Addiction+Depression= SUICIDE? Let’s Be Informed and Educated To Stop Suicides …Call 1-800-273-8255

I happened to receive an email a while ago form ‘Facing Addiction.’ The email was about if I wanted to write and share some of my story of being a person who lives dually diagnosed, meaning I maintain recovery from gambling and alcohol addictions and live with mental health challenges.

I was very honored to do so. Today, Facing Addiction  says; “Every 4 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies from an overdose or alcohol-related cause – the equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every day with no survivors.”

  • 22 million Americans are suffering — 23 million more are in recovery 1 in 3 households are directly impacted.

Since we have had several high profile celebrities recently choose suicide over life, I thought I would share some of what I wrote for Facing Addiciton with you this month in our column in hopes of sharing my voice to shatter stigma around these critical topics that are touching and claiming too many lives.

See, suicide is only a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Depression, anxiety, bipolar or any other mental health issue should never have to end with SUICIDE … Make the call if you have any thought of suicide – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 24/7 Everyday – 1-800-273-8255.

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


I had a few severe financial crises happen, and since I had not taken my medication and had already worked through all of our savings, I panicked and chose to steal from someone. What a mess! Of course, they person pressed charges. I was arrested, went through the courts and was sentenced to many hours of community service, two years of probation and paid restitution that I’m still paying today. My point?

You have to do the work in all areas of maintaining 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 do more work, so I did with a gambling addiction specialist. After my problems occurred, I worked with a specialist for a year while I went through the legal mess I created. Why am I sharing this? Our recovery stories and words are powerful tools to help others.

After this second suicide attempt and crisis, as my first was where I spent my 40th Birthday after my first suicide attempt, I spent another 14-days in a Mental Health/Addcition crisis center. This time, I learned I had a lot more work to do, and I also learned that God, my higher power, had bigger plans for me, a purpose that involves helping those reaching out for recovery from the cunning illness of compulsive gambling addiction. After my release from the crisis center I started working with a gambling specialist and got my mental health under control; I began to see the stigma surrounding those of us who live dually diagnosed. Those of us who have a mental illness also have a huge hurdle in our path, STIGMA.

Since I am a dual-diagnosed person who maintains recovery and has mental health challenges, it can make obtaining recovery a wee bit more work, as I discovered. The old habits, behaviors and diseased thinking needed correcting. Working with the gambling specialist was eye-opening. He helped me break down “the cycle of the addiction,” and we also worked with tools and skills for dealing with financial problems that may arise while in recovery. I was given a fantastic relapse prevention workbook as well. Although I didn’t relapse into gambling, this workbook has helped me develop a plan for any financial or life event that may arise during my recovery journey. You need a plan beforehand as these life events will come.

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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 and see my growth from my journaling. I used my journals in writing my current published book as well. Writing my story and experiences in memoir form was a very healing and letting go process for me. I learned to be vigilent in managing my medications I need to stay stable.

It can be both scary and tough sharing about my gambling addiction with alcohol abuse, my past childhood abuse and sexual trauma and what it is like living with mental illness. But the open doors and blessings I could never dreamed happening since I do advocate, and loudly. Never thought I would be a published author, recovery advocate, writer and blogger, but these are just a few of the amazing blessings I have received in my journey thus far.

By writing my book, using my recovery blog and sharing them with the world, I hope it shatters stigma around gambling addiction, recovery, mental health. I want to be a voice for those who are childhood sex abuse survivors wh feel alond and voiceless. I have chosen not to be anonymous as I want others to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how quickly one can become addicted.

It indeed is a real disease and illness, and even more complicated when you are dually diagnosed with mental illness along with it! I want others to be informed and educated, and I raise awareness of the effects it has in our communities and in families’ lives. 1 in every 5 attempt suicide from this addiction. And the above stats for mental illness is no better.

“A suicide attempt is a clear indication that something is gravely wrong in a person’s life. Suicide doesn’t discriminate as it is true that most people who die by suicide have a mental or emotional disorder. The most common underlying disorder is depression, 30% to 70% of suicide victims suffer from major depression or bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder.”   ~MHA – Mental Health America

 

The expansion of casinos and state lotteries is making gambling more and more accessible today and is now touching our youth. Currently, 2.9% of our population are problem gamblers. The best advice I can give? When starting early recovery, learn about this addiction. Work with a specialist or recovery coach to determine the cycle and then learn the tools and skills to interrupt it.

Work a well-balanced recovery that encompasses mind, body, spirit and finances. There are many ways to recover including in or outpatient treatment and GA – 12-step meetings for support. Anything and everything you can find? Do it. Only one option may not be enough for success in long-term recovery. I learned this the hard way but have found a way to make it 11+years maintaining my recovery.

I know it is my job, my duty, to be of recovery service to others, to advocate about mental illness, and speak about childhood sexual adbuse! Life today is good! My husband and I learned that we could weather any storm together. I know “sharing” my experiences and our recovery with others is just as important as the professional or clinical side of how to recover.

Sharing one’s story is a powerful tool for others to listen, hear, and take action. You are not alone.

The time is now to start the conversation about these topics and shine a bright light on ALL of THESE ISSUES. It is beyond the TIME to start the conversation, it is NOW the time to HAVE the conversation to Shatter Stigma around Mental Illness, Gambling Addiction, Depression, Bipolar, Mania, Alcoholism, SUICIDE.
You Get The Message,
RIGHT?

Author/Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon 

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Guest Article That “Touched My Memory” of My Mental Health As A Child.

Guest Article That “Touched My Memory” of My Mental Health As A Child.

Most of my recovery friends, readers, and regular visitors know I enjoy finding many amazing websites about recovery from addiction and mental health. I vowed this year to write and share more openly about my mental health challenges. So when I recently visited one of my resource websites on mental health, my friends of National Alliance on Mental Health  ~NAMI …I read a new article I wanted to share.

Because when I got to reading the part of the guests” experiences with panic attacks, anxiety and such, it brought up those old feelings I got when I was in therapy and looking back to then and connecting the dots to my own problems as a child and early teens with symptoms, especially after my abuse and sexual trauma that happened. I was able to see that I had many mental health issues even back then but was never diagnosed until my gambling addiction took hold of me in adulthood.

The gambling I used to ‘escape and numb out’ those old hauntings which brought out the symptoms I was suffering again now. When I attempted my first suicide and placed in a crisis center for several weeks was when I was finally diagnosed. I went years without knowing what “that” was, and why I felt severely depressed on and off and PTSD, mild mania and anxiety. I was a mess!

Thanks to therapy and medications I am manged and have learned to treat my mental health just like any other disease like diabetes or heart disease. And that rings true for maintaining my recovery from addictions.

And why it is important to heal all areas of Emotional, Body, Spirit and our Mental Well-being … Catherine

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You Can’t Plan For Mental Illness ~ Courtesy of Allie Quinn | May. 23, 2018 

 
My 5-year plan after finishing high school was simple: graduate from college in four years, then begin graduate school directly following graduation. It was easy for me to imagine a 5-year plan at 18 years old when my toughest challenge at that point had been taming my frizzy hair.

My first two years of college were very successful. I made close friends, was hired by my college as a writing tutor and connected with teachers and administrators in the school district I wanted to eventually work in. I was right on track with my 5-year plan.

During my third year of college, however, the mass shooting occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I felt a very deep connection to the event and in the following months, I noticed that I was on high-alert in public areas. I worried for my safety.

A few months later, I learned about the Boston Marathon bombing when I was in my college’s library. I immediately looked at the entrance to the library and wondered where I would hide if a shooter came through the door. A habit of making “escape plans” in my head became uncontrollable. I created them for any public place, and I avoided walking in open spaces and going out at night. Each night, I dreamt that I was trying to escape from a mass shooting; even in my sleep, I couldn’t shake this overwhelming fear.

Looking back, I can see the warning signs that I needed help. I didn’t tell anyone about the thoughts and feelings I was having because I didn’t want people to think I was “unstable.” Admitting to myself or to others that something was wrong could jeopardize my 5-year plan. I told myself that all college students felt this kind of stress and that I’d feel better when the semester ended.

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My junior year ended, but instead of feeling better, I felt significantly worse. I experienced severe panic attacks, paranoia, and anxiety that made it impossible for me to drive, work or stay home alone. After I sought treatment with a therapist and psychiatrist, they recommended I check myself into a psychiatric hospital, so doctors could balance my medication, and I could learn skills to help manage my anxiety. I would be hospitalized five times, spending nearly three months in the hospital. My worst day was when I had to withdraw from my senior year. It felt like years of hard work just slipped away.

I questioned: Why didn’t I seek help sooner?


After my last hospitalization, I immediately re-enrolled in classes. I didn’t give myself the chance to heal because I wanted so badly to get back on track with my 5-year plan. Because I wasn’t working on my mental health, I struggled through two classes, and I wasn’t enjoying school like I did before.

One day, I finally accepted that if I kept putting my education before my mental health, I could risk having another breakdown. I decided to take medical leave from school; I needed to focus on my mental health and regain my strength and confidence. For the next two years, I attended therapy, worked with my psychiatrist, adopted a psychiatric service dog, discovered skills to help me cope and practiced self-care. Eventually, I felt like myself again.

So, I began college again last year. This time, I felt ready. I will be graduating this December with a B.S. in Community and Human Services. The deadline for my 5-year plan has long passed, and my life has not gone as I planned, but I am happy, healthy and have a mission to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. Battling mental illness and maintaining mental health is an ongoing part of my life, but the struggles I faced have put me on the path I’m meant to be on.

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For example, I recently became a young adult speaker for NAMI Ending the Silence. I travel to high schools to share my journey with mental illness and talk to students about mental health and stigma.

The experience has been life-changing. For years, my goal has been to help people, and through NAMI Ending the Silence and blogging, I am making a difference. I believe that talking openly about mental health issues will end stigma and lead to more effective treatment for mental illness.

Please, if you’re experiencing symptoms or warning signs of a mental illness, seek help as soon as possible. Your mental health is farmore important than your 5-year plan. I’ve learned that college can wait—treating mental illness cannot.
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Allie Quinn is a mental health blogger, public speaker, and young adult presenter with NAMI’s Ending the Silence. She works to educate people about the realities of living with a mental illness and raises awareness about the use of psychiatric service dogs. Allie’s mental health blog is Redefine Mental Health

Sharing My Friend Tony Roberts and His Inspiring Blog and Website: “Delight In Disorder”…Org

Sharing My Friend Tony Roberts and His Inspiring Blog and Website: “Delight In Disorder”…Org

I always get “Delight” in having and sharing my dear friend, author, and advocate Tony Roberts and his informative blog at  “Delight In Disorder” all about Mental Health.

He shares just how he feels and experiences as he raises awareness about living with mental health challenges. Also, way more than I do. He has such a beautiful heart and is full of faith as well. So I happened to really enjoy a couple of his recent posts and I know many of you will too and benefit from. I am hoping you will take a little time to visit his blog and give both a “Finishing Read.” They both are excellent topics and we all know that reading is being “In The Know and Powerful.”

 

“Fresh Hope for Mental Health Interview” ~By Tony Roberts

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A few weeks back, I received an unexpected message from Pastor Brad Hoefs from Fresh Hope for Mental Health. Fresh Hope is a mental health ministry that reaches out with an uplifting Gospel message for those who are often cast down. Their mission is to “empower individuals to live a full and rich faith-filled life in spite of a mental health diagnosis.” Toward this end, they have developed curriculum for support groups around the country, they are producing webinars on such topics as “What I Wish My Pastor Knew About Mental Health,” and distribute a podcast that is one of the best of its kind.


Pastor Brad reached out to me to be a guest on this podcast. Below is the link to the program and the show notes:

In this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Pastor Brad interviews Pastor Tony Roberts.

Pastor Tony Roberts was born and raised in the Hoosier heartland just south of Indianapolis. He grew up worshiping high school basketball and once had the honor of playing in a televised “game of the week.”

Tony went to Hanover College. After many detours into sex, drugs, and more folk rock than roll, he wound up at the seminary and became a pastor. It was then that symptoms of depression and mania culminated in a psychotic episode that became pivotal in his life, for better and for worse.

After graduating from Hanover, Tony obtained a Master of Divinity degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. While there, he did ministry assignments at a state hospital for persons with developmental disabilities, as well as at a women’s prison, and inner-city hospital.

Tony served two decades as a solo pastor. He then shifted to writing, speaking, and leading small groups. In March of 2014, Tony published his spiritual memoir, Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission. Having served in pastoral ministry and gone mad, it’s now his mission to bridge the gap between faith communities and the mental health world.

Tony now live in Columbus, Indiana, with supportive family and faithful friends who keep me honest and encourage me to be who God created him to be. Tony’s greatest earthly delights are my four children and two grandchildren, with one more on the way.

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In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; 

in the morning I lay my requests before you 

     and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3)

 

 

Why I Don’t Go to Church

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46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2.46-47)

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, early Christians were on fire. They worshiped daily, shared meals bountifully, praised God delightfully, and built a reputation for loving each other and others with precious passion and compassion. They were filled with a spiritual fervor that knew no end.

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I have had such spiritual fervor. What has happened to my faith?

I went to church this morning, the first time in a long while. For various reasons, I have been absent from the pews much of the year. I have many excellent explanations, but no good excuses. My faith family has been patient with me. More than this, they persistently care in spite of it.

People still stay in touch, frequently send texts or emails not to badger me about coming to church, but to ask how I am doing, let me know that they are praying for me, and offer to help in any way they can. No pressure. No guilt. Just checking in with a brother in Christ to express love and concern. As one sincerely expressed, “We are more concerned with how you are than where you are on Sunday morning.”

As I sat in the pew today, I thought of brothers in Christ who make a difference in my faith.

Some time ago. I asked a brother, Sam S., to serve as my prayer partner. We meet every two weeks to do a Bible study book. We share casual concerns, deep joys, and requests for discernment. I have shared with Sam specific spiritual concerns and he is intent to pray for me, particularly over the weekend, that I might be motivated to come to worship in the fellowship of saints.

Sam is the song leader at our church. His deep melodious sound rings out and surrounds the sanctuary with ancient Psalms, the songs Jesus sang, set to classic church tunes. When my soul is most troubled, I sometimes remain in my pew as people stand and, instead of singing along, streams of tears will flow down my cheeks as I hide my face in my Psalter.

Then there is Gary M, an elder. When I first visited Columbus Reformed Presbyterian (CRPC), Gary was quick to introduce himself and invite me to a weekly fellowship called the Grub-In. We would meet at Gary and his wife Cynthia’s home for food, study, song, and prayer. It meant so much to me when I was going through a separation and divorce to have another faith family I could depend on to pick me up when I was down and set me straight when I veered off course.

Pastor Andy M. is an unassuming man with an abiding faith and a gentle spirit. I have consulted him on a variety of issues, from marriage and divorce, finances, writing. I consistently find him to have an informed Biblical perspective which he shares humbly in the Spirit of truth and love.

Lately, I’ve come to know and appreciate Roger G. for his quiet support and kind encouragement. This morning he shared with me that he enjoyed my recent post on writing. It is such a blessing to know Roger and other men and women of faith are out there, reading things like this, smiling in recognition as if to say, “I get that.”

So, what has become of my faith?

 

I refuse to believe it is God’s fault. I am not angry at God for letting me down in some way. It is not the fault of the church. By and large, pastors and people in the pews are no more hypocritical than persons in the world who accuse them to be. I can’t blame it on the many distractions or worries; my illness is an inadequate explanation at best; I have no unresolved sin conflict in my life that would prevent me from presenting myself before God with a clear conscience.

 

What is it? Why have I lost my fervor for fellowship? My drive to worship? My passion for praise? What has become of my faith?
Well, I hope you will stop by Tony’s Blog and read WHY and the rest of this post!

Catherine Lyon, Author, and Advocate

 

Why I Don’t Go to Church

 

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

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

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

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


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

 

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

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

MakeTheConnection.net also will help you…

Locate Nearby Resources.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take the next step: Make the connection.

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


VA Medical Center Facility Locator

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

Join the Conversation

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

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

God Bless,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Advocate

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

STOP Desperately Gambling For The Holiday 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

* MacBook Pro

* (2) Shure SM-58 microphones

* Cables, stands, accessories

* (2) Headsets

* Equipment for broadcasting phone calls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“LOVE 4 THE UNLOVABLE”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friend: Can God be angry with his beloved child?

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

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

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

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

Me: Yes.

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

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

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

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

Friend: What feels most loving to you?

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

Friend: Unlovable would be a good topic.

Me: Good. “Loving the Unlovable.”

Friend: I like that idea.

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

Friend: Good idea!

+     +       +

 

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

 

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

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

+      +      +

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

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

 

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A Special “Uplifting” For Those Like Me and Many Who Struggle With Depression By My Dear Friend Author, Tony Roberts of “Delight In Disorder”…

How Does God Feel About Mental Illness?

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last week, Tony began a subscriber survey that has thus far proven very fruitful. He learned more about who his readers are and what they are looking for when they visit Delight In Disorder… 

“Some of the most revealing content came from the comments provided in the “other” category. When asked what sort of posts would be most helpful, one reader replied: ”

“… how God feels about mental illness and why He allows it. I know cancer patients, for example, feel the same way, but you won’t hear anyone abandoning them. Instead they receive love, prayers, and casseroles. Living alone with a debilitating illness is so hard.”

This thoughtful response raises many profound questions. I want to carefully and prayerfully respond. Yet, please understand that I am not an expert theologian or a mental health professional. Instead, I am a believer in Christ who has lived with a mental illness for over 30 years. This doesn’t give me all the answers but helps me better understand the questions.

How does God feel about mental illness? Why does He allow it?

I feel much more confident answering the former question than the latter. The depth of God’s love for us surpasses any love we could have for each other. When we look to Jesus Christ and his feelings for us, God’s emotions are revealed. Jesus became furious at religious leaders who were excluding “imperfect” (sinners) from full participation in worship. Jesus went to outer regions to reach out to those dismissed as “demon possessed” and freed them from the captivity that caused them to be separated from the faith community. Like the Samaritan lifting the bleeding man out of the ditch and caring for him, Jesus cares for those who are hurting, both physically and emotionally.

So, why? I want to approach this more as a prayer than an accusation. Like when the prophets called on God, “How long, Lord. Will you forget me forever?” In my prayer life, I have come to understand God’s mysterious role in human suffering as something beyond my ability to understand, yet something I can fully trust. I believe God has a plan for me much greater than my mental illness in this life. As the Apostle Paul says, “for this slight momentary affliction is not worth comparing to the greater glory to come.” ( 2 Corinthians 4.17). Like a woman in the midst of agonizing labor, it is next to impossible to believe this in the moment, but when her child is born…. AMAZING!

Why don’t people respond to mental illness with love, prayers, and casseroles?

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I hear this from many both within the church and beyond. Mental illness can be a life-threatening illness, given the number of deaths by suicide. It is, however, viewed by many as an annoying condition that could be overcome with self-willed faith, maybe a few extra push-ups, and good old-fashioned elbow grease. I have heard people comment that they grow weary of caring for family members and friends with chronic mental illness. It never goes away.

It doesn’t have to be this way. When I was first diagnosed, I was serving as a pastor of a small congregation in Northeast PA. I spent over six weeks in the hospital, while my wife cared for our children at home, ages 3 & 1. The church rallied to provide child care, meals, rides. It was wonderful. I was given leave for recovery time and welcomed back when I was ready. Churches can be havens of refuge, but too often we are not.

Living alone with a debilitating illness is so hard.

Amen! Damn, right it is! And, one of the debilitating factors is that our mental illness coerces us to do the very things that do us the most harm and fail to do the things that could most help. It does us no good to lie in bed for hours on end, but there are days the thought of getting up seems to us like running a 3-minute mile. It would be helpful to go out and spend some time with other people, but there are days where the fear of doing something inappropriate is just too strong.

This past year, for various reasons, I tried to live alone in an attic apartment in an unfamiliar city. On Saturdays, I visited my children. Sundays I went to church. The rest of the week I was on my own. I was not able to make new friends. I tried support groups, meet-ups, readings, dating sites. People scared me or I scared them. In this climate, I had 7 episodes that required intervention. In just 18 months.

Thanks be to God and the loving support of my family, I now have an apartment in my sister’s basement. It provides me a wonderful living space of my own yet I am not alone.

I know such spaces are hard to come by for persons with mental illness.

I pray you find yours.

Tony R.

#####

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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.

Tony Roberts, Author
Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission is on Amazon & Amazon Kindle


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