Learning to be Safe From Gambling While Keeping Recovery in Intact. That’s a Win, Win For YOU …

Learning to be Safe From Gambling While Keeping Recovery in Intact. That’s a Win, Win For YOU …

Happy Holidays Recovery Friends and Visitors,


So another holiday season is upon us and those of us in recovery can have a tough time around the holidays. I have in the past with self-sabotaging my Christmas seasons.

How do you ask?

Let me share a “war story of Christmas past.” We can learn and grow in recovery when we safely look at the “Then & Now of Christmas’s Past” as an addicted or problem gambler.”

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

But, if we don’t learn from these mistakes or choices, how do look back and find growth in our recovery? Yes, you can see your growth by working and re-doing the 12-steps. But, you may need more than that to recover fully. I know I did.

I recall one Christmas that has to be my worst within my gambling addiction and will never forget because I was gambling out of desperation. It is why I make sure all holidays now are safe with a relapse prevention action plan in place the last 11+years that I’ve maintained recovery. I try to make the holidays happy and full of JOY. But back in 2005, that was a different story.

See, the home we had lived and worked very hard for had to be sold through a short sale or we would have lost everything we put into it. But even then, it felt like we lost it all as we are still paying on a balance that was not covered by the sale. It also caused me to make a few bad choices, residual addicted “thinking, I had committed a crime and that big catastrophy I wrote about in my memoir, and I was reeling. I stopped taking my bipolar meds, then took them all at once! I was so angry with myself, feeling so much shame, guilt, low self-worth, and again suicidal because I knew it was because of my gambling is how we got into this mess in the first place! Of course, no excuse’s, just insights.


We were so financially broke. The guilt and shame would hit me each year hard. I knew then it was my fault. I remember being in JCPenney walking around aimlessly wishing I could buy this or that for the family for Christmas. Luckily all our family lived in other states than Oregon at that time as are now living in Arizona. So I had to do the same lame thing I had done for many past Christmas’s, just send a card.

 
It was difficult already after we both had job losses, the very beginning of the economy and markets were getting ready to go South. W finding good paying jobs, and then with my mental health all wacked out, I could not work, and now with even more guilt I became suicidal, took all my meds at one time and off to the hospital and then I ended up back in an addiction/mental health crisis center again from another breakdown right after the holidays. It was all too much!


When I got released from the crisis center, I knew I had a lot more recovery work and inner work to do which included my financial inventory … I had been doing well in my recovery and gamble free at the time, but something was nagging at me. See, you need to know that no matter the addiction, it’s always waiting for us. Even within recovery, if you are not changing the “old thinking” and the old habits and behaviors with good ones, you can still be an addict in the “mind.”

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Like the holidays for instance and the point of this post, we can have a lot of temptations around us at this time of year. There are holiday parties for both personal and work-related that can be stressful. We may have had fall outs due to the holidays, (thanks to our addictions and why we have step 9… “to make amends where ever possible”) with friends and family.

Many different reasons that can become a trigger or bring on urges. The stress of the season, lack of money for presents, a slew of things swirling around in our heads! This addicted “cycle” if not broken or interrupted will keep you either in the addiction or just on edge waiting. That is what I needed the second time around after coming out of the crisis. I chose to work with a gambling addiction and behavioral specialist for a year.


And this guy would not “cut me loose” until I could tell him how the “cycle” of addiction happens and tell him the skills and tools to stop it which took me that whole year. Once I learned that and applied those skills and tools, I began the road to long-term recovery. So, my point is, everyone needs a relapse prevention plan. A program that will help you avoid these pitfalls.

I had been given a workbook that I now have listed on my recovery resource pages for all to come and use for their recovery from gambling addiction Relapse Prevention Guide  as it shows step by step what is needed to make a plan to prevent relapse for any occasion like the holiday season, life events like a loss from death, a job loss and much more.

Look, these life events and the holidays will come. So you need to be prepared before they happen, not after they happen. Be prepared and use those tools taught and learned in treatment, or a 12-step program, maybe in therapy or however you choose to reach out and start your recovery journey. Be educated about your addition and learn “the cycle” of addiction. If you need help to make a “Plan,” stop by my recovery blogs Recovery Relapse Prevention Guide page to show you how.

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

 

“Because You Are Worth It In Recovery!”

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Helping Others In Recovery from Gambling. A Research and Study You Can Participate In ~By The University of Calgary – Addictive Behaviors Lab.

“Through my years of recovery from gambling addiction, alcohol abuse, and mental health challenges, I have been honored, invited, and to be a part of and engaged in and interviewed for many articles, studies, and research of addictive behaviors and neurosciences mag write-ups. I do so to Raise Awareness & prove recovery is POSSIBLE” ~Author/Advocate Catherine Lyon 


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Here Are The Details and Pre-Screening To Become A Participant:

A friend of yours mentioned that you were in gambling recovery and involved in advocacy, and that you might be interested in helping us recruit participants for a study we are running.” (Well, of course, I was going to HELP)!!

We are currently investigating the impact of methods/strategies, as well as co-occurring addictions, on the recovery process. We recently received confirmation of the ethics modification that would allow us to recruit through means like this, and it would be amazing if you would be willing to help us spread the word and is open to US citizens through June 2019!!

Here is some more information about the process, as well as the compensation that participants will receive for time spent completing the survey, to help you decide if this is something you would be interested in sharing.

Eligibility Requirements for Participants and Open in The USA:

1.)  You must have experienced a period in your life lasting 12 consecutive months or longer when you felt that gambling caused problems for you (e.g., financial, interpersonal, emotional, etc.) …

AND,

2.)  You must CURRENTLY be in a period of recovery from problem gambling that has lasted 12 consecutive months or longer…

AND,

3.)  You must have experienced a problem with another behavior (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, or other substance use, shopping, binge eating, internet use, etc.).

The Process:

First, participants will be asked to complete an online screening questionnaire to determine if they are eligible to participate (roughly 5-10 minutes) … Please visit and CLICK  link  Gambling Pre-Screening  to complete the screening survey and determine your eligibility

If they are eligible, you will be asked to complete:

1.)   A telephone interview regarding engagement in, and recovery from problem gambling and other addictive behaviors. Telephone interviews take approximately 45 to 75 minutes to complete.

2.   A second, and final, Online Questionnaire with questions about personality, life experiences, etc. This questionnaire takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.

Some Compensation:

As a thank-you for participating in this study, participants will be offered $40 in the form of a gift card that will be e-mailed out (participants will have a choice from a short list; Amazon, Barnes & Noble, David’s Tea, The Keg, and Starbuck for US participants). Please note that if members do not pass the screening process, they will NOT be eligible to participate in the study, and therefore will NOT be eligible to receive a gift card of any amount.

Catherine, thank you so much for taking the time to consider sharing our research. If you or potential recovery friends have any questions or concerns at all I would be more than happy to answer them! Email me at ALANA,  ablab@ucalgary.ca 

Best Regards,

Alana Guidry

Research Assistant

Addictive Behaviours Lab

University of Calgary

of psychology department

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#BeTheOne!!
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I hope all who visit and are in recovery from gambling and another occurring addiction will take this opportunity to see if you qualify to be a participant Like I will Be and is a way we can have a platform to help others and help get sound solid information to about any addictions to the public is another way to “Be of Recovery Service!” ~Catherine 

 

Keeping Sober and Aware Through The Holidays ~ Alek S. Is Our Guest Today.

Keeping Sober and Aware Through The Holidays ~ Alek S. Is Our Guest Today.


“Don’t Let The Season Take Away Your Sobriety With Temptations Abound” 

 

The Biggest Threats to Long Lasting Sobriety ~ by Alek Sabin


Long-lasting sobriety can seem like it is so far away when a person starts in recovery because recovery is a long and arduous journey. As such, when an addict is recovering from addiction, it is important for them to be brutally honest with themselves. One such thing to remember is that it is incredibly likely that a recovering addict will relapse, at least once, when they are on such a journey.


These relapses may happen early on, but they can also happen years down the road. Relapses are all too common, but they should not be viewed as a failure. Instead, a relapse should be viewed as a stumble on the path towards lasting recovery as long as you learn from it …

Relapses can be better prevented if an addict, or their friends and family, are more aware of what particular things are likely to trigger a relapse, even though this can change from person to person. Relapse triggers are the main threats to long-lasting sobriety, and here is how you can recognize some of them in your own life…

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Mental Health Issues


One major relapse trigger and something that may have had a major impact on somebody getting addicted in the first place is mental illness. Things like depression from “holiday blues” and anxiety have a long history of increasing the likelihood of addiction,
partly because they heavily impact the emotional sensitivity of an addict.

When somebody has both a mental disorder as well as suffers from gambling or substance abuse, this is classified as a dual diagnosis. When an addict is recovering, it is very possible that the same effects of a mental disorder can push them towards destructive behavior that leads to relapse.

 

Social Events or Pressures

As many recovering addicts know, peer pressure is a powerful motivator. Oftentimes, it is what led a person towards addiction in the first place. For this reason, it is important for recovering addicts to carefully consider social events and celebrations to attend. If someone at this event is going to be presenting an opportunity for a person to engage in substance abuse, again, then it probably isn’t worth it to attend. Relapse is more likely to occur when you give it opportunities to do so.

 

Relationship Problems


Relationships with friends, family, spouses, or lovers can lead to a great deal of emotional tumultuousness that can be difficult for a recovering addict to deal with. The emotional tides that come with relationship problems can push an addict towards behavior that they associate with comfort, which can lead to relapse. The isolation that is caused by emotional strife in relationships can also have a similar effect.

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Stress Triggers


Any sort of stress triggers, whether they have to do with job stress, relationship stress, self-esteem issues, or any other variety of things to be stressed about, will have a profound impact on the chances of a relapse occurring. Oftentimes, substance abuse is a reaction to stress that is ingrained in a recovering addict’s mind.

For this reason, it’s important for them to be aware of what their common stress triggers are so that they can be identified and addressed when they come up. As a note, one particular reason that stress is so impactful in relapse is that it can lead to high levels of self-doubt, which pushes addicts to a comfortable mindspace of substance abuse.

H.A.L.T.

H.A.L.T. is an acronym for hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. This is referred to in the addiction recovery world as emotions or states of being that put a person at greater risk of relapse, because substance abuse can present an easy way out, in many of these situations. For this reason, it is important for recovering addicts to take special care of their physical health. This means getting regular amounts of sleep, having a healthy diet, and getting the emotional support that they need to stay emotionally healthy.

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So enjoy this Holiday Season maintaining your Sobriety and have a Happy Stress Free Season in RECOVERY!

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Holiday Guest and Article by My Friends of Ohio for Responsible Gambling.

Holiday Guest and Article by My Friends of Ohio for Responsible Gambling.

Well, the holiday season has begun now that Thanksgiving has come and gone for 2018. And for those like me who maintain recovery from gambling addiction, we know this time of year can either be a Joyous time or time where Relapse can sure sneak up on us with family stress, not enough money for the holidays, or arguments with spouses or family members …

ALL of these and others can be possible Triggers for us no matter if your in early recovery, longer-term recovery, or just sitting on the fence thinking YOU may have a gambling problem. There are those WHO can gamble normally, but now with 2.9% of our population now problem gamblers? They need to know to gamble responsibly and if you can’t? See Help. But if you can NOT?

This is WHY I chose for my sixth year to be on HOLIDAY WATCH and SUPPORT as of Thanksgiving Eve through Jan 2nd, 2019 

THEN? I begin my recovery service to my buddy ” Big Jim Downs Recovery Foundation for a whole year as he embarks on a Journey of Hope biking all around America for all Addictions Awareness and Recovery. Check out the link above and see how you can be a part of  “The Biggest Ever Addiction Awareness Event” taking place in 48 States! I am social media and sponsorship Ambassador and it is going to be Amazing to see GOD work MIRACLES through Big Jim!

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Now, back to the article of gambling which IS one of the Addictions Jim will be advocating recovery for … I hope by sharing this article helps those who have not been “touched” by this cunning disease and maybe on the fence to IF they have a problem… ~Catherine

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We are in the thick of the holiday season, which often means family, food, fun, and free time. That extra time usually means more time for our hobbies and entertainment and, for those who like to gamble, it can also mean additional opportunities for betting.

 

More time to gamble can, for some, result in spending too much time and money at the casino. Online gambling can be especially tempting because it offers games running 24/7, which can be accessed from the comfort of your own home and gives gamblers a chance to try games at virtually any time.

If you’re planning to gamble this holiday season, here are seven things to keep in mind.

 

Seven Things to Remember Before You Gamble

  1. Gambling should only be for fun. It is not, and never will be, a way to invest or earn money.
  2. Always limit how much you are willing to lose, as well as how much time you spend gambling.
  3. When you get ahead, quit. Don’t feel pressured to gamble with winnings to win more; be satisfied that you came out ahead.
  4. Realize that you should be able to afford to lose any money you bet.
  5. Never gamble just because you are bored or to decrease stress.
  6. Maintain other interests and hobbies other than just gambling.
  7. If you lose money one-time gambling, don’t gamble another time with just the intent to win the money back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with some gambling during the holidays unless you are in recovery, for those with slight or no problem remember to do so responsibly. If you feel like your gambling (or that of a loved one) is out of control, please click here for resources in your area.

Not Sure if you may have a problem with gambling? Click Here: QUIZ

And TAKE THE QUIZ

Answer the following questions about your gambling activity in the last 12 months and gauge your risk level for problem gambling.

GAMBLING PROBLEM? 1-800-589-9966

 

Giving Thanks and Having Gratitude as Another Holiday Recovery Season Begins

Giving Thanks and Having Gratitude as Another Holiday Recovery Season Begins

Happy Thanksgiving Week and Kick Off to Another Recovery Holiday Season!

Well, another holiday season is upon us already. It seems just yesterday it was summer. Time sure does fly. As you begin holiday shopping, the smells of turkey roasting, decorating, baking those yummy Christmas cookies, I hope for those maintaining recovery from gambling and all addictions take some time to reflect on how you have gotten to your beautiful recovery life today. Be “Thankful” and have a heart of “gratitude.”

You need to be mindful of where we came from and how far you have come and have worked to positively move forward in life. It is essential to do so, especially at Holiday time, as you walk farther away from your past within addiction. I thought I’d share a little of my “Holiday” article I wrote for my gambling recovery column QUIT 2 WIN over at “Keys To Recovery” newspaper.

So why do we need to reflect as we move farther away from our past “wreckage and damages” from our addictions?

It gives us a sense of accomplishment and gratitude as we become thankful for all the work and “change” we have put forth to get where we are today maintaining our recovery path. We also need to be mindful of those who “don’t have what we have” when it comes to recovery.

Many do still have struggles around the holidays and why I will be recovery blogging and being close to my phone and email through the holidays for my 6th year now. I do this to be of recovery service to those who are new to recovery and may have a tougher time through the holiday season. I started this recovery tradition right after my book, ‘Addicted to Dimes’ released in late November of 2012, and decided I would do it every year.

I knew how hard it was around the holidays when I was still deep within my gambling addiction, and when I first started recovery. We have feelings of desperation due to no money for gift giving, decorating the home and even holiday meals. I still remember walking up and down the store isles wishing I could buy this or buy that and feeling sad and mad at myself because it was all my fault, my gambling was why I couldn’t.

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Anger, stress, and holiday chaos can be triggers, so as I’d leave the store and gamble a few hours to help me feel better hopefully. But it didn’t because I was desperate! Even in recovery, the holiday season can be filled with many opportunities to gamble with the people around them, which may threaten their gambling addiction recovery.  So be mindful through the holiday season.

Know Yourself – Remember what caused you to gamble before, and make sure your behaviors and habits do not change during the holiday season and trigger gambling impulses. You may also need to monitor your alcohol intake, turning down vacation day trips to casinos with friends, and making sure no extra vacation time causes you any feelings of boredom or loneliness. Use the tools and skills learned! Have a wonderful sober, clean, and bet free Recovery Holiday Season …

 

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I am also sharing below a little “Faith” from Harvest Church of Pastor, Greg Laurie. Because as we enter the Holiday Season,  it is many times with stress and worries. I work my own recovery through faith as I would not be on this earth otherwise. I’m just not too loud about it! Lol.

When your life is pulled back from “A Power Greater Than Ourselves” from suicide not once, but twice? You know that IS a miracle of GOD. So turn those worries and the stress of the holidays into PRAYERS.

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Turn Your Worries into Prayers

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

—Philippians 4:6

There are so many things today that can cause us to worry. There are the worries of
the world. There are the worries in our own country, including the threat of terrorism and the threat of North Korea. Then there are personal worries, such as health worries and family worries.

It seems as though worries are always there, always closing in on us. But worry isn’t productive. In fact, it’s a failure to trust God. The word worry comes from an Old English term that means “strangle” or “choke.” That is what worry does. It chokes us. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.

Modern medical research has proven that worry breaks down our resistance to disease. It actually diseases the nervous system and, more specifically, the digestive organs and the heart. In fact, 79 to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are stress related.

Philippians tells us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (4:6–7).

We need to turn our worries into prayer. That requires developing a conditioned reflex. We all have natural reflexes, like when we touch something hot and immediately pull back. Then there’s a conditioned reflex, something that becomes natural after we’ve done it so many times. For instance, standing during the national anthem or placing your hand over your heart during the Pledge of Allegiance is a conditioned reflex.

We can’t control our universe, as hard as we may try, but we certainly can pray about it. The next time you’re tempted to worry, pray instead. Turn your worries into prayers.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING and Celebrate Recovery Through The Christmas Season and Beyond Recovery Friends!  ~Advocate/Author, Catherine Lyon 

Dig Deeper:

Today’s Radio Program
“Hurried, Worried, Buried (How to Overcome Fear, Worry & Anxiety)–1”

This Week’s TV Program
“The Danger of the Compromised Life”

 

 

Do You Advocate About Mental Health and Want To on a Bigger Scale? Join Tony Roberts as a Patron and He’ll Help You Do So …

Do You Advocate About Mental Health and Want To on a Bigger Scale? Join Tony Roberts as a Patron and He’ll Help You Do So …

 

Growing Delight in Disorder

“One thing I have learned in my spiritual life is not only is it more blessed to give than to receive, but it is more rewarding.”

 

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As a pastor, I observed many who came to church sporadically, made no effort to participate in service and gave only a few small bills whenever the mood struck them. One common feature I consistently noticed in these folks is that their spiritual growth was stunted.  I saw first hand that those who withhold their time, talent, and money from kingdom work, isolated themselves from God’s abundant grace experienced in a generous community.

I am no longer in pastoral ministry, but I see the same principle apply to my mission here at Delight in Disorder. Over the course of the last five years, I am reaching a growing number of persons impacted by mental illness. These folks need encouragement, support, and spiritual counsel. I have been blessed to be one of God’s instruments of healing, through my book, this blog, phone and video consults, speaking engagements and my podcast. My ministry has grown from a manuscript in a junk drawer to a message spreading across the globe.

My mission here at Delight in Disorder is to foster hope in the lives of those with troubled minds and cultivate compassion within the faith community for those with mental illness. To carry out this mission, I need your help. Your prayers. Your stories. Your encouragement. Your financial support.

 

Why Do You Need Financial Support?

I want to be clear your financial gifts are to grow this mission, not increase my personal lifestyle. God has blessed me with income streams to put food on the table, have a roof over my head, and meet my daily needs. Monies contributed will go to expand the outreach of Delight in Disorder.

Build community among those engaged in advocacy and mental health ministry. Produce and distribute more written content to nourish the spiritual lives of wounded souls. Promote faith and mental wellness online and through other avenues. Provide for direct outreach through workshops and conferences on healing and wholeness. These are just some of the needs I envision to grow this ministry God has laid on my heart and, I hope, yours.

How Much Will It Cost?

To become a patron, you can contribute as little as $1/month or as much as God leads you to give. Again, I want to stress this should not come at the expense of your own needs, your family’s needs, or the needs of your local faith community. Instead, prayerfully consider how much you value this mission and give out of desire, not of obligation.

What Do I Get Out of It?

While it is true there are spiritual rewards whenever we give for kingdom work, I also want my patrons to receive practical benefits. These range depending on giving tiers (with each successive tier including perks of lower tiers):

  1. $1 or more a month — Covenental Clinician: Join private FB community to discuss issues of faith and mental health.
  2. $15 or more a month — Biblical Behavioralist: Receive personally inscribed Delight in Disorder for self or as a gift.
  3. $40 or more a month — Theological Therapist: Participate in a quarterly webinar on mental health ministry.
  4. $50 or more a month — Freudian for Faith: Receive monthly devotional journal (via snail mail!).
  5. $100 or more a month — Apostle for Affirmation: Video dialogue with me about a mental health matter.
  6. $200 or more a month — Manic Depressive Missionary — I will speak at a venue near you.

 

What Is My Best First Step?

The best way to get a taste of this new mission incentive is by becoming a mission partner at the $1/month Covenental Clinician tier. My private Facebook page will launch on November 1. It will be a place where you will find a wide variety of resources. Things like — personal stories from persons like me with mental health diagnoses; news about legislation impacting those with mental illness; discussions about the best way to offer Christ-like compassion for those with troubled minds.

My goal is to have 50 Covenental Clinicians by the launch date of November 1.  As a faithful reader of my blog, I hope you will become one of my founding partners.

I hope you are as excited as I am about this new mission venture. For more information and to pledge your support, go to MY SUPPORT PAGE.

Become a Patron Today and Help Tony Grow Through Faith His Mission at “Delight in Disorder Today.”

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37.4)

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Who Is Tony Robers?

 

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From Ministry to Madness

In 1995, I was a young, ambitious pastor serving a church in Northeast PA. One Sunday, I delivered a sermon in which I shared these words:

Our ailments may be blessings in disguise. As we listen to our bodies and minds and seek out care, we gain insight more abundant lives.

The next day, I was in the seclusion room of a psychiatric hospital. I was told I had bipolar disorder, that I would never work as a pastor again, that my marriage would end, and that I would spend the rest of my life in and out of psychiatric hospitals.

By the grace of God and with much help from many others, I served another dozen years of fruitful ministry, was married for twenty-three years and have progressed in treatment to enjoy “maintenance remission.”

From Madness to Mission

As one who has benefited from both faith and mental health treatment, I have Good News to share. And it is this — with Christ’s saving grace, the hellish impact of mental illness will be bearable.

God is with us even in the darkest valleys of despair. We have an essential purpose, to extend fellowship with others who struggle, and to fight the stigma that often leads to dangerous silence.

Many people with mental illness are angry at God, at believers, and at faith communities. People within churches struggle to reconcile medical advances about brain chemistry with Biblical truth.

I have lived in both worlds. I wrestle daily with my dual identity as a Christian who has a serious mental illness and have a hopeful word to say to both.

My mission at Delight in Disorder is to bridge the vast gap between faith and mental illness — fostering faith among those with disorders and diagnoses and promoting compassion within the faith community.

Can we partner together?

Won’t you join me on this mission? There are several ways you can help:

  1. Financially give at any level.
  2. Share this page with someone you know.
  3. Respond with your stories of faith / mental illness.

And lastly: pray for those impacted by mental illness. When we do these things, we reclaim our godly mission in the madness of the world.

 

I Thank “Facing Addiction With NCADD” For Asking Me To Share My Voice and Story Last Year as “Not All Addiction is Substance Use”…

“Recovery Flashback to June2017 ~ SHARING My Story With Facing Addiction”

Not All Addiction is Substance Use

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“Living in recovery with mental health issues can be a tough journey, as I have learned. I am a loud advocate for gambling addiction and mental health. Many people don’t understand that gambling is a real addiction, just as dangerous as drugs and alcohol. Today, suicide claims the lives of more people with a gambling addiction than any other kind of dependency.

I myself have attempted it twice.”

 
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Catherine Townsend-Lyons 1

 

My recovery journey re-started in 2006.  I woke up in a hospital as the result of another failed suicide attempt, then went back to an addiction and mental health crisis center for a 14-day stay.  The problem wasn’t that I gambled again; the problem was not taking my psych medications for a few weeks.  I thought I didn’t need them and that I could be normal like everyone else around me.  That didn’t work out too well for me.

I had a few severe financial crises happen, and since I had not taken my medication and had worked through all of my savings, I panicked and chose to steal from someone.

What a mess! Of course, they pressed charges. I was arrested, went through the court process, and paid steep consequences for my poor choice.

“My point? You have to do the work in all areas of your recovery, including your finances.”

I had not done all the work necessary for a well-rounded recovery. Even though I was not gambling, my financial and legal troubles told me I still needed to more work. After my problems emerged, I worked with an addictions expert for a year as I went through the legal mess I created.

After this second suicide attempt, I learned I did not have a full plan.  I also learned that God, my Higher Power, had bigger plans for me.  My purpose is helping those reaching out for recovery from the cunning illness of compulsive gambling addiction.  After I was released from the crisis center in 2006 and began working with the expert, I got my mental health under control.  I also began to see the stigma surrounding those of us who choose to live in recovery.  The people who suffer from a mental illness have a huge hurdle in our path.

Being a dual-diagnosed person who lives in recovery and has mental health challenges, obtaining recovery is a wee bit more work.  The addicted thinking habits I’d relied on in the past needed more correcting.  Working with the gambling specialist was eye-opening. He helped me break down the cycle of addiction, and we also worked with tools and skills for dealing with financial problems that may arise in recovery.

I was given a fantastic recurrence prevention workbook as well. Although I didn’t revert back into gambling, this book has helped me develop a plan for any financial or life event that may arise during my recovery journey. You need a plan before life events come.

Another tool that helped was journaling every day.  I have always done this, but my specialist showed me how to relieve stress and learn more from my journaling.  My journals helped in writing my memoir, which is now a published book.  Writing my story and experiences was a very healing process for me.  I shared about my gambling addiction and alcohol use; my past childhood trauma, abuse, and sexual trauma; and what it is like living with mental illness.

By doing this, I hope to shatter stigma around gambling addiction, recovery, and mental health.  I want to be a voice for those who feel they do not have one.  I also want others to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how one can become addicted. It truly is a silent addiction!

It is time to have a discussion about gambling addiction.  I want to inform and educate people, and I raise awareness of the effects it has on our communities and families’ lives. The expansion of casinos and for-profit state lotteries is making gambling more accessible today and is now touching our youth.

Currently, 2.9% of our population are problem gamblers. Gambling Addiction is the #1 addiction claiming lives by suicide as 1 in 5 addicted gamblers will try.  The best advice I can give?  When starting off in recovery, learn about this addiction.  Work with a specialist or recovery expert to learn the “cycle” and then learn the tools and skills to interrupt it.

Also, a reliable recovery needs to encompass the mind, body, spirit, and finances. There are many ways to recover, including inpatient or outpatient treatment, 12 Step meetings, and whatever works for you. Try anything and everything you can find. Sticking with only one option may not be enough for success and longevity in recovery and being “bet free.” I learned this the hard way.

I have reached over 10 years in recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol. Now, my mission and God-given purpose are to reach out to others and share my story. I hope that one more life isn’t taken by suicide due to gambling addiction, alcohol addiction, or mental health issues.

No more suffering. I am loud, proud, and Facing Addiction!