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.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Overcoming Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis can become a problem with either a drug or alcohol problem when depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or even personality disorder occurs.
In 1986 as drugs were prevalent in many neighborhoods, my own drug use escalated; there was no longer a reason spiritual or emotional: I simply needed them. Spiritually, I accepted more excuses of the nature of drugs and using them, God’s will, God’s creation, Jesus’ Wine! I lied to myself, over and over again. I became ‘burnt out’ with excuses, and to use became an excuse, after the fact, drugs were my friend; so were the abandoned houses and buildings of sorts, I lived to get high instead of facing reality.
When you’re dual diagnosed, detoxification isn’t so easy, that is going without a ‘crutch’. Drug addiction is a mental illness, and as the drug changes the brain, so do needs or desires and priorities. This results in dual diagnosis which can be treated so that the symptoms of the mental disorder can be alleviated with the client going through withdrawal from drugs and accepting the necessary medications being made available to control the mental disorder. I was admitted to several different psychiatric hospital wards, including the state hospital, because my own addiction was physically destroying me, kidneys and liver were shutting down; becoming crystallized and I had to understand this if I want to continue to live.
I was placed in a community psychiatric ward were other clients (patients) had severe drug issues as well. In 1994 I turned around, yet the emotional stability was not at rest. To this day, I take medications to keep from running and debasing people without reason. I can see a bit clearly now at this time. The mental health clinicians, N.A and A.A meetings opened up the door to my facing and questioning my own reality and emotions for people as well as my own abilities of what I can do!
You can probably see how dual diagnosis is ascertained and the reason some consumers, without guidance return to their space to play while others understand their struggles and work towards becoming free of the partial bindings in order to find their reprieve. Accepting your needs isn’t misleading yourself, it’s knowing what those needs are being, and a clear mind to think not the imagination of make believe in the one room you’re free within yet knowing in another you can be real.

Written by Donald Sammons

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I recently went on a trip to Boston to attend a recovery conference. I attended it with program managers from 2succed which is the employment and education part of MHCD. It was a very nice conference. The first presentation I attended was about health. It was a presentation from the Health & Wellness Center from Arizona. They received a 1.2 million dollar grant to help people in recovery be healthy. If you smoked when you first come in they gave you sugar free candy and a paperclip to keep your hands busy while they approved you for services. You would then be eligible for services and what ever you would need to stop smoking. They also taught how to eat healthy and cook the food. After that first day of presentations we went for a walk to Fenway Park. It is the home of the Red Sox baseball team, from Boston. It is also home of the green monster, which eats up baseballs every time they hit a home run. On the walk there we went by what I will call a small river on which the banks were a community garden. It is not like the community gardens I see in Denver. Community gardens here have vegetables and such growing. The one in Boston had flowers growing and also raspberries. On the walk back to the hotel, we did not return back the same way in which we had came. We saw old buildings there that had faces and figures built in to the architect. Then we went on a walk through the St. Charles river in which I thought was different when I saw a sign that said “Do not feed the animals we want to keep them wild. I thought that was different because in Denver, people feed the geese and ducks bread. We also saw an old church that was built in the 1600’s the next day I went to another presentation on health. This one was about peer certified people who learn and train another peer certified person how to teach someone to be healthy. I also went on a presentation in which other states have peer run organizations. The difference between MHCD’s peer mentors and theirs is they have to be certified. Then it was our turn to present and because we had prepared and program manager knew about presentations it went well. We put them in a circle and let them ask questions. The asked the program managers about their employment model and I was able to tell them my experiences with Vocational Rehabilitation. It went well and the program managers did a very good job. The last night we were there, we went to Cheers the bar from the series of the 80’s. We went to the original and it is not like the one on TV. The owner of Cheers saw that so many people were coming to see the bar in the TV series that he built a duplicate one upstairs and a gift shop. You can also eat there and we did. On the walk back to the hotel, we went by the State Department and John Kerry’s house. We also saw the only cobbled stone street there in Boston. The weather was great throughout our stay in Boston. We saw the old North Church which is famous and was built in 1670. Also on the walk back we went through a park. I thought it was different because they had a merry go round there. Also they had animal enclosure but it was closed. The middle of the street we were walking back through was like a park also. It had benches where you could stop and sit. I am so glad that I took this trip with others, because we were able to go and see the sites when we were not preparing or doing something else. I saw a good portion of Boston. Walking and seeing sites is a lot better that a car or bus. It was a very nice recovery conference and trip.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis is a mental disorder when a consumer has a drug or alcohol problem in tandem. Dual diagnosis can become a problem with either a drug or alcohol problem when depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or even personality disorder occurs. Often times the mental disorder occurs first, with the individual seeking drugs or alcohol for relief from the mental disorder symptoms. Sometimes it can happen in reverse, where the mental health consumer becomes a drug addicted individual or an alcoholic, with mental disorders overtaking the consumers conscious mind.To overcome the malady of Dual Diagnosis both conditions must be treated. The consumer must dry-out; go without drugs for a period of time in other words the client must detoxify. After detoxification comes rehabilitation. This is where the client is treated for both substance abuse and the mental disorder, which may involve medicines and group therapy.Drug addiction is a mental illness, as the drug changes the brain, changing needs or desires and priorities. This results in dual diagnosis which can be treated so that the symptoms of the mental disorder can be alleviated with the client going through withdrawal from drugs and accepting the necessary medications being made available for control of the mental disorder.

Wriiten by
Donald Sammons