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