Archive for the ‘Mental Illness’ Tag

My Life   Leave a comment

My Eyes – A window to the soul
Sometimes reveal things you shouldn’t know
My Lips – Utter “I’m just fine”
But I’d tell you more if you’d take the time.
My Face – so flat, no life within
Just can’t feel this pain again.
My Smile – It shines so bright,
Behind it’s where I try to hide.
My Arms – Deformed with scars and lines,
All the words I could not find.
My Heart – How many times can it break?
How much more can I take?
My Ears – Hear a kind word;
Start to believe I‘m still loved.
My Soul – Revived finds a speck of hope;
Pressing forward, believe I can cope.
My Life – Once lost and broken, no hope within
Getting stronger; this fight I can win!

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Posted February 28, 2014 by Hope in Recovery in Mental Illness, Recovery, Trials

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If I Could Choose to Never be Depressed I Would!   Leave a comment

depression-ADBy Angela Hill Dickson

If I could choose never to be depressed…I would choose happiness…it is not like flipping a dang switch!

I just want there to be more tolerance and for people to maybe get a bit more educated on mental health issues, rather than just assume and make stupid comments that do not help!

I say: Feel your feelings and let me feel mine. And if you cannot be helpful, get out of the way…I am in a “process” here!!

There is no other option than to support each other, because if we do not there is nothing.

Support = Love and. Love= Support!!!

Each person who has a mental health issue is responsible to do their part in taking care of themselves and helping themselves. BUT they need a strong support system, plenty of rest, to take meds if they are on them, and to be eating and healthy.

The things that can make a person shut down fast: not feeling supported, feeling blamed for situations that are out of their hands, having people resent them for their mental health issues, and more. Life is hard for everyone…life gets complicated, marriages suffer, kids suffer.

People might think: WHY feel so depressed? You have so much! You have kids, a husband, friends, clothes on your back, vehicles, food, etc. Yes, I have all of that and I am VERY thankful for the blessings I have, but I cannot change the chemical imbalance in my brain, I cannot control the rapid cycling of thoughts and emotions, the bad thoughts just come, the feeling of hopelessness that can just drop out of no where, the irrational fears, the pain. If I could control all of that, I would be different! I apologize to my kids all the time that I am sad. Kaleb (12-year-old son) looked me right in the eye yesterday and said: “It is not your fault, Mom…I know if you could choose to be happy, you would be. When you are happy, you are wonderful!” And he hugged me and I cried. He has more compassion and understanding than most adults. And that makes me sad, too. That he has had to grow up processing everything and having to be so mature and adult in this. It hurts my heart that my kids see me sad. I try very hard EVERY day to be positive, to find the things to be hopeful for and to be thankful for my blessings. Some days are harder and I reach out. Some days are worse and I just want to hide. but EVERY DAY I am still fighting….
I am not lazy or stupid or mean. I am suffering with a chemical imbalance in my brain. I am a work in progress. I am hopeful for the future. I am ME and I accept that. And all I want to do is be accepted….just as anyone else does. And that, my friends, is ALL I can do.

What is Hope in Recovery   1 comment

What is Hope in Recovery?

Hope in Recovery is a non-profit outreach ministry with the sole purpose of sharing hope and healing to the hurting, especially those confronted with various forms of mental illness or substance abuse/dependence. It is recognized that these individuals are not the only ones affected by their challenges; they are not in this journey alone. They are a part of families and other social networks. These other networks are an integral part of the individual’s life and recovery and as such should be considered and included in the recovery process.

Hope in Recovery Vision Statement

To develop and maintain a collaborative community of consumers and providers of mental health and/or substance abuse services, in order to create an environment that promotes hope, recovery and personal growth.

I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the LORD.

Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly.

Free those who are abused! Isaiah 58:6 (CEV)

Hope in Recovery Organizational Mission Statement

Hope in Recovery is a non-profit outreach ministry with the sole purpose of sharing hope and healing to the hurting, especially those confronted with various forms of mental illness or substance abuse/dependence. It is recognized that these individuals are not the only ones affected by their challenges; they are not in this journey alone. They are a part of families and other social networks. These other networks are an integral part of the individual’s life and recovery and as such should be considered and included in the recovery process.

This sharing of “hope and healing” is characterized by the following foundational principles:

Enlighten: to share information with others so as to teach them something that they did not previously know, or to assist them in recall of previously known information, in order to allow them to improve the state of their lives.

Encourage: To give help or to inspire with courage. In other words, offering a hand to another whom has slipped and fallen along their way and helping them to get back to their feet.

Inspire: To influence, exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on, to spur on or motivate. Continuing from the previous thought, once the individual has gotten back on their feet; to inspire is to walk alongside and urge them on in their journey, rooting them on saying “you can do it”.

Instill Hope: To give, to share or impart hope. Hope is the belief that something good will happen and success is possible.

Empower: To promote the realization of the strength and courage that resides within, so as to believe in themselves and their potential for success.

This goal is achieved through a number of different avenues and techniques including, but not limited to the following:

  • Written materials
  • Motivational Speaking
  • Educational Workshops and Seminars
  • Personal Interactions – Face to Face, Telephone and Virtual (E-mail, Chat, Social Networks, etc.)


“Baby Steps” – Self-Esteem (Re-Post)   5 comments

“Baby Steps” a Lesson in Self-Esteem

After some recent interactions I feel that this is a good time to revisit this concept. It is such a struggle for so many. I actually heard someone say “I don’t feel worthy of getting better.” How much clearer can this epidemic be expressed?

I Hope and pray that your are encouraged and inspired to fight the good fight and take those first challenging “Baby Steps” of reclaiming your self-esteem.

As always, your comments and feedback are welcome and ENCOURAGED

One Breath, One Step, One Day at a Time!

_______________________________________________________________________

Self-Esteem is probably one of the most important yet difficult issues faced by any human being whether you are challenged with a mental illness or substance abuse or not. This is even truer for those that are traveling along this journey of Recovery battling these issues.

It has been my experience that Self-Esteem is so difficult for some of us that we avoid even talking about the issue completely, including ways to work to improve it. I believe that we do this because we are fully aware of the minimal amount of esteem that we have for ourselves. This low-self-esteem is a great obstacle in our recovery.

We will often sabotage our potential and possibility of success, by not fully investing ourselves and thus not giving our very best effort. Why? We do this because we are “Sure” that we are going to fail again. If we are honest with ourselves, then we often unconsciously and at times consciously choose to fail rather than succeed. I believe that we do so for a couple of different reasons.

1. Though it is painful, failure is actually comfortable and familiar. Though it hurts, we know where we are and what is going to happen next.

It is sad but true but, many of us, despite the pain and suffering we will often choose to remain in a state dysfunction out of comfort and familiarity.  On the other hand, if we allow ourselves to succeed, then there is a whole new world of unknowns that we must navigate. Once we start experiencing even the smallest of victories, then we are faced with all new expectations of success placed on us by ourselves and by others. Here again, we had rather fail now rather than fail later and let ourselves or more importantly (to us at the time) someone else.

2. Through our past and experiences, we have grown to believe, “I don’t deserve to be successful and happy”

For many of us we initially heard the negative messages from others, parents, teachers, others kids at school, etc. Messages like: “You’re good for nothing”, ”You’ll never amount to anything”, “I don’t even know why you try”, “ All you are is a screw-up”. These “tapes” have played in our heads for so long that we grow to believe that we really are “worthless” and do not deserve to have anything good happen in our lives. When something does happen to our benefit, we attribute it to “luck” or to the actions to someone else and refuse to accept any personal recognition or satisfaction for the effort which we put forth in order to reach that point of success, no matter how great or how small.

 3. We have developed a since of learned helplessness.

Similarly, we grow to accept and take on these same negative messages and thus believe that we truly are not capable of succeeding.  Therefore, when faced with an opportunity for success, we either consciously or unconsciously sabotage it, insuring that we fail. There by strengthening our belief in our helplessness. I believe that this is where the concept of the “self-fulfilling prophecy” comes in.

A self-fulfilling prophecy is at the beginning, a false belief about a situation which evokes a new behavior which makes the original false conception come ‘true’. Thus the individual will cite the actual course of events as proof that he/she was right from the very beginning

Much of what I have shared thus for is not new to any of you, in fact my guess is that as many of you have read, you have said to yourself, “Oh, that is why I do that”. Well now that we have a little bit of an idea, of how we got to where we are, and why we have stayed here, lets look at some ways to get moving in the right direction.

Most, if not all of us, have been hindered at least to some degree by before mentioned learned helplessness. There is one good thing about learned helplessness… it is LEARNED. If it is learned, then it can be unlearned and something new, different, better can be learned in its place.  We can learn “hopefulness”.  Hopefulness essentially is the opposite of helplessness.

Hopefulness is “Believing, despite what I see in my circumstances, I am capable and worthy of being successful.”

Of course, getting to that point is much easier said than done. Many of us have been hopeless and helpless for so long, we struggle with even the possibility of hope.

Self-Esteem has to be build from the ground up and learning to walking in it really is a step by step process. Let me borrow from a life experience and lesson that we have ALL learned from.

When a child learns to walk, he/she does not turn 10-months old and just start walking independently. There are MANY smaller steps that have occurred over the months leading up to day.  He/she rolled over, scooted, crawled, pulled up to stand, etc. He/she took one “baby step” after another until he/she got to the point of taking those first steps. Even then, once he/she starts walking, there are going to be falls, bumps, and bruises.  Does the child give up? NO. He/she cries for a bit, but then gets up and tries again. Slowly but surely, he/she gets better and better, more stable, and ultimately more and more confident.

We must translate these same “baby steps” into our recovery. As we start out, we slowly put one foot in front of the other, a little wobbly at first and reaching out and relying on our support systems to a degree. We begin with simple say day to day challenges: getting out of bed, taking a shower, eating, going to support groups or meetings. If faced with more difficult decisions we seek counsel from among our peers and support. As we grow more confident and stable in making these simple day to day decisions and solving problems, we gradually start taking on more difficult ones. Again, we are becoming more and more confident in the process. Just as with the child learning to walk, we are learning that there is hope, we can be successful and it really is not as scary a place as we thought that it was. We have learned to be hopeful, seeing ourselves and our circumstances from a optimistic perspective, seeing the good that our lives can be and how we can be an asset to those around us.

I want to leave you with a few practical exercises to help as you begin “crawling” in your self-esteem:

  1.  List 5 positive things that other people have said about you.
  2.  List 5 positive things about yourself.(Attributes or accomplishments)
  3. Share a compliment with 5 other people.
  4. Do something unrepentantly kind for someone that you perceive to be  “worse off” than you.

As you complete each “step” take out a pen and journal about how completing the activity made you feel. Take note to how you feel about your self before and after each activity.

 “We have to walk before we can run!”

Why is this Battle so hard – The Spiritual Connection   3 comments

Have you ever asked yourself, “ Why is it so hard for someone to get and stay clean/sober? You may have asked it in the past about yourself or a loved one. You may be asking it now. What I am about to share will I am sure surprise some, but others will be saying, “I knew it!”

 Simply put, the war that we fight against addiction, is MORE than just an emotional and physical condition, Addiction reach is in and touches us at the deepest part of our being – the Spirit.

 It is the Spirit that separates Man from all other creatures.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness ….And God created Man in his image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:26-27 (Darby)  

And Jehovah Elohim formed Man, dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and Man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7 (Darby)

We are not in His image, in that we “look like Him” we are in His image as we are Spiritual beings. I am going to go out on a limb and share a personal belief, and ask you to process it for yourself.

We are spiritual beings that temporarily reside in earthly physical bodies. The Spirit is the key component of who we are.

  • All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils Job 27:3
  •  Answer me speedily, O Jehovah; my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, or I shall be like unto them that go down into the pit.Psalm 143:7
  •  Man’s spirit is the lamp of Jehovah, searching all the inner parts of the belly. Proverbs 20:27
  • He that hath no rule over his own spirit is [as] a city broken down, without walls. Proverbs 25:28

So if we are “spirit” and our spirit is from God, then what happened? Why are we all so messed up? That is where the being human part comes in. Yes, we are spirit, BUT we are also flesh and bone, carnal and earthly, animals. We are designed to have the Spirit to be the guide of the rest of our being, but because we are natural beings and God gave us a free will, we can choose whether we follow the lead of the spirit, or seek our own fleshly desires. It started in Eden, and we continue the same battle on a daily basis. In Jewish thought is the battle between the good inclination and evil one.

 (Imagine the cartoons from childhood where there was a character trying to decide on whether to do a given act. This battle was often portrayed as a a white angel on one shoulder and a red demon sitting on the other.)

 Now it is not quite that simple, but it does give us a general idea of what is going in inside.

That being said, how does this apply to recovery?

Is it not true that this description explains what is going on in our hearts and minds as we fight this battle.

 Alcohol comes from the Arabic “al-kuhl” which was the name of a body-eating spirit. In fact, the English “ghoul” comes from the same word.

When Arab alchemists’ ingested alcohol their senses deadened and they named the substance according to its “body-taking” qualities. Knowing this, European speakers who understood its etymology coined the use of the term “spirits” for alcohol.

The use of the term spirits for alcohol goes very far back so it’s impossible to know for sure due the lack of written evidence, but this is the simplest answer to the question, and, in my opinion, the most likely to be true

 This is EXACTLY why the first three steps are SO important. Without a power GREATER than ourselves we are unable to win this battles for it is not just about flesh and blood, cravings and will power it IS a spiritual WAR!

 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

 Is it wonder that when people talk about their past and their issues, the call it their “demons”. I believe that it is not a coincidence that such a term has been used.

 This battle is more than just a physical one; it is a spiritual one. We can’t dismiss this as an imaginary battle or as an irrelevant struggle. We must take this war battle seriously.

David just before he charged forward in his battle against Goliath declared, “the battle is the LORD’S….”

1 Samuel 17:47

The battles that we fight with mental illness and/or addiction can definitely feel like we are fighting a “Goliath”. Here again why recognition and surrender to The Higher Power is the MOST important part of recovery. That is not to say that life will suddenly be easy just by turning our ‘lives and our wills” over to Him, but it will be easier. In fact, as I have said before, I personally do not believe that true recovery is possible without reliance on God.

So my friends, I urge you to choose today, for yourself, will you continue to fight alone or call for the ultimate in reinforcements?

I choose to not fight alone.

One breath, one step, one day at a time!

Then and now – From Diagnosis to a Gradual Recovery. I am no longer ashamed… (via The Beauty of Being Untypical)   1 comment

I hope you enjoy this powerful story of hope and courage. Kait does not only tell her story, but she educates others regarding her illness and gives encouragement to helpful insights to others with similar struggles. I look forward to continued collaboration with her. I hope you enjoy and are inspired by her words as I was!.

Since birth, or so I was told because I obviously can’t remember, I was extremely anxious and “clingy.” I stayed close to my family as young person and never rebelled or took the risks as some of the other children and teens would, but I have my own share of experiences too. I was almost always attached to my mom’s hip and that kept me feeling safe. It gave me a sense of internal comfort that I was constantly lacking like an endless starvation. I … Read More

via The Beauty of Being Untypical

So You Think You Know Me….   4 comments

The Paradox of Masks

“Society is a masked ball, where every one hides his real character,and reveals it by hiding” Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all wear a mask from time to time, many of us more than one and to tell the truth some of us live in them.  I consider the afore mentioned quote, “Society is a masked ball….” I envision people all standing around talking, but each is holding a masquerade mask covering his/her face. Then as someone leaves one group to visit with a different group, they change masks before they get to the next group.

 Even the great Apostle Paul said the following, “I have become all things to all people” in 1 Corinthians 9:22.

It is actually natural and healthy to adapt and conceal our parts personality to a degree when we are interacting in different situations or settings.  We all have different roles that we play. We  are a father/mother, a husband/wife, son/daughter,  supervisor/employee, teacher/student, a friend, etc. In each of these roles, we portray a little different version of ourselves than we do with the others. This adaption is normal and expected. I was recently discussing the concept of masks with some other travelers on the “Road” and the idea came to me that in these situations, it is more like having a veil that only partially hides the face; we partially conceal our true personality rather than covering it entirely.

However, many of have taken that next step and we wear a various masks, thus hiding our true personality entirely.

The question that must be asked is, “Why?” Why do we feel it is a necessity to wear masks and hide who we really are from others?

There are many different answers to this question; we will focus on the one that fits more than any other.

Life experiences have taught that others can not be trusted. If others are allowed “too close”, then they will disappoint and hurt us.

What kind of hurts have we experienced? These include: abuse, neglect, rejection, abandonment, just to name a few.

I know in my life personally, I felt abandoned and rejected by my mother. So in order to feel loved and accepted, I would enter a group and look around at the attitudes, behaviors and personalities of others in the group and I would proverbially, paint my mask to be similar to theirs.

The mask that I wore more than any other was the mask of caretaker and hero. Everyone of my “romantic” relationships up until I met my now wife of 15 years, were very co-dependent and dysfunctional. I figured that I wasn’t good enough for the “normal” girls. So I found subconsciously I sought out someone that needed to be “fixed” or “taken care of” as much as I needed to be needed.

Along my way on this journey, I have met MANY others that due to whatever reason, they have taken on the same types of behaviors. We have become people pleasers and co-dependent, seeking to insure that EVERYONE else is happy even when doing so makes us miserable on the inside.

This is no surprise to anyone, but if we live our lives hiding behind a mask, we will never be happy or find peace. We go from place to place and group to group always making sure that we are wearing the “right” mask for the occasion. Then we find ourselves in a crisis when we encounter people from different groups simultaneously. For example you out to dinner with your significant other, and “one of the guys” form the office comes up to you and tells you an off color joke that you know that your date is going to find offensive. What do you do? Which mask to you reveal?

Although I know it’s unfair I reveal myself one mask at a time” Stephen Dunn

 “It’s a terrible thing to be alone — yes it is — it is — but don’t lower your mask until you have another mask prepared beneath –as terrible as you like –but a mask.”Katherine Mansfield

There comes a point that as much as he hate it as unhappy as we are wearing masks, we get to the point that we no longer know how to live without them. We do not know how to interact and relate with others in any other way. We wear s certain mask for so long that we “become” the mask that we wear, yet we despise every moment of it, and start hating ourselves for getting to that point. We are miserable within our own skin and consciousness and have no idea what to do about it. This misery has led to many of the self-destructive habits and behaviors that led to us being on this journey; substance abuse, self-harming, eating disorders, suicide attempts and ideation, etc.

“Sometimes people carry to such perfection the mask they have assumed that in due course they actually become the person they seem.”  William Somerset Maugham

 “He who wears a mask cannot see within himself.” Anonymous

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. …You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.” Jim Morrison

We have gotten to the point that we have completely lost knowing who we really are because all we see is the mask. We have even tried to “look inside” and we don’t know “who we are” anymore. Our personality has become so enmeshed with our mask, we do not know which are which and what emotions are real and which are the result of wearing the mask. Eventually, we get to the point that we stop feeling completely.

So, no what? Seems like the picture that I have painted to this point looks pretty grey and dreary, BUT there is hope! One day at a time, one step at a time we can RECLAIM our emotions, our behavior and ultimately our personality!

First of all you MUST learn to believe in ourselves again, and that often entails rebuilding our self-esteem.  Here is an except from a previous post “Baby Steps – Self-Esteem”

Self-Esteem has to be built from the ground up and learning to walking in it really is a step by step process. Let me borrow from a life experience and lesson that we have ALL learned from.

When a child learns to walk, he/she does not turn 10-months old and just start walking independently. There are MANY smaller steps that have occurred over the months leading up to day.  He/she rolled over, scooted, crawled, pulled up to stand, etc. He/she took one “baby step” after another until he/she got to the point of taking those first steps. Even then, once he/she starts walking, there are going to be falls, bumps, and bruises.  Does the child give up? NO. He/she cries for a bit, but then gets up and tries again. Slowly but surely, he/she gets better and better, more stable, and ultimately more and more confident.

We must translate these same “baby steps” into our recovery. As we start out, we slowly put one foot in front of the other, a little wobbly at first and reaching out and relying on our support systems to a degree. We begin with simple say day to day challenges: getting out of bed, taking a shower, eating, going to support groups or meetings. If faced with more difficult decisions we seek counsel from among our peers and support. As we grow more confident and stable in making these simple day to day decisions and solving problems, we gradually start taking on more difficult ones. Again, we are becoming more and more confident in the process. Just as with the child learning to walk, we are learning that there is hope, we can be successful and it really is not as scary a place as we thought that it was. We have learned to be hopeful, seeing ourselves and our circumstances from a optimistic perspective, seeing the good that our lives can be and how we can be an asset to those around us.

I want to leave you with a few practical exercises to help as you begin “crawling” in your self-esteem:

  1.  List 5 positive things that other people have said about you.
  2.  List 5 positive things about yourself.(Attributes or accomplishments)
  3. Share a compliment with 5 other people.
  4. Do something unrepentantly kind for someone that you perceive to be  “worse off” than you.

As you complete each “step” take out a pen and journal about how completing the activity made you feel. Take note to how you feel about your self before and after each activity.

Of course that is just the FIRST step, and as we all know that is a definite chore in and of itself. The good news is that as we are working on our self esteem, we become more and aware of our aware, comfortably and happy with our REAL personality. As we do so, then how do we get out from behind the mask and start revealing this “new person”.

Similarly, to building our self-esteem, we MUST take BABY steps. We start by taking little risk in trusted and safe relationships.

You and a group of friends are going to the movies and they are discussing what to go see, SPEAK UP! Jump into the discussion and share your opinion. Very low risk, but you’re giving yourself and your wants/needs a voice.

Slowly, over time take bigger and bigger risks in your relationships.

I know this sounds paradoxically TOO simple, yet at the time very difficult. The techniques are rather simple, the application “not so much”. I know from experience that working through the emotions related to this issue can be very painful. But I ask you, would you rather suffer the pain of dealing with the issues that got you to where you are, or do you want to continue to suffer in the misery of nothingness hidden behind a mask.

I hope pray that you choose to BELIEVE in the good that is within and the good in others.

When you hide behind a mask, it is like taking a priceless jewel and hiding its beauty from those desiring to admire it. You steal a little piece of the beauty out of the world.

So as was so appropriately stated my Jim Morrison, “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are.”

Be Free,           Be Beautiful,                Be Happy!

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