazing job shielding me from the damage he could have inflicted on me as I was a young boy. I wish I could say the same for my brothers and sisters. I’m not even sure if any of them would communicate with him if he reached out because of how bad he hurt them … 


And the fact that he’s trying to rejuvenate his career and popularity by claiming he’s a changed man is bogus.  Isn’t the first step of recovery recognizing your addictions and the damage you’ve done? Well, in my opinion, it’s going to take a lot more than an “I’m sorry for what I did …

 

And? Unfortunately, based on the decisions that he’s made in the past, he’s gone far beyond the point of no return. I think surrendering himself to a religious figure made it easier on him to live with the terrible decisions he’s made as a man and a father, a direct result of his decision making and not recognizing the damage he was doing along the way and not addressing the issue at the root cause.”


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WOW!!! Pretty Darn Sad …

Yes, there is more to this but I think you get the understanding right?

FIRST: I Will Say Again as Vance and I did almost a year ago when we began his book, the DOOR WAS open to all who wanted to either talk with me or Vance and share their feelings with Vance, and it is MEANT for everyone

Doesn’t have to be in his Memoir, as we were hoping it would help bring them all together, a little closer, and everyone involved begin to BEGIN HEAL, and they can make the decision to have a relationship with Vance or Not.

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SECOND: Reading these feeling of Vance’s adult child several times, I hear and felt his hurt and anger and did validate this person’s feelings about being correct on how our past choices as addicts can cause hurt, pain and damage to the family, relationships, and the children. But addiction can also be generational. WHERE do you think we learn some of the poor habits and behaviors of addiction? If it happens and goes on in your home with children present?  Then 97% most likely they are going to do the same as thinking it is normal because it is going on in their home.

You can have two spouses come together, one is Godly while they other is abusive and drunk, gambling, cheating and so on, they are fights and arguments in front of the kids? Of course, you can have a child grow up and do the same because they think it is a normal part of the household. Part of our work within recovery is to address these root causes and underlying issues that we used to FUEL OUR ADDICTIONS. Addicts can come from a place of hurt and pain just like those who were hurt by the addict’s addictions before we even approach the Amends Process.

THIRD: I hear a lot of resentment and anger in this adult child’s feelings. But, how can a recovering addict make an amends and show action if the people who are hurt are holding on to 30-years of anger and resentments, won’t even to talk or communicate or give the person a chance to make a proper amends? From the above comments like, “he’s gone far beyond the point of no return.” So in closing, all I can say is when you have attempted and have made some amends to those you have hurt within your “addicted days” … Remeber addicts, “Our Past Does Not Define Who We Are Maintaining Recovery.”

Some people, sadly, even family may not have the ability to have empathy, understand the recovery life-long process, and rather keep holding on to the Anger and Resentments of the past. If they are not willing to find it in their hearts to at least “Forgive” even if no relationship can be fixed or connected. Then it’s “Time to Let Go and Let God.”

The fact remains many may not be receptive to you at all. They would rather wallow in anger and hold on to resentments no matter how many years go by or how many times you try.

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“We Come To Believe In A Power Greater Than Our Selves To Restore Us”

Could it be possible it is time for those not accepting of us or our amends need to look within their hearts, take their personal inventory as to why they are not willing to be more open to healing and forgiveness? All we can do is keep our side of the street clean and pray for them that they come to a place of love.

We have the choice to turn it to GOD and move forward as we are “A Work In Progress.”

Colossians 3:13 ~ “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” AMEN … 

Maintaining Recovery With Mental Health Makes Us Look At Things a Wee Bit Different Than Others. A Story By Tony.

“My Grandpa George died when I was in a psych hospital. So I wrote him this story. Sometimes the truth needs a little myth mixed in to swallow it down.”

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“He Was in Heaven Before He Died”

“The following is not a story based solely on facts. I did have a Grandpa George and this was pretty much how he lived and died. But I didn’t make it to the funeral. Instead, I was in a hellish heaven of my own in the psych unit of Columbia Presbyterian.”


I got the call late at night that Grandpa George had died. He had lived a hard life.  He didn’t have the opportunity to get a good education. He never learned to read or write because his demanding father made him quit school to help in the fields. He worked hard to get by and managed to scrape together a living. He met a woman – Maize – at the tomato factory where he worked. She says he was throwing tomatoes at her, so she knew he liked her. They were married in less than 3 months. They stayed together “until death did they part” almost 60 years later.

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I drove alongside the cemetery in a rented Ford Focus, admiring the tombstones in the early morning sun. My mind wandered to Grandpa’s last days. He was able to die at home, thanks to Hospice and the care of family, especially his son Geoff (since Grandma was limited in what she could do). Geoff fed him when he was hungry, bathed him to keep him clean, and sought to bring comfort to this man who had hardly ever comforted him.

Grandpa George had not lived a perfect life, perhaps not even a good one. He was quick to become angry and had been accused by some of being abusive. He was known to challenge his supervisors to fights. He bullied Grandma and Geoff, who could never seem to please him. He certainly had skills – building his house from the ground up. He could be generous with his time, helping neighbors with necessary fix-up projects. Yet he had a temper that could flare up at the least misunderstanding.

Still, he could also be playful and gentle with children, rocking them on his knees or playing “Peep-Eye” (his version of “peek-a-boo”). He had pet names for all the grandchildren which were both endearing and practical. I’m not sure he could remember what our real names were.

I thought of his faith.  He went to church regularly for most of his married life. He drove the church bus and took great pride in rounding up children from homes where the parents were just happy to have them off their hands for a few hours. He had a simple faith: child-like even. I wondered if it brought him peace and comfort especially in his last days.

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The sun was full in the sky as I pulled onto the gravel road that led to a family plot. I looked at the simple white crosses to the side – the graves of soldiers who died before they could marry, have children, and raise a family. I saw the graves of infants, who escaped suffering as well as joy in their lives.

I said a prayer of thanksgiving for the life my Grandpa George got to live, the good and the bad, and prayed that he might be received into a new and better life to come. Later that day, driving the rental Ford Focus back to the airport, I looked out on the Wabash River and I smiled.

They say when you die you go “home to God”.  I have this hope for Grandpa.  
At least, I am glad that he was home when he died.  
I’m glad he got a little taste of heaven before he died.
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Delight in Disorder

Ministry, Madness, Mission

 

My name is Tony Roberts. I am a Christian and I have a serious mental illness.

Many of my friends who also have troubled minds wonder how it is I would hold onto faith after such an agonizing spiritual struggle with insanity.

Many of my brothers and sisters in Christ wonder how my mind can be so disturbed if I am a believer.

I believe faith and medicine, prayer and pills, worship and therapy are God’s essential graces to promote healing.

So, I’m telling my story in the hope of sharing Good News with those who have unquiet minds and shattering stigma about mental illness within and beyond the faith community.

I hope you’ll join the conversation by visiting my site.


Tony Roberts, Author

Delight in Disorder:  Ministry, Madness, Mission

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