Many Bridges of Recovery

 

 

September is National Recovery Month. It is a month to focus on mental health and addictions. It is a time to celebrate those who recover and to remember those who have lost their lives due to their conditions. This year’s theme as designated by SAMSHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) was “Join the Voice for Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities”.


My kickoff for the month was the  Vancouver/Portland Hands Across the Bridge.  These events are to raise awareness for and celebrate people in recovery. The Portland event tallied a collective experience of over 4000 years of recovery. That is a LOT of people making the decision to do the next right thing day after day!


I also went to the Hands Across the Bridge-Marion and Polk County  2017 event. There weren’t as many participants yet it was well attended. There was food and music and many local support services. The participants walked up on the bridge and dropped flowers into the Willamette River as a symbol of our recovery and also in memory of our fellow friends in recovery who have left the earth.

FB_IMG_1506972525989
In Oregon we also have Problem Gambling Awareness Day. It was on September 29th in honor of Bobby Hafemann. Bobby ended his life due to the loneliness and hopelessness he struggled with because of his problem gambling 22 years ago. Many are unaware that gamblers have the highest statistics for completed suicides of any other addiction. The message for all gamblers is that there is HOPE and HELP. Treatment works. This years campaign is “Take a Break”. Signage encourages gamblers to take a break for just one day and if you aren’t able to stop for just a day, that could be a sign that maybe there is a problem. Pick up the phone and reach out, help is available for all Oregonians.

20170930_093933
September is also National Suicide Awareness month. There are numerous events around the Nation. Portland and Salem hold their Out of the Darkness community walk to bring awareness to Suicide Prevention in the first weeks of October.   Veterans are promoting the message of “Be There” for their annual suicide prevention and awareness campaign. 22 Veterans a day ending their own lives is too many.

DSC_0080.JPG
I myself have struggled with suicidal ideation as a symptom of withdrawals from opiates and benzodiazepines and also as symptom in my battle with gambling. Knowing the statistics for gamblers and for those coming off benzodiazepines I feel pretty blessed to still be upright and breathing. I am grateful that my natural intrinsic will to survive has been stronger than my occasional thoughts of being overwhelmed with life. Yet I know that doesn’t always work in the long term unless one learns how to manage life better. The symptoms of the disease can be treated while death is permanent. Suicide is not a solution and it can be prevented. Pick up the phone and call the National Suicide Prevention line. Be there for a friend. Participate in one of the activities in your local area to bring awareness to suicide being a preventable condition!


The month ended with the 4th Annual Bridgeway Recovery 2017 Run/Walk for Recovery event held in Salem, Oregon. This event is to raise awareness and help end the stigma for those suffering with a mental health disorder or an addiction. Bridgeway wants to help connect those that need help with the help they deserve. They realize how difficult reaching out can be due to the stigma associated with these problems. The shame that most people feel can prevent them from seeking help until their lives are in critical danger. There is hope and change is possible. Recovery does happen when you get treatment and utilize the tools available.

DSC_9521.JPG
Bridgeway Services is a new style of recovery services.  They are a Patient-Centered Primary Care Home (PCPCH).  They provide counseling, detoxification from drugs and alcohol, inpatient treatment and regular medical care as part of a holistic method of treating those struggling with their mental health and substance abuse disorders. They provide a trauma informed care approach, which is having the understanding that most all patients are having a response to previous trauma.

DSC_9580
Each of these events was a challenge for me to participate in due to my social anxiety. Left to my own devices and decisions, I would not have gone. I was encouraged to face my fear knowing there were others there to help me and I had tools to use. I am at in-patient treatment and my treatment team said immersion is a powerful tool. I was allowed my camera. It was a tool to keep me stay grounded. It helps me focus when overwhelmed with sensations from being around so many people and so much traffic.

 

DSC_0198

Dialectical view…..

DSC_0078

There but for the grace of God go I

What you see here is the result of my ability to use my tools and function and gain some self-esteem. By having access to my camera I was able to engage with people while using a tool which allowed me to stay in my own personal space. I also had the time of finding the settings and focusing for my shots.  I also engaged in a bit of exercise and enjoyed fresh air and had a few interactions with animals and nature. All these activities were mindfully noticed and utilized to assist me in staying in the moment. Some of this I have learned over time, and some of it is new skills I’ve learned since being in treatment.

 

 


I hope you see some of the themes I noticed from these activities. They are signs of recovery that are obvious and obscure. For one thing…there are many people in large groups. The struggle with mental illness and addiction is quite lonely. Getting among others and having a good time while doing it is a sure sign of recovery. Being out in public and not having shame to be associated with things such as addiction, mental health disorders, prior felonies is powerful and shows strength.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


How about evidence of families? That too is an area that often is surrounded with challenges for this population. Yet there were many moms and dads with their kids and even a few grandmas and grandpas too. Signs that said “Recovery is getting my dad back”.


Then there are the bridges. So many bridges! Recovery means having a lot of courage and stamina to leave old ways and old behaviors in search of a new path. For many people it means feeling like being on a different planet because of all they’ve lost and where they landed. Yet here these folks are out in the hundreds to hold hands or run or walk across a bridge to shake off the old and embrace the new. They are smiling. They are challenging themselves. They are pushing themselves when they are uncomfortable. I was so proud of all these people and I thanked them over and over and over. As each one passed me and I took their smiling face reddened photos I felt their courage and their hope. They were doing it. They were winning, just by being there! They were the winners, each one of them.

Recovery and Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Awareness aren’t to be recognized only in September. It is a daily thing. One day at a time. Stop the stigma. Have an awareness and become educated about mental illness and substance abuse disorder and learn how to be of help. A simple kindness and a nudge in the right direction can really make a difference.  Recovery is a lifelong journey.  It requires learning tools on a daily basis to live with things I can’t change throughout my life.  I will always be learning new skills. Sometimes I need a little more help, some new tools, a better understanding of my condition. That’s why I am at treatment. To get what I need. Thanks Bridgeway!

Advertisements

2017 Worldwide Benzo Awareness Day

benzo

On July 11, 2017 thousands and thousands of people worldwide are joining forces to educate the public and bring awareness of this iatragenic illness called Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome.  I hope you learn something from my story posted on YouTube. 2017 #WBAD ~ My story. My only desire in sharing is to help someone possibly not have to go through the terror and horror I did when I ended my  as prescribed dose too abruptly.  I do not recommend doing what I did.

Rising above and getting past it

Sometimes you just have to accept….so you can rise above!

IF you are on any benzodiazepines chronically and are having side effects that are making your life miserable, I urge you to do some research and learn how to come off the medications and how to heal in time.  This class of medication is only to be used in the hospital setting for surgical procedures or for special circumstances for no more than 2 weeks.

Listed below are some excellent resources to begin your study of how these types of medications, anxiolytics and sleeping medications (Z-drugs) cause great harm and even in some cases, death by unintentional overdose or sadly by completed suicides.

Professor Heather Ashton was has been the leading medical professional on how to taper off Benzodiazepines for the last 15 years.  There are many YouTube videos about her as well as excerpts of her writings.  The most important document for those considering withdrawing off benzodiazepines is the Ashton Manuel.  Here is a link: Benzodiadiazepines: How they work and how to withdraw

Another of Pf. Ashton’s writing includes excellent descriptions of protracted withdrawals, which occur in an estimated 30% of patients who decide they no longer want the medications or their doctors have decided to withdraw them in a much too short of period of time or they have been on them much to long than they should ever be taken.  Protracted Withdrawal Symptoms from Benzodiazepines.

The Benzodiazepine Information Coalition is an excellent starting place for learning the dangers of Benzodiazepines.  It’s time to talk about Benzodiazepines.

Dr. Peter Breggin is a leading psychiatrist and the author of many books and papers about the problem with Benzodiazepines.  He has brought the plight of patients harmed by psychopharmocology into the public eye.  Here is a link to his page titled What your doctor may not know Psychiatric Drug Facts.

That is a good starting point at least.

There is much support out there if you look around and I encourage you to utilize Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram to just see how many of your medications have a support group somewhere because the side effects outweigh the benefit.

DSC_7161.JPG

My wish is that NO ONE ever feels like they have to go through BWS alone!

Thanks for reading and thanks for watching and I hope you show you care by sharing!

July 10, 2017 marks 9 months my body has had to work on healing without any benzodiazepines.  I am so grateful to the entire Worldwide Benzodiazepine Awareness movement.  You are saving lives! You helped save mine!

 

 

I just watched a very interesting flick called “Craigslist Joe”. It was about a young man who traveled cross country for 30 days with nothing but a laptop, a cell phone and the clothes on his back. He found rides, places to stay, food, and ways to contribute to society along the way just by ads on craigslist.

He wasn’t just a taker. He contributed. He left a mark wherever he went. He helped. He was willing to clean, teach, console, party, and life live where ever and however it was unfolding at the moment.

I couldn’t help but think of our homeless population. I have cared for many of them during my years working in hospitals. I always have a heart for those that face struggles in life. I feel a kinship I suppose. Anyhow, this movie made me think of those that I’ve tried to help.  More than once I’ve worked at finding a place to heal, to find hope, to open new doors for a fellow man that is struggling with life on the streets and addiction . My experience is that unfortunately they don’t want to open any doors. They don’t want anything different. They don’t want to contribute. The homeless (and mostly addicted) population that I have met and tried to help want what is given as long as it is given under their code of conduct. NO RULES ATTACHED. The don’t want to have to respect your house by keeping things clean. They don’t want to have to contribute anything unless they feel moved to in the moment….meaning no scheduled work or chores. They don’t want to honor the fact that you have to get up in the morning and so noise needs to be down at a respectful hour. They would rather face the elements and do what they want whenever they want the way they want. That was my experience. It kind of soured me to wanting to help those that are on street corners.

Yet, in this short memoire, this young man showed that “homeless”doesn’t have to mean helpless. It isn’t just a “take what you can get” mentality. He showed that you can find kindness in people if that is what you are willing to share with them. He found that he can give of his talents and resources as well as be the one in need of housing and a meal. And that the barter system does work.  A person doesn’t have to sleep on the streets night after night if they are willing to be real and share and care.

I love when I am able to see things from a different perspective than that with which I was raised and taught. It’s not a JOB or a degree or contacts that make or break you. It’s what you have to offer the universe and if you are able to trust the powers that be (for me that would be God) to direct your path and provide for your needs.

I need to be inspired now and then. I need to feel good about the world I live in. I”m thankful that I mostly see the good in people. I grateful I still have much to offer the world, even if it isn’t in the way I was taught was the only way to make it. I can’t work a JOB right now…but I can still make a difference. With a smile, with a phone call, with a hug and a smile. I can bake a cake for a birthday or offer someone a meal. I can share a story or buy someone a cup of coffee. Some how…life works if you are willing to share. That means giving as well as receiving.