Gambling Addiction is NOT a Poor Person’s Addiction. Meet Melinda L., An RN…

imageedit_1_6172885164 Courtesy of InRecovery Magazine

“My name is Melinda and I saved lives for a living.”

I was an ICU nurse and a nursing supervisor at a hospital where I had been employed for 27 years. I had earned respect, accolades and a good degree of success in my career. There are people alive today because of actions I took and decisions I made, often in a split second, to save their lives. With all of this success, I could not for the life of me stop gambling or think I could stop any more than changing the tides of the ocean.

Believe me, I tried.  In the local bookstore, I found rows and rows of books on alcoholism, drug addiction, overeating, overspending, over-sexing, over this, over that. There were entire sections dedicated to the innocent enablers who unwillingly allowed the “overs” to continue their destructive behavior. There were no manuals for the hapless gambler.

I would sit in my car, slam the steering wheel, lower my head and sob. My gas gauge was on empty, and that familiar nauseating feeling of disgust and terror would return. Then, as always, I would form a momentary sense of resolution and regurgitate the lines of an old sermon filled with rallying cries: “I can’t do this anymore . . . this is not me . . . I’m not a caged animal on a treadmill . . . I am better than this!” Each time I spoke these words, I had the feeling that this time I would stop gambling.

Less than 24 hours later, my car was back in the casino parking lot. It was as if I had no control; I realize now that I didn’t. This continued for close to five years until my life came crashing down. Due to choices I’d made to feed my addiction, I lost my job of 27 years, damaged relationships with friends and family, forfeited an insane amount of money and nearly lost my life. I also lost perhaps the most precious thing of all; time. Time I can never get back wasted in front of slot machines.

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Slot machines were designed with one goal: to make an addict out of everyone. The longer a person plays, the more money they lose, until it is all gone. In the midst of my gambling addiction, my sensible way of thinking about money all but vanished. I would drive an extra four miles to save $2 on paper towels, and yet drop $500 in a slot machine. I kept 50 cents in the console of my car for enough gas to get home. It was often the only money I had left at the end of a day of gambling.

One time when I was so engrossed in my machine, I failed to hear a man’s call for help when his mother passed out. I had performed several Good Samaritan acts in public, but I had a good thing going that particular Sunday afternoon; I was winning. That should have been the time I faced reality, but it wasn’t. I had two more years of self-destruction, convoluted thinking, and unhinged behavior ahead of me.  I was just as impaired by gambling as a bar patron who has had too much to drink. After about eight drinks, a bartender would no doubt cut them off; after all, they might hurt themselves, or worse, kill someone. When a patron’s judgment is impaired, the responsible thing would be to cut them off.

No such limits exist at the casino. Every time I went gambling, it was as though I was walking into the Cheers bar. The greeters knew my name when I usually gambled and the machine I liked; I’m sure they were also aware of how often I lost. No one ever came over and suggested, “Take a break, go home, take care of your kids.” There were no safety nets in place; just a few signs with a number to call if you thought you had a gambling problem.

I hit rock bottom and stopped gambling on April 29, 2012. My hard work was just beginning. My life was in shambles. I had no job, no money and no direction. Nursing was all I had ever known and loved, and I had jeopardized my license. There is a reason why gambling addiction has the highest rate of suicide of any addiction. One in five addicts attempt suicide, and many succeed. There is only so much cocaine, heroin or alcohol you can put into your body before ending up in a morgue. Gambling has no such constraints; when it gets bad, suicide seems to be the only answer.

Fortunately, I knew I had to live. I had to be a mother to my children.

Pain medication 3

As I slowly emerged from a cloud of profound shame and despair, I began going to Gamblers Anonymous meetings and reached out to organizations I had avoided in the past. One of those organizations was a nonprofit in Washington, DC, called Stop Predatory Gambling. Their mission is to stop the injustice and inequality created by government-sponsored gambling. I became their official National Victim’s Advocate, a voice for those who remain silent and in the shadows due to social stigma and discrimination. I began speaking all over the country and joined in the fight against gambling expansion. The underlying message was simple: Gambling addiction is a beast that destroys families and individuals; it is fundamentally wrong for our government to prey upon the vulnerable to fill their coffers. My goal was to bring advocacy, raise awareness and reform for this highly misunderstood addiction.

“I once had a one-on-one conversation with a senator from Illinois. “You don’t look like a gambler,” he said. “What do you think one looks like?” I replied. “We look like who we are: your neighbor, sister, father, spiritual leader, co-worker. The slot machine didn’t look back at me and say, ‘Gee, you are a bit too put together, I’m not going to make you an addict.”

Gambling operates on the Pareto Principle: 90% of profits come from 10% of the gamblers. These are not your casual weekend night-on-the-town gamblers, they are the most vulnerable: the elderly, poor, women and minorities. “Casino Cafes” located every few miles in strip malls with cutesy names like Stella’s and Dolly’s are blatantly predatory to women. Many states and municipalities view gambling as an economic panacea, yet they miss the hidden costs: child neglect, crime and ultimately the need for state assistance. Gambling addiction tears families apart and ruins lives.

Gambling addiction is now recognized as a disease and may be covered by insurance and have benefits that cover treatment. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the number of gambling addicts is rising at an alarming rate. In Illinois alone, there are nearly 12,000 people on the voluntary self-exclusion list – just an estimated 10% of the state’s problem gamblers.  Gambling nearly killed me, and I never saw it coming.  Things need to change. We have far to go before the problem of compulsive gambling is resolved.

Change begins when even one addicted gambler finds recovery.

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Melynda Litchfield has been a registered nurse for over 30 years, working in ICU, nursing administration and now home care. She is the National Victim’s Advocate for Stop Predatory Gambling, mans the GA hotline twice a week and speaks on the predatory effects of gambling and the nature of the gambling industry. Melynda is the proud mother of three children and is active in community organizations, including her church council.
www.stoppredatorygambling.org

**I have known and worked with Melinda and Les Bernal Founder of Stop Predatory Gambling about the expansion and impact of the growing offerings of gambling sponsored by the Oregon State Lottery and when I lived in Oregon until late 2013. Please visit there website by the link above and see how gambling has a negative impact on your State and Community today…

Catherine Lyon

“Problem Gambling Awareness Month” My Guest Is Vegas Judy. “What If You Live In Las Vegas?”


WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A RECOVERING GAMBLER LIVING IN LAS VEGAS.
by JUDY G.

MEET, VEGAS JUDY!

 

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This is about two aspects of me – my evolution as a compulsive and then recovering gambler – and my growing fascination and compulsion to be in Las Vegas. Intertwined?Yes. But also distinct and separate. What I mean by that is: If gambling didn’t exist in Las Vegas, would I still want to live here? Yes.

However, since gambling does exist here, would I want to live anywhere else? No.

Now, back to the beginnings:

My childhood years certainly didn’t include this yearning to be in Las Vegas. But I guess I always had yearnings – and in those days, it was to live in the Golden State – California. I  spent the first 8 years of my life exclusively in California – mainly Lodi and Woodland. But when I was 9, my father “re-upped” and went back into the Air Force, and shortly after that, he was sent to Korea.

In Fifth Grade, I went to four different schools, including one in Texas and one in Virginia. This was the beginning of my Air Force brat experiences, and at the same time, I began thinking that “everything would be perfect” if I could just be with my friends in California. So I always had that propensity to think the “grass was greener” somewhere else.

I started living in a sort of “escape fantasy land” whenever real life got too rough. Since most of our relatives lived in California, no matter where we were stationed in the U.S., we usually made a road trip back to the Golden State at least once – usually during the summer. Quite often, these trips would take us through Las Vegas, where often we’d stop and spend the night. During those early years, I never thought about gambling, of course. It was strictly an adult playland then.

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I was mostly aware of the celebrities who might be lounging around the pools or perhaps wandering in the casinos. I remember once being in a casino with my parents and hearing “Paging Mr. Belafonte, Mr. Harry Belafonte.” This was heady stuff for a movie-star-struck young girl. If my parents went to see a show at night, my sister and I didn’t mind. We’d stay at our motel, go swimming in the pool that was usually opened all night, and have fun on our own. I do remember seeing the “fantasyland” aspects of the Strip, such as it was, back in those days; such as the camels in front of the Sahara, the Sultan in front of the Dunes. But that’s all Las Vegas was to me then – a convenient stop on our way to my “mecca”, California.

As far as gambling, I had literally no experience or feeling about it one way or the other. Ironically, we were stationed in Wiesbaden Germany when I was 17, and my first “job” was giving out change for the small bank of slot machines in the Officer’s Club (the General Von Steuben). This was a pretty boring job. Hardly anyone spent much time in that little space.

I do, however, remember one woman who was pretty much a “regular,”  She started out feeding quarters into one particular machine and would stand there for hours, having drinks and hitting several jackpots, but by the end of the evening, there she was, slightly weaving, by now barefoot (there were no stools for the gamblers then, and those high heels got too tricky to stand in after awhile and after a few drinks) and her winnings had long gone back into the machine. I remember thinking how stupid and boring the whole thing was. (Little did I know that I was to become that woman one day).

My next exposure to gambling was back in Las Vegas. My first husband and I had (not surprisingly) gone to Vegas for our honeymoon.  In those days, there were no video poker machines, and I didn’t know how to play any “table games of chance”, so I just put a few quarters in the single reel slot machine and I might get lucky and win the “jackpot” – $25.

My second husband and I also went to Las Vegas on our honeymoon. He has the dubious honor of being the one who taught me how to play 21.  After winning a small jackpot on a machine, he suggested taking my winnings and playing blackjack. Of course, we had our Beginners’ Luck there, and that became my new favorite game, and a reason to escape to Vegas whenever I could talk him into it…

By the end of our marriage, we were two full-blown alcoholics, but he was happy to do his drinking every night in front of the TV set.  I, on the other hand, wanted the action and excitement and fantasy of Las Vegas!

 

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One night I got into an argument with him and ended up taking off in my car.  I was picked up by the police somewhere near Ontario, California, heading to L.A., yet I told the police I was driving to Vegas.  The fact that I had my housedress on and was drunk might have alerted the police to the veracity of my statement, and I spent that night in jail.  Toward the end of my second marriage, I had met my third husband-to-be, who was temporarily my “escape companion”.  Why not? He had no job, no ties.  Why wouldn’t he hook up with this crazy alcoholic who had a car, and all she asked of him was to drive her to Vegas.

When we’d first arrive, I would hit the tables and eventually pass out– sometimes in the casino (where I had to be carried to the room) – and sometimes waited til I was in the room. Inevitably, the next day I’d be suffering a mighty hangover and severe pangs of regret and guilt, and we’d morosely head back to the disapproving situation at home. Sometime in 1986, I had stopped drinking (after it quit working for me, and I had become suicidal).

Everyone predicted that I would want to leave my “companion” who was 14 years younger than I, a drug addict and unemployed. But I insisted that we were “in love” and it didn’t matter if he continued to use and I had stopped; love would conquer all. We probably WOULD have split up, if it hadn’t been that I got pregnant (surprise!) at age 45, so now we had to stay together, and do the right thing.

So, here I was, a new mother (again), supporting my baby and my (by then) husband.  My only escape was the periodic trips to Vegas.  I wasn’t drinking anymore, so that was good, but that hadn’t stopped my desire to go to Vegas; in fact, it was stronger than ever. You see, I didn’t realize it, but my quitting drinking was possible because I simply substituted the one addiction for another – gambling.  A couple of years later, I decided “enough with these 12 trips a year to Vegas; let’s move there.”  Again, my husband had no reason to deny the request.  I was able to retire from my county job, after 22 years of service and have a small retirement stipend, and made sure I had a new job waiting for me in Las Vegas before we moved here.

Showgirls at the Welcome Sign - 8-15-07

Sometime after we moved here, my husband brought home one of those hand held video poker machines.  I had never played poker before – only once, during a neighborhood friendly game, in which I had surprisingly won, with beginners’ luck, not having any idea what I was doing.  But with this hand-held amazing little thing, I learned to hone my skills quite sharply. Each time I went to a casino, it seemed that there were new and varied video poker games double bonus, triple bonus, bonus deluxe, etc., etc. In the last couple of years they added the three reels at a time, and now they even have 50 or 100 games you can play at a time. It’s mind-boggling!!

Now I had found the perfect answer to my female gambler’s dream. I didn’t have to sit and make chit chat with the other players at the 21 table. It could be just me and my machine –my lover–for hours at a time. No one to disturb us. The cocktail waitress would come around and occasionally I’d have a grapefruit juice (liquor was out, of course). This is a little personal, but I have to say that but sometimes I’d actually feel a mini-orgasm when I hit a jackpot. Meanwhile, at home, my libido was practically non-existent.

Sometimes the other players’ cigarette smoke would bother me, but usually, I could even ignore that – especially if I had a “hot” machine. I also loved it if they were playing the “right” music –usually some sultry and sensual, Marvin Gaye songs (“Let’s Get it On”), etc., or hits from further back –at a time when I was young and innocent.  The atmosphere in the casino appealed to me too –dark, soft neon lights flashing here and there, beckoning “come, play me”. No sense of time, no windows.  The tinkling of ice cubes in glasses, people laughing in the background. It was party time!

There has been a lot said and written about the commonalities of men and women gamblers and their differences.  For many men, it’s about being the “big shot”, showing off, taking a chance and winning big in some cases.  For many women, it’s more about escape and isolation. There’s one aspect, however, where this invisible dividing line blurs.  When I say I didn’t want to be a “big shot”, why then was it so important to me to use my “player’s card” at various casinos, and earn points so I could have the so-called “freebies” – like free room nights, free meals, free shows?  But more often than not, there’s no such thing as a “freebie.”

I remember about a year ago when I lost my whole paycheck at a locals casino.  A couple of days later I had no money, so my son and I went to the same casino and used some of my “points” to get a pizza in their Italian deli.  As we left, my son shouted out: “Thanks for the f____ing $1,000 pizza!” (Out of the mouths of slightly jaded babes!).

A funny thing about my style of playing is I didn’t want anyone to know if I hit a jackpot.  I wanted to just keep on playing – no congratulations or anything like that.  I was dead serious about this thing, and I didn’t want anything to interfere with my play.

Many times I sat there for 7 or 8 hours straight, without even taking a bathroom break. When I did, it was nearly impossible to make it without having an accident. So far I’ve concentrated on what I liked about being in the casinos.  What didn’t I like? Well, I didn’t like losing, and “chasing” my losses – or winning and yet not being able to quit until I’d put it all back. I didn’t like trying to get money out of a bank ATM machine, and being told “Unable to complete transaction”.

I didn’t like looking at myself in the bathroom mirror and seeing this strange, wild-eyed, with mussed up hair, confused and scared looking. Can you believe that even looking like this, some men actually “hit on me”?  I guess it was a matter of recognizing what they thought was “easy prey.” But I never resorted to that.  That was one of those “not yets.”  Not saying that it couldn’t have happened – just that it didn’t.

Worst of all, I hated coming home to anger and sadness, disappointment –my husband and my child looking forlorn and lost. What happened, Mommy?  Where was the pizza you said you’d bring home? Even when I had won, they usually weren’t that happy –unless I gave my husband some money so he could do what he wanted (gamble – or buy drugs), and get my son a new Play Station game or something like that, or say, “It’s OK, you don’t need to go to school today.”  He learned manipulation from the best teachers – me and his father.

I’ve managed to hit two milestones here while living in Las Vegas – of over a year “bet free”, but I never got much further than that. Looking back, I think it was because I thought I didn’t deserve any kind of success.  I was worthless. For the most part, I hadn’t really applied the 12 steps to my life –I just went on with it, usually as the martyr, until the pressure got so great and life looked so hopeless, that I had to go out and release my escape valve. All the pain and remorse of the past temporarily disappeared, in my pursuit of the fantasyland escape – the immediate fix, not thinking about the long-term effects.

The worst thing about living in Las Vegas and being a compulsive gambler is that the gambling is so accessible – you don’t even have to think twice about it – just hop in your car and go. Even the 7-11 around the corner has a few machines (although I liked to stick to the casino atmosphere as I mentioned above).  The best thing about living in Las Vegas and being a compulsive gambler is that there is ALL kinds of help – if you want it.

There are 24 hour GA (Gamblers Anonymous) meetings and people who know exactly what you’re going through.  I choose right now to stay in Las Vegas because I happen to love so many things about life here.  I especially am drawn to its history (yes, Las Vegas does have a history!) and I write about it at every opportunity.  I was excited in 2005 when this city celebrated its 100th anniversary.  It was Fantastic!

Is it stupid for me to remain here? Maybe so. Maybe not. One of my arguments is that gambling is available in just about any state now, and certainly in Europe. But the facts are, it isn’t as attractive to me anywhere else –not even “Reno or Laughlin” –certainly not “Atlantic City.” Something about being here in this jewel in the middle of the desert has me totally mesmerized and hypnotized. I look at the new games the casinos are offering – anything from ‘Betty Boop’ to ‘Austin Powers’ to the ‘Addams Family,’  and now ‘Popeye’ – and I wonder where it’s all leading.

It’s definitely luring kids, and I understand teenagers are being swept up by gambling – as much as drugs or alcohol. What’s the answer?

Blow up the casinos?

Make a new kind of prohibition? Probably not.

People will always seek their pleasures –in one form or another. They will be errant children. And some can get their pleasures in “safe” measures –not gambling more than they can afford, not becoming suicidal.

I don’t have anything really against gambling or drinking per say – I just know I can’t do it. Can I stay here in Las Vegas and fight my demons? Only time will tell, but I’m willing to give it another try.

(Judy wrote this in 2003 – “More has happened since then, but I’ll save that for another time.”)

Please visit and Purchase her Book Here on Las Vegas: The Fabulous First Century (NV) (Making of America) …. Author, Judy Dixon Gabaldon ~ aka: VEGAS JUDY

 

“This One is for The Ladies of Recovery” . . .

Female group is doing yoga exercises in a fitness club

Female group is doing yoga exercises in a fitness club


I  welcome all here to my recovery blog & journey!
I have been graced by another featured article by a wonderful recovery writer, Alyssa Craig. I enjoy having her on my blog. She is an exceptional writer that has her pulse on the heart of writing about recovery way better than I.

I’m always happy to share recovery writers and authors anytime here on my blog. You can send me requests anytime to my Email at: LyonMedia@aol.com  and when I have openings, I’d be happy to featured yours.

 

    What Women in Recovery Really Need
  Author: Alyssa Craig

For a long time, individuals in addiction recovery received the same treatment regardless of gender. Studies and programs were eventually developed to fit the needs of men and while women also benefited from these programs, there were certainly missing pieces to their own treatment. Gender specific addiction recovery treatment now helps to address problems women uniquely face in order to give them the best chance of a successful recovery. It is important to understand these benefits and what women require in recovery when deciding between treatment options.

The reasons abuse begins varies between women and men. Women are greatly influenced by the relationships they have with others. This means if they have a family member or a significant other participating in the addictive behavior, they are more likely to begin use.  As mentioned here, women are also more likely to self-medicate when faced with emotional and mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and PTSD following trauma (both current or earlier). Women are also more likely than men to become addicted, and the introduction of addictive substances and behaviors puts them in quick danger of dependence.
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Once women do enter a recovery program, addressing these initial struggles can best be done when surrounded by others facing the same problems. It has been found, for both genders, individuals in recovery are more likely to engage in open communication in group therapy sessions when they are only with their own gender. For women, this can be especially important, because many women in recovery have a history of trauma, making the removal of men an important part of the recovery equation.

Betsy Firth, a clinical psychologist at an addiction recovery center says, “Women tend to be hyper-focused on external issues while in treatment, the number one being focused on men and how they view the women, how they can get their attention/approval. Removing the men from the mix allows the women to focus inward on what they need for their recovery. At the same time, many women have been in abusive or violent relationships and can get easily triggered by exposure to men while we are asking them to be open and vulnerable.”

Allowing women to attend recovery solely with other women allows them to feel safe from harmful situations they may have faced and find healing, without facing potential triggers. As women have a greater chance of relapse than men, it is of the utmost importance to put them in a position where they will be more likely to succeed. It is recommended when an individual (male or female) leaves recovery, they avoid forming new romantic relationships for at least one year. This gives the individual, especially a woman, the chance to recover without the pressures described by Firth.

 

Women who suffer from emotional or mental disorders, as described above, also have the need to overcome personal barriers of shame, address the stigma of addiction, and acknowledge fears they may be experiencing – such as loss of child custody, loss of employment, or an inability to fulfill their responsibilities. Relapse is much more likely when a woman has not developed sufficient coping mechanisms for these struggles and other issues such as lack of self-worth. Attending a gender specific treatment center ensures these issues specific to women are addressed and the women leave with the coping skills and support they need.

Because women do put so much weight on their relationships, a treatment center should encourage the removal of toxic associations and help each woman surround herself with a positive support system. In addition to the support given both during treatment and in after-care, a woman needs to have family and friends who will be supportive of the changes she is making. Often continuing to attend group meetings provided in after-care helps to provide some of this support, as each woman can continue to receive support from peers who can truly empathize.

Gender specific treatment has proven to be very successful for those women who participate in it. Drugabuse.gov reported in December 2014 that women are more likely to be employed 12 months after treatment admission if they attended a gender specific treatment center. With the focus on addressing triggers and the initial reasons for use, along with providing the support system women need to rely on, gender specific recovery is a top choice for women striving for recovery.

 


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 Lets Celebrate ALL Women In Recovery!

God Bless All,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author of “Addicted To Dimes”. . .
*Article Courtesy of Author, Alyssa Craig*

A Special Blog Share To Raise Awareness Of Autism. Meet My BFF DeBorah Palmer & Her Wonderful Brother Stephen Palmer.

Hello Friends, Readers, and Visitors,

It is not often that a good friend makes the ‘New York Time,’  but when they do? It sure is worth sharing! And my BFF, DeBorah Palmer and her sweet brother Stephen Palmer made the New York Times this month. The Times did a wonderful article on them both to hopefully raise awareness of autism which Stephen was diagnosed with, and how there seems to never be enough time for DeBorah, who takes such good care of Stephen, as she works and tries to care for him, so Stephen lives a fun,  fulfilling life.  And I know that can be a challenge at times. I battle with a few mental health issues myself, and my loving husband is such a help to me. So I know it can be difficult for the family members.
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But I don’t think I can recall a time ever that DeBorah has had any complaints about making sure Stephen lives a well-rounded life with autism. That girl is always on the go, and making sure Stephen has many wonderful life experiences. That takes a very special and caring person, which my friend DeBorah is and more! So let me share this wonderful article with all of you.
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And, if you get some time, please take a visit to Deborah’s blog. http://dancingpalmtrees.wordpress.com  She shares some so many amazing stories of her life, and shares many important articles from other blogs as well. Just wanted to say: “Congrats DeBorah & Stephen” for a fantastic article. Sometimes life can be challenging. “Keep The Faith” .. .. ..

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Happy Reading Friends!


{Stephen Palmer at his home in Queens. Mr. Palmer “lights up” when he sees his sister, said Iya Thomas, a supervisor at the Queens Center for Progress, which runs his group home. Credit Victor J. Blue for The New York Times}.

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Every workday morning, DeBorah Palmer pulls on her navy blazer and starts her rounds. She is a security guard who patrols the galleries of a Manhattan museum and assists the visitors streaming through its doors. But as she points the sightseers to this exhibit or that one, an urgent question inevitably pops into her mind: How is Stevie?

She means Stevie, who loves Iron Man, plain M&Ms and Popeye’s fried chicken. Stevie, who has a sweet inside basketball shot and a passion for dinosaurs. Stevie, who is a 54-year-old man with autism who cannot read a book or cross a street on his own.

Stevie Palmer is her beloved brother, her closest relative. He is intellectually disabled and counts on her to oversee his care at his group home in Queens. It is her personal mission to ensure that he has everything he needs. Finding a way to do that — while holding onto a $16-an-hour job that offers little in the way of flexibility — is her biggest challenge.

“He’s my No. 1 priority,” said Ms. Palmer, who is 56, single and stressed. “Sometimes I feel guilty. I think to myself, ‘Am I doing enough?’ I think I could be doing better.”

Can My Past Childhood Trauma Cause Mental Health Problems? Or is it, “Tag Your It!”

Hello Recovery Friends, and Welcome New Friends,

 

 

I was wondering over the weekend if my mental health issue’s could be caused by a genetic predisposition, or was my childhood trauma and abuse the main cause? The trauma of being sexually abused as a little girl. So I started doing some research, and of course some crazy thinking of my own, and started journaling more about what I could remember, as far back as I could of my childhood.

Thought I would write a little about what I came up with. Being therapy again for problems with PTSD again, I have uncovered a few things of my own. Some are memories of my past, and some is information I came across to get a few more answers as to why, because out of all of my siblings, I’m the only one that suffers from mental illness and disorders. And how confusing it is at times when my psychiatrist says that many conditions I suffer are “just labels.”

WHAT?

Now that just confuses the hell out me! She tells me that doctors use labels to help explain what my mental conditions, but I tell her, “what about the symptoms?” When I “get labeled,” I go look up what the disorder or condition they tell me I am suffering from, and BINGO! They description fits exactly to my symptoms. So what am I to call them?
I get very frustrated at this. So here is a little piece I came across from a medial journal that explains if mental health is generic.

“Scientists have long recognized that many psychiatric disorders tend to run in families, suggesting potential genetic roots. Such disorders include autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia. Symptoms can overlap and so distinguishing among these 5 major psychiatric syndromes can be difficult. Their shared symptoms suggest they may also share similarities at the biological level. In fact, recent studies have turned up limited evidence of shared genetic risk factors, such as for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, autism and schizophrenia, and depression and bipolar disorder.”

Now later in life, I found out my mother was having trouble with depression. So I wonder if I just happened to be the lucky one to have it passed on to me. I don’t know if either of my two sisters, or my one brother has any mental health problems because we all have not spoken to one another since my mothers passing in summer of 2003.
Yes, it is very sad to write that. Even my father has not spoken to me since 2004. Have no clue why, but I have forgiven and moved on in my life. Like we say in recovery, “we have no control over people, places, and things.”

So back to memories. I’m not saying that my childhood was all bad. There were many wonderful family memories, but some would get over looked due to alcohol abuse, or family drama of sort. Maybe I was more hyper sensitive to words my parents used to describe me at times. But after going through sex abuse, I do feel that made me more prone to look at everyone around me differently as I got older. In JR. High School my dad would see me hanging with my girlfriends outside the school, and he would call me a hooker or pill popper just because a few of my friends smoked. Or he didn’t like the way they were dressed, so he said they dress like hookers, and so did I. He had no idea how hurtful that was.

To judge your daughter by the clothes I was wearing? So I did anything I could to be out of the house. I hated being home. I would isolate in my bedroom a lot. Feeling sad and depressed a lot. But then my parents would turn around and let me go on a date at 14? OK, now I’m confused. My mom would constantly tell me I never tell her the truth about anything. That I would never amount to nothing when she got mad at me. When we were a bit younger, she would tell us kids that if we didn’t do what we were told, she would have my father drop us off at juvenile hall and leave us there.
Who threatens their kids that way? For me? I took the things she said to heart I suppose.
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I never felt like I could talk to my parents about anything going on in my life due to the nasty verbal abuse, which continued into my late teens and 20’s. And this did follow me into adulthood with my father. We have always had a strained relationship.  I feel my mother caused this, as she made us kids afraid of my father. That he would be the one to beat us with a belt, buckle and all if she could not get through to us kids. We where not ‘hellish’ kids either. Well, in the last year of high school my brother did give them a little run for their money until he went into the Army. LOL.
This is one area I tell many parents about, to please talk to your kids. They only want to be heard. They want validation and unconditional love from their parents. They want to know they have a voice. You can still tell them, ‘no,’  of what ever they are asking for, but at least they feel they have been heard.

I do feel from being sexually abused, had a lot of bearing on the way I viewed things and others in life. Other people, men, relationships. And not getting that unconditional love from my parents, I spent years trying to prove my worth to them, and trying to find that love in many bad relationships. So my conclusion is NO, I don’t think mental health problems are directly genetic, or passed down from your parents. I feel the environment you grow up in can play a large roll. I remember from a young age, I had to be on the go, or moving all the time. I guess they call it high anxiety, or mild mania. Even just riding in the car, I would have to rock back and forth in my seat. I felt nervous and anxious all the time. Even to this day I have to shake my foot to fall asleep. So later in life when I was first diagnosed with bipolar ll disorder with severe depression & anxiety, I thought, how can you be depressed and have anxiety at the same time?

Well you can. I would find this out later in live when I got tangled into a severe gambling addiction with alcohol abuse at times. The gambling was the ‘excitement and movement’ I was using to feel ‘pleasure and reward’ in my life. I also was feeling entitlement to do the destructive things I was doing with gambling. Even today, one of my med’s I take is because I depleted this from my brain chemicals is what I was told from my psychiatrist. Being in a constant state of  impulsiveness and obsession, and on edge all the time with my gambling addiction. But I also used it as a form of escape and running from my past pain of my abuse and childhood haunts. As far as my treatment, I needed more than just cognitive behavior therapy and treatment. I had to get through all the crap I was stuffing away for years from my past as well.

And that is now where I am today. I have been in recovery now from gambling addiction 8 1/2 years. And yes, I did have many relapse’s along the way until I got a foot hold on long-term recovery. What I deal with most today is my mental/emotional health. It still is not where I did like it to be. I have and have challenges with depression with pain, agoraphobia with panic disorder, PTSD has reared its ugly head again, and adult attention deficit disorder. I’m still working through a behavioral center, and with a psychiatrist, and therapist. Two of my medications have just been increased. I take each day as it comes. And I try my best to not let all of this stop me from doing the things I love. The agoraphobia is the hardest to deal with right now. It makes me feel so isolated. Like watching life go past your window without YOU in it. But I’m working it.  I refuse to give up. I know there are many who have it even worse than I.

So I share what I am going through, so those who may not have ever had to deal with mental illness can see what it is like for those who do suffer. We need to change the Stigma and how people view others who do have mental and emotional illness. We need to continue to talk about it. I plan I doing so for a long time. . . .

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Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author and Advocate

Addiction + Mental Illness Can = SUICIDE …

(This Post Not Suitable for Young Children ~ Warning)

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I felt so dark, sad, hollow and alone. Even though there were people all around me, talking about all these knives around me in my living-room, how I wasn’t responding. Cuts on my wrists, but DAMN, they got there in time.”

That is all I think I heard before I blacked out again. Next thing I know, I wake up in a strange room, and people could look at me through dark glass window & camera’s. My head hurt, and I had tunnel vision, fuzzy blackness I could see around the sides of my eyes. A pain and heaviness I can not fully describe. Scared, alone, and wanted to go home! But I couldn’t, as I found in the next few days. That was November 2002, right before my 40th birthday,

I Attempted SUICIDE! …
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I feel many of us who have tried suicide think this way, (the above quote). I know at the time, I did. I didn’t have an ounce of self-worth in me. I think I was even beyond hating myself if that is possible. All I could feel is this blackness all around me. Just in limbo of nothingness. No sound, no sight, just black and fuzzy. As  I always say, “the lord sometimes takes us down a path, even a bad path, to help us learn from our mistakes, our bad choices, or just about life. And did he have me learn something from it.” He wanted me to learn that my life was worth way more than suicide. That I meant something to someone, I just couldn’t see or feel it at that time.

This past week and a half, I’ve been transported back to that frightening place, that black, hollow, empty place. But not by my hand, by my husband’s nephew, Ricky. He had attempted suicide for the second time in just under two months. I knew exactly how he felt. He had taken all his psych meds again, all at once a week ago. He just moved back here to Arizona 3 weeks ago from South Carolina. I did that my 2nd attempt in 2006.

He’s been in the Air Force for 8 years. Then got out a year ago August, and he has gone  mentally and emotionally down hill since. It just breaks my heart, and it gets worse.
Again, the lord is teaching me what it looks like to attempt suicide, to see what I DID to my loved ones around me at the time of my own. How I scared the hell out of my husband. I now know what it looks like, the hurt and worry I caused many. Yes, the lord is still teaching me.

Ricky lives with my husbands siblings in their parents home. Mom & dad have been passed for sometime now, but the kids all live in the home. And as we all know what happened to me when my husband, Tom and I moved here a year ago. We’d only lived with them for only 2 months, and had to get the hell out of that house! Tom’s 2 brothers are very verbally abusive.
I was having 4-7 panic attacks a month, and cried myself to sleep many nights.There were 7 of us in one house. There is no communication skills that go on in that home. Everything is an argument about who is right or wrong. So I’m sure for Ricky, it’s not the best place to be, even though he is more of family then I was, it’s not a healthy environment for him.

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What was more gut wrenching for me, after we they got him to the ER, then he was in ICU, things calmed down a little. They came home and went through Ricky’s car and room to find recent credit cards opened, and many receipts for withdrawals at a couple of gambling casinos here. You have no idea how hard that was for me to hear. And a hard pill to swallow that I couldn’t help one of my own family members. See, my husband’s side of the family love to go gamble. I already new Ricky’s brother Dustin was a problem gambler as he told me so when we first moved me. So then I really knew the truth of the whole problem. It was exactly like me back in 2002.

Also, it seems the only places Tom’s siblings go when they want to get away is to Las Vegas, or Laughlin, NV. And every time Ricky came to visit from South Carolina, they all went there for a mini vacation. I also knew, when Ricky & Dustin’s dad passed 2 years ago, and Tom’s sister, Janis told us he had done a 2nd mortgage on their home 8 months before he passed. She didn’t find out until he died. He had forged her name some how, and took a loan on the house for $150,000.00. So the boys grew up knowing their dad was an addicted gambler.

Then, the following year we lost Janis to intentional suicide by taking all her psych meds and overdosed. So these 2 men have had nothing but heartache for the past 2 years. Mental/Emotional illness runs in their family. We all tried to help save Janis, but she just never recovered after her husband, the boys dad passed. The house was going into foreclosure, and she could not afford to pay both the 1st and 2nd mortgages, and they had built that house many years before when the boys were little. Now a year later, and these boys just haven’t been able to recover the loss. Dustin for now is stable and doing well on his bipolar meds.

But Ricky has had a struggle for about 9 months now. He did get on with Boeing for 6 months after he got of the Air Force, but he said the work was very stressful. Classic signs for someone with bipolar, severe depression, and suffers PTSD, but he was working through it. But about 4 months ago he started having some problems with his meds, and he started going down hill. So after the 1st suicide attempt, he quite his job at Boeing, and was going to use his GI Bill  money to go back to college. Then he started going down hill fast.

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Just talking to him on the phone, we could hear the depression when he was still in the hospital in South Carolina. I called and talked to Tom’s oldest sister Pat, ( the only sane one in the family besides my hubby), I told her, we refuse to lose another family member to suicide. He needs help, more help then the VA was giving him. Ricky had went to the VA while still in South Carolina, and they started messing around with his meds, and that just plunged him down deeper into depression. That’s when he then took all his psych meds and heart pills all at once. He was in the hospital for almost 3 weeks. That’s when I told my husband, someone needs to fly back there to move him here or going to lose him.

So Tom’s youngest brother flew back, moved Ricky here to Arizona. He seemed to be doing Ok the first couple weeks here. But, as usual, the first thing they all did when Ricky got here? Was go to F_ _ king Laughlin, Nevada!!  WTF?
You don’t take a mentally unstable kid on a gambling vacation! But, as usual, no one listened to me, not until we found all the receipts in Ricky’s car. Even his own brother could have told us, as him and Ricky now share a bedroom. I was so angry!! So, after they got back from Laughlin is when Ricky’s depression took a bad turn. We did have set in place medical and mental health appointments for him before he got here. But, it didn’t stop him from taking all his meds again, and have his 2nd suicide attempt. And this time the ER doctors almost weren’t able to bring him back and breathing again.

He was on life & breathing support for 4 days before he awoken from a coma. We were able to get medical directives done, but we still need to get a ‘Power of Attorney’ in place to help him since he is an adult. I told Tom’s sister, if need be, will take it to the court if we have to and save his life!
We were able to get him OUT of the VA’s care and into private behavioral crisis care. He was released medically on this past Wed, and we found him a bed in a place called Oasis Behavioral Crisis Center. For now he is in good hands. But for me? That is another long story.

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For me however, it was really hard on me. It transported me back to 2002 when I had my own 1st attempted suicide. I knew exactly how Ricky felt, and that place of darkness and hopelessness he was feeling. And I didn’t know how much it was bothering me until I went to my own mental health appointment this week. I had an hour & 1/2 long session that was very uncomfortable. For those of you who know a little of my back story, you know the journey I have been on this past year or so. Being uprooted in a short period of time, packing our life away in box’s to put into storage. and had to move from Southern Oregon to here in Arizona was a very traumatic experience for me. I’m still not over it. I keep pretending to myself that if I go nowhere while here in Arizona, then I will have no memories of ever being here.

Yes, I know how crazy and unhealthy that sounds, but when you also have Agoraphobia with panic, it is real easy to do. With all this drama going on, it has hit me hard with my own depression, and the old feelings of my past. It’s why I practice , and why I keep a recovery plan in place for these type of life events. Because it could make me slip. My own appointment was very emotional, and I will be going for therapy once a week now. It is also due to having problems with PTSD now as well. For some reason, some of my childhood trauma, the hurt and pain has come back, and the nightmares, and I can not figure out why? So for my mental and emotional stability, my psychiatrist is having me back in therapy for a while.

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I bawled my eyes out in my therapy session, as I needed the release. I was trying to keep it all together as best I could, and really didn’t know how deep all this drama going on had gotten inside me. It was using the old ‘mask my feelings with a smile’ kind of thing. It bothered me in my session of how easy it was for me to mask my feelings from all around me. Because in recovery, that is a No, No! It bothered me that I was just not that in tune to my feelings building up around all this trauma. And that’s what it was, more tragic trauma for me. So I guess I have more work to do in balancing my feelings in recovery, and with my mental and emotional challenges when life crisis happens. And it will. Are you prepared?

These are some of the important issues I want you to take away from my sharing and venting.
Be prepared in recovery, and with your behavioral & mental health. If and when outside events or trauma happen around you, you need to be prepared for how it may affect you. I won’t lie, the thought of a few hours of gambling did go through my mind a few times. But I chose not to act on making that devastating choice. Don’t hold all your feelings inside. Talk them out with someone. And learn how easy it can be for us to feel others pain and hurt, and tend to make it our own. I did that in early recovery and it caused me to relapse.

We can be of recovery help and service to others that are having a difficult time, but there is a fine line of helping others in recovery, and others who maybe in crisis. We are not trained, nor is it our job to manage someone’s crisis. Get the proper people to do that. Be it first responders, calling the police, a hospital or even a crisis hot-line. What I try to do is keep myself from being part of the family crisis in person. I gave advice, looked things up on the Internet for Tom’s sister, but I didn’t go to the house. I spoke to her on the phone. Even though I didn’t know how deep my feelings were around Ricky’s set back and suicide attempt, I knew it was bothering me a bit, so I kept my distance. His sister understood. So I ask all my recovery friends and all who visit, please keep us in your prayers.

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I know Ricky is in the best possible place he can be right now. And he will get the help he needs for his mental and emotional health. It seems loss and life events doors just won’t close! The boys parents, a good blogger friend of mine took her life some few months back.
It makes me feel uneasy as I’m also now in the process of doing med changes next month myself. I’ve been on a meds draw down since last month.

But all this stuff, this drama going on makes me nervous. The meds I’ve been on for to long now are causing my liver count & cholesterol to get to high, so we need to change me to new ones. And I’m scared! It’s time to be honest, I’m afraid I’m going to get unstable, or something happening like what Ricky is going through. So again, I’m going to therapy once a week now until I get regulated when I start the new meds. But I still feel apprehensive.

Just keeping it real. So I’m back to journaling everyday so I can share more of this med change experience. So will see what the next few months bring. I shall keep you all posted! I know I sound like another broken record, … but Thank You to all my friends and visitors for all your prayers and encouragement. I see many of you on other social media sites, and your caring means so much to Tom and myself. Much Luv!

So until next time friends, be Well, Blessed, and Healthy!

If you or someone you know is in suicide crisis, please call the ~

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number

1-800-273-8255

 

Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485

 

 

“Yes it’s Recovery Ramblings Time As I Need To Purge Some Important Feelings About Gambling and Suicide”

Hello and Thank You for Visiting Recovery Friends and Visitors,

 

I can tell you I’m not surprised at all that another major casino is closing down, are YOU?

Looks like the expansion of Indian casinos and State Lotteries, and Online offshore gambling is finally changing the Gambling Game!

– Another Atlantic City Casino goes Bust, Trump Casino is Closing …

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino closed its doors early Tuesday, the fourth Atlantic City casino to go belly up so far this year.
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Image: Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ (© Mel Evans/AP)
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I think they call it, ‘Karma” as the growing expansion of Indian Casinos and State Lotteries seems from my point of view, catching up with all the big ‘Mega-Casinos’ in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Laughlin, and even Reno & Riverboat Casinos in the south. As a compulsive addicted gambler in long-term recovery, why fly to Vegas or drive to the Indian Casino 35 miles away, when I can just go across the street to my local bar and play the Oregon Lottery Video & Slot style machines? Or now, living in Arizona, to a local Indian casino just a few miles away. It won’t also surprise me if more Vegas casinos become the next in line to suffer a lot more closures.
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It’s why they keep change their marketing and business plans to keep enticing people to come for a visit.
Here is a current list courtesy of CasinoCity.com of how many States have casinos in them.
States with Gambling ~ Order by: State

Alabama (8)
Alaska (7)
Arizona (35)
Arkansas (2)
California (172)
Colorado (41)
Connecticut (3)
Delaware (3)
Florida (133)
Georgia (2)
Idaho (18)
Illinois (18)
Indiana (13)
Iowa (21)
Kansas (8)
Kentucky (8)
Louisiana (50)
Maine (14)
Maryland (11)
Massachusetts (3)
Michigan (31)
Minnesota (41)
Mississippi (32)
Missouri (13)
Montana (142)
Nebraska (9)
Nevada (383)
New Hampshire (10)
New Jersey (13)
New Mexico (29)
New York (23)
North Carolina (2)
North Dakota (35)
Ohio (11)
Oklahoma (121)
Oregon (27)
Pennsylvania (12)
Rhode Island (2)
South Carolina (3)
South Dakota (51)
Texas (9)
Virginia (1)
Washington (141)
West Virginia (5)
Wisconsin (31)
Wyoming (6)
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And we need to keep in mind, this doesn’t take in all the states that offer State Lottery gambling too.
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Photo: #RecoveryMonth #Inspiration
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So you can understand that for those of us who try to be successful in recovery from addicted compulsive gambling, it can be very challenging. I happened to be talking to my nephew last night, and here in Arizona, there are many casinos around us. We talked a bit about “Self-Banning” yourself from casinos, and he said he tried to do this a couple of times here at the casinos, but he would eventually go gamble anyway, and it took the casino months before they caught him.
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Part of it he says, is you have to be careful not to win a big jackpot, but what he did to get around this little problem is take a friend with him to the casino, and if he did win a big jackpot over $1,500.00, he would just let his friend switch places with him, he would go to the restroom, and let his buddy collect the money. Then my nephew would calculate what the amount of State & Federal tax would be on the amount, and just give it to his buddy. Sad thing is, my hubby’s nephew is a problem gambler and he would most likely play most all the money he won back in the damn machines! AGAIN, that’s called a problem or addicted gambler. And as the article I’m in currently, a study and research done by Columbia University, and The Dept. of Public Health & Epidemiology, Elaine Meyer mentioned that gambling addiction has currently the highest Suicide rate then any other addiction.
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Which brings me to my next topic of ramblings. As you see, I changed my blog background & profile photo to advocate Suicide Prevention. Even though this month I’m Celebrating with many other organizations, September is The 25th Anniversary of Recovery Month, these past few weeks I have been touched by others attempting, and one was successful of Suicide!
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It started with a good friend and fellow author, advocate, and blogger, Rhonda Sellers Elkins, who took he life on August 29th, 2014. I have an earlier blog post here as a “Tribute” to her, and all the parents she helped with her new book, and her experiences of the loss of her own daughter, yes, to suicide. This happened right after Actor, Robin Williams. She blogged tirelessly about the how she was trying to cope, and helping other parents was helping her stay the course a little.

A couple of days after Rhonda’s passing, my next door neighbor Sean attempted suicide. He is still in a crisis center, via the hospital. Then just this past weekend, my other friend and neighbor across the way did THE SAME!! She and Sean suffer like me with bipolar ll with manic depression, sometimes severe, as they too are in recovery from drugs & alcohol. Brittany is a mom of 4 kids, and only 28 years old. Sean is single, doing a 28 day program, so he is not home yet. Brittany just came home yesterday. For Sean it must be hard to not have anyone to be accountable to. I have my husband to be accountable to, to stay in recovery, and many times it does make a difference. Support is dire in recovery.
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THEN, we got a call from my hubby’s sister on Sunday, and his other nephew Ricky was also in the hospital in South Carolina due to attempted Suicide!! He also suffers Bipolar severe depression and PTSD. He took the whole bottles of 2 psych meds. He was just transferred to a Mental/Behavioral crisis center as well, and will be there for 30 days. So I’m thinking to myself, WTF??!! Is there something in the water or something? Is something in the air that people are having such a hard time with LIFE? And with managing their Mental Health issues? This all really hits me very hard. It’s why I need to write and share my own feelings around all of this. It really, really bothers me. WHY? I myself will be going through psych med changes early next month because 2 of my psych meds I take now, which I have been on to long, are now effecting my liver and cholesterol levels. So this means it’s going to be guinea pig time again.
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It really makes me sad, and just breaks my heart when others, and especially those of us who have dual diagnosis of Mental health issues and live in recovery from addictions are having a rough patch. Just like both my neighbors who are both in recovery from drug & alcohol use, many like them with mental illness can misuse and self-medicate with their psych meds. My husband’s nephew almost succeeded in his suicide attempt, as he took a whole bottle of his Cymbalta and another psych drug. He was very lucky EMT’s got to him in time and to the hospital to pump his stomach. And so again, this so hurts and bothers me in the way of understanding the level of Hopelessness & Darkness a person can get to when you feel like a burden to others, or feeling tired of life and just want to go away forever, not feel pain or hurt anymore, and deep depression. Just to have SILENCE …
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He, (Ricky) is still having a hard time, like all of us in my husband’s family from the death of his oldest sister, Ricky’s mother who also committed intentional Suicide by taking all her psych meds. She didn’t cope well after her husband suddenly passed of a heart attack at 54 years old. So, Ricky is trying to still overcome, as we all are, loosing not only his father 2 years ago next month, but also his mother a year ago next month.
One thing I can add to this is I’m very blessed in having been through all the recovery treatment, therapy, and currently still being under a psychiatrist’s care. I also have the life skills and tools learned to help cope when life throws those nasty rough patches in our lives.
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BUT, we have to take those tools out of the toolbox and use them! It’s why I do, because I REFUSE to be another Statistic of Suicide from Addictions and/or Mental Illness!! Two failed suicide attempts were enough for me to choose LIFE over any addiction or mental illness challenges and disabilities. I’m very aware many people may find these kind of ramblings of mine hard to read.
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But look, if I or others like me don’t share our feelings and personal experiences about Addiction, Suicide, and our Mental Health challenges, and innermost thoughts, then how can we promote and advocate for change, inform, raise awareness, and educate the public? If I, and others don’t Speak-up and Speak-out about Suicide, and these other issues, then who will?
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Yes, there are many fantastic, helpful, and informative organizations out here who do a great job in giving the public help, information, facts and Resources, but I also feel a Personal perspective is just as important to share to help shatter Stigma around these very important topics.| It shows others who are feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, and suffer mental health challenges that they are not alone! That there is NO SHAME with having Mental or Emotional health problems, or live life in recovery from any addiction, and to let them know they have a voice and are heard!
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I still feel very lucky, (no pun intended) that my gambling actually brought out my own mental and emotional health problems, as I was suffering and didn’t know I was. I used gambling to escape, become numb to all feelings and emotions, and just zone out because I wasn’t able to stuff all my garbage in life, all the hurt and pain through the years, starting as a little girl anymore.
Eventually, all this unhealthy stuff can only be stuffed, hidden, and tucked away behind a HAPPY MASK for so long. It’s not healthy or good for you. Eventually you’ll have to process it, walk through all the fear, and learn from it. Because if you don’t get the help, and don’t push through all that pain, hurt, and your fears? That is when unhealthy things begin to invade your life.
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It’s when addictions will come knocking and teach you to self medicate with drugs, alcohol, and many other addictions out there. My life was also effected in the relationships I had with men. From the sex abuse I endured seemed to give me a false impression when I got into adulthood, and made me think if I had sex in a relationship? Then I would get that unconditional love from men that I chased to get from my parents for years. Yes, I was a pretty screwed up girl.
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WHY, because most of the relationships and marriages never worked because I was being co-dependent in many of those relationships.
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If someone in your family has a mental illness, you may be feeling frustration, anger, resentment and more. What can you do to help yourself, and by doing so your loved one as well”?
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Mental illness brings doubt, confusion and chaos to a family. But a family can heal when it moves beyond their loved one’s illness—not away from their loved one” …


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I used these relationships as trying to fix or change others. Or I relied on the man to make my happiness, and be the center of my world. Smothering them away. Looking back, I was SO needy. Because I never got any of that from my parents. so I chased it in all my relationships with men. I didn’t have barely an ounce of self-worth, because I was always demeaned, verbally abused, and accused of things by my parents that I never was or DID! Then in adulthood, I wasted years of trying to prove and to show my parents that I was a good person, that I was successful,  happy, and took care of myself, but they didn’t care or bother see it. Was I to dumb, or so uneducated in life lessons because of the way I was raised, to even know what a normal and healthy relationship is? What a healthy relationship looks like? Because looking back my own family was so dysfunctional. You don’t see or grasp that until your out of the dynamic. Which is what happened to me as I was the only one in the family that moved out-of-state, and far from my family for many of those reasons. And of course I became the the black sheep of the family for that.
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So all that really affected the way I seen and looked at relationships. And the GOOD relationships I did have with a man? The more they treated me like a queen? I would end up sabotaging the relationship some how, because I felt I was not worthy of there love, gifts, compliments. I felt that way when I was using gambling addiction to cope and try to navigate through life. When I became an addicted gambler, and feeling shame and guilt, it didn’t matter, because I was hurting all of them BACK for all the pain I went through, for all the times they had hurt me deeply.
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The diseased thoughts gave me a sense of entitlement to do what I did within my gambling addiction, because I felt I became a victim because of the way my parents had treated us kids, plus then the sex abuse and trauma on top of that, believe me, I did a lot of damage, but I was only hurting myself and others around me, especially what I put my husband through. That is why you must have good people around you who will support you no matter what. And I had to learn the hard way that gambling wasn’t hurting anyone but ME. It wasn’t going to change my past, and it was destroying my FUTURE! See I never got that from my family. Even to this day.
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I think they are in the mind-set that if I’m not around, then there is no problem. They don’t have to acknowledge that our family was and still is dysfunctional. Is it ignorance? Or is it continuing the unhealthy habits and behaviors we seen from our parents? My mom was one of a kind in this aspect of the family dynamic that went on in our house. And when she passed, my youngest sister continued the poor behaviors my mom passed on to us all those years. So was I doomed? Maybe, but I think I’m the only one in our family that tried to interrupt and stop this cycle. I surely didn’t want the same things repeating down to my nieces and nephews. I’m think I’m also the only one who has been in therapy, in recovery, and have taken control of my mental disabilities by seeking professional help. But I guess I won’t really know since I haven’t talked to any of them for over 8 years.
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So, family sometimes may not understand if no else is suffering from mental health issues. Which was my experience with my side of the family after they saw me take my psych meds one time when my mom passed, and we were down for the funeral. That’s when they started treating me different. Even though my older sister was still an alcoholic, my other sister was still EVIL and had anger issues, my dad was oblivious to all it, and my brother is still estranged from the rest of the family like I am.
So, just because we may share the same family blood? Doesn’t give them the right to mistreat you. No family should.
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Having boundaries sure is a beautiful thing …
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God Bless All,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485/