Monday, November 29, 2010

Where There’s a Will There’s a Way

I sit at work sometimes wondering how to continue working a project that has me stumped. I become agitated my emotions change; I even become afraid that I am not capable of doing the work I was assigned. I want to run away at that point, just get up from my chair and leave everything behind. The computer programmer I share the office with calls it some sort of “fight or flight” syndrome, I call it “giving up”. This has everything to do with developed and undeveloped skills, and it’s what I perceive in my mind, not being able to focus on what is expected of me. My attention span dwindles and I become confused when there is no answer, and as I try to think, everything spins down different avenues, I am ready to run! This reaction is as physical as it is mental, a sort of Bi-Polar (manic) reaction.

Such reactions have been known as tools to survival and there are people who will say that no one person can persevere with such emotional responses as these, which is true in extreme cases. We need to stop and take time to clear our minds and think, with a reference book on how to take our next step! With all of the information that exist in the world, word of mouth, TV, news paper, computers, radio, just to mention a bit of the media of communication, I often wonder where is there to run for that quiet instance when we need to clear our minds and find a change of pace to carry on.

The will to overcome such anxiety, on the job, at home, at the airport comes from the belief that you can accept what must be done at that moment. Don’t run, clear your mind, set the world apart from the beginning of what troubles you and relax with only the one thought that it’s easy to feel the breeze of that thought which can change the ignorance you are feeling. You might think it’s silly to just walk outside the office (outdoors), or anywhere outside of where you feel you are closed in, even if your are at home or even set your work aside; yet know you need a minutes space greater than where you are and go there beyond disparity. That instance you have begun to relax what has been troubling you, and you are putting aside impatience and your gaining calmness and enthusiasm to finding your way beyond the “fight and flight” of confusion; finding space outside that cell that is giving you negative vibes is not wrong, it’s the running away that keeps you in that sphere as they say, where there’s a will there’s a way, and the first step is to believe you answer is real and at hand…relax.

Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What is Stigma?

Last week I wrote a little bit in the blog about stigma. I will try and define stigma in this blog. Stigma is when someone has a preconceived notion about a person or condition. The Mayo Clinic defines stigma as it is “based on stereotypes, stigma is a negative judgment based on a personal trait – in this case having a mental health condition.” I believe judgment starts when you are young and do not understand or heard from someone about mental illness. We grow up to be adults and watch movies, and read newspapers or people who have a mental illness, and they kill or hurt someone. This reinforces what we already believe. We are portrayed as dangerous and not understanding what we are doing. We are not seen as human beings. In another article about stigma it says, “For many Americans suffering with a mental illness, a fear of stigma often keeps them from seeking medical help they need….the sufferer can experience discrimination in employment, housing, medical care and social relationships, and this negatively affects the quality of life for these individuals and loved ones.” It is true; I have experienced it as I said in last week’s blog. Where I told someone I had a mental illness and they stopped talking to me. You learn to keep your mouth shut and never get to start new relationships with people outside of the mental health field or family. The other time I told that had a mental illness was in a classroom, and they already knew me for a half of semester before I told them. I believe the fact they had seen how I acted in class and they were young and open minded classmates helped a lot. I did make a couple of good friends in that class. They saw me for me. Although I never felt that I could repeat that in any other class. I believe for a person not to make a preconceived notion about a person with a mental illness, they would have to see that you are an ordinary person with dreams, and life problems like anyone else. It does not help how we are portrayed in the movies. I believe there are a lot of recovered people with a mental illness that are successful, although they never mention they have a mental illness. How has stigma affected you?

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Stage in Working As Mentally Ill

My illness began in 1983, I was diagnosed with a mental illness in 1985 and in 1986 I began living on Social Security. The drugs I had been using and alcohol, had taken their toll upon my mind, though I was not virtually a useless individual. I would relapse occasionally, even though I was taking Psychotherapeutic medicines, I considered myself as a stagnated person. In the year 1998, I began taking computer classes after finally coming to grips with life and several mishaps with the court systems through MHCD’s 2Succeed program. I had overcome using drugs and alcohol, due to my being receptive to ideas about my potential of being able to use both hardware and software programs and the possibilities to enhancing my life. I began to explore the world of Computers and networking, I wanted more.

I finally quit drinking when I was diagnosed as a potential to diabetes and as I worried awhile as I sat at home with my own computer, and internet resources, searching for work, MHCD came to my rescue again, through Vocational Rehabilitation in Denver and MHCD’s 2Succeed. I began working part time as a Data Entry Clerk at MHCD’s Headquarters; a desk job, a smile.

I have worked for 3 years now, being promoted to Evaluation Research Assistant, yet when Social Security, took away the SSI I was receiving income wise and the State of Colorado ended the Medicaid Insurance, I began to fear the kind of life I had once lived before all that, would begin again. The director of our Evaluation and Research unit assured me nothing can go wrong. That the process I was going through was a part of becoming self sufficient, having to rely on new skills and a new heart. I saw myself letting myself go without relying upon what I have learned and maintaining my faith in those that believe in me. Anybody that’s mentally ill and new to the working world assuredly has the same emotions as those who are not mentally ill and working, losing their position on the job, reduced hours, layoffs and cuts in pay. It’s just harder because we have lived through the let downs, and through the congratulations of bearing this world with some strength and heart.

Don’t let the rumors and “I told you so’s” keep you from your potential as big as the world is, know you’re as prepared as you care to be for success, no matter the field you choose to work in. It’s your choice where you want to go, or where you want to be, it’s how you’re going to get there that makes it all a piece of cake.

Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I’ve been reading a lot about stigma on recovery websites. I know stigma is still very much alive, and very hard to change. I can remember back in 1994, when I was first looking to rent an apartment for the first time since my mental distress. I was with my sister looking at a nice apartment when I mentioned to the manager showing the apartment that I had a mental illness. She immediately stopped talking to me and started talking to my sister. I knew I would not get that apartment. Although because of disabilities Act, she had to make up another excuse why she could not rent to me. I know a lot of people with mental distress feel a lot like me. If you mention that you have mental distress, people suddenly change on you. I know that there are a lot more recovered people out there, besides the ones we read on the blogs and websites. They hold good jobs and have families, but know if they tell they have mental distress their whole world will change and not for the better. Besides this blog and friends that have known me for a while I do not announce I have a mental illness. A lot of the time they do not look at what a person has accomplished, once you say mental illness the way they look at you has changed. I know it is because of the misinformation in the news, and in the movies about mental distress. People will always have something they will be afraid or hate something. Maybe years from now and slowly things will change.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Determination and the Mentally Ill

There are determinations which exist for the mentally ill, by the court systems and by many mental health systems themselves. Yet these court actions (determinations) and mental health rules governing medications and mental health holds are not what I am implying when it comes to anyone who is “mentally ill”. What I am inferring to is the intention and purposes of the consumer (“client”) and their limits to decide and change their lives themselves.

At the Mental Health Center of Denver *(MHCD), the staff, doctors, clinicians and nurses believe it’s their “mission” to “enrich the lives and minds of consumers (“clients”) through focusing on the strengths of their clients and their recovery”. I am one of many who sought help through the will of others to overcome the barriers of drug addiction, drunkenness and distrust, of which I had lived for many years. Why did I change to become a more tolerant person when I could have lived “free” of responsibility and without any caring attitude whatsoever? I was determined to get away from the bonds of complaint and destitution, and rebuild the foundation of belief and wonder, instead of living in a world of great disorder.

Recovery and determination go hand in hand. In Recovery you reach out to rebuild yourself; to become stable in the throes of mental illness. You seek treatment and you learn to grow with the helping hands and minds of others who care. With determination, you are intent upon closing the doors of ignorance and you want to change the pain into something as real as a smile that others can respect. Its hard work, what work is not demanding as you learn to demand from yourself so that you don’t live in fear, live off a placebo, which marks you other than a genuine person.

Determination is controlling a part of your own life, so that the lives of others become a part of the heart beat that once stuttered within. There is no hopelessness with determination because you want to win, and leave ignorance in the mist that once covered your mind.

Written by: Donald Sammons

November 14, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010


I have always had an untrusting nature, generally of the human species. I just cannot find any other word except fear. This is probably because of the drugs and alcohol I have consumed, the damage was evident, I thought I lived in a world of paranoia. If I had learned earlier that simple fear which is not to be taken lightly or suspicion, because of my experiences were only compounded fears, I would not have understood paranoia, which bound me to the world of fear, I sometimes live within.

There are three different instances of Paranoia. 1. Paranoid Personality Disorder, 2. Delusional (Paranoid) Disorder and 3. Paranoid Schizophrenic. People diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia have often times very strange hallucinations or delusions; they may hear voices when other people do not or believe their thoughts are being controlled. Other people with lesser diagnoses of paranoia or its disorders may have delusions of being persecuted or jealousy. These people can function in society and they act with reverence according to their belief, in all, they act and think with an orderly demeanor, yet the person with paranoid schizophrenia, cannot think with righteousness and is constantly confused.

There are states of mind which are treatable with medications, such as with an antipsychotic drug. Yet, the abuse from drugs can lead to certain types of paranoid thinking and behaviors. Stress is thought to be a cause of paranoia, amongst the poor, the rich, military personnel and others living or working in a stressful environment. Some of these people acquire “acute paranoia”, which doesn’t last very long, yet the thought exist that genetics, a brain abnormality or some sort of processing problem of thought can lead a person into paranoia and in any instance stress can be the main factor of someone suffering from this illness called paranoia.

Written by Donald Sammons

Excerpts from Paranoia – THE WORD

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Do you know if Recovery Happens?

I was remembering last night about my stay in the State Hospital. And wondering if a person knows when recovery is starting to happen. I had been at the State Hospital about three weeks in the first ward there. I was not completely sane at the time yet, but close. They were walking me over to the next ward I was going to be in for a while at nighttime. I asked the guy walking me over and whom I talked to at the old ward, what the new ward was like. He told me “there are guys just like you there.” On this new ward I was half sane there in the beginning before they gave me stellazine. That is the ward I wrote about it the suicide blog, where they asked me if I knew this kid who had been there before me. I told them I did not know him. While I was there I made a telephone call to my Aunt in Oregon. I told her in one of our conversations that I was tired of being locked up. She told me “this will be your last time.” I did not know how she knew or if she was just making me feel better. Although with all the time on my hands, I started thinking about life and where I was at. The State Hospital was a new and scary place to me. I kept writing by aunt even when she could not write me back. I wrote to her when I was released and in my own apartment finally. One night, which also happen to me the night my Aunt died. I went to a local bar that I frequent before I was sentenced to the State Hospital. I had a seven up and sat with an old drinking buddy. After a while, I just said goodbye and left the bar. Walking home I was thinking, I would not be back even to drink seven up. It was just not the same and held no appeal for me anymore. The next morning they told me my Aunt had died. I will always wonder if she knew.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Self Medicating or Self Destruction

These are some of the facts I have found as a tobacco user requiring mental health services:

Smoking causes a myriad of deathly ailments such as peripheral vascular disease, and hypertension. Smoke contains many carcinogenic products that combine with DNA and cause genetic mutations within the human body. Tobacco also contains nicotine which is a highly addictive psychoactive chemical, the smoke of tobacco, when inhaled causing physical and psychological dependency. This habit may cause also miscarriages and premature births.

Cigarette smokers often speak of cigarettes as relieving stress, though a cigarette smoker’s stress level may be higher than someone who doesn’t smoke, while lessening the amount or quitting the habit of cigarette smoking actually lessens the stress level. Habitual smokers need nicotine to feel normal. Nicotine has a half shelf life in the human bodies system of only 2 hours and withdrawal symptoms can appear after smoking 4 or 5 cigarettes. A smoker with a severe dependency will find that nicotine is removed after 10 – 20 days in the human body though psychological dependence may last months, even years.

A very large group of schizophrenics use tobacco as self medication. Nicotine patches have been thought to be used for a treatment for not only schizophrenia yet also to help them to reduce even quit smoking so that they become healthier, though this is not conclusive for treatment. Smoking linked to anxiety disorders maybe related and not limited to only depression and ongoing research is attempting to explore the addiction-anxiety relationships. There is evidence though that when a smoking treatment program is inserted into a client’s treatment plan, they can (the mental health providers) help their patients to cut down their smoking or even quit. Behavioral therapy and pharmaceuticals have been known to help the mentally ill to cut down smoking, though they have a harder time quitting alone.

By Donald Sammons