September is also National Suicide Prevention Month…

September is also National Suicide Prevention Month…

IT IS A PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE & CRISIS IN THIS COUNTRY! So Let’s Have The Conversation…

BUT PLEASE:

“Don’t refer to suicide as “successful,” “unsuccessful,” or a “failed attempt.” Use “died by suicide,” “completed suicide,” or “killed him/herself.”

“Most people who die by suicide exhibit warning signs. Refrain from describing a suicide as “inexplicable” or “without warning.”

“Don’t quote the suicide note or describe the method used and Report on suicide as a public health issue, not a crime.”

“The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free number, 1-800-273-TALK(8255) connects the caller to a certified crisis center near where the call is placed.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness.

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Especially Our Vets! They Need Us Now More Than Ever!  https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/BeThere.aspx

Veteran Crisis Line & Military Crisis Line logo

Dial 1-800-273-8255, press 1        Text to 838255

You are not alone.  Help is available.

If you are a Veteran in crisis or know one who is, call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 to confidentially speak with a trained, caring VA responder and get connected to services that can make a difference. Chat online or text with a VA responder to receive anonymous support now. Deaf or hard of hearing individuals using TTY can call 1-800-799-4889.

Why I am I Sharing This? I am a Suicide Survivor and Someone Was There For Me. I am Here For You!

#BeThe1To

#BeThe1To is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s message for National Suicide Prevention Month and beyond, which helps spread the word about actions we can all take to prevent suicide. The Lifeline network and its partners are working to change the conversation from suicide to suicide prevention, to actions that can promote healing, help and give hope… I AM!

Author. Catherine Townsend-Lyon

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I Welcome Tony Roberts. A Man of Faith, An Author, and more. My Weekend Spotlighted Recovery Guest Blog.

I Welcome Tony Roberts. A Man of Faith, An Author, and more. My Weekend Spotlighted Recovery Guest Blog.

“I have known Tony Roberts for quite some time. We first met here on WordPress where he first had his blog. He has a new website that is AMAZING and I started receiving his new email newsletter. I was so thrilled to see his new site and asked him if I could “Spotlight” his site here on my blog. He has been a great friend, recovery and mental health support to me.

He IS a man that stands in grace in his faith in the Lord, and I have been blessed by our friendship! So, meet Author, Tony Roberts and his book and website; “Delight in Disorder”…

 

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About Tony Roberts:

This is me with Grandma McPeak. She died less than a month after making this quilt for my grandson. She was the first Bible I ever read. Her life overflowed with Christ’s love, in all she said and did.

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I  first sensed a calling to be a writer at the age of nine when I composed my first poem, “Ode to My Pet Rock.”

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

I went to Hanover College (alma mater of both Mike Pence and Woody Harrelson – go figure). After many detours into sex, drugs, and more folk rock than roll, I wound up at a seminary and became a pastor. It was then that symptoms of depression and mania culminated in a psychotic episode that became pivotal in my life, for better and for worse.

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

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

I now live to write and write to live in Rochester, New York. I also have a “delightful domain” on Lake Caroga, the gateway to the Adirondacks.  My greatest earthly delights are my four children and two grandchildren.

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“What makes Tony’s devotional so compelling is that bipolar disorder continues to periodically beat the crap out of him, and he still believes.”

– David Zucker, Mental Health Advocate, University Presbyterian in Seattle.

 

Product Details

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About Tony’s Book:

Delight in Disorder is the story of one pastor’s battle with bipolar disorder. This spiritual memoir is a house of meditations where faith and mental illness co-exist, at times fueling each other to dangerous distortion, at times feeding each other to fruitful gain. It offers hope for those often neglected and shunned. It also fosters compassion for believers towards those with troubled minds.

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One of My Favorite Blog Posts From His Site:

Enemies Sprouting Like Mushrooms

In The MessageEugene Peterson calls Psalm 3 – “A David Psalm, when he escaped for his life from Absalom, his Son.” The words that follow reveal a haunted poet king, surrounded and scared.

God! Look! Enemies past counting!

Enemies sprouting like mushrooms,

Mobs of them all around me, roaring their mockery:

“Hah! No help for him from God!”(vv. 1-2)

David sees no escape from sure defeat, certain death. This does not keep him from crying out to God – in fact, it motivates him all the more to do so. He lifts up to God the torturing taunts of his enemies and then reminds himself just Who it is he’s talking to –

But you, God, shield me on all sides;

You ground my feet, you lift my head high;

With all my might I shout up to God;

His answers thunder from the holy mountain. (vv. 3-4)

No matter how insurmountable the odds, David believes and asserts that God’s defense is greater than human offense. God is able and willing to act mightily to answer the prayers of His children, like thunder from a mountain. This brings David tremendous peace of mind.

I stretch myself out. I sleep.

Then I’m up again – rested, tall and steady,

Fearless before the enemy mobs

Coming at me from all sides.  (vv. 5-6)

God’s answer to David’s plea for protection in battle is not to fight the battle for him, but to give him rest and courage to fight with confidence.

Some years back, on a youth mission trip to Washington D.C., we were “attacked by enemies” from all sides. One girl was displaying symptoms of an eating disorder. Another was on her hands and knees, compulsively cleaning the floor while others laughed at her. The boys were vying for attention from the girls and a few were “coupling off” – dangerously close to crossing sexual boundaries.

That night (actually early morning) when I finally went to bed, I couldn’t sleep. I decided to take a walk. As I strolled the streets of the nation’s capital, I prayed to God out loud. Had someone seen me, they would have rightly assumed I was a stranger with a mental illness wandering the streets – but I don’t think they would have known I was praying.

When I got back to my room, I noticed my body relaxed, and my mind was at ease. I was able to sleep soundly for several hours and woke up feeling refreshed. The next day we had a team meeting for prayer and Bible study. It was the start of the best day of the trip – a day where we clearly saw God at work in the world within and around us.

God doesn’t often fight our battles for us. Instead, God gives us the strength and courage to face our battles with confidence and claim the victory for Christ.
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So please visit my friend Tony Roberts new website for some “Spiritual Up Lifting” as he shares his life, his recovery, mental health challenges and LOVE and Encouragement with all who visit there. You can buy his book here on Amazon!
Connect with Tony on Social Media:

Facebook
Twitter

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Author/Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

 

Does Your Spouse Have A Gambling Problem? Guest Post By Elements Behavioral Health Center.

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends and Visitors,


Today I have a special guest post by the fine folks of “Elements Behavioral Health Centers” with many center locations. They offer unique programs in different settings and offer programs in addiction and mental health. Why is this important? Like myself, we are seeing more people coming into recovery that also have mental health challenges.

And sometimes, these challenges can be part of the root to our addiction. They also have a gambling addiction treatment program as well. So if you know someone who needs help and they may be dually diagnosed? Please visit Elements Health as you will be in good hands. You can call for locations at 1-888-350-2457…

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How to Help Depressed Loved One 2

Confirming Your Suspicions: How to Know For Sure if Your Spouse Has a Gambling Problem

You’ve known for some time now that something is wrong, but you just can’t seem to find the courage to confront your spouse on the issue. What you do know is that he or she has been distant lately, and that, along with a few other signs, means that there’s a problem that needs dealing with. Sure, it could be anything. And you probably want to dismiss what you’re feeling, that gnawing suspicion that your spouse just might have a gambling problem.

How do you know for sure if it’s gambling? Here’s how to get a handle on the issue and confirm your suspicions.

Step Back and Try to Remain Objective

Before we go into the signs that experts say indicate an existing or growing problem with gambling, it’s important that you approach the situation with some sense of objectivity. This will no doubt be quite difficult to do. You’re caught up in what’s going on since you and your spouse live together. It would be unrealistic to think that you wouldn’t be affected by the type of behavior and negative consequences that come from problem gambling.

Still, you have to maintain impartiality if you’re going to be able to look at the situation and recognize the common signs. Otherwise, you’ll be falling into the trap of denial and dismissing what are to others obvious red flags. In any case, even though it’s tough to do, you really need to step back and try to remain objective.

What is Problem Gambling?

In order to look at what may be going on with your spouse relative to problem gambling, it’s necessary to define what problem gambling is. Problem gambling, compulsive or pathological gambling, are terms that are used to describe a behavior disorder that has a tendency to become progressively worse over time – unless it is treated.

There are specific diagnostic criteria for assessing problem gambling as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association. For the purpose of this article, we will be concentrating on the terms problem gambling and problem gambler. Their terms are meant to describe an individual whose gambling causes emotional, financial, psychological, marital, legal, or other difficulties for themselves and for those who live with and care about them.

It is important to make this distinction here because most experts generally view problem gambling as somewhat less serious than either compulsive or pathological gambling. But that doesn’t mean that problem gambling isn’t cause for worry. Problem gambling may lead to compulsive and then pathological gambling.

And, since problem gambling doesn’t exist in a vacuum, other addictive behaviors are commonly seen in a problem gambler. These may be a contributing factor or could arise out of the gambling behavior and include problems with drug abuse, alcohol, and/or addictive sex.

Types of Problem Gamblers

You may have not have heard the terms action gambler and escape gambler before but these are the two broad types of problem gamblers.

Action gamblers are typically men. They may have begun gambling when they were teenagers. Skill games are their preferred form of gambling, so they gravitate toward sports betting, poker, craps, dog racing and horse racing. What drives them is the belief that they are smarter than the system, and that they can consistently beat the odds and win.

Escape gamblers, on the other hand, generally drift into gambling a bit later in life. As the name implies, these gamblers get into the habit as a way of escaping their problems. Loneliness, depression, bad marriage, too much stress are some of the problems they’re trying to escape. Escape gamblers are typically women, but men can become escape gamblers as well. In any case, escape gamblers prefer a form of gambling that induces a hypnotic state of mind. These games include lottery, bingo, video poker and the slots.

Right off the bat, you may have some idea of whether or not your spouse falls into one of these categories of a problem gambler. If your spouse has always bet on football, frequently goes to the track, and has done so for most of his life, you’re already in the right ballpark to suspect that there may be a problem with gambling.

There is some research that suggests that people who grew up in families where gambling was prevalent tend to be more likely to gamble themselves. If the gambler in the family considered gambling as a way to solve problems, financial or otherwise, this attitude may be passed on to the children. In addition, people with a history of depression, hyperactivity, and mood swings may be more likely to gamble.

While there still needs to be much more research done in another area, children raised in families where the father is absent, whose parents are workaholics, are abusive, or where money is used to show either love or anger, may be more likely to develop into problem gamblers.

Problem Gambling Stages

Problem gambling progresses in stages. Some addiction experts separate it into three, four, five or more stages. We’ll simplify it into three stages.

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First, there is the winning stage. This is the period during which an individual discovers gambling, finds it exciting, intoxicating, a highly social and entertaining activity, and begins to see it as an escape from worry, stress, family or loneliness. The gambler may experience a few wins and begins to shower loved ones with gifts. He or she still has control over gambling at this point, meaning there is still money and the gambler isn’t resorting to extraordinary means to fund gambling. Life is good for the gambler in the winning stage. It will likely be the last time that this will exist.

The losing stage comes next. How quickly winning turns to losing varies – it could be extremely fast. No longer experiencing the consistent wins, the gambler becomes more preoccupied with gambling. They experience a need to make bigger bets, to bet more often. Money becomes an issue. All this begins to take an emotional toll on the gambler. Then, as losing continues, the gambler begins to “chase” the losses by making progressively bigger and more frequent bets even as he feels mounting guilt and shame over his actions.

It’s during the losing stage that credit cards get maxed out, insurance policies cashed in, items pawned or personal property sold, savings robbed, and retirement funds exhausted. Heavy borrowing becomes commonplace. The gambler starts missing work and lies to his or her family about gambling. A string of phony stories and lame excuses are offered to family and friends when the gambler gets jammed up and needs cash. What they’re looking for is a bailout in the vain attempt to recoup their losses.

The family begins to suspect – here’s where you come in – that there’s something really wrong. Creditors may start harassing the family demanding payment for past-due bills. Your mortgage may be past-due or perhaps one of the family cars is repossessed. The utility companies may even shut off services due to non-payment of bills.

Addiction experts say that it’s during the losing stage that many problem gamblers start calling gambling hotlines. If they recognize that their problem has reached a critical stage, they may be amenable to getting help. Unfortunately, many don’t stop gambling and progress to the next stage.

The final stage of problem gambling is called the desperation stage. As debts mount, his or her health shows signs that the stress is eating away. Insomnia is a frequent occurrence. Relationships deteriorate with the spouse, loved ones, close friends, and even co-workers or even worse they lose their job. Financial problems reach critical proportions. Eviction, foreclosure, and bankruptcy may occur.

The problem gambler has reached the end of the line. Feeling hopeless, powerless, depressed, filled with guilt, shame, and remorse, the problem gambler in the desperation stage may switch to escape gambler games for the purely hypnotic effect – anything to escape the intolerable reality his life has become. Some problem gamblers leave their family at this point, preferring to run away rather than face what they’ve done. Others attempt suicide. Still, others make the decision to finally get help.

What happens if the problem gambler continues in this desperate stage? Here’s where a fourth stage comes in. It’s known as the hopeless stage. Depression is common and suicide is often the only option the problem gambler sees at this point.

But let’s not think about the desperation stage right now. At this point, let’s look at some specific signs to confirm your suspicions and know for sure if your spouse has a problem with gambling.

Warning Signs of Problem Gambling

Since you live with your spouse or partner whom you believe to be gambling, be on the lookout for these warning signs.

  • Looking over the monthly statements for checking and savings accounts, you see withdrawals that you had no knowledge of.
  • Checks start bouncing and non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees add up.
  • Credit denial letters start arriving in the mail.
  • Items around the house start to disappear.
  • A flurry of collection notices arrive in the mail and creditors start calling demanding payment for past-due bills.
  • The bill for your spouse’s cell phone for calls and/or texts starts ratcheting up.
  • Your spouse is always secretive about money.
  • Despite having a job, your spouse always seems to be short of cash.
  • Your spouse may have taken over the bill paying, but you notice that only the minimum amount is being paid on bills.
  • Your loved one may become involved in very high-risk investing or starts frequently trading.
  • Despite the bills going unpaid, you discover your spouse has an unexpected and large amount of cash.
  • You notice that your wallet or purse is depleted of cash that you know was there, or your child says that money disappeared from his piggy bank.
  • Friends start asking when your spouse will pay back loans, or you find that there’s an increasing amount of payday or other unexpected loans that your spouse has taken out.

Problem gamblers also start experiencing difficulties at work that you may become aware of.

  • Missing work, arriving at work late and leaving early are typical signs of mounting problems with gambling.
  • Using sick days to get off work to gamble is another telltale sign.
  • Your spouse starts taking extended lunch periods or long breaks.
  • Your spouse’s boss comes down on him or her for failure to finish projects or tasks at all or on time.
  • Your spouse uses the company telephones for non-work related calls.
  • Co-workers report that your spouse is making calls related to gambling while at work.
  • Co-workers also may tell you that your spouse has asked to borrow money from them and takes an extreme interest in office pools, particularly sports pools.
  • Your spouse gets a reprimand for using office computers to gamble.
  • Cash advances on the company credit card used for gambling purposes, stealing or embezzling funds at work, and asking for frequent advances on a paycheck are other warning signs.

What You Can Do

Adding up all the warning signs, do you have your suspicions confirmed that your spouse has a problem with gambling? If the answer is yes, you have enough evidence to confront your spouse and ask that he or she get help for the problem. But is that a good move on your part at this point? What should you do, and in what sequence?

As the other partner in the marriage, you have a vested interest in keeping the union together. What happens to the family is very much dependent on the healthy relationship that the two of you share. When your spouse develops a problem with gambling, unless it’s treated, it could spiral from its current stage into an ever-increasing downward plunge.

Gambling addiction experts caution that encouraging your loved one to get treatment for a gambling problem may meet with a number of different reactions. First is denial. Your spouse will tell you anything he or she thinks you will believe in order to get you off the subject of gambling. There’s no problem. I’m not gambling. I can handle it. Stay out of my business. Everything will work out fine. These are just some of the statements you may hear. Of course, they’re probably lies. So you need to be diligent and persistent about trying to encourage your spouse to get treatment.

It won’t be easy. But you definitely don’t want the situation to get any worse than it already is. What you can do to help ease your own mind is learn all you can about how to deal with a spouse or loved one with a gambling problem. Look into a possible intervention with the help of professionals like Elements.

Consider joining Gam-Anon, the 12-step organization affiliated with Gamblers Anonymous. Gam-Anon is for the family and close friends of a gambler. Its sole purpose is to help assist you with the problems you face in your life due to your spouse’s gambling problem. It’s that simple, and that complex.

Maybe you don’t feel comfortable yet in actually going to a Gam-Anon meeting. Or, perhaps you’re afraid that your spouse will not take kindly to your attending. But you can go online and get answers to a great many questions you have, as well as find online and telephone support groups that can help you come to some reasonable way of dealing with your situation. No, it isn’t counseling, but it is support from others who are in the same position as you. These people know what it’s like to have a loved one consumed by gambling problems or addiction. They’ve learned how to cope, continue to encourage their spouse or loved ones to get help to overcome their addiction and, failing that, to mutually support each other so that life can go on.

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Gam-Anon meetings are safe places to bring up your current situation. No one will judge you. It is anonymous, so you don’t have to worry about others knowing who you are. You can laugh with others, cry, talk about what’s bothering you, ask for suggestions, and listen to the stories of others. This is a community of support – and it’s something that you need very much in learning how to cope with living with a problem gambler.

For now, just go online and check out the website. Look at the questions and answers. Download and print out or keep on a flash drive some of the Gam-Anon resources and publications. Check into some rehab facilities that treat gambling addiction or your States Lottery as they also have set aside money for treatment services and programs when others become addicted. 

Talk with a trusted friend, another family member, your minister or doctor. But do definitely seek some help for yourself. If you’ve confirmed your suspicions and are sure your spouse has a gambling problem, you can’t force him or her to do anything. But you can help yourself and be in a position to encourage your spouse to get treatment.

Bottom line: Reach out and get help for you. This may be the most important thing that you can do right now.
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“Presented by Gambling Recovery Starts Here!  ~  Catherine Townsend-Lyon”

Now That The Election Hoop-La is Over! Americans and Those in Recovery Unite.

Clinton, In Concession Speech:U.S.
“More Deeply Divided Than We Thought”

 

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WELL, that clearly didn’t happen last night while I was asleep snug in my bed! I woke up this morning thinking I must had a very BAD DREAM as I woke to the new’s of Donald Trump as America’s new President!! OH SHIT was NOT a DREAM!

So I grab the nearest brown paper back and started a full on FEAR Attack!! No, really!! This isn’t a joke on my part. I am truly in fear of what is going to happen now that our next President-Elect is Donald Trump. And as a person with mental health issues, and reading of what Americans were saying, tweeting and posting all over social media? Didn’t see this coming at all. Ok, yes, maybe I am a “nut” but my fears are real. 

So as I woke up and seeing all the news and media stories, over on NetWorkedBlogs, I happen to see a fantastic post that helped a little to put my mind and nerves on OK Status for awhile on PsychCentral Website that I felt was worth a UGE SHARE to others who may be like me and have FEAR based mental health issues too. I do hope it helps others 🙂  *CAT*

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Healing After the Election

Healing after an election may not be easy for everyone, and it may be especially difficult this election year. But we must heal in order to move forward and continue to grow our great nation.

Historically, Americans have always been fairly good at letting bygones be bygones and moving on. Americans forgave British sympathizers (their neighbors) after the Revolutionary War, and we forgave again (our brothers) after the terrible devastation wrought by the Civil War. A presidential election, all things considered, should be much easier.

Ordinary Americans find the election process — and government in general — frustrating, opaque, and uncaring of their needs and challenges. Elections give us a time to vent about our frustration with the economy and government’s seeming inability to “get things done.” No matter who’s in power and who’s nominated, Americans pretty much complain about the same things in every election cycle: taxes, lack of jobs, the economy, government interference in my life, and perceived strength of our country.

Smart Americans know that government is there to perform the basic functions that help guarantee your access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s not there to make sure you don’t do dumb things, make bad choices, or are actually happy.

These same neighbors and citizens also know that the ability to effect real change in America lies not with a President (who has specific, limited powers), but with the legislative body — Congress. If Americans really wanted the change they seem to clamor for every election cycle, they’d spend more time voting out the Congressional incumbents who failed to bring about the change desired.

Healing Begins at Home

If you’ve been on a different page than your spouse, partner, or kids with this election, it’s best to make amends and heal these personal wounds first. Sometimes we say things we don’t really mean in the heat of an argument. Such things may be said instead out of frustration or anger. Now is the time to apologize for such remarks and acknowledge that some elections can be more acrimonious and frustrating than others. But it is no excuse not to treat others with the same respect we all want and deserve.

Do you really want to sink a whole friendship — based upon years or even decades of shared experiences — over a single election? For most people, the answer is no. Reach out to friends who were on the other side and make amends there too.

Healing Continues at Work & with Neighbors

Maybe you’ve had one of those yard signs out on your front lawn that stood out among a sea of your opponent’s signs. Maybe you’re the one person in your office or on the job site who seemed to be for your candidate. It’s time to say, “Hey, that was some election, but I’m glad it’s over and can all get on with our lives,” and hope others hear your conciliatory tone.

Unless you went way over the top, there’s no need to apologize for your choice in candidates or your passion in arguing for your candidate (as long as you were respectful when doing so). If you did go over the top or cross a line, you should try to find a quiet, private place to make your apologies to those you may have offended. They’ll go a long way to healing any hurt feelings at your workplace.

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Healing Must Occur in Government, Too

Americans didn’t elect politicians to sit in their chairs and make speeches that nobody listens to. They elected them to do their job of running this nation’s business and getting the job done. Any politician who refuses to do their job — which includes rational discussion, negotiation, and compromise (as has always been the case) — needs to resign or face not being re-elected come next election. Citizens have said time and time again that they want a government that does their job — not one that just obstructs work from being accomplished.

Politicians must reach across the aisle and find the shared commonalities they have with one another — their pride in being American, their belief in the American work ethic, and the knowledge that together they can accomplish great things for our great country.

Here’s to the next four years of coming together again as one people, standing behind our President and elected officials, and moving forward. Because it is only together that we can make simple work of hard, complicated issues.

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“MOVING AMERICA FORWARD”

My Story In Heroes In Recovery Being ‘Dual Diagnosed’ Come Share Your Story Too!

“We Are Heroes In Recovery!”

 

YOU SHARE.  WE SHARE.

In honor of National Recovery Month,Heroes in Recovery is running a September storytelling campaign to help break the stigma of seeking treatment for addiction and mental health issues. When you share your story, we’ll post it to our social media channels as soon as the story appears on our site. All of our stories deserve to reach as many people as possible. When you share, we share!

 

Now that it is ‘National Addiction and Recovery Month, I thought I would share a little place I love and have shared my Story of “Dual Diagnosis.”  Meaning I live life in recovery with mental health challenges. Sitting in the rooms of AA and GA I am hearing more people in recovery are also dual diagnosed. Is this becoming a new trend with addiction?

Well, I think so as I was also invited by Patricia Rosen of  ” The Sober World Magazine ” to write an article for her about this very topic for her November issue. Of, course I said YES!
But I thought I would share my own Article and Story the kind folks at Heroes In Recovery had asked me done last year. Hope you enjoy reading mine. Then go share your story with them. Our experiences, strength, and HOPE does inspire and help others!!

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.CatherineL

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My recovery journey started in 2006. I woke up in a hospital as the result of another failed suicide attempt and then went back to an addiction and mental health crisis center for a 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 worked through all of my savings, I panicked and chose to steal from someone. What a mess! Of course, they pressed charges. I was arrested, went through the 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 your recovery, including your finances. I chose to not do 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 work with a gambling addiction specialist. After my troubles 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.

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1 in 5 Problem Gamblers Attempts Suicide!Still Think Your Lucky_(2)

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After this second suicide attempt and crisis, I learned I did not have a well-balanced recovery and had a lot more work to do, and I also learned that God, my higher power, has bigger plans for me, a purpose for me that involves helping those reaching out for recovery from the cunning illness of compulsive gambling addiction. After I was released from the crisis center in 2006 and 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 in recovery. Those of us who suffer from a mental illness have a huge hurdle in our path.

I am a dual-diagnosed person who lives in recovery and has mental health challenges. It can make obtaining recovery a wee bit more work, as I discovered. The nasty habits, behaviors, and diseased thinking needed more 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 before life events come.

Another tool that helped was journaling every day. I have always done this, but my specialist showed me how to relieve stress and learn more from my journaling. Those journals were used for help in writing my current published book. Writing my story and experiences in memoir form was a very healing process for me. I shared my gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, my past childhood abuse and sexual trauma and what it is like living with mental illness. I never dreamed I would be a published author, recovery advocate, writer and blogger, but these are just a few of the recovery blessings I have received in my journey thus far.

By writing my book and sharing it with the world, I hope to shatter stigma around gambling addiction, recovery and mental and emotional health. I want to be a voice for those who are childhood sex abuse survivors. Through my book and my recovery blog, I have chosen to not be anonymous. I want others to know how devastating compulsive gambling addiction is and how easily one can become addicted. It truly is a real disease and illness. I want others to be informed and educated, and I raise awareness of the effects it has in our communities and in families’ lives.

The expansion of casinos and state lotteries is making gambling more and more accessible today and is now touching our youth. Currently, 1% of our population are problem gamblers. Through my own recovery and by writing my book, I have learned a lot. The best advice I can give? When starting recovery learn about this addiction. Work with a specialist or recovery coach to learn 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 12-step meetings. 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.

Now that I have reached nine and a half years in recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, I know it is my job, my duty, to be of recovery service to others. Life today is good! My husband and I learned that we can weather any storm together. I’m proud that my book has done so well and has opened doors for me to share what I have learned. I share as much as I can with others. I do this in many ways. My second book is almost finished, and I hope to release it early 2017. It will be more of “how-to” for reaching that elusive first year of recovery. And through my Recovery Blog below:

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With a high percentage of people relapsing after rehab or treatment, I wanted, and my readers asked me, to share how to attain the first year of recovery. I also share my recovery journal in blog form. All I can urge others to do is never give up. You are worth a better life in recovery. Sharing our experiences and our recovery story 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 to and learn from. My last tip is to do something for your recovery each day. It will help keep you in recovery, and you won’t ever become complacent in your recovery journey   . . . .

Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author

Can We Talk Stigma? Article Share From “The Fix”

What can be worse than addiction with undiagnosed mental health challenges?

STIGMA & SHAME …

 

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Stigma can be a beast. It has put fear in many addicts who want to reach out for help from addiction but are afraid. It has stopped many suffering from mental health issues but afraid to seek help because they don’t want to be labeled. 


“I know that I felt this way before I reached out for help as I am “Dual Diagnosed.”

I have lived with stigma from own side of the family. People seem to be afraid of what they don’t understand. So let’s education the public and help those who want help know there is nothing wrong with asking for help without being labeled or endure STIGMA  ….

“People, Stop Shaming, Labeling, and Making Us Feel Ashamed. No More Shaming Others!”      *Catherine Lyon*

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Better Off Alive—Is the Stigma More Dangerous Than the Condition?

By Regina Walker 05/26/16

 

“MANY still perceive someone with mental illness as evil, dangerous, and in some cases, better off dead.”

 


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Over the past decade, the rate of suicides in the U.S. has increased to 12.1 per 100,000 people. Every day, approximately 105 Americans die by suicide. Many studies believe that number is higher. There is one death by suicide in the U.S. every 12.3 minutes.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the USA.
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year, and a large number of people are debilitated by their psychiatric illness and symptoms.

So those are some basic facts. And they are startling and concerning. We have what many may consider a mental health crisis in the U.S. And, we are doing very little about it.


WHY?

Another, more insidious, crisis proliferates around this one: the stigma associated with mental illness. Those living with a mental illness must fear how they will be perceived by a society that offers little, if any, empathy.


“I have worked in the mental health and addiction fields for many years, but this topic is far beyond professional for me. In fact, my career choice was probably formed when I was 16 years old and my 19-year-old sister committed suicide.”

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Recently, a popular website published an alarming essay by a blogger who determined that her once upon a time friend was better off dead (the friend had recently died by what could have been suicide) because she suffered from a mental illness (schizoaffective disorder).

The writer went on to say her friend (who was in her early 20s at the time of her death) had “nothing to live for” and had appeared to have been taken over by a “demon.” The piece went on to describe her former friend as “hopeless” and the writer expressed her relief at hearing of the death of this woman (though they had not been in actual touch in quite some time).

I am not writing this to bash that author (many have and will continue to). In some ways, she has inadvertently heightened awareness around the subject of mental illness and how we perceive it as a society. My greatest concern (and belief) is that the thoughts she verbalized in her article are shared by many—possibly most. The stigma associated with mental illness and those who suffer from it is deep, dangerous, and contributes to the pain of those who experience it. It also inhibits the possibility for healing.

Chicago-based actor/artist Elizabeth Hipwell knows this too well. “All I can think of is how alone I have felt in the journey of dealing with my bipolar depression,” she told me by email. “Mental illness is like no other illness. People disappeared from my life; family members judged and told me to ‘Buck up, and pull yourself out if it’ and ‘If you weren’t so fat you wouldn’t be so depressed.’“

She contrasted the experience of physical illness, and how those around her viewed it, with mental illness. “When I was physically ill I was visited in the hospital and driven home by loved ones; when I was in the mental hospital after having slit my wrists I didn’t have any visitors, I was berated on the phone for being selfish, and I had to get home by myself by bus. I felt abandoned. I ended up back in the hospital for the same reason a few more times after. I came to a point where I had to stop expecting support from those who just weren’t going to give it.”

Elizabeth concluded, “I decided to focus that energy on myself to heal. Maybe I did need to be ‘selfish’ as the naysayers put it and make myself a priority. I decided to reject the shame that they placed on me and be gentle with myself, forgive myself for being sick. I am by no means a victim and I hold no grudges. In hindsight, I understand that the reaction people had stemmed from fear and lack of knowledge.”

I was moved by Elizabeth’s comment: I decided to forgive myself for being sick. How many people with physical illnesses need to go through a process of self-forgiveness because of their condition?

Fear of those with mental illnesses can be traced very far back. Even to this day, many cultures and religions still believe that behavior symptomatic of mental health problems is caused by demonic or spiritual possession.

If one perceives someone with a mental illness as “evil,” “dangerous,” or “frightening,” how can compassion and support possibly arise?

Madeline Sharples is the author of Leaving the Hall Light On, which chronicles her son Paul’s mental illness and subsequent suicide.

She shared with me, “When my cousin came to our house to review and discuss the family history my husband had written, he made one request—leave out the part about his father’s bipolar disorder. In fact, he didn’t want to see a discussion of any of the mental illness that permeates my side of our family.” Sharples continued, “That was proof enough for me that the stigma of mental illness still exists.”

In Leaving the Hall Light On, Ms. Sharples spoke of the many ways in which she attempted to help her son Paul accept help and treatment for his bipolar disorder. She is more than aware of the deadly nature of shame and silence. “I know what a problem it (admitting a mental illness) was for my son. He worked for almost two years for an internet service provider, and when they heard of the reason for his death his co-workers were shocked to know he had any illness whatsoever. He was a master at hiding his bipolar symptoms. He didn’t want to take his medication, he didn’t accept needed hospitalizations, he just tried to act as ‘normal’ as he could.”

She concluded: “And that is probably what killed him. If he had taken the Mayo Clinic’s advice geared to erasing stigma—admit something is wrong, don’t feel ashamed, seek and follow treatment and support, accept help from family and friends—he might still be alive today.”

I have worked in the mental health and addiction fields for many years, but this topic is far beyond professional for me. In fact, my career choice was probably formed when I was 16 years old and my 19-year-old sister committed suicide.

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Dolores suffered many years with a brutal pain that will forever elude identification. Her attempts, at the time, to self-medicate left her branded as a “bad” kid. I was raised in a very conservative, Roman Catholic family where seeking help for my sister’s suffering was frowned upon. Acknowledging that she had any issues at all would have been shameful. So, at 19 years old, my sister ended her suffering the only way she knew how.

And, for a moment, I was relieved. I was relieved because my sister scared me. Her pain and attempts to soothe it were ugly.

Back during the time of my sister’s death, people did not come over with casseroles and shoulders to cry on. In fact, no one came over at all. Had my sister died of cancer, a car crash, or a freak accident, I imagine support would have flowed. But, instead, no one said anything. No one came over. I remember vividly going with my mom to see a nun she sought solace from soon after my sister’s death.

“Suicide is a mortal sin,” she told my crying, grieving mother. “She can’t escape hell. She killed someone. She killed herself.”

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So my mother was left to grieve the death of her child in solitude with the knowledge that, because she ended her own suffering, she would burn in hell. And, sadly, we haven’t come that far since that day.

But she wasn’t hopeless. And she wasn’t truly scary. But she was definitely scared.

For many years, I either lied or never spoke of my sister to new people I met. I felt covered in that darkness—a shared, silent shame. And I learned (because of the reactions of those around me at the time of my sister’s death) that others would see me as tainted by her illness—her weakness—her sins. The stigma spread to me as well.

My sister has been gone for longer than she lived and too little has changed in the public perception of mental health issues since then, but hope emerges.

Organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Stigma Fighters work to empower individuals living with mental illness by removing the veil of shame and giving a public voice to an issue once too deeply hidden. The highly regarded Mayo Clinic has acknowledged the danger of stigma and has committed to providing education. Support for those who suffer and education for us all is vital if meaningful change is to occur.

On June 4th, I, amongst thousands of others, will be participating in the Out of the Darkness Walk in New York City. The walk is sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to raise funds for suicide prevention and awareness.

This 16-mile walk offers a visual representation both of bringing suicide and mental illness out of the darkness and the belief that each suffering individual can make it through to the light. Though my sister did not emerge from her dark night of the soul, it is imperative that the added burden of shame be lifted so that more of those who suffer can get through their darkest moments to a more hopeful dawn.


Regina Walker has been a regular contributor to The Fix since 2014 ….
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Regina Walker, LCSW-R, BCD, CASAC

 

 


Welcome Featured Guest~Marc Azoulay MA, LPCC, LAC

Hello Recovery Friends and New Ones,

 

“I am happy and honored to welcome Marc Azoulay to my recovery blog. He has written an article about recovery and healing. We happened to meet over on Twitter and seemed we both have a lot in common as helping others. He was nice enough to offer this blog share article for me to share with all you! I will share a wee bit more about Marc, but first let’s read this fantastic post.”

 

What is Recovery: Healing an Invisible Wound ~

Marc Azoulay  

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Free Happy Woman Enjoying Nature. Beauty Girl Outdoor.
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One of the questions I ask during my intakes with new clients is “when will you know that therapy is complete? When will you have been healed?” I do this to get a sense of their goals and the changes that they’d like to make; I ask them to imagine a future where they don’t need me and can support themselves. Most clients answer with something along the lines of “when I’m no longer using drugs,” or “when I can be happy again.” Noble goals for sure, and usually much more complicated than they sound.

I find myself asking the question now: What does it mean to heal?


And, you know, I’m not so sure I know the answer to that. Personally, I’ve been in therapy for eight years, I’ve gotten sober, worked out many of my harmful behaviors, delved deeply into my past, and build a stronger relationship with the ones that I love. But I don’t know if I’ve “recovered,” I still have hard days, and I still act out and hurt others.

I wonder if recovery is an attainable goal. Perhaps recovery is just a model for an ideal way of living, a goal to work towards. But, as they say in Eastern Philosophy, it’s not the goal that’s important, it’s the journey. The journey towards recovery illuminates every part of oneself. It burns us in the places that we guarded the most; it roots out the insecurities and shame that we hold and presents them to the world unabashedly. Recovery challenges us to confront our fears and to have difficult conversations; it inspires us to dive into uncomfortable feelings and memories.

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One of the most challenging parts of this process is that it is mostly invisible. Others rarely see the struggle that we go through. They are unaware of the daily battle that goes on in our heads. They don’t see the long nights and lonely moments when we dip a toe into hopelessness. This is a deeply personal quest. It behooves us to surround ourselves with allies and healers, but we have to take every single step ourselves. This can get so exhausting.

We want to heal, but it can be challenging to recognize when we’ve gotten there. Those in the recovery community know the term dry drunk, a person who is so committed to sobriety that their life, in a way, is still about alcohol. These people cling onto their sobriety like a badge of honor and build their whole reality around it. Of course, for many this has been life saving, but I wonder: have they truly recovered? Have they moved on from their past? It’s hard for me to believe.

Many of use create our identities out of our pain. We use our wounds as shields that separate us from others. We push others away,  but we feel as though they can never understand us. This is an illusion. We are just not that special. Perhaps the last step in recovery is letting go of the idea that we have a problem.

Perhaps recovery means embracing our humility. Realizing perhaps we are just like everyone else. That’s a hard one to swallow: being ordinary. Learning to enjoy the little moments in life: a sunset, a cup of tea, or sitting in traffic.


Maybe, recovery lays in the mundane?

 

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About Marc Azoulay MA, LPCC, LAC

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Marc Azoulay

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I believe that substance abuse is not a problem, but a symptom. In treatment, I aim to work with my clients to discover the underlying root of their patterns of use. I’ve noticed that once the core need gets addressed problematic use just falls away. I provide a mindfulness-based approach to psychotherapy. With my clients, I focus on developing emotional literacy and body-mind awareness. I encourage my clients to tap into their moment-to-moment experience as we cannot begin to work with ourselves if we do not know what we have to work with.I specialize in working with addictions, grief, and social anxiety.

Prior to entering private practice, I worked at Rangeview Counseling Center, a substance abuse treatment center that focuses on clients with legal troubles. I was blown away by the dedication and passion that my clients had for the work. I witnessed countless acts of compassion and healing. Prior to that, I worked at Halcyon Hospice and the Wild Plum Center, a therapeutic preschool. Spending time with the children and the dying opened my eyes to the breadth of human experience.

My goal is to help clients recognize how to care for themselves in mind, body, and spirit and to develop a playful curiosity towards their internal experience.

You deserve It.

Please visit Marc’s website and Follow him on Twitter  @MokshaMarc
Website: www.marc-azoulay.com