Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Well Christmas has come and gone this year. It was a nice Christmas especially for me and all the kids in my family. Now we get ready to start a New Year. Which as always I hope will be better than the last one. Even though this one was not that bad and I hope to continue to lose weight this New Year. I hope I can meet the goal I set on losing weight this New Year. I have not set a deadline for when I will be at my weight goal. I just set the goal of weight I would like to achieve.
The sidewalks were not that clear to walk on this last weekend. Hopefully this weekend the will be more clear. Sometimes it seems like a long road before I will reach my weight goal. Although I know when I reach it I will be extremely happy. At first a lot of weight came off. Then it slowed down, although by losing weight slow I am hoping it will stay off. I started gaining weight going on fourteen years ago.
I believed it was because I had stopped smoking. As fast as I gained I should have realized it was the medications. Even my doctor at the time did not know why I was gaining weight so fast. It happened at a time when they were putting me on blood pressure medicine. I do not know which came first the weight or the blood pressure medicine. Although it is the blood pressure medicine I am trying to eventually be able to stop taking.
I believe if I can continue to stay healthy and lose weight by exercising and taking walks I can achieve this goal. I am hoping before the New Year is over I can achieve all these goals.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Compassion in Mental Health Recovery

In order to find a recovery from Mental illness, we must face the challenges of our experience, of all things that have made us afraid. Fear comes from many different places and these fears make it hard to accept ourselves, our friends, family and our own challenges. We cannot progress in our recovery if we cannot accept our selves, and this takes compassion in order to encompass the obstacles that stand before us.
While in recovery, I became employed as a data entry clerk. With little experience I worked to the best of my abilities, yet even so, I was afraid I was not good enough and the old patterns of fears began to set within my mind. I wanted to quit, and return to living on Social Security because I couldn’t handle the stress of what I had to learn in order to maintain employability. These fears slowly passed, yet I understood they had at one time bound me and their impact upon me struck deep within my mind. I saw that these fears were deep within my heart as well and were like wounds within the flesh. I had no compassion and could not grow earnestly.
Abraham Maslow said in 1968, “that emotional maturity requires a mind that does not judge, is forgiving and includes a loving acceptance of self.” How do we become strong in the light of self compassion? We suffer and recognize our suffering and allow ourselves to understand our illness. We have taken the time to train ourselves through our experiences and we know that the guilt and condemnation we suffer from will destroy our sense of worth.
Compassion is deeper than self esteem and it is self compassion that will help us accept the way things are and give us light to change in the future. Self esteem is how you feel about yourself; this could be low self esteem, depression or another mental illness or you may feel just right, having good feelings about yourself. Self compassion is relating to one’s own self, it is self kindness and understanding of the self and seeing one’s own experience as a part of the greater human experience, rather than isolating and keeping painful thoughts in awareness. It is the awareness of compassion which gives us good feelings and perception of the nature of our experience.

Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


In last week’s blog I talked about the bad counselor I had when I was younger, and wanted me to stop drinking. I will now talk about a good counselor I when I did want to stop drinking for good. The counselor worked with me and of course they put me on antibuse. Although this time I did not try to drink on the antibuse. Something had changed in me and I did not want to end up in prison for life and that was the road I was headed for.
The first thing the counselor asked me was “What were my triggers?” One of my triggers was Friday nights after I received my paycheck. I used to get paid and pay all my bills then I would drink until Sunday. We were told to write our three triggers on a piece of paper and carry then in our wallets. We were told to look at them, especially when we had the urge to drink. To also understand what made us drink.
Then the counselor asked “Why we drank?” was it to overcome problems. I drank because that was the only way I knew how to handle problems, and everyday life. I could not have just one or two drinks and call it a night. When I started to drink it was to get drunk. That was how I drank. I believe with this counselor and AA. I was able to quit. It also helped that this time I wanted to quit.
I had seen my past and knew if I did not get a handle on my drinking I was going to spend the rest of my life in prison. I believe it is that way with a lot of prisoners. When they are alone in their cell, they would like to change. The do not know how to or what a better life they would have without drinking or drugging.
I also read recently in a blog about “14 ways to change your brain” There were many points that really resonated with me. For example, point 2: Meditate. Although I may not take a yoga class as they suggest, I really like the idea of having some time to meditate.

Monday, December 19, 2011

An Idea of Recovery

I have been in Recovery from a mental illness for a long time, and what I have realized is that the mental health system itself has gone through a change itself, helping consumers move towards not only recovery, yet also a self sustaining attitude of understanding their own symptoms and to overcome the negative experiences of their lives. At MHCD, they, the clinicians,
“work towards transformation and focus to help people stabilize their illness and achieve a meaningful life”. Even though I myself am taking medications and have been for over 20 years, I feel I have reached the summit of overcoming my mental illness.
There have been many medication changes, yet I have learned that the symptoms no longer overwhelm me, not only because of the medications yet also because of group and individual sessions which helped me mold the ideas of change I was searching for. As a consumer, I believe to have a life is to have experience, and to accept knowledge and wisdom to make a positive change in one’s life. So I began with a mission and focused on being well, with positive expectations, and new relationships and to continue to reach for Recovery.
Support and understanding is what we seek as consumers in Mental Health, from our friends and families as well. We want to embrace the vision of Recovery and bring change to ourselves and enhance the knowledge of those whom have led us and served us with respect. We must move forward and begin to think we are not mentally ill or different, yet changing to overcome our thoughts and negative feelings bought on through experience.

Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

DBT: What is it?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a treatment designed for clients with self-harm behaviors, such as cutting, suicidal thought and suicide attempts. Many clients with these kinds of behaviors fall under a borderline personality (BOP) behaviors category.. They may struggle with other problems besides being borderline; they may face depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, eating disorders, and alcohol or drug problems. DBT is a branch of CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, developed in 1993 by Marsha Linehan, PH.D., by applying CBT to clients who practiced self-injury or made suicide attempts, even struggling with out of control emotions, she decided that going in another direction and adding another type of technique would improve the treatment the consumer(s) would be engaged in.
“Self-destructive behaviors are learned behaviors with intense and very negative emotions”. Emotions like shame, guilt, sadness, fear and anger are a part of the consumer’s life. The client is bound to suffer from emotional vulnerability, meaning that the person who is emotionally vulnerable is quick to lash out in anger, intensely and would be difficult to control. As I went through withdrawals from my drug addictions, I understand the anger and the retaliation others had experienced with my physical needs not being met and the hurt I experienced because there was no one there I felt I could trust to satisfy my needs and urges especially emotional.
There are three types of treatment in DBT – individual treatment, skills group, and phone coaching. Individual therapy has the consumer receiving once a week individual sessions for an hour, then the client must attend two hour weekly skills group for a year, in which they must learn four skills, Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation and Distress Tolerance. Consumers are also asked to call their therapist for coaching if they feel like hurting themselves. At this time the therapist gives them alternatives to self-harm or suicidal behaviors; medications may also be involved. The overall goal is to help clients create and live a “life worth living” attitude which is different from client to client in what they see is the kind of life they would like to achieve and live.
The balance between change and acceptance is formed, through “dialectics”, meaning to weigh and integrate contradicting facts or ideas. People struggle to have a balanced action, with thoughts and feelings and we must all work towards having passionate and realistic thoughts, with our thinking leaning towards the more logical, and realistic boundaries of life. Learning new behaviors helps change old behaviors that keep us from feeling like life is not worth living, in such we are changing our ways of thinking, “changing the balance of life”. Thinking dialectically you understand all points of view, yours and other peoples whom have a focus in life, yet there may be some wrong thoughts or views as well and that’s when we learn to weigh what is right or wrong and change ideas.

Written by Donald Sammons

Monday, December 12, 2011

Still Recovering

As I wrote in an earlier blog I am a recovering alcoholic. I was on antibuse and counseling after my first DUI. They did not help me. The counselor they gave me both times I had a DUI did not counsel me the right way. People might think I am paranoid as I go back over how I was counseled after my first DUI. I was put on antibuse, although when they first put me on it I could still drink. I guess it was a low dose.
My girlfriend, whom I would later marry, told the counselor that I was still drinking. He increased the dose of my antibuse. When I tried to drink again I was very sick. That finally stopped my drinking. Although my drinking was stopped nobody told me why or even counseled me. I was only eighteen years old. My girlfriend and me married and divorced while I was on antibuse for the first DUI.
Even though I was divorced I still went to see this counselor. After my divorce he seemed like he really did not care whether I quit or not. Just that I took my antibuse. No counseling on my triggers or why I drank. To let me know there was another way to deal with life besides drinking. When the night came and I was finished with counseling and antibuse. I went out and drank. I had a bottle in my car and drove all over town. Even went to Lakewood.
A police officer tried to stop my car. I took him on a chase through the Denver. They finally stopped me without wrecking the car. I was put back on antibuse and the same counselor. He still did not help. I really did not receive any help on my drinking until my mental illness. There are more personal reasons why I do not like this counselor. Since the late seventies counseling has changed. I should know I am a drug and alcohol counselor that is what I originally went to college for.
I do know if that counselor would have only tried to help back then my life would have been different. Construction and drinking went together. I was doing well at my job they were even getting ready to make me a foreman. Then I drank too much and totaled my car.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


It has been a good week so far. Recovery starts by being compliant with your medication. You will have to set the same time every day to take your medication. That is the first start of change and recovery. You take your medication at the same time every day that way you will get used to taking it. Once you start getting out of the fog of mental illness. You can decide what you would like to do with your life.
You will have to find the best medication that will work for you. When the fog started clearing in my mind once the medication started working. I started to think, I now have a chance to change my life around for the better. It did not happen overnight. I had to take small steps and learn how to live life sober. How to handle problems as they came up and learn about what mental illness is.
I also learned my triggers both for drinking and mental illness. Small steps and it worked out very well. I am at the right place that I want to be with my life. I do not stop learning about life and new things. Recovery does happen. Take it slow, and know you have the rest of your life to live differently.

Monday, December 5, 2011

RealizingYour Recovery

There is up and there is down. There is right and left. There are many opposites in our world; take for instance success and failure. We were not all born a success nor a failure, nature dictates through the human species the weaknesses and strengths we are born with. We learn to crawl before we are walking, to laugh before we speak, yet as we age, we begin to make choices beginning with the words yes and no. In Recovery we choose to secure the help of clinicians and other faculty members of the mental health system when we feel we are slipping into purgatory and we try to follow the dictates of our therapist so that we can walk the road of Recovery. For instance, signings of an admissions form and consent form; without these there is no information to be understood of our past or going forward in our Recovery through other offices. There is the medication to be taken, by whose consent, and are you willing to volunteer yourself to take a medicine which may help. What is the beginning or end of all this to become stable in Recovery?
Fear is one motive of stopping your treatment to Recovery, lack of strength; not being able to stand up to the ignorance your peers might place upon you. Stigma or self-stigma in realizing that you have a mental illness and denial, in trying to keep old friends and find new streets with the same corners. Jeopardizing your Recovery is swallowing poison and leaving yourself stranded without knowing what to do in such a vast wilderness of chance. What do you do to maintain your Recovery and or Sobriety? Turn your back to the offers of false strength which will not carry you, open your eyes to what you have been blind to, that which you do not see. Leave behind the drunkenness and drugs, if you seek an education instead of a corner to play on, you’ll find someone who will help guide you into the books you dream to read. Follow advice! Make sure it’s the advice of someone you know is doing well, a professional, a dear friend, a family member who will not forsake you. The words of your clinicians are spoken from experience, and there’s no reason you cannot understand if you want to change your life.
Reality will dawn and the ideas will arise if you believe there’s a chance you can overcome your illness. At MHCD we don’t preach ideas we help others to understand what is needed as a part of Recovery. You decide, and we lead you to reaching your goals. We give support so that the consumer can grow out of their own stigma and attain the ideas and motivation that are inherited in the client. You decide; arise or backslide; you are the one who can say yes or no.
Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Well thanksgiving is over and it was a nice one. I was able to see family I only see on holidays. Now it is time to think about Christmas and another new year. It should turn out to be a good year I hope. I will continue exercising and doing things the same way I have started in the last six months. Also to have hope it will turn out even better or the same as this year. I believe hope is needed every new year.
If you are struggling with something this year you can only hope it will be get better this New Year. You might have to take small steps to achieve something that you would like to change and have the hope to. Just set goals that you can achieve. That way you do not give up or lose focus or hope. When you achieve those small goals it feels great and you have even more hope that your long term goal will be easy to achieve.
That is the focus I have on losing weight. I know every time I go to a doctor I get weighed and I just want it to show less weight than I had the last time I weighed. So far it has worked out and I have lost enough to show what I am doing this time is finally working. Now when I look in the mirror I see myself slowly changing. I have come to enjoy my walks and exercising.
When I was younger, I would walk across town and only take the bus on the way back home. That is the shape I set my long term goal to be. I hope to do the same amount of walking as I did then. The weather has been great so far this time of year to walk in. I hope the holidays and the New Year will be great for everyone.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Forgiveness is a Part of Sanity

For many years a brown cloud hung over my head after my mother passed way. I was in treatment then, with medications and I found that it hard to accept that I had unfinished work to do. I never got the chance to explain anything about how I gave up drinking and make amends to mother for my drug use or how I began to take classes to secure work. I never made amends for interfering in her life as she had aged, begging constantly for many years just acting a plain idiot about my life. Being irresponsible is a dog’s life she would always say and inside I didn’t want to understand that I was irresponsible or doggerel towards others. I for many weeks on end had conceived the thought that her passing was my fault and that this passing was my lesson. I couldn’t forgive myself and had thought so many responsibilities were now mine and life was going be become tougher. I wasn’t ready. Again I slipped into a morose attitude, as I hardly listened to her then, I began at this time looking inside my mind for the things she said, for the ways she cared, for the understanding she bore. I needed to make my life work and many other things as well. I needed to forgive myself, and I needed the forgiveness of many other people —how?
In so many ways, people apologize, to be forgiven. They give material objects, talk out their reasons, sing, go to church, seek the reverence of God, yet I found that a quiet place and the understanding of those I seek forgiveness of comes from understanding of what is most spiritual between myself and the memory of those I seek amends of . In a sense I am using certain key steps in Recovery, A.A, N.A and those thoughts learned in Psychotherapy to reach inside and know how change with understanding and forgiveness is greater than the brown cloud of nothingness. To be forgiven is to be understood, it’s a two way street with the horizon awaiting to give you comfort. It’s not something you can force yet you give thought and you give faith because you understand that you or I are not self centered and that reaching that medium is having faith in the spirit between you and those that have been hurt. The idea of spirit is not just some misty cloud or entity unseen, but the energy you carry with you as every else to move thought and awareness with the senses you possess to convey ideas and to make those ideas work. Belief is as spiritual as faith and hope is the material aspect of movement. Forgiveness is parting away from the sorrow and pain and seeing that all those aspects are a part of Recovery and of the self.

Written By Donald Sammons

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I am looking forward to the day. I will get to spend time with my family that I do not see all that much during the year. Also to eat some good food and I can eat without worry this year. I went to the doctor yesterday and I lost six more pounds in three months’ time that is how long before I see my doctor and weigh myself. I am slowly achieving my goal. It is slow in achieving this goal, although I am sure this way the weight will stay off.
I still exercise and take my long walks on weekends. I still will be careful not to put the weight back on this holiday season. I believe recovery is the same way as achieving anything like stopping drinking. It is better done slow so you will understand what is happening and like the changes in you. I know my stopping drinking did not happen overnight. I believe it was twice they put me on antibuse.
I just waited for when my time was through with probation and antibuse and I could start drinking again. There were no A.A. or alcoholic groups for me. I just saw a counselor which is a long story in itself. I saw him for a half hour a week and we never talked about why I should quit drinking what kind of life I would have dealing with problems sober.
He did not like me so I was free to live my life as long as I took antibuse. When my time was up the first night I drank. Quitting drinking and recovery both are better if taken slowly. That way when you achieve them, they will be very satisfying.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Another realm of Being

I came across a word I had not heard for many years, and then only on television as I was younger. It involves both mind and body. Psychosomatic illness can be defined in 3 different classes.
(1) People who have both a mental illness and a medical illness, and these complicate one another
(2) People who have a mental illness that is the result of a physical illness, an example is having depression because of cancer, and
(3) A somatoform disorder being a mental disorder caused by physical symptoms related to psychological reasons.

There are many disorders associated with the somatoform disorder, and no one knows the exact reason for them. Some physicians think the disorders exist because of very strong emotions and those who are suffering from it cannot understand what emotions are involved because of the physical symptoms. The patient is not pretending the symptoms are real; being caused by a psychological reason, in relation to a physical symptom, the same as having a migraine headache, you don’t know the reason why you feel so bad, yet the pain exist.

Women are more susceptible than men to have a somatoform disorder. The symptoms can be digestive, headache pain, lethargy and other problems, and there is no cure for this form of disorder. The symptoms can be managed, yet the treatment may be more difficult; while people who suffer from such a disorder can live normally. The somatoform disorder is not a threatening illness although it may lead to major depression or even suicide.

A somatoform disorder seems to run in the family and is speculated to be genetic. It can be a coping mechanism or something learned, or a personality characteristic, or another kind of disorder. The disorder can be seen to be associated with nerve problems in particularly false signals to the brain and learning to control stress is to become involved in cognitive behavioral therapy which can help reduce the symptoms.

Using stress management may also relieve some of the symptoms yet; medications have also been used to help people control such a disorder.

Written by Donald Sammons

Friday, November 18, 2011


I am a recovering alcoholic. I do not write much about this part of my life to often. The reason is because I do take my sobriety for granted. It has been twenty three years since I touched a drink. I do not miss it. All I have to do is remember the destruction it caused in my life. Like a DUI and losing my construction job because I had totaled my car. That is one reason I do not drive nowadays.
All the bad memories of drinking and driving, I never hurt anyone but myself. I was never trying to get in trouble it just always found me. I am now able to watch other people drink and it does not have an effect on me. A year into my sobriety, I went into a bar that I use to frequent when I was drinking. I had no intention of drinking when I went into that bar. I just wanted to see what I was missing.
My old drinking buddy was there so I sat with him and few friends. I had a seven up. There was nothing happening so I told my friend goodbye. I remember walking home and thinking there is no attraction for me in a bar and drinking anymore. I knew then that I could be around people who drank and I would not have an effect on me. It was a turning point in my life. My friend who was at the bar that night quit drinking about two years later.
Although it was too late for him to have years of sobriety, because the alcohol had already wreaked havoc on his body. He died about a year into his sobriety. He was the second of my friends that tried to quit but it was too late. I can only imagine all that I would have missed out on if I had stayed drinking. I might be dead or in prison. I would not have the joy of watching my grandkids grow up.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Living with Recovery in Mind

I sat around the apartment for two days, pacing the floors, washing dishes, drinking sodas and sleeping. Why? I couldn’t find a topic for this week’s blog. I am not a doctor, or a policy maker of any sorts and I am not a party player. So what I suddenly see in my life is independence, becoming free of my responsibility, my obligation, my respect. These are symptoms of my manic phase and I am ready to quit and run for some other distant place. My mind had grown tired of the routine I was living and I didn’t want to do anything but prove to the crowds I had run with that I can be my “old self”, in other words I was losing touch with the space I had created which gave me freedom and peace.
I rested for a while thinking, “why would I want to destroy my well being”, after coming this far without relapsing, or backsliding on my responsibilities, what is so important that I would want to live as I had in the past, without understanding, without security. I began to understand many people run into the “wall” of despair, which causes disorientation, even failure, which are ready to surrender because they don’t have the stamina or motivation to continue on, in their endeavors. There are people in very well paying jobs, who have given up because the pressure was just too much, husbands, wives even children have become attached to that “wall”. I understood that because I have an obligation that demands my understanding and the knowledge of others, I was ready to “thumb the road”
This is not the wind of Recovery, which is facing your illness and downfalls and placing yourself in the hands of others who can guide you with reassurance, out of such turmoil. What I saw was a part of me judging myself through the words of others, and their ideas when I was at my weakest. Pulling myself through, was a matter of a pencil and the strength to face my problem, with reason, without going beyond the veil of ignorance, denying myself as I had done in the past and jeopardizing my mental health, well being and belief in others who have held their hand out to me.
Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


This was something I was thinking about yesterday. Long before I read this article, I was thinking about how I am out of school and doing pretty good in my recovery. I am still setting goals to achieve. The goals give me a reason to exercise and achieve what I would like to have happen in the future. To take my walks on the weekends and stay motivated. It also gives me hope for the future. I believe goal setting is important for anything you would like to achieve.
Motivation gives you something to look forward to. In this article it says: “That motivation can change from one time to another.” That is so true at first you are really motivated and then if it does not happen fast enough or say you did not lose any weight if that was your goal. It is easy to get discouraged. What if you achieve your goal of getting an apartment and then you do not set any more goals. I believe that motivation and hope go hand in hand. You hope that you may be able to achieve any goal you set. When you achieve your goal you are more motivated to try and set another goal.
I like that they also say in the article: “That looking at a person’s strengths and how one can help them set personal goals.” That helps a person a lot more to achieve your personal goal. I read a lot about people that are dealing with schizophrenia and dealing with this disease on a daily basis can be hard. To set a goal is not something they can deal with every day. I believe they would have to set little goals at first.
I think the article says it best “It may take a lot of hard work and love, but one can still have a really good life.” I believe that is all we can all ask for is to have a good life no matter what problem you may have. To have hope that you will at least achieve that goal.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Looking Glass

After many years of an association with MHCD (Mental Health Center of Denver), I began seeing a side of me they had noticed years before. I saw that I really had an illness which kept me from understanding what reality was about and which had kept me without respect not only for other people, yet for myself as well. I began to understand what my life was all about, my well being, the shambles of my mind the destitution I was living in; it was enough to shake my head in shame. I asked myself a question, “Where have I been?” Many people haven’t had the chance to see themselves, others only through glass and others haven’t the ability to make the change from what causes the debilitating blow because of an illness. There are many emotions to sort through when you are living with a mental illness, that’s one of the reasons I came to respect those who work in Mental Health in the fields of psychotherapy, and cognitive therapy. They are guiding the forlorn into that other majesty called reality, without faltering; without shame, without disrespect.
Psychotherapy is made up of a series of techniques which are used for treating emotional and psychiatric illness’ in other words your mental health. It is used to help the client, patient or consumer, understand what makes them feel weak or strong, positive or negative. Clients involved in psychotherapy can identify their feelings and their way of thinking in order to “deal” with the difficult aspects of reality. As a consumer in Recovery, I began reaching for reality, realizing my weakness and through many methods of communication and the use of psychotropic medications; I was able to alleviate some of the stress and negative emotions I was having without the use of street drugs or alcohol. Reality became a picture of motion and words through the sessions I had with my therapist and others associated with my recovery through the mental health system, by means of psychotherapeutic methods which have been in development since the 19th century. Many practicing psychologist and therapist agree to an extent that the most effective treatment for mental illness and other problems involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy as well as cognitive therapy. “We feel by what we think”, and with the in depth conversations and sincerity a person is able to live as an individual with strength of mind, overcoming the draught of negativity they have associated with during their illness.
Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Snow Day

Well it is snowing today and it is the second storm of the season so far. It is wet and bad outside. It is hard to be cooped up on days like this. It is time to go to the mall and take a walk around. That is if you do not have to work. The holidays are approaching very fast. It is now time to get together with family and friends, now that Halloween is over, and it was good seeing my grandchildren in their costumes.
What I have been thinking about lately is stigma. Donald wrote about it in an earlier blog this month. Lately I have not read that much about stigma. I do not know if that is a good thing or bad. Although we all hope that it is getting better. There are movies out now about mental illness like the new one called "Taking Shelter” I have not seen it. Everybody that has seen it is saying it is good.
It is good to hear they are portraying mental illness without someone slashing or killing someone because they have a mental illness. I know there are a lot of people with mental illness that have recovered and are working or going to school or just being productive with their lives. You just do not hear about them as much as the person with a mental illness who has hurt someone.
Although I remember a professor who when they found out I had a mental illness, told me her cousin who was a lawyer also had a mental illness. That was quite a few years back. I believe there are a lot more by now that have succeeded. After I tried to rent an apartment and told the apartment manager that I had a mental illness. She stopped talking to me. It was hard for me in college to mention I had a mental illness. Also it was a fact that I was and older student.
Different professors were mixed when they found out I had a mental illness. Some like my economics professor really went out of his way to see that I succeeded in his class.As I close for today I will leave you with an article on professors on TV who you would like to be professors in real life.

Monday, October 31, 2011

What is the Word?

I don’t have many experiences that are worth talking about. Most of my time was spent from the age of fourteen “hanging out” with older teenagers and adults of various walks of life, not all so good. Drinking drugging, destruction, and trying to forget what I had done, was all that was necessary for. I didn’t count on my mental abilities becoming wasted nor did I count on the cessation of learning or the need to support myself. Everybody I knew would help me, so I believed, yet I found out the hard way that even dreams can be hallucinations while trying to survive.
Schizophrenia is a dirty word in the real world. People tend to shy away, mostly very quickly at the mere mention of it. If you’re dirty and disheveled, watching people with crossed eyes, talking or shouting at no one in particular, or just sitting in a corner without reacting to the world, you may considered possibly schizophrenic. What is Schizophrenia, how did the word come to being?
“It is said the word or term schizophrenia is less than 100 years old, though it was defined as a mental illness in the late 19th century. There are written records though which suggest schizophrenia can be traced into ancient Egypt before Christ. Depression and dementia were described as symptoms having come from the blood, the heart, fecal matter, poisons of various sorts or even demons are thought even today to attribute the existence of schizophrenia.
“Many people were considered abnormal either because of mental illness, mental retardation or physical deformities or abnormalities, and all were treated the same.” The term dementia praecox is a term which was used in the 19th century to distinguish any psychotic disorder or manic depression. It was thought to be a disease of the brain in the form of dementia. The term schizophrenia came into use in the very early 20th century. It was during this time that schizophrenia did not always lead to mental deterioration and could occur late or early in a person life.
The word schizophrenia comes from the Greek, “schizo” meaning split and “phrene” meaning mind. The idea was to define a split personality or multiple personalities of which even today the general public still misunderstands. There are five types of schizophrenia given in the DSM-IV. Evidence that schizophrenia is a biological disease has grown in the last 20 years and because of dynamic brain imaging we are being shown today what goes on in the brain of anyone suffering from schizophrenia.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Winter Exercise

I am going to start this blog with a quote from an article on exercise: "Imagine a pill that would dramatically lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Now imagine that same pill could help you lose weight, improve your mood, and boost self-esteem. Would you take it? Sure you would. Who wouldn’t?” Sounds good although it is not in pill form, it is exercise.
It helps with a lot of problems a person might have. It is not hard. I find now that winter is coming it is easier to get in the mood to exercise. If you do not have a fitness center that you belong to, you can always take a walk around a mall. Being that Christmas is around the corner you can window shop for presents. Exercise helps in many ways. One is to lose weight. I know I lost twenty pounds and I am still losing. It is not just cutting down on the portions I eat, although that helps. I was walking every night for a week.
Walking is free and it does work in helping lose weight. Even though I have a fitness center where I live and I use it during the week. I take a walk every Saturday and Sunday mornings. It lets me see how many people are about on certain days and times of the day. It is very nice and I am going to try and continue these walks this winter when the sidewalks are not that bad. Exercise is something to think about.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Can I draw a Picture?

The word lackadaisical is a loosely used word in this society. We as humans search for the highest of levels of human thought and functioning and what this leads to are studies between the artistic and the disturbances of mental abilities. This is one reason why I brought up the word lackadaisical. Lackadaisical is defined as showing a lack of interest, loss of self-esteem, or being without spirit. Can I draw a picture even with words with such reality?
We look for what is natural or the self motivated person as opposed to the normally defined individual by the authority of society or the socially approved person. Mental illness is viewed from a different perspective, which suggests that some people, who are thought to be mentally ill, have as great an artistic ability which may help them overcome their illness or symptoms, as the artistic abilities of such the normal societal individual.
There has always been a relationship of art and mental illness. As I was a teen-ager, I knew of artist with whom I had associated who were known to have at times spent a portion of their lives in mental institutions or under the care of doctors and taking psychotropic medications. “To compare the artist to the mentally ill” person we have to understand, what is the nature of an artist in relation to someone mentally ill and how do we look at the artist or the illness of a person who has the ability to create.
Artists as well as the mentally ill search for a sense of life, a universal embellishment of the self, and as consumers we are searching for a conscious awareness in communication with the depths of our being. Though the mental consumer is not accepted as a great artist, poet, writer, or even scientist we have to realize we are as fortunate as our opposites and so at times we feel we are with a predicament trying to express our selves through our artistic means.
If we live in our own world to create, we know we have chosen to share with a confidence, and with feelings that we are as much real as those who would tend to think we are different in this society, by maintaining a grasp on reality by expressing through a means which can be accepted by the many who care to share the expressions through art and the willingness to understand the grace of what is created to be communicated.
Written by Donald Sammons

Thursday, October 20, 2011

This Week

This week has been a good week for me. I took a day and half off of work to rest. All I did on my day and a half off was rest and take a walk. It was a nice day and a half off. It cleared my mind and I am back ready to work. It also let me think about the good things in life. Like my grandchildren, they are doing well and are back in school. My youngest grandchild is getting big already going on three years old the end of November. I also thought about self-efficacy and how if you just hang in there things will always get better. I believe all problems can be worked out. I did not get to read what is going on this week in the mental health field. Last week one of the websites they were talking about movies and how their symptoms are bothering them. I guess I am lucky because my symptoms have not bothered me in over eighteen years. The medicine works pretty well for me. I am glad. I just wish they would work as well for everyone. Although everyone is different, that is why there is not just one size fits all when it comes to medicine. The same can be said about recovery. I am just glad for my job and life. I am pretty lucky.

Monday, October 17, 2011

We are one Together

We are one Together If you are willing to listen, have patience, take good advice and know that someone stands beside you, then you know you have a good friend. You can always accept someone who accepts you for yourself, someone you discuss your deepest concerns and fears; this someone is your truest friend. Whether you suffer from a mental illness or worse or nothing at all, between you and your friend is the act of overcoming the negative to become friends for life.
To be a friend for life, you must understand the support you give to one another, the kindness you share and the faith which is never shaken. Choosing a friend doesn’t mean they will from the start help you. What it does mean is that you and the person you have met, feel comfortable with one another and share an empathy which leads to trust. Being honest all of the time includes how you feel towards one another. It means never pretending or hiding the truth, if it’s true friendship you seek.
Give yourself over to freedom so that you may feel, think and converse whatever you care to share without ill feelings. Expressing yourself with someone lets you feel the comfort, caring and the sharing of faith of which you can experience with one another. Friendship is special, and we all are worthy of such.
We gain in many ways from the friendships we have, yet we must understand knowing someone does not always lead to a perfect relationship. Sometimes we don’t always share, or listen to one another; that’s the time we must put things into a new perspective. When a person has a problem and they are experiencing this with a mental illness, it’s always important to keep the bond you have with your friend. Friends help us overcome our symptoms, and the isolation we often suffer from or the worry which may bring us distress. Just because you are in Recovery or have a problem with your illness doesn’t mean you should stop sharing support.
Remember you are a partner in your friendship and if your friend doesn’t associate with you, know you are not totally responsible for how your partner or friend feels about your problem, or theirs and you must decide what’s best for you. Understand what your friend may be suffering, know whether you or they suffer from a mental illness and always give a friend space, you need it just as well to make decisions and give respect.
By Donald Sammons

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


After reading on a website about a woman who told her doctor about her symptoms that she was having he had her tested for temporal – lobe seizures. Although that was not what was wrong with her she did have schizophrenia after all. It brought up an article that someone sent me about being misdiagnosed.
The article says you have to be careful when diagnosing someone. One case I will mention was: “he examined a patient with daily panic attacks and noticed a swelling of her shins, a classic sign of Grave’s disease, a form of overactive thyroid that can cause severe anxiety.”
The article also says giving a brain scan first would be “prohibitively expensive and yield many confusing results.”
It looks like you have to look at and know about different medical ailments that can be confused with mental illness. It is always wise to know a person’s medical history and have a blood test. The article goes on to say clarifying a diagnosis can be a relief to clinicians and patients. It can be a tremendous relief in finding the right diagnosis. It can help in healing and self-esteem. Something as simple as a vitamin deficiency and drinking can change a diagnosis. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dual Diagnosis: Admittance

When you have more than one occurring mental disorder and suffer from an addiction or alcoholism, you have a dual diagnosis. As I was first diagnosed, I displayed the symptoms of several mental disorders, yet as I began treatment, it came to the doctor’s attention that I was also a drug addict who drank often and for many, many years before hand. The term dual-diagnosed was beyond me then, yet I did understand it was not a good thing. What made life even more difficult for me was that this was a complicated issue because I had two conditions to treat, one of the mind, the other of the body. My drug addiction existed with my mental illness, and from high to low, I walked for miles daydreaming without believing in anything or anyone, except that my needs must be fulfilled so that I could feel myself to be a part of the world that was as neverland. I dreamt I was special within a world connected to another. I spoke thinking I could relate to any creature or person no matter where they came from, I believed I lived in the beyond.

The drugs I was addicted to were my power, my crutch, my ability to survive. It became an intense ordeal, without the drugs I would suffer, or sleep for long periods of time without food or drink. I would at times awaken from some bad dream and run, trying to find that which would bring me contentment. I existed for the drugs and I had no idea I was actually medicating myself, fighting depression, experiencing bouts of hopelessness, withdrawing from society, friends, family, experiencing moods due to the lack of drugs or too many and living with hallucinations. It became hard to survive and quit using, even harder to understand those whom have love to share. I finally gave in and with acceptance in a voluntary treatment program which dealt with people who were not only addicted yet also suffering from mental illness.

Recovery takes a long time when your living in many worlds and because this was not just a drug rehab center I had entered into, it took me some time to become used to what seemed to be a pristine world of order and mindfulness, of which I had to learn to define to overcome the distortion which I lived with. The counselors in contact with my doctor knew I was one of the fragile contenders, at one time a heathen, who was dual diagnosed, yet they were kind and understanding and the first step was taken, Hope was next. It took a while for me to understand that my drug addiction was reason of my mental illness, I am one of those that changed in the course of life by others guiding hands and minds who dared to cross the threshold and untangle the web of a very complex problem of abuse and mental illness.

Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Optimistic Approach

When times get tough and you think there is no way to get through it. Just remember when in the past there was a similar situation and you were able to weather the storm. I was reading somewhere about the optimistic approach to life. It is a belief that people will get through tough times. We always seem to forget when a new problem comes along that it too will pass and be forgotten. I noticed that I’ve been getting angry lately over situations and I know it is not right to spend that much energy over something. This morning I decided to step back and look at the problem from the outside looking in. I came up with this idea, because in the past I made some decisions that were not right. If I could have stopped and looked at the big picture, it might have turned out different. It made me realize I do not have to get angry, because of someone else. I have been through a lot tougher situations and they have worked out O.K. If I can remember before a bad situation becomes worse, I will try and stop and look at the situation. I will take the optimistic approach. There are some thing’s you can change and there are others that you cannot change. Take a look if you have to change something in your life that is bothering you. When you are angry you cannot think right and that just gets you angrier, so try to calm down and think about the situation and what you may be able to do better to change the situation around.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Stigma, Employment and the Mentally Disabled

There is a movement within the mental health system. This movement is to overcome the stigma associated with mental illness. Since 1990 it was seen that stereotypes and ignorance was great in association with the mentally ill. People avoided living with, associating, socializing, working with and renting to or even employing people with any kind of mental disorder. Stigma leads to discrimination and abuse both physically and verbally and it causes isolation and loss of hope.
People with mental illness are most often poor and often rely upon or are dependent on government income, rent subsidies, food stamps and hospital care. The unemployment rate was about 90% for those with disabilities and mental disorders and this was in 1992. Yet the standard of living and employment are growing, being associated with better clinical help and a better quality of life. Individuals with mental disorders who had employment were found to do better, with reduced symptoms than those who remained unemployed. “The focus throughout was also not only upon the consumer yet also on orientation into the work force and training of supervisors and support for both consumers and employees.
Overcome Stigma:
“Powerful and pervasive, stigma prevents people from acknowledging their own mental health problems, much less disclosing them to others. For our Nation to reduce the burden of mental illness, to improve access to care, and to achieve urgently needed knowledge about the brain, mind, and behavior, stigma must no longer be tolerated. Research on brain and behavior that continues to generate ever more effective treatments for mental illnesses is a potent antidote to stigma. The issuance of this Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health seeks to help reduce stigma by dispelling myths about mental illness, by providing accurate knowledge to ensure more informed consumers, and by encouraging help seeking by individuals experiencing mental health problems”.
While this exist, the social services and vocational rehabilitation strive to overcome the high levels of unemployment in the mental health sector where in many consumers were unable to work or did not want to work which was due to education and also interruptions by cause of symptoms interference, discrimination, not to mention jobs which do not pay well. Stigma and discrimination has a street which divides the wealth and the poor and the mentally ill and disabled. Strength is what is spoken of a lot at MHCD (Mental Health Center of Denver) and hope in overcoming the disabilities not to forget about faith, which is what is demonstrated to create change.
These are not my own words, these words are the excerpts from a speech on Stigma, Employment and Mental Health by the Surgeon General, September 2011, find hope and reassurance there is aspiration in what can be through faith.

Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Suicide and Schizophrenia

It is a subject a person would like to forget and hope it would not happen to someone else. Although most schizophrenics, who become mentally ill do think about suicide, and do try to commit suicide. Schizophrenic Bulletin says:“Even though in a schizophrenic fog, believing that people were out to kill him. He wanted to commit suicide. Yet he did not know why.” It is really hard to explain. Even though I thought in my delusion that people were trying to get me sent back to prison. I did think about and try to commit suicide. I did not like what was going on and I did not understand it when it was happening.
It is just that I woke up and I was different and what was happening in my mind was different. I think this article in the Schizophrenic bulletin explains it in words I cannot: “…My self- or someone else’s self-was already out there, controlling my every move without my conscious awareness. I was trapped in the nothingness between the internal and external, hiding behind the veil of my own perceptions, which I didn’t perceive to be my own.” I did not want to go back to prison. Yet it was like I was not directing my life, but someone else was.
When they arrested me all I could say was why? What I had feared had happened. I did not get medication while I was in the County Jail. When I arrived at the State Hospital, I thought it was a prison. Somewhere else other than the Canon City prison, like I thought it was Grand Junction, Colorado. When the judge had said one day to life, I started calling down my lawyer. I did not hear what else the judge said. It was like a prison when they had taken me to the State hospital. They moved me at night and I thought it was a prison.
Well I was there for about two weeks before I was tried on a second medication. When I had first arrived they had tried me on Haldol. I had an allergic reaction to it. They did not try again until they had moved me to a second ward. Those feeling and that fog I would never want to go through that again and for that long. I believe I was left mentally ill for at least nine months.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lethargy or Depression

Lethargy as fatigue is known is a physical and most common psychological illness. It comes and it goes, and we all experience it at some particular time. Lethargy is a lack of energy of the human body and mind, exhaustion; and it doesn’t last long, yet it may last for weeks or for even months. Lethargy can also be the result of a disease such as diabetes, and can exist commonly with women during pregnancy causing mood swings. These can range from being mildly upset, irritable or even weight gain. People with anemia can suffer from lethargy and this can be similar to suffering from depression of which may be of stages, being mild, moderate or severe.
People who develop depression may feel lethargic, suffering from poor sleeping habits and or loss of appetite. To keep from experiencing lethargy, especially during warm weather you can:

1. Keep cool during hot weather
2. Wear loose clothing
3. Eat regularly, fresh foods no sweets
4. Be aware of you sleeping habits and
5. Avoid drugs and alcohol

Lethargy or exhaustion can be a result of any virus infection as well, which can be followed by weakness or depression and can last for weeks after as any illness can. Last but not least, fatigue (lethargy) can exist as you become an elderly person which they may develop from acquiring hypothermia (low body temperature). If you are elderly stay warm and eat right.

Other causes of lethargy can be work, mental stress, recreation, depression or going without sleep. If you happen to feel under the weather and you have these symptoms for a long time its best to see a doctor, even if it is a bit of fatigue or mild exhaustion, you may be suffering from something physical or from mental stress.

Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Visiting Old Neighborhood

I went this weekend to visit my old neighborhood and old friends. I had not been over there in at least six months. Riding through my old neighborhood I was hoping to see a lot more of the people that I used to see a lot when I lived there. I did not see that many. The friends I did visit though it was good to see them and talk to them about how life is treating them now. I asked how friends were that I did not get to see. I was glad to hear they were doing well. I was sad to hear that they are not happy in the old building with the new ownership. That is one reason I moved from there. They are hoping they get new owners. Although as I told them it is not always greener on the other side, they were hoping these owners were better that the last management. It turned out to be worse. Sometimes it is better not to ask for a change and let things be as they are. They are still waiting for light rail to be finished next year. I am too that way I can visit a lot more that I do. The bus service there is still awful. I try to keep in touch with my old friends from there. A lot of the people that I knew for years have passed on or moved away like me. Hopefully they will get new owners that are better and not in the business just for the money. It was a good visit and very nice seeing the old neighborhood. I know it will be a while before I can get that way again. Hopefully I can spend more time next time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How close are we to Freedom

We talk about being on our own, as we are consumers, being connected to various agencies through mental health. Being free, of our disability, having the ability to care for ourselves, providing and sharing with others, keeping a home, shop, even work or go to school. What does this take? I realized I had to find respect for myself amongst the millions of other low income, and physically as well as socially distressed people that exist nationwide. That’s a lot of people. I had to work with people who know the ropes, and I had to learn to become self sufficient in a new way, on a different level , moving from homelessness, to welfare and finally gaining access to employment and or training instead of joining gangs or selling and using drugs or worse.
This transformation, not only for myself, yet for others as well is moving beyond the fears of the mind and those we harbor living day to day. For many of us, who were once trapped in abandonment, vacant homes, or just sleeping against any wall, found our blessing and having been given a decent place to live, began to come to grips with the agencies which supported us. Yet we had to give to them also, demonstrating we can be capable of overcoming not only the mentalities of being once homeless, yet also the disorders we face mentally, by working with those who can mentor those who had given up. We begin to reach for new opportunities to improve our lives through the dedication of social workers, case managers and therapist, not to forget assisted housing agencies, and vocational rehabilitation. Is this far enough?
Reliability, motivation, determination, stamina, dedication, those words are critical in changing our lives from being a mental health consumer, to becoming a citizen and or a provider in society. We have to become mentally and socially conscious if our ideas of which our therapist and case workers have helped form are to help us walk from vagrancy to good health, ideas and a new life—
Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mental Health Recovery

They say recovery is an ongoing journey. That is what I read on this website. They also have a film out about three people in recovery, which you can order on DVD from this website. They are trying with this film to break the stigma of mental illness. They say people in recovery have good days and bad days. That is so true, although I do not like to write about the bad days I do have them. I know the bad days will be gone though and a good day will come again. It also talks about having hobbies and other interests. They can also help your recovery just like a job, it gets you out of yourself and thinking about something other than your mental illness. Also by having meaningful relationships such as a significant other or your family and friends will always help. A person will need support and someone to talk to about the good days to share and the bad days. I know I can always talk to my family if one is not available another will be there to fill in. To help with medication change which is helpful to tell how you are doing and what they see the way you are acting. I remember my relapse when I was at college. When I called my mom she said go talk to your doctor. Sometimes we cannot do everything on our own. I also believe having goals or a dream can help of what you would like to do in the future. I know that was all I could think of finishing college no matter how long it took. After that one relapse I never had another. Even changing medication was not as hard as it could have been. I am thankful I have a job where they can understand what you are going through it helps make it easier. Also build on your strengths. What you can do best. That way the road to recovery will not be as hard.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What Do We Do Now

You can look at coping as a conspiracy in mental health. Conspiracy in Latin means “to breathe the spirit together”. What is the spirit of coping we are sharing? It is the spirit of hope. Mental Health is about how we think, our emotions and how we cope with life. The symptoms of mental disorders can get better or become worse and with this experience the symptoms of any mental disorder are a part of recovery and as we cope with our disability we are controlling the crisis we are facing with different coping mechanisms.
The best way to cope with our problems is to (a) follow a treatment plan, (b) know what the symptoms are and when they occur, (c) learn to manage stress and (d) keep in touch with your doctor and case manager.
Coping is managing external and internal demands; that is managing insecure feelings of which there are many kinds of coping mechanisms. These can be: Acting, when we feel pressure, either emotionally or with behavior. Attacking someone, or using fantasy to escape reality. These are just a few coping mechanisms which are negative ways to react to a situation not understood. Coping positively is a developed sense of personal control which means we problem solve so that any situation can be dealt with optimistically and with practicality.
We can deal with anxiety, stress or hallucinations by relaxation. We can problem solve by defining the problem and understanding how we feel about the problem. We can think of solutions and how others would solve the problem, knowing what’s positive or negative about our emotions or stress and make a decision, realizing that exercise, healthy food, hope, spirituality and forgiveness are a part of coping with our mental disorder. These are positive tools which make us healthier mentally and physically and help us to overcome the symptoms of our disorder and other negative conditions through understanding.
Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mental Illness Affects

I was reading an article titled “Mental Illness affects half of all Americans during their lifetime. That title does not mean at this given moment. It means at some time in their lifetime. One thing I found interesting is that in a study “Over the previous twelve months, about 8.4 million American adults thought seriously about suicide, 2.2 made plans to end their lives, and about one million attempted to commit suicide.” That is a lot of people. I know for me when you are mentally ill, you do not understand what is happening to you. Suicide comes to your mind to end what you do not understand. Whereas if I were not mentally ill I would not even think of it, in me there is always hope that the problem or place I am at is not forever. Even when I do not want to have hope it pops up. Even when the worst thing I could imagine happened, I still had hope. What can that be? It was being told I had a sentence of one day to life in the State Hospital a place I had never been to before. I cannot forget being faced with that. It did help me make some new choices in my life. To always be in control of what I do in life. To make sure I do not wake up in jail after being drunk and told you hurt someone or even killed them. Or not even know what you did. A person would never be able to go back and change that night or day. It happens to a lot of people. I will never let it happen to me.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

College and Mental Illness

Starting college with a mental illness can be rough. The following is a link to 10 conditions that plague college students. Do you disclose that you have a mental illness? That is a tough question. I did not personally want to disclose, although when they told me I would be suspended, and the only thing that could help me is if I had a disability. I really did not see any other choice. Also I had my first relapse the first week that I started college. As I mention last week when I am mentally ill, I am more aware of people and cars. I had to make my way downtown from Auraria campus to catch a bus home as I did not know the schedule and buses at the campus yet. I had to go through a crowd of 1,700 new students. It was rough for me. When I came back to college after having my medication increased, I had to change one class because I had missed too many days. The disabilities office asked if I needed help with my classes. The first day of class I had to ask for a note taker, and let the class know. The other students had to know that I had a mental illness, because I had no physical illness. Every semester that was the hardest day of the semester for me. Just because you have a disability it does not make going to college any easier. I could also have had my tests done in a private room. Although I did not ask for that and I had to take my test with the rest of my classmates. I have been quiet all my life until I get to know a person. I did not have any friends in college except for the ones I met in Alcoholics Anonymous. We had a group at campus. I would still go back to college although I would try to do it all over again without going through disability office. That is just me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mentally Ill

Last week I wrote about Andrew Steward’s Youtube video. Another thing that hit home on his talk was when he said he drove after leaving college for the day. He was driving on the interstate in California. I did not drive the time of my mental illness. Although, I do remember walking around Denver at night, I can remember all the cars and there seemed to be a lot. More than likely it was because I was mentally ill. I also had been recently released from prison. I also felt at the time as part of my delusion that the cars were circling and following me. When I am not mentally ill I do not pay that much attention to cars or people that are out and about. Although the times that I was ill, there always seemed to be more people, and cars than usual, if I was driving that night. I would probably have killed myself or wrecked a car. I could not dive in that condition. I do not know how he did it with all those delusions going through his head. It is a time I would rather forget. I can also remember hardly sleeping when I was mentally ill. That is also very hard on a person. Another part of my mental illness was hearing messages from the radio. I would play a cassette tape in my stereo and it seemed like it was talking to me. I would shut off the radio even though I like music. I thought at the time they were talking to me from Canon City the prison. That also is hard to understand. I know people who are going through it now are having a rough time. I am happy they did force medications on me. To stay that way for any longer would have been inhumane to be now that I am not ill.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Communication in Mental Health

We are always troubled in so many ways when it comes to communicating with different cultures and different backgrounds. We must first see if there are any barriers between the groups who are willing to communicate, in other words we must clear the air in order to see where we are going. The same holds true for those working in mental health, nurses and clinicians, when relating with consumers or clients and vice versa. Families of said consumers also have to relate with not only loved ones yet share their respect and cultural understanding as well when sharing not only with the consumer yet also with clinicians and therapist as well. There has to be some acceptance and trust when communicating in a mental health setting.

A relationship between mental health staff member’s clients has to be established on a one-to-one level and it must be not so personal so that care can be given to the client, through trust from the client, the client's families, friends and others who may be involved in treating the consumer. We must lead the consumer to understand his or hers goals and direct them in a learned way to understand what can be achieved.

Directing the consumer to accept their own esteem and be aware that there can be no wrong if there is understanding and that this understanding comes from the ability of both the clinician and consumer being able to define what they are conveying in any situation when conversing. There must be empathy between the client(s) and mental health worker, sharing what one is feeling and agreeing upon when communicating and while giving understanding.

Trust is a part of communication in that you have no reason to fear what you are hearing or facing in such a relationship of give and take. As a client, I am still learning to listen and give as well in the client-clinician relationship and maintain my trust level as well as trying to keep my understanding of what the therapist is giving in the way of knowledge while keeping my self esteem and knowing what level I exist in to learn and excel in the matters between mental health workers and my own recovery.
Written By Donald Sammons

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Andrew Steward: Beating Mental Illness

This talk was given at University of Denver. He excelled at school as a youngster. He even went to school in Ecuador, because he cared about poverty. Now he is a music student at DU. There is a middle chapter in his life and in that chapter he has a mental illness. He asks the question “What do you think of when you hear mental illness? Are you scared of it?” His mental illness started in 2005 he heard voices in his head and believed religious things that were related to his religion that were not based on reality. He was going to college in California and had taken a big load and he literally burned out, and that brought on his mental illness. One night in class he got the idea that Jesus was coming back eminently, so he got up left his backpack in the classroom and drove for five hours to the mountains to escape God’s wrath and the end of the world. “I know it sounds crazy that’s because it really was.” He was staring at the sky the entire time on literally some of the busiest interstates in America in southern California. He was being honked at by endless cars. “I honestly should have died in a tragic car accident this is what happens when mental illness descends upon someone they start to live in their own world.” His family and friends were starting to worry about him. His loving parents came out to pick him up and take him home. “You have to understand though, I thought I was totally fine.” It did not go over well with his father though you see his father is a trained Psychotherapist. He told him, he did not want to go home. He was told the only other option was to go to a mental hospital. “I don’t know what you guys have heard about mental hospitals but there pretty scary, and in my opinion there as bad as prisons. His roommate at the hospital said he was God, and that he was going to kill him. “Talk about not being able to sleep at night.” When he returned home from the hospital, the voice in his head was his roommates. Still it was talking to him, and telling him how to run his life. Over the coming months he would take pills that basically did not work. Then one day in the fall of 2006, he was in a really bad car accident and the very next day he lost his job. It shook him up considerably as it would anyone. He began to regress again. This time he began to see things that were not real. He began to see a snake. “I want you to imagine what this was like for me one minute I want you to put yourself in my shoes.” He saw a snake that was in front of his chest. “This snake would coil up all day long and continually biting my heart over and over again.” He was screaming profanities at the snake. “But I literally believed that the snake was Satan and I was being attacked by the devil himself, it was torture.” He also saw fire. “One day I woke up and there was so much fire in my parents’ house, which I spent the entire day in the back corner of my parent’s bathroom.” It was the only place in the house without fire. “Now I bet you are all wondering how I got better.” The pills were not working they had him take an injection every two weeks. Which did work, and he was better. “But you know what really did the trick I began to love myself for the first time in my life when I got better.” He was a perfectionist that had tried to drive himself too hard, and push himself too hard. “I think that’s what got me into trouble.” When he learned the value of caring for himself and to nurture himself, and at times put himself first even if it meant the end result of caring for others. “I think that is how I improved.” There are some ways in which his illness affects him these days. By the side effects of medications, after he has been taking antipsychotics for three years, he gained a hundred pounds. He has since lost fifty of those pounds. “But it is definitely one of the effects of treatment.” If you think his life was hell though then think of the effects on his family. “You see when my parents were there for me nobody was there for my parents.” Everybody who they counted on and were there before simply vanished. He asks the question when someone breaks their arm, we write on their cast, when someone has a mental illness we run the other way. “Why is that? I am going to bust a myth for you guys now, and ask is that violence is not common in mental illness, let me repeat that violence is not common in mental illness, my general personal opinion is that it is about as common in the general population actually.” He has compiled a list of people who have struggled with mental illness that has interfered in their lives. “This list includes Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Michelangelo, Beethoven, Leo Tolstoy, and Ernest Hemingway, and the list goes on.” The list looks to him as of people that have influenced our society more than anyone else. It is also a list of people who have struggled with major depression, who at times have become suicidal. They have struggled with bipolar disorder, and who have struggled with schizophrenia and multiple personality disorders. “Are you really afraid of these people? Are you really afraid of me?” He is not going to deny the fact though that there are times that people are tortured in their head by voices for years, and years. They eventually give into their delusions and do things which are harmful to others. He says, “we all remember what happened in Tucson, Arizona when Jared Loughner killed himself, and several other people, and severely wounding representative Gabby Gifford’s, was Jared receiving the love that he needed? I believe he was receiving some, but I don’t think he was getting what he needed. There is hope though even in this most dire circumstances, and that is this is noticed after the tragedy everybody was asking all over the country all over the world why did this happen, and what can we do to prevent it from happening in the future.” This shows there is hope and people are talking about mental illness, even if for no other reason than they do not want these things to happen in the world any longer. Mental illness also affects our society in another way, and that is homelessness. “Studies show that about forty percent of homeless people are also mentally ill, I don’t have all the answers to homelessness in our society, but obviously these issues are interrelated and if we help one, we will help the other. There are guys like me who fall through the cracks.” His message today is yes we need to bring awareness to this issue yes we need to stop the stigma in its tracks. “ We need to pull it out from under the carpet.” We have been hiding it was too long and that is not helping things, but most importantly I want you to know if you are out there and going through what I went through, you are not alone.” He is going to end with a story about Jared Loughner. He noticed another thing after the tragedy. “I saw on the news a reporter interviewing Jared’s neighbors from high school. They said Jared was actually a pretty vibrant young man, who played the saxophone in the high school jazz band. They said that beautiful music would come from Jared’s house at night, and then one night the music stopped, you see Jared’s not all that different from me. I play the flute in high school, beautiful music would come from my house every night too, but I am back and I’m here as a living testament to show that people can, and do get better from mental illness. If you’re out there and going through what he went through or you know someone who is, fight for them as they are fighting their way out of it, because when you do your fighting for a guy like me, Thanks.” A lot of things hit home for me in this YOUTUBE video. To me mental illness is torture, and Jared Loughner is still going through it. I think that was the hardest being stuck in the county jail and not getting treatment for my mental illness.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Common Destruction, Depression or Manic Depression

When suffering from bi-polar or depression alone, you tend to have episodes or mood swings, some of these moods people have are over excitation, this is with the manic phase in manic depression. The other is of hopelessness or the depressive mood and combined becomes a mixed state which can lead to outrage or irritation during a mood swing. With depression a person might feel tired, cannot concentrate, remember or make decisions. They may be restless, irritable, lack an appetite, sleep restlessly even contemplate death or attempt suicide. When looking at depression or manic depression, sadness or hopelessness reflects the person’s mood. Depression in manic depress has psychotic symptoms as well which tend to reflect a person’s mood.
In the one extreme you may think you have great wealth, or that you may be some famous individual in the crowd of friends you associate with. In another way you may think you have some special powers, either physical or magical. There is an opposite extreme, that of being depressed with a psychotic episode of which you may believe your life is going nowhere, that you are destined to ruination, that you are poor or that you have become a criminal. People with this state of mind can be wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia which may be a cause of medicinal problems when being diagnosed for medication.
Having friends on the one hand might be easy when you’re overspending or comical or mysterious, and living with depression on the other hand leads to often extreme abuse. There is in these matters use and abuse of one’s self and depression is a trap when things don’t go your way or you can go no further. During my struggle with being bi-polar I was also diagnosed as schizophrenic, through my use of drugs and alcohol, which lifted me from a slow sleepy gait to climbing mountains. This is not literal yet I thought I was enjoying life and I had no shame with the kinds of “friends” I had, with whom I used with, how long I partied or where I slept. Yet my life, both physically and mentally were not of good health. I used more drugs as time went by drank more, slept later and later, and ignored those good people who thought they would help me as I made believe my life was to wonderful and cool. I believed I could cause the rain to fall, all of this because I felt lowly and that I would never achieve anything in life.
After many years of Rehabilitation and fighting with the medications that were used, I finally braved reality. To begin a new life meant new friends not grave diggers and it meant understanding those who knew what was right. I knew I didn’t want to end my life with drug addicts standing above me, and I knew I had a reason to keep living and believing with the faith that grew inside yet I also knew, it was not the end of the world.

Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


What makes people feel good about hurting someone else? Especially if they have a mental illness, does the person they hurt feel less pain? Yesterday in the Denver Post there was a story about four State Hospital workers sent home because someone they put in restraints received a broken arm. He told them he was in pain. The question if you already put someone in restraints why hurt them more. I’ve been to the state hospital before and I was put in restraints after becoming ill there and not wanting to take medicine. They had a court order to give me medicine. I can understand that. What I did not understand was why so many had to take me down. I think it is harder when there are more staff all trying to do the same job. The Pueblo sheriff is investigating this recent episode at the state hospital. When you are in someone else care, you should not be hurt. I think people would be madder if it was a child in daycare and received a broken arm from somebody that works there. I do not understand why they would kick someone when they are already down. Does it make them feel like a better person then the mentally ill? I might be a little biased because I was at the state hospital and I do not think they are in the job of letting people recover. You just have to stay a certain number of years 'till you get out. It does not matter if you are recovered sooner or not. I saw a lot while I was there. It still comes back to me and I just have to wonder why people in authority have to act that way. Can you not treat all people the same and see some good in them?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Depression or Change of Life

I was wondering about something someone said to me about my attitude. I stay home on the weekends, I don’t have a night life and I don’t drink alcohol or do drugs. I have done these things most of my life, and had nothing to show for the party life until a few years ago. I changed my life style, due to respect for myself as well as others yet, I began wondering after the comment was made about how depressing I must be, that I had to be sure I wasn’t just suffering from any of the symptoms of depression, especially at my age. I realized I am just another one of those different kinds of people, who wants to change their life. The symptoms I have brought to life from several web sites can create a mode of fear, yet in the reality of those who suffer, there is hope, if they reach out and let others guide them:

“One in four older people have symptoms of depression that require treatment. Part of the problem is that depression in older people is hard to untangle from the many other disorders that affect older people, and its symptom profile is somewhat different from that in other adults.
Physical illness increases the risk of depression. Evidence from neuroscience, genetics, and clinical investigation demonstrates that depression is a disorder of the brain. Modern brain imaging technologies are revealing that in depression, neural circuits responsible for the regulation of moods, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior fail to function properly, and that critical neurotransmitters -- chemicals used by nerve cells to communicate -- are perhaps out of balance.”
“Symptoms of depression include a persistent sad mood; loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed; significant change in appetite or body weight; difficulty sleeping or oversleeping; physical slowing or agitation; loss of energy; feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt; difficulty thinking or concentrating; and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. A diagnosis of major depressive disorder (or unipolar major depression) is made if an individual has five or more of these symptoms during the same two-week period. There are many barriers to the diagnosis of depression in late life. Some of these barriers reflect the nature of the disorder: depression occurs in a complex medical and psychosocial context. In the elderly, the signs and symptoms of major depression are frequently attributed to “normal aging,” atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, or any of a host of other age-associated afflictions. Psychosocial antecedents such as loss, combined with decrements in physical health and sensory impairment, can also divert attention from clinical depression.”
Donald Sammons

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A New Book

There is a new book being release tomorrow, August 4, 2011. It really seems like a good book to read. It is called “A First Rate Madness: Uncovering the links between leadership and mental illness. The book is about famous leaders who had some mental illness. It is written by Nassir Ghaemi. This is a quote from the book “The best crisis leaders are either mentally ill or mentally abnormal; the worst crisis leaders are mentally healthy.” He talks about both effective leaders who had mental illness, and ineffective leaders such as George W. Bush and George McClellan, the civil war general who “evolved in the opposite directions from precocious sensation to a plain dud.” The author talks about eight men whose stories he tells about. He believes a pattern that was ignored by historians, and the public, is the fact that they did shape the second half of the twentieth century. Some of the others he examines in the book are Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, and Franklin Roosevelt. One of the quotes about the book is “Take realism, for instance: study after study has shown that those suffering depression are better than “normal” people at assessing current threats and predicting future outcomes.” He asks the question would we have voted in Lincoln or Churchill, knowing that they had depression? I do not think so! It seems from the previews to be a very interesting book. There are things in it that I did not know. For example: Adolf Hitler was bipolar and did intravenous amphetamine. “Legally, he knew what he was doing, and he intended to do it; thus he was fully responsible for all his actions.” Whether or not you believe in his thesis, the book will be a good read.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Thinking the Nature of Recovery

A Tributary is a stream or river that flows into another river or lake, yet does not flow into a sea or ocean. What has this to do with Recovery and Mental Health? Tributaries as they represent the flowing of bodies of water such as streams or rivers, can also represent Principles which lead consumers to different services that help them in becoming healed or find way to better health. These streams or rivers may be counseling or education and of these streams there are the attitudes of self, self-esteem, and self sufficiency of which strengthens us.

Through the tributary of education which is learning how to achieve recovery by facing our addictions and mental illness. There are still deeper rivers having concepts of ideas or beliefs as a part of the self seeking recovery through mental health. We must travel these tributaries to understand ourselves, our emotions to overcome the pain we suffer from the lack of understanding we have of the world and the concepts society has of the mentally ill. The greater body of which we come unto is our self assurance and peace, our acceptance that we become better persons with Respect.

What is the meaning of Recovery? Recovery in Mental Health is the process of changing your attitude, your feelings, goals and living with a new found hope. This body of water of which the tributary flows into is called Recovery of which means a developing of new life and moving beyond the pitfalls of having a mental illness. We have taken on a new ideology and challenged our illness and moved beyond the stagnant pool we waded in. We all have our own definition of Recovery, yet we must also realize there are many rivers and streams we channel through before we reach the clean and ever being body of faith which keeps us going into the most positive direction; that is empowerment, taking control of our lives through hope.

Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Schizophrenic Recovery

I was doing some reading of articles this week and came across a website with the following article about “Schizophrenia Subtypes.” The author of this article has schizophrenia and writes about different subjects of schizophrenia. It is also a place where you can ask questions or comment on article she has written. This article I am talking about today list the five subtypes of schizophrenia and tells their symptoms. It surprised me to learn that paranoid schizophrenics respond to treatment better and have a better outcome. Of course she also mentioned that with all statistics there are exceptions. I have been thinking why do we do better? As I have mentioned in prior blogs, being ill was hell on earth for me. I never want to go through that again! I was sick in jail since April to November, when they finally took me to the State Hospital. I hardly knew anybody while I was there in jail. I had money while I was there. Although I was too paranoid to spend it, I thought if I signed my name to the papers to buy commissary. They would just steal my name. I was a smoker at that time but I did not buy cigarettes for about six of the months while I was there. That is not the only reason it was so bad. I was not of a sound mind to hold a conversation with nobody. I kept to myself and also my delusions. To have paranoia in jail is hard. I know that is one reason I recovered. I would never want to go through that again. Just having delusions was hard enough if I would have heard voices I do not know how hard that would have been.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Directions in Recovery

It’s important to pay attention to both the religion and spiritual side of a consumers being. The components of both religion and spirituality are faith, hope and wisdom as well as our ongoing knowledge of recognizing that we have an illness.
Our concern though is to get away from the stigma of being mentally ill and accepting the recovery process so that we become self sufficient and understanding of the new world we choose for ourselves. When we seek new directions, recognizing how powerless we were, we begin to choose for ourselves a new way of life. Choosing Training and Recovery over, destitution and ill wealth as well as poverty we are accepting strength, searching for a better source of support so that we can identify with our beliefs and develop within the community our hope and awareness of recovery.
To develop our belief is to change the direction of our recovery. Knowing through others that hope works for all and by sharing with those that care for the well being of self and others, the spiritual side of us grows in strength and this in turn leaves us with faith. We are able to direct our selves through our own will, determining our independence, through choice, knowing our path is a new life through Recovery.

Written by Donald Sammons

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Another Story

I was going through some old books that I have and I came across one that had helped me tremendously whenever I was down and out. The book is titled “They Beat the odds.” It is an old book not worth much money, but a treasure of stories of people who triumphed over adversity. I remember when I first read it, I said if they can make it through all they have been through so can I. One story I reread the other day was about the hostage situation in Iran. There was one Marine when they stormed the Embassy they hit him in the ribs with a shotgun. They took him to the hospital only to later yank him from his IV’s, and take him to prison. Once in prison they told him he would be facing a firing squad. The story tells what he was thinking and how he felt be locked up in a foreign country not knowing what was going to happen to him. Well finally President Carter freed the hostages and saved his life. Why would I reread this story? I was in prison once and a lot longer than him. Although I knew I had an appeal and some day would be free because we have laws I can understand. Also I was in my own country with people who talked like me. To be in a foreign country without people like you, never knowing what they could do to you or when you could get out. It would be the most frightening feeling and experience in the world. Another story I can relate to is about an alcoholic. He was an editor of magazines and newspapers. He was about to go to rehab as we call it now days. He knew he had to check in. He woke up at 9 am and drank three vodka and orange juice before he left at 11 am. The story goes on to say how many alcoholics there were in 1983 the year the book was printed. There were 120 million drinkers and 10 to 11 million alcoholics at that time. He made it through rehab. He was in room after words with other editors. They were drinking, and he told them he no longer drank. They did not care and probably thought more for us. They could not see through their alcoholic lenses. He went on to be the editor for Newsweek magazine. The book tells how people drink to cover up emotional problems such as anxiety, tension, fear, and also depression. It is a coping mechanism. Through there alcoholic lenses they probably will never see how good life can be sober. To go through ups and downs or see how well it is to let children learn and be themselves so that a person can enjoy them and life.

Monday, July 18, 2011

An Experience: Dual Diagnosis

I spent my first five days in a detox ward outside of Denver, to this day I don’t remember where; I only know it was unbearably hot, the ground was grassless and dry and the building was small. There were a small number of other men inside the building, all like me, unshaven, unclean and moaning as they spoke, besides the few male and female nurses and social services workers. I felt trapped! Not only did I feel incarcerated, I felt there was no one to relate too; I was alone with nowhere to go when I was released and no way to provide for myself when I needed, which included food and transportation; I was stuck in the city I grew up in when I found my way back.
Those five days were a twisting roller coaster in the mind. With N/A groups and A/A groups and papers to be filled out I was just non coherent to even the light that glared above the doors at night. I couldn’t sleep during the day; God knows I felt I needed it, yet we spent hours going over the twelve steps, to know that”alcohol and drugs are cunning and baffling”. “We had to admit we were powerless over our addictions, and to seek through prayer and meditation our higher power” and pray for knowledge. On the fifth day I was told I was going to a psychiatric unit in a hospital and that they felt I should be in observation for possible acute schizophrenia. If I had any principles, I was now discouraged, yet a part of my fears were alleviated, I knew then I would also have to believe in a higher power because I now had somewhere to be, yet this didn’t subdue my anger or curb my negative thinking about being incarcerated. As for as the other men in Detox, few smiled, some were carried away in hand cuffs, others taken to an emergency ward. Did I seek camaraderie in all this? I did realize I was not alone.
Some people have greatness thrust upon them,
Very few have excellence thrust upon them. –Abraham Lincoln—

Excerpts from Alcoholics Anonymous in Quotation mark

Written By Donald Sammons

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


To know that people who label the mentally ill with stigma, can be hard enough on a person. Although when there is self-stigma it can even be worse. One reason might be that you will not seek treatment, because you do not want the stigma of being labeled mentally ill. How would you even begin the road to recovery if you cannot rise above the low self-esteem of being labeled mentally ill? I have mentioned this in a prior blog. I could not face what happened to me when I was in prison and became mentally ill. My friends were there to help me and stick by me. I could not accept what was happening to me or even understand what was happening to me. One reason is a long time before when I was in prison I had seen a person come back to the general population of prison after he had a mental illness. I remember him telling people he was sorry about having a mental illness. That is a memory I always keep and wonder about. Here is a very well written article on self-stigma it talks about when stigma comes from within. Self-stigma can hamper you from doing the things, you would like to do. Like beginning the road to recovery or looking for work. You have a low self-image of yourself. Some of the articles I have read about stigma, say that stigma might be increasing, with every time something happens in the news and movies portraying people with a mental illness as crazy killers or such. It makes it harder to remove stigma from people’s minds. There are articles talking about how people in recovery can start telling their story of how they became mentally ill, and how they recovered. I believe this way has a better chance of removing stigma. They can see from your story how you became mentally ill and the road a person took to recover. Personally I think it will be a long time before mental illness is accepted and belief that people can recover from a mental illness although I am hopeful.