May Was Mental Awareness Month. One Last Guest Post and Share By Tony Roberts. No Needs To Suffer Alone.

May Was Mental Awareness Month. One Last Guest Post and Share By Tony Roberts. No Needs To Suffer Alone.

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS NEEDS TO BE ALL YEAR

Mental Illness on The Streets
By Tony Roberts
Of
“Delight In Disorder Blog”

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Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  (Matthew 8:20)

 

Jesus understood what it is like to be without a home.  Yes, he was a Rabbi supported by the financial contributions of his followers, but he was also a wandering soul at the mercy of the hospitality or rejection of strangers. Masses moved from jubilant shouts of “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!!” to vehement cries, “Crucify him!” From a divine perspective, the homelessness of Christ was part of his mission. But this certainly didn’t lessen his human suffering.

Jesus teaches us that if we want to follow him, we too will take up crosses such as he did. This has meant many things for Christians throughout the ages —  from verbal harassment to capital punishment, and everything in between. The Apostle Paul and his companions certainly knew sacrificial hardship. He writes:

 

To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.  (1 Corinthians 4.11)

 

Homelessness? Jesus gets it. Paul gets it. But does this offer any hope to any of the 150 million people in the world who are homeless today?

The first step to shining the light of Gospel hope is to better grasp the darkness. What causes a person to become homeless?  Marjorie Baldwin suggests it can be many things:

 

What is the underlying problem? There are numerous factors that may lead to homelessness (e.g. domestic violencesubstance abuse, unemployment), but one of the most important is untreated mental illness. Estimates suggest that, nationwide, one-third of homeless persons have a serious mental illness (SMI). In some places, the proportion of mentally ill among the homeless is even greater: 70% in Roanoke, Virginia (2007) and 67% in Colorado Springs (2009). [Torrey 2014; TAC 2015] Most homeless people with serious mental illness are not receiving treatment; many do not even know they are ill. (“Homeless, Mentally Ill, and Neglected”).

 

The vast number of homeless persons in the U.S. who have a mental illness is a travesty, an indictment on a nation who fooled itself into believing that the best way to treat brain-sick patients was to dope them up with psychotropics, kick them out of advanced hospitals and expect community-based homes to magically appear which would offer expert care medical, psychological, physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and relational such that healing might happen.

It hasn’t.

That is the darkness. So where is the ray of hope? I’d like to shine three points of light.

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1.  Food 4 Souls is shining a light in the midst of homeless camps in Indianapolis, Indiana. Their vision is:

 

We exist to go out and serve our homeless community with unconditional love and acceptance by providing Hope in ChristMeeting Daily Needs andAligning Resources to those who are ready to move into a life beyond homelessness.

 

Community Relations Director Dawn Adams shared a story on an episode of the podcast Revealing Voices about “L.A.” she met sequestered at a far-end of one of the homeless camps. She called out for him, but he wouldn’t budge. She told him she would leave a meal and be back the following week.

The next week, she returned. Same thing. Call out. No response. Leave meal. Promise to be back.

This went on for some time. L.A. finally came out to meet her. He was still reserved but opened up more each week. Dawn came week after week. Month after month. Year after year. She said in time L.A. revealed estrangement, emotional wounds, spiritual scars. Dawn stressed that she is not a mental health expert, but she saw that L.A. got the help he needed. Dawn offered L.A. something beyond what his essential care providers could. She became his friend.

We asked if Dawn still sees L.A.. She smiled and answered yes. But not on the streets. He has an apartment of his own now. They meet for coffee at Starbucks.

 

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.  (Matthew 25:40)

 

2. Mental Illness Policy.org offers “unbiased information for policymakers and media.” In an age of relative truth and fake news, this is a very bold claim. Founder D.J. Jaffe provides here a vast clearinghouse of resources on mental illness past, present, and future. An advocate since 1980, it seems he has yet to lose any passion for drawing attention to the needs of those who are too often overlooked.

Jaffe’s articles and recommendations have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Review, Forbes. He has appeared on national news broadcasts explaining issues surrounding mental illness and violence. Federal, state and local policymakers have solicited and relied on his scholarship. He is widely credited as the primary mover behind Kendra’s Law, New York state legislation that allows judges to mandate treatment for people with serious mental illness and a history of violence.

Jaffe is the author of Insane Consequences: How The Mental Health Industry Fails The Mentally Ill (Prometheus Books, 2017).

The thing I admire most about Jaffe and the reason I support Mental Illness.org is that he refuses to accept conventional myths that those of us with mental illness always know and can accomplish what is best for us. Hard experiential evidence and emerging scientific discoveries demonstrate that we are often our own worst enemies. Our minds betray us. We need rational laws and reasonable resources that protect us and others from our illness.

 

3.  Kennedy-Krieger Institute has a mission:

 

“To transform the lives of children with disorders of the brain through groundbreaking research, innovative treatments, and life-changing education.”

 

And their vision is:

 

“Discoveries of how the brain develops and functions are occurring at an accelerating pace. The Kennedy Krieger Institute leads the way in translating these scientific advances into new therapies and educational interventions, while providing an inspirational environment for training tomorrow’s leaders in the field. These successes benefit millions of children and families around the world.”

 

The reason I’m highlighting Kennedy-Krieger is simple. His name is Jacob.

Jacob was born with Down syndrome. Like many persons with this unique genetic profile, Jacob brought joy into the world and shared delight with everyone he met. He was the life of the party.

I say was because when he hit puberty, he collapsed. Literally. He went into a comatose-like state where all he would do is lie on the ground. He only got up to eat and void. His parents, Don and Joyce, were advised to take him to Kennedy-Krieger at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. There they met Dr. George Capone who, by his own admission, guessed what was going on.

Dr. Capone had heard of a study from the University of Missouri of 12 similar cases. They had gained approval for and administered experimental treatment. Out of the 12; five got better, five stayed the same, and three regressed.

Don asked Dr. Capone if he recommended the treatment and if so, could he provide it. Dr. Capone said he could not.  Don told me there was something calculated in his facial expression when he said, “I can not.” What did he mean? Don wondered.  I don’t recommend it? It’s not my specialty? Maybe even, Kennedy-Krieger has yet to approve it?

At any rate, it didn’t happen. Jacob would endure another 5 years of a state of catatonia where he seemed to be living in another world.

But that’s not the end of the story. Research on the treatment expanded, much conducted by Kennedy-Krieger and similar institutions. Many successes were reported, some dramatic. The treatment went from becoming experimental to being recommended. Even by Dr. Capone. Don and Joyce decided to give it a shot.

Jacob is now 18. His teachers say he is making amazing progress. His principal, who has known Jacob since kindergarten, says glimpses of his exuberant joy are back. Jacob is ready to launch into the world and share his delight with others.

 

Homelessness is not so much about a lack of housing as it is a lack of mental health care. We combat homeless when we become friends fight for better laws and support research for a cure.

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OK, Somebody Has To Do It . . . “Happy, Happy 6-YEAR Anniversary Recovery Blogging To ME!” Can Not Believe How Fast Time Can Fly When Advocating Recovery on WordPress!

OK, Somebody Has To Do It . . . “Happy, Happy 6-YEAR Anniversary Recovery Blogging To ME!” Can Not Believe How Fast Time Can Fly When Advocating Recovery on WordPress!

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I NEED to THANK Each and Every One of my Recovery Friends, Supporters, and ALL NEW Visitors for helping make my BLOG a SUCCESS as it MEANINGFUL!

I also HOPE Helpful n able to Inform, Educate, & SHARE a Message of HOPE from Gambling Addiction and ALL ADDICTIONS!

We Deserve and ARE Worthy of Second Chances, WHY? Because RECOVERY WORKS and RECOVERY Is POSSIBLE~Catherine Lyon, Advocate

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BIG ACHIEVEMENT!

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6 Year Anniversary Achievement
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Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!

You registered on WordPress.com 6 years ago.

Thanks for flying with us.

Keep up the good recovery blogging.

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“Best Day EVER Meeting This Former NFL Pro now Recovery Advocate. #NFLCares

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month and I Do Have Mental Health Challenges While Maintaining Recovery From Addiction. Many Do!

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month and I Do Have Mental Health Challenges While Maintaining Recovery From Addiction. Many Do!

It seems lately, a growing number of people who come into or maintain recovery from gambling addiction, are also struggling with Mental Health. I am one who does, even after years of maintaining recovery. It seems to become the norm. Even those with other addiction types are too, but very prevalent with addicted gambling.

I choose to stay well managed and proactive with my mental health care and take it as a serious part of my overall health. But many times, I hear or read about those who don’t or stop taking their meds or even misuse them. That can be a deadly GAME and adds up to trouble.  I came across an article from “Know The Odds”  which shares about addicted gambling, recovery, and mental health. They are out of New York area.

If you or someone you care about needs help in any area of the US, visiting “The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration” also know as SAMHSA who is U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and has loads of articles and information to get help with Mental Health and Addiction. There is NO SHAME in doing so and even if you want to be more educated about it. The more we all learn, the more we can shatter the STIGMA.   ~Catherine Lyon Advocate   

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PROBLEM GAMBLING AND MENTAL HEALTH      POSTED ON 
May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

There is a strong connection between problem gambling and problems with mental health.  Understanding this connection, identifying warning signs and knowing where to get help is vital to preventing problems and getting support.

Problem Gambling in NY

Nearly 668,000 New Yorkers have experienced a gambling problem in the past year.  That is a lot of family, friends, and colleagues having trouble.  Problems from gambling can include sleep problems, relationship problems with loved ones and struggles at work.

Each person struggling with problem gambling affects 6-10 of those closest to them.  A study found that 9 out of 10 people affected by someone else’s gambling problems felt emotional distress.

This means that between the people struggling with problem gambling and the people closest to them, nearly 6.7 million New Yorkers are affected by problem gambling and may struggle with mental health issues because of it.

Problem Gambling and Mental Health

People who struggle with problem gambling are at a higher risk of struggling with other mental health disorders. out of 3 gamblers reported that their mental health suffered as a result of their gambling problems. In fact, the majority of those struggling with problem gambling have a lifetime history of mental health problems. In addition to struggling with gambling.

So they may be struggling with mental health problems such as:

  • an anxiety disorder,
  • a personality disorder,
  • a mood disorder, such as depression, and
  • suicidal thoughts and attempting suicide.

According to CEO Glenn Liebman of the Mental Health Association of New York State, “people need to understand the link between problem gambling and other mental illnesses, and the similarity between a gambling disorder and substance use disorders. This understanding is vital so that those impacted directly and indirectly by problem gambling can appreciate the necessity of treatment.

In most cases, it’s unrealistic to believe that someone suffering from these disorders can recover without help”, said Liebman. “Maintaining this belief can have devastating consequences on those who suffer and their families, including financial ruin and suicide.”

Warning Signs of Problem Gambling

Any problem caused by gambling can be a warning sign of problem gambling.  This is because problem gambling refers to problems in someone’s life that are due to gambling behaviors.  There are many warning signs of problem gambling.

Some warning signs include:

  • Feeling anxious or distressed when not gambling,
  • Struggling to sleep well due to thoughts or worries about gambling,
  • Lying to friends and family about how much time or money spent while gambling,
  • Missing special family events and holidays to go gambling, and
  • Having thoughts of suicide due to problems caused by gambling.

Since there are few outward signs specific to gambling, it’s important to learn as much about the warning signs of problem gambling as possible.

Help for Problem Gambling

There is help and hope, but people may feel hopeless if they don’t know what help is available.

Here are three connections to resources for help.

  • Learn as much as possible about problem gambling.  Check out our resources page and can be found at http://knowtheodds.org/resources/. These resources include eBooks, videos, infographics, and articles. There’s something for everyone!
  • Visit SAMHSA 
  • Find local help by reaching out to your local Problem Gambling Resource Center.  Anyone who calls will be met by a trained professional. This professional will offer a warm greeting, a listening ear, and a list of options for local support geared towards helping those affected by problem gambling.

Like Catherine of “Gambling Recovery Starts Here,” we plan to help share resources during the month of May to raise awareness about Mental Health Awareness Month.

To learn more, keep an eye out for our upcoming blogs, and posts on Facebook and Twitter !
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I Am a Childhood Sexual Trauma and Abuse Survivor Maintaining Recovery From Addiction …Helpful Guest Article and by Kristance Harlow 04/22/19.

I Am a Childhood Sexual Trauma and Abuse Survivor Maintaining Recovery From Addiction …Helpful Guest Article and by Kristance Harlow 04/22/19.

Are the 12 Steps Safe for Trauma Survivors?

“When the 4th and 5th steps are done without support for the symptoms of PTSD, they have the potential to retraumatize.

Trauma is a current buzzword in the mental health world, and for good reason. Untreated trauma has measurable lasting physiological and psychological effects, which makes it a public health emergency of pandemic proportions.

Trauma is an event or continuous circumstance that subjectively threatens a person’s life, bodily integrity, or sanity, and overwhelms a person’s ability to cope.

PTSD and Substance Use Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition caused by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, intrusive thoughts about the trauma, hypervigilance, and avoidance of triggers which remind you of the event. Substance use disorders (SUD) are frequently co-morbid (co-occurring) with PTSD.

Many people with PTSD self-medicate with mind-altering substances to alleviate symptoms but getting high or drunk only works for so long. Substance use disorders often evolve from using substances as a maladaptive coping tool.

There are many physiological correlations between psychological trauma and SUD. For example, there are similarities in gray matter reduction for both the person with PTSD and the person with an alcohol use disorder. Although the neural mechanisms of addiction in PTSD patients are not fully understood, research has found that in the prefrontal cortex, dopamine receptors may be involved in both conditions.

Memories related to fear and reward are both processed with the help of these specific receptors. It could be that the processing of traumatic memories affects the dopamine receptors, making them more sensitive to reward-triggering substances.

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Sometimes, people with a dual diagnosis of addiction and PTSD find their way to 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. These programs are widespread, free, and require no commitment, which makes them more accessible than other types of treatment.

AA’s worldwide membership and lasting existence have caused the program to be of interest to researchers for decades. Previous research has found positive correlations between an AA participation and abstinence. There is less research on how 12-step programs interact with trauma recovery.

Studies on relapse factors have found that common predecessors to relapse in adults include anger, depression, and stress, among others. Recalling traumatic experiences, for someone with PTSD, can cause intense physiological and psychological reactions characterized by these same feelings: anxiety (stress), depression, anger, and frustration. It’s a combination that puts people with both trauma and addiction at a higher risk of relapsing.

Guilt, Shame, and AA

There are two sets of steps in 12-step programs that involve memory recall and direct involvement with others: Steps 4 and 5 and Steps 8 and 9.

Step 4 says: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” That step is followed up by sharing that inventory in Step 5: “Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

Later, Step 8 says: “Made a list of persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.” To deal with that list, Step 9 directs people: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

The gist with these steps is that they look at both the resentment/anger the person feels towards others (which always involves taking responsibility for a part or all of the event that caused the resentment and anger), and also the “harms” the person caused others. But there is no direct guidance on how to ensure a realistic and safe assessment of past events is made.

The AA book presents this step as if someone with a substance use disorder has the tendency to blame others. People with PTSD are wracked with self-blame, and it is self-blame and shame which fuels many people’s addictions, but shame is not explicitly addressed in the steps.

Guilt is very commonly experienced by people with PTSD. Survivor guilt can be a bit of a misnomer; PTSD develops from situations that are subjectively experienced as traumatic, but these circumstances don’t have to involve death (although they certainly can and do for many people). Simply surviving can feel like something the person is not worthy of. They may feel guilt when they don’t stay in pain and anxiety.

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“Shame is also common in trauma survivors, especially in people who have been sexually assaulted.”

Trauma survivors must restore a positive sense of self to find healing. Judith Herman, the author of Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—from Domestic Abuse to Political Terrorexplains that “the survivor needs the assistance of others in her struggle to overcome her shame and to arrive at a fair assessment of her conduct.”

It becomes important, as the trauma reveals itself, to see it clearly for what it was so the person can integrate those experiences into their individual life stories.

AA literature is very focused on decreasing ego and on disrupting the selfishness of the person with the addiction. This is not necessarily a helpful baseline for traumatized folks; it can be harshly critical. The feeling of being judged can deepen the rift between the survivor and others.

Herman writes, “Realistic judgments diminish the feelings of humiliation and guilt. By contrast, either harsh criticism or ignorant, blind acceptance greatly compounds the survivor’s self-blame and isolation.”

The primary text of Alcoholics Anonymous (the “Big Book”) suggests alcoholics review their past sexual life when creating a life inventory in Step 4. For the overall inventory, the book suggests that the reader completely disregard “the wrongs others had done” and to look only at “our own mistakes.”

Even in situations where a person caused harm to the reader, the reader should “disregard the other person involved entirely” and find “where were we to blame?” These suggestions can be dangerous for survivors of intimate partner violence or child abuse who have been told that they were to blame for the abuse they suffered.

The book further details what to ask yourself when making an inventory of your sexual conduct:

“Where had we been selfish, dishonest, or inconsiderate? Whom had we hurt? Did we unjustifiably arouse jealousy, suspicion or bitterness? Where were we at fault, what should we have done instead?” It is worrisome that a sex inventory is taken to find out how “we acted selfishly” when one-third of women and one-sixth of men have been sexually assaulted or raped.

An estimated half of women who experience a sexual assault will develop PTSD. One study found that 80 percent of women with SUD who seek inpatient treatment have been physically or sexually assaulted and nearly 70 percent of men have experienced either physical or sexual abuse.

How the 12 Steps Can Harm People with PTSD

Because remembering past traumas makes the brain’s reward center more receptive to the effects of drugs, Steps 4 and 5 need to be approached with extreme caution for people who have experienced trauma.

Ideally, these steps jumpstart healing; but when they are done without support for the symptoms of PTSD, they have the potential to retraumatize. As the person shares their trauma with someone else, hopefully, the listener is compassionate and willing to point out where things were not the addict’s fault—at all.

A child survivor of molestation had no agency in the assault, and it is unconscionable to tell that child, now grown, that they need to determine where they were at fault. It is not possible to “disregard the other person involved entirely” when an event only occurred because of the other person. Sometimes we need to recognize this fact and say to ourselves (or hear from someone else): “You had no part in this, you were a victim at that time.”

In Steps 8 and 9 we are to list and resolve harms done to others. If step 4 and 5 didn’t properly address where our fault doesn’t lie, we may be inclined to list abuses and harm done to us as wrongs we did. It says not to make amends if it will cause harm to others, but we need an additional specification not to make amends if it will cause harm to ourselves.

If you owe an abusive ex-partner money, are you supposed to pay them back if you’ve cut off all contact? These are issues that require careful consideration. Sharing both lists with a compassionate person has the potential to help survivors recover. Sharing both lists with someone who is too harsh in their suggestions and assessments has the potential to push those in recovery back into active addiction.
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The care of a loving, compassionate, and knowledgeable supporter, like a sponsor, can help sort out these dangerous triggers. Since such a large percentage of people in 12-step programs have experienced trauma, sponsors should be able to provide trauma-informed care; otherwise, going through the steps may end up retraumatizing their sponsees and leaving them vulnerable to relapse.

Yet, there are no qualifications for sponsorship and no way for someone new to the program to be aware of these potential pitfalls. There are so many variabilities to the 12 steps and how they are implemented.

The way in which someone interprets the language of the steps can change how people understand themselves and their history. Trauma-focused recovery can be lost in the mix and deserves more explicit attention.

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Kristance Harlow is a freelance writer and mental illness advocate. She fights stigma and writes about uncomfortable experiences. She lives in a foreign land with her husband and rescue pups.

Find Kristance on TwitterInstagramLinkedIn, or her blog.

 

Things You Can Do to Improve Your Mental Health Today! By Our Guest, Alek Sabin.

Things You Can Do to Improve Your Mental Health Today! By Our Guest, Alek Sabin.

Mental health issues can always be a struggle, especially when maintaining recovery from addiction, and it’s important to note that you aren’t helpless against the chemical problems in your brain. Building strong coping mechanisms and skills to improve your mindset are important stepping stones to a happy and fulfilling life. We know how important self-care is. Having mental health challenges is as the same as well as our overall medical health and well being.

Here are some things that you can do every day to improve your mental health…

 

Pay Attention to Your Diet

 

A healthy diet doesn’t just offer benefits for your physical health—it can help you psychologically, as well. No diet can cure your mental problems, but according to ongoing research, certain foods can help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Many scientists believe, for example, that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and tuna can improve brain health.

The complex carbohydrates found in whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat pasta, meanwhile, help the body release serotonin. And dark chocolate has been lauded for years for its ability to help the body release serotonin and relax the blood vessels. Eating regularly and never skipping meals will also help you to keep blood sugar levels stable, preventing mood swings. If you find yourself eating too much sugar, here are some sugar free snack ideas for you and your family to help you.

 

Get Regular Exercise

 

While on the subject of creating a routine, it’s a good idea to build some exercise into that routine, even if it’s just a little exercise to get that heart rate up a few times a week. Exercise temporarily raises endorphin levels in the body, making it an instant mood booster.

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And because of the way that your body and its hormones respond to stress during exercise, regular exercise over time can actually increase your body’s overall resistance to stress. And as if that weren’t enough, exercise, of course, has the added benefit of improving and strengthening your overall physique, which is a sure way to build self-confidence.

 

Spend Time with Animals

 

Even if you don’t feel ready to have a pet of your own, you can spend time with a friend or family member’s pet, or visit your local animal shelter, for a natural boost in mood. Animals have a way of showing pure, unconditional love, which could be exactly what a person with mental health problems needs. In addition, a pet can give a person something to wake up for, something to build a routine around, and a companion to depend on. Pets are actually proven scientifically to relieve tension and improve mood.

 

Make a Routine

 

Mental health problems have a way of taking structure out of our lives, causing one day to blend into the next. Creating a routine that includes ample amounts of sleep, and making it a habit to stick to it. can keep you on track and give meaning to each and every day.

 

Plan a Time to Get Away

 

Even if you don’t have the resources to take time off of work and go out of town for a vacation (which, by the way, could offer just the break you need to relieve stress), simply planning a vacation will raise your spirits significantly. According to a study published the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life back in 2010, the largest boost in happiness surrounding vacations actually comes from the simple act of planning the vacation.

So grab a friend and plan an imaginary trip together. And if it seems doable in the near future, go ahead and make it a financial goal to save up for that vacation. Setting goals, after all, is in itself another way to give yourself something to look forward to and naturally heal your mental health.

 

Be Authentic

 

This is much easier said than done, but there is something about getting in touch with your authentic self that builds your self-confidence and boosts mood levels. Try to confide in friends and family members on a regular basis, or try writing in a journal regularly to get your thoughts out on paper.

You might also try meditating, which can help you to track your thought patterns and spend much-needed time clearing your mind of all the everyday stress it is exposed to.
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Enjoy the Sunlight

 

It’s true—spending time in the sun actually aids in serotonin production and leads to a better mood. Make it a point to spend some time each day in the sun, especially during the winter months when serotonin levels are especially low.

In addition, you might consider letting more sunshine stream in through your windows so that you can enjoy the benefits of sunlight even while indoors.

Gambling Recovery Ramblings. It Can Be Challenging In Early Recovery. Nun’s Accused of Embezzlement To Gamble?

I have been so busy of late trying to keep up with where “Big Jim” is and where he is biking to next, that it has been a long while since I shared myself and some interesting news I have found about or read about gambling recovery. A while I added back my recovery blog on two different new sites called Feedspot and Tumblr.

They share my posts on the sites automatic so I can help and reach more people, those struggling with or new to recovery. I blog as well so others know they are not alone recovering from this cunning addiction.

I find many times we all seem to face the same challenges in early recovery from this disease. Even though have been working my recovery for many years, doesn’t mean I don’t forget my own relapses and treatment program “Do Overs”…

I still remember the early days when triggers, urges, and cravings would win over my will and desire to stay in recovery and stop gambling. We never should forget where we were and where we came from in order to enjoy life and where we are today maintaining recovery. 

Here are some Anonymous comments from people who are trying to recover from addicted gambling. I am sharing so that others may know and be informed about how hard it is and the struggles and areas that are hard to come to grips with. It sure does feel like you are “Gripped By Gambling” in early recovery! Also an article about two Calif. Nun’s Steal Money to Gamble in Las Vegas! WOW!

That just shows that when you become a problem gambler, you then cross the line to a full-blown addiction, the disease will slowly progress to the point that when the money runs out? You then steal, lie, and cheat to get money to continue feeding the addiction …

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FEEDSPOT GAMBLING FORUM COMMENTS: How Challenging Staying Away From GAMBLING …
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“I feel the more we openly talk about the hatred for gambling the quicker we can retrain our brains fully into healing.  Gambling causes misery and darkness. There is nothing good that comes out of gambling. Gambling highjacks our brain.

When we win, we lose. We when lose, we lose. We hide, cry inside and kill our emotional feelings to the world. We can not be happy until we have lost it all.

We love the challenge of finding money to gamble with no matter how far behind in life that takes us.  We will not gamble today, we will not gamble anymore.”

ANOTHER:  “I just wanted to express myself that I’m happy you guys are here to give warming messages to make me understand what gambling can do to a person. It took so many years from me even though I’m only 26. I lost so many chances to take boy trips to other countries and build up my life. It feels kinda bad to be so low but at the same time awesome because it gave me life experience.

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ANOTHER:  
I relapsed!  Trigger Warning!

And got lucky. I won a fairly big amount of money for me, especially as a student. I started with a deposit of $100, lost that, then deposited more, and you get the picture. Then I finally won my deposits back and then some. Then lost it all!

I’ve been doing pretty good just staying away from gambling, but I’ve noticed I’ve definitely got an easily addicted mind, be it gambling, snus, alcohol, etc. If I stay away from gambling I’ll use a disk of snus a day, or go out to drink with friends.

Now I’ve once again locked out of online casinos but I always seem to come back somehow, by either circumventing the block or just finding a new casino.

I’ve edited my flair, I had a good run of 155 days clean but now I’m back at square ONE!  Here Is To new beginnings!
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ONE MORE: “I am sick, ashamed, and so disgusted in myself. I have no one to blame but myself. My boyfriend doesn’t gamble, but he does try to see make light of the issue (i.e I’m lucky that I don’t have to pay for rent, etc).

It all started a month ago as entertainment, but I’ve been going every weekend with my boyfriend ever since I had a big win in January. I promised that I wouldn’t become addicted, but that failed.

I got sucked way too into it and figured that I was in too deep anyway last night. To think I could have spent some of that money lost towards something more beneficial, like auto or student loans. I feel horrible.

I’m looking at my bank statement of all the withdrawals I made. I feel like shit. This is totally unacceptable!! I’m going try to put that addiction-feeling towards working on myself. SO wish me luck.

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Showgirls at the Welcome Sign - 8-15-07

Showgirls at the Welcome Sign

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((An internal investigation at St. James Catholic School in Torrance, Calif., found that two nuns who worked there misappropriated a substantial amount of money for personal use over a period of years.  ImageCredit Scott Varley/Digital First Media, via Torrance Daily Breeze, via Getty Images))

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Two longtime nuns at St. James Catholic School in Torrance allegedly embezzled as much as $500,000 in tuition, fees, and donations, perhaps spending some of the money on trips and gambling at casinos while telling parents the school was operating on a shoestring budget, officials and parents said.

The figure represents only what auditors have been able to trace in six years’ of bank records and might not include other cash transactions, officials from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles told parents and alumni at a meeting Monday night at St. James Catholic Church in Redondo Beach. An audio recording of the two-hour meeting was obtained by the Southern California News Group.

The apparent scandal came to light last week when the church’s small, K-8 school announcedthat it had notified police that Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper, and Sister Lana Chang, who both had retired earlier this year, were “involved in the personal use of a substantial amount of school funds.” But the nuns had expressed remorse, and the archdiocese and the church were not pursuing criminal charges.

Kreuper was the school’s principal, and Chang taught there.

The revelation comes four years after a car struck and killed four people as they left a Christmas concert at the church, including a 6-year-old boy.

Michael Meyers, the church’s monsignor, told the crowd of a few hundred people that the archdiocese launched an internal investigation six months ago after the organization performed a standard audit of procedures ahead of Kreuper’s retirement after 28 years at the school.

Around the same time, Meyers said, a family happened to request a copy of a check made out to the school, and the staff noticed it had been deposited in a bank account other than the schools.

That’s when Kreuper became “very nervous and very anxious” about the upcoming financial review and requested that the staff alter records, the monsignor said. Meyers said he alerted an archdiocese internal auditor performing the review that “something was off” and that the auditor confirmed his suspicions.

The archdiocese then hired an independent forensic auditor for a deeper review.

Without the red flags raised by the check, Kreuper’s “strange” behavior and a tip made to an archdiocese ethics hotline, officials said the school would never have known about the problem.

The improper use of the funds had been going on for at least 10 years, Meyers said. The parish and the school have always run in the black, so it appears no one had suspicions.

“The systems that were set up were dividing people, so nobody knew what was happening,” Meyers said.

A retired FBI agent hired by the archdiocese interviewed school staffers and the nuns.

“When he was talking to Sister Mary Margaret, she did acknowledge that she had been taking all the money, so that’s not a question,” Meyers said.

He said no other staff members are suspected of wrongdoing, but a bookkeeper who was unaware of the long-running scheme has voluntarily taken a leave of absence to preserve the integrity of the investigation.

Funds raised by the school’s nonprofit education foundation were not affected, officials said.

Auditors told parents the “long forgotten” church bank account was opened in 1997 and that bank records before 2012 no longer exist. Only Kreuper and Chang knew about the account, they said.

They described a system in which Kreuper handled all checks made out to the school for tuition and fees before handing them over to bookkeeping staff for processing. The principal allegedly withheld some of the checks and deposited them into the other account, endorsing the back with a stamp that read, “St. James Convent” instead of “St. James School.”

The sisters used a majority of the money for “personal gain,” officials said, though some of it was “recycled” back to the school.

Meyers said the money would have ended up in the school’s reserve funds.

The sisters expressed deep remorse, officials said.

The archdiocese is cooperating with Torrance police, but is unwilling to be a “complaining party,” archdiocese lawyer Marge Graf told parents. She said the decision was made because the nuns’ order, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, has agreed to pay the school full restitution and impose “severe sanctions” on Kreuper and Chang.

When a parent asked what the money was spent on, the attorney said: “We do know that they had a pattern of going on trips, we do know they had a pattern of going to casinos, and the reality is, they used the account as their personal account.”

The nuns, described by many as best friends, have been removed from ministry, according to a letter from the order read aloud during the meeting. Meyers said they have been moved to separate convents. Church officials did not say whether the order’s restitution agreement hinged on the archdiocese not pursuing criminal charges.

Meyers and other officials pledged to make changes to prevent abuse in the future, noting that new principal Noreen Maricich has implemented an online payment system for tuition that draws funds directly from parents’ bank accounts.

Reactions in the stunned crowd ranged from disappointment and anger to calls for forgiveness.

Many parents were outraged with the decision not to press charges, with some remarking that if the nuns were lay people, they would certainly be in jail. Others called for the restitution to be used to give teachers pay raises and for expenses they said Kreuper claimed the school could not afford, such as awnings for an outdoor eating area.

Jack Alexander of Redondo Beach said in an interview with the Southern California News Group that he and other parents are considering banding together to act as a complaining party to Torrance police themselves. But without cooperation from the archdiocese, he is doubtful the effort would lead to prosecution.

“We were an ATM, and people know it and they won’t ask for justice,” Alexander said.

The approach sends the wrong message to students, he said, that money is more important than morals.

“They are trying to recapture money, not get justice,” Alexander said.

Paul Eakins, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, said prosecutors have not been presented with a case yet from Torrance police. Sgt. Ronald Harris said police will confer at some point with the District Attorney’s Office.

“Our office doesn’t decline to charge simply because the victim’s future cooperation is problematical,” Eakins said. “However, if a victim is not presently cooperating, we may consider that as a factor in determining whether a case can be successfully prosecuted.”

Many in attendance questioned how the school could claim in a parent letter that the embezzlement did not affect the students’ education, and they criticized officials for hesitating at first to reveal the full, six-figure estimate. Some have called on Meyers to resign.

Denise Sur, a longtime St. James parishioner who put four children through the school and spoke at the meeting, said in an interview that she was disappointed that details were not provided immediately.

“The archdiocese and our parish leadership have to be held accountable for the poor process as well as what occurred,” she said.

Tony Liakos, a parent who also spoke at the meeting, said in an interview that the news is another blow to a church community still reeling from that tragic crash in December 2014. It’s a good school, he said, and he doesn’t want its attributes to be overshadowed by these two incidents.

“The biggest thing is I’d prefer to see this not hurt the school more than it already has,” he said in an interview.

Samantha Pierce, a Torrance resident who has attended St. James for more than 30 years and whose son graduated from the school, said the controversy underscores a failure of church leadership. Only a police investigation can be trusted, she said.

“They convicted the sisters before they actually have the facts on hand, that is the thing that disturbed me the most,” Pierce said.

She expressed skepticism that the nuns acted maliciously, even given their apparent admissions of guilt.

Kreuper was known to forgive tuition debt and offer assistance to families experiencing financial hardships, Pierce said, and she took trips to Las Vegas because she visited a friend from a Catholic school where she used to teach.

A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Las Vegas could not be reached on Wednesday. Kreuper has a past address and P.O. Box in Las Vegas, public records show.

If the nuns indeed misused funds wrongfully, Pierce said she would forgive them.

Other parents said it was well-known that Kreuper and Chang traveled often and went gambling, but that they claimed they have gifted the trips by a rich relative.

“These nuns took a vow of poverty and said, ‘Oh no, we’ve got a rich uncle,’ ” Alexander said. “The rich uncle was the parents of the St. James students. These 2 Nuns Suspected in $500,000 Theft From Catholic School Had a Taste for Gambling, Church Says.”

April Is Alcohol Awareness Month and This Guest Article Has Some Good Points! “A Dear John Letter” …

April Is Alcohol Awareness Month and This Guest Article Has Some Good Points! “A Dear John Letter” …

WELCOME, ALL Recovery Friends and New One Visitors!

One thing I enjoy maintaining recovery is doing research and reading. One of my favorite MAGS I subscribe to is called “The Fix Magazine” as they have some fantastic recovery writers and articles that just make sense and open view of choices of recovery paths. My feelings are, as long as you pick a path and recovery journey that works for YOU?

Then what you choose is your business, and that’s IT. Not all treatment and recovery programs come in “one size fits all,” so how you want to work a program, and there are MANY OPTIONS, that gets you BET FREE, CLEAN, and SOBER is the most crucial issue.

This article in this month’s The Fix actually caught my attention because there has been for a long time, some battles lines drawn on those who just choose to do a 12-Step recovery program and that’s all.

Well, my gambling addiction was terrible that I needed anything and everything to gain my life back and break free from the “Cycle.” See, the cycle is the same from one addiction to the next. Also the habits and behaviors we learn deep in our addictions. Look, when you are sick, broken, and hopeless?

It just may take more than one program or option to help you maintain your recovery. I’m not at all bashing AA, NA, GA, or 12-step programs. I’m merely sharing so everyone has insights into what works for some, may not work for you or me. AND? I felt exactly like the same as she does of AA and me of GA.  (Gamblers Anonymous).

~Catherine

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Dear AA, We Need to Talk  ~ By Dee Young 04/16/19

“You weren’t straight up so now we’re on the rocks.”

Dear Alcoholics Anonymous,

I’m leaving you. I’ve had enough after 31 years and that’s not even counting the 2 before that. Oy, those were rocky. You sounded way too Christian with just a spritz of Buddhism thrown in for a twist. We’d be nothing but a sour mix because I’m a devout Jewish atheist.

“Trust me,” you cooed. “Alcohol is cunning and baffling. I can help.” But when you strongly suggested I pray on my knees, I lost it.

I screamed, “Jews don’t pray on their knees!”

You weren’t alarmed but you asked that same old tired question. “How can you be an atheist and a Jew?”

Before I could explain culture versus religion to you with my secular “bagel Jew” crack, you cooed at me:

“That doesn’t matter. Anything can be a higher power—a chair or a doorknob. Just as long as you know you’re not it.”

With an eye-roll, “A doorknob? What’re you, high? That makes no sense.”

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Unfazed, you kept trying to lure me in. “You’ll see the hoop you have to jump through is wider than you think.”

But, oy vey, the goddamn god stuff left me feeling shaken so I split. Then when alcohol stopped working altogether, I ran back. I dreamed about you warming me up like a stiff scotch used to. But instead of giving me euphoria, you said I needed to admit I was powerless over alcohol. If I surrendered this time, you said I could pour my sadness into you. I was lost and you were gentle, so when you told me to close my eyes, I did.

You asked, “Can you think of anything that’s more powerful than you?”

“Yes,” I said. “Rain. No matter how much I screamed at the sky, it wouldn’t stop raining.”

Your face lit up. “You got it!”

I beamed. “Oh! And the ocean, too,” I said. “Waves will keep crashing no matter what I do.”

“Right. You’re powerless over alcohol and I can restore you to sanity.”

Hands on hips, I yelled, “I’m not insane!” But I was still shaken, not stirred.

“You can use G.O.D. as in Group of Drunks,” you reminded me, then led me to a dark church basement where you said I’d feel welcome. But the pathetic coffee left me craving something stronger; I wanted to be under the influence till I was over the limit. Yet, still attracted to the liquor-free confidence there, I decided on the GOD acronym. Until the speaker cracked a book open and read Step 11.

You smarmy liar! And I was vulnerable, trying to quit getting lit.
You gaslit me:

“To certain newcomers and to those one-time agnostics who still cling to the A.A. group as their higher power” …

Still desperate and confused, I kept going because people were nice to me. At a lunchtime meeting, the speaker talked about her fifth step. It sounded so much like confession I got excited and whirled my head around scanning the room for communion wine. Those early meetings taught me to pray—for a liquid lunch.

You said it was a spiritual program so I had to accept the idea of a higher power. That nearly crushed me. You really didn’t understand that some people know there isn’t any GOD. I’d held out hope that you were going to unveil yourself as top shelf stuff but most of the time, you seemed like Mad Dog. Especially when you said stupid shit like, “Your best thinking got you here.”

I wanted to be with you in the rooms, but most of the time I was dragging my ass around. But now I’m sick of feeling trapped. I hate your smoke and mirrors trickery. Your demand for rigorous honesty can cramp my style. When we almost broke up and I wanted to bolt, I cheated on you with meetings for atheists. The problem was there were so few of them and they were just as dogmatic.

I can hear your disdain when you call me one of those “unfortunates” who can’t get the program because I’m constitutionally incapable of being honest. Now that’s grandiose. I’m sick of your self-righteous finger wagging at me, saying you’re not judgmental but then labeling me the belligerent one if I challenge anything you say. But come on, the idea of a looming spirit in place of intoxicating spirits is ridiculous.

Okay, I admit I’m grateful that you always took me back. You’ve been patient and kind and most of all, you stuck by me. But damn it, I’m sick of being barked at for doing things that aren’t suggested. So I’m at a crossroads. The fear of leaving is a biggie. You and all of our friends will pull away from me if I leave you. The pressure to stay feels a lot like the bar pressure to do one more shot.

If I went that route, at least I could take breaks from feeling everything so acutely while also stuffing down any critical words about you. Whenever I express frustration about how hypocritical you can be, I get looked at with pity: “Poor Dee. She’s taking her will back. Let’s pray for her. It only works if you work it.”

I wince at that crap. I refuse to wear a cone of shame if I save a seat, or gossip, or don’t feel like stacking the chairs some days. A lot of people think it’s healthy to fear to slip but I no longer want to fear anything. Peer pressure reminds me of junior high.

“Please quit telling me if I’m upset it’s because I’m obstinate, immature, and willful.”

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Uh oh. But what if you’re right? If I leave, would I regress? I never want to be the sorry sot I was before we met. Those stakes are too high. I was afraid to give up alcohol and drugs because I “knew” I needed them. Then you proved me wrong. If I storm out, does that make me a brat who won’t take my medicine?

You’ve always been a good listener and who else would love me in spite of my god rants? Maybe I am at the right party now. Though I long for the schnockered nights, I ain’t in my twenties anymore. I don’t even know if I could still stay up till four in the morning, much less hit the after-hours until the Tequila Sunrises. Yearning for wild nights of yore could be euphoric recall — rosy as a maraschino on top.

Maybe staying together is fine after all. We’ve talked so many times about my expectations and you’re right—it’s stupid to blame you for being imperfect. I mean, look at me.

G.O.D. can stand for good orderly direction, with Buddhism’s tangy flavor: a god within. Now that I’m thinking things through, I suppose a frothy soy milkshake could satiate me more than White Russians ever could. And, seriously, who wants a shit-faced higher power within anyway? No marriage is 100 percent bliss; perhaps I just caught a 31-year itch. My mind easily wanders back to booty calls with sexy bar pickups. Libidos on fire. At weak moments I ache to go back there. Then I snap out of it.

Truth is, I love Netflix nights chillin’ with decaf chai latte from Starbucks. You’ve been there for me time after time. So, let’s hold up the paper cup. Cheers, AA. I’m not going anywhere.

What’ll it be tonight? Barfly or Leaving Las Vegas?”