Monday, December 31, 2012

The use of Health Literacy

Health Literacy is, “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions”.
Health literacy not only involves being able to read, it also involves listening, being aware of what you are to understand and having decision making skills. The client or consumer must also have the capability to apply these skills to help the clinician or therapist make any necessary decisions. Poor literacy lends to the knowledge of the clients health, income, employability, education level and can lead to discerning not only the race group yet also social standing. To improve the quality of health care, patients and providers have to work together to maintain communication. Patients must take a role in health related decisions and develop strong information skills in order to be aware of their own health. Health care providers must utilize health communication skills and educators need to provide printed information using understandable language.
Clients and consumers today are faced with complex information and treatment decisions. There are many avenues patients are required to have some knowledge of if they are to begin to understand what their illness is about:
1. Evaluation
2. Analyzing
3. Calculating
4. Interpreting
5. Locating health information
In order to carry out these task consumers must:
1. Be visually literate
2. Be computer literate
3. Be information literate
4. Be able to calculate and understand numbers
As consumers we need to be able to be understood when discussing our health concerns and describe our symptoms, we also need to be able to ask the right questions and we should have a need to understand spoken medical advice and/or treatment directions. Health literacy also includes the ability to understand and be able to search the internet and know particular web-sites which give medical information and definition to medical terms used during sessions with our therapist or clinician.
Written by Donald S.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Well Christmas has come and gone.  I had a nice one with family and friends. Especially seeing my youngest grandson so excited, and even though it is so cold it was nice to see snow on the ground.  Thinking about recovery now and what is the best way.  That would be to put your foot forward and keep plowing ahead. We are going to stumble along the way.  That always happens.  You have to expect change and that was always a hard one for me. It does get better, although when you are going through a rough time it does not seem so.  When people tell you it will get better.  You think they are crazy. They are not in my shoes.
How can a person look at the positive when things keep getting worse and more bad stuff keeps happening?  You just have to take it one day at a time and do not forget to give thanks for what you have.  Sooner or later you will get a break.   You will not even remember when it was so rough.  My favorite Christmas song is “I’ll be home for Christmas” because I had so many when I was not.  Do I remember those hours in those days though?  I know they happened though.  You just have to remember they were bad and you do not want to do them over.  That is the same way it is with recovery forget how much you lost and concentrate on achieving small steps.
The biggest word in recovery and life is hope.  Hope the next day and year will be better.  Hope that you can achieve a lot.  I had hope that I could start a new life and I did.  There were downfalls and things do not always look the best.  Although if I keep my sight on achieving everything I want and take small steps I will achieve everything I want.  The hardest thing in life I believe is getting out of prison or the state hospital and wanting to be better and have a better life.  The stumbles will make you want to quit and return to drugs or alcohol.  You have to remember they never work they just bring you down faster.  You will not get rid of problems that way.  Just create more.  I hope everyone had a nice Christmas and keep pushing forward.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Control over my Life

It’s kind of estranged when your reality is not synchronous with the world around you; you might begin to think something’s wrong, that you might be schizophrenic and of course there are other illnesses which can cause symptoms, like delusions or hallucinations.  Getting the correct diagnosis is the first step in getting help.  As I had become a drug addicted teenager, I found I had very few friends and lost the respect of a good many people; success was not in using drugs, and I began to understand that there was something not quite right with the way I thought.  Fear began to eat away at my mind, having no friends my age, those I gained were much older than me and I didn’t understand anything about them, except drugs and alcohol.  As I grew older and finally taking psychiatric treatment, Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous seriously, knowing I was the cause of my own problem, other problems began to set in.  My social life had changed, not so much because of my past association with drugs, yet my physical health did.  Bad bladder, constant diarrhea, headaches and pains in knee joints and arms, I thought I was falling apart again, only this time physically.  I began to feel I was truly mentally ill besides being sickened by other health issues.  I did not concede to give thought that these illnesses were affecting me socially, yet they were and before I began my cessation of drugs and alcohol, I had no perception of any illnesses at all, yet those people I tried to associate with believed differently.
These health issues did affect me in the beginning and eventually the illnesses caused my few friends to wander into the sunset leaving me standing alone in my fears and anxiety as I began to avoid social fraternizing simply because of the control I was losing over my own physical health.
So how do you see your life as wonderful again, after nearly destroying yourself and those you love.  You can change your life for the better by taking care of yourself, both mentally and exercising physically, meeting new people in places where you would share some commonality and by maintaining your belief in that your treatment is working because you have gained confidence.  Take control, even if you might believe it will take some time to cure your illness, take the necessary steps and relate this to your doctor or clergy; he or she is a professional and they are the ones who can provide you with an effective working treatment.

Written by Donald S.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The News and Recovery

I usually do not talk about the news when someone with a mental illness kills someone.  Although this latest one hit home, because I have grandchildren and I would never want them harmed in anyway.  My heart goes out to those families.  It is stories like this that bring on a bad image to people with mental illness.  There are online websites trying to change laws like the TreatmentAdvocacy Center I read their website every week.  To see what they say about what happened during the week and the changes happening around the country.  Also I heard on the news this morning that Governor Hinkenlooper is asking for changes in policies in the City of Denver concerning the mentally ill.
When I became mentally ill for the second time here in Denver, my mom called a mental health place and they told her that she could not do anything I would have to ask for help.  That was the law and I think it still is.  The same night she asked for help I was drinking and committed a crime and was sent to the state hospital.  I do not like the state hospital, although it was the best thing that happened to me.  If I would have asked for help out here on the streets I would not have succeeded as well as I did.  The state hospital gave me a chance to start not only my typing from zero also my life.  I was able to take a different fork in the road and change everything about my life.
It worked out good for me because I did not kill anyone.  For that I thank the lord. I hate being mentally ill when it happens.  I know when I read that someone with a mental illness killed a lot of people.  It makes others look bad at that person and all people with mental illness.  I also think how that person ruined their life because they or those around them did not seek help.  Locked up for life in prison or a state hospital is no fun.  I can remember when I was doing thirty days for a DUI and a person I knew told me he had just received a life sentence and laughed about it.  That freaked me out.  Although then life was twenty year before parole now it is forty years or without parole.  That is insane and I do not wish it on anyone.
I do not glamorize my years locked up especially to my grandchildren.  They only know me now and that is the way I will always keep it.  I do not put blame on anyone in the past for the way I was.  I am just thankful for my life now.  The people and the times in the past were just the way they were brought up and they loved in the way they knew how.  Although I would never want anyone to become an alcoholic or drug addict.  I saw too many young people become addicted to drugs and throw their life away and just want to do that drug and forget family and everything.
That is one reason I wanted to become a drug counselor was to help young people.  Although the politics of that profession made me change my mind and go for my masters in a different field. I could not help the ones I wanted to.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Expectations through Recovery

In general medicine and psychiatry recovery has been used as a term meaning the end of an experience or an episode of illness.  A larger concept of “recovery” as a philosophy had become popular in regard to recovery from substance abuse or drug addiction, which for example is within the twelve step programs.  The use of recovery is recent to psychiatric disorders and its movement of self help and the advocacy came forward during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  The attitude of psychiatric rehabilitation began to incorporate it in the 1990’s in the United States followed by other countries.
There are Elements of recovery which are being stressed about in that each person’s journey is a very deep and personal process related to that persons place in the community and society.  There is Hope, finding it as a key to recovery.  It is not just optimism but a belief in yourself and the will to persevere through setbacks.  Hope is not only trusting, yet it also means risking failure and overcoming such.
A secure base or housing, sufficient income, freedom from violence and access to health care is also a part of recovery.  This is how a person builds personal visions and strength instead of being institutionalized.  Recovery is a sense of self and self esteem.  Moving away from insecurity and nurturing a personal space that allows development of understanding, wisdom and growth through spirituality.
Empowerment and self determination are important to recovery which includes self control.  This means developing self confidence for independence and decision making, challenging stigma and prejudice about ones differences and or mental stability.  These ideas in “Recovery” highlight my attitude in maintaining self esteem and strength.  Though I have been in a state of weakness for many years because of addictions prior to my optimistic insight believing I can achieve through understanding and faith, I would like to believe that others can find Hope as their key to recovery and freedom from their fears so that they can build a sense of self and have a more meaningful life. 

Written By Donald Sammons

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

American Giving Awards

This show was on air Saturday night.  Glenn Close received a special recognition award. Her organization is called Bring change 2 mind.  Her organization tries to change the stigma surrounding mental illness.  Glenn’s sister is bipolar and her nephew is schizoaffective.  Her nephew was diagnosed first.  Her family before this happened had never brought up the word or had knowledge of mental illness.  She received her award and talked as did her sister.  It was not discussed in my family either.  She also appeared on the Today show.  I have felt the stigma regarding my illness.  I do not like it when people will stop talking to me because I have a mental illness.
We do need more people like Glenn Close to fight the stigma.  If I did not hate it when I am mentally ill, I would say this illness has changed me for the better.  When I won my appeal and was released from prison.  I wanted to stop drinking and did not drink with my friends and found out we had nothing in common but our drinking.  I could not do it on my own and within two weeks I was drinking again.  This illness gave me a second chance at changing my life. They gave out award to quite a few charity organizations.  One thing I was impressed with was when they talked about hope.  You just put one foot in front of the other and keeping going forward that is what they said.It reminded me of when I had to go to an AA meeting when I was at the state hospital.  The meeting was a mile away and I had to walk and this night there was a bad snow storm.  When I finally made it back to the state hospital I was frozen my mustache was ice.  Although I did it when I crawled into bed, I had proved I would do anything to get out of that place.  You might wonder why I hate the state hospital so much.  It is because of all the freedom there you can wear street clothes; you can meet girls on the grounds and talk to them.  You can go to the cafeteria and buy a hamburger or any meal you would like.  You carried money and with passes could go out to eat or a store.  What kind of lock up is that if I did not hate it?  I would have been there for ten year or longer if I liked the place.
Hope is never giving up just keep pushing forward something has to change or break.  You have to hold on to that dream and not let anything stop you from reaching it.  It took me a long time in college, although I knew one day I would graduate.  Then something that was not planned was getting my Master’s.  It happened a lot faster in getting that.  That is good because it was time to go to work.  We need more shows that show people succeeding when they have a mental illness. I know there is a lot of success out there.  Recovery and success can happen.  American giving awards was a good show to watch.  To see all the organizations that try at help bring change to so many lives.

Monday, December 10, 2012


I have done a few blogs about diabetes and have become conscious about my Type 2 diabetes in the long run as well.  Well it’s the holiday season and the sugar, and puddings and cakes and moans and groans of not being able to partake of all the sugar and spice begins to take its toll on all my friends and my own mental health as well.  One of the ideas that came across to me from an editorial about the “early warning signs” of diabetes is, could a person have diabetes and not know it.  This is called pre-diabetes and you may not know you are experiencing its physiological stress upon your body.  Pre-diabetes is an impaired glucose tolerance, a health condition without symptoms.  It exists when the glucose levels are high yet still too low to be known as a diabetic diagnosis. Most everyone knows what can happen while having diabetes.  Blindness, heart attack, stroke, these are serious affectations of diabetes.  Having pre-diabetes is certainly present, before someone contracts Type 2 diabetes, and that includes the complications, including depression, anxiety and apathy, which are all mental illnesses, of which a therapist can be seen for. 
Pre-diabetes can be diagnosed and it can be prevented.  Making behavior changes such as choices of food, and changing your physical activity to help lose weight and reduce Type 2 diabetes helps in overcoming pre-diabetes and thereby overcoming the malady.  If you are over 45 years of age, overweight or not physically active, you might find these are a few of the characteristics which may bring about pre-diabetes.
When the holiday season begins, eat fresh, fruits, vegetables, grain, low fat dairy products and lean meats.  Don’t tell yourself “I’ll just have one”, if you’re offered candies, and pies and puddings and cakes, give them to someone else or wrap them up to give away at a later date, and of course it doesn’t hurt to say no.  Exercise can help you with your weight loss, if your ashamed of your weight, run in place with small five or ten pound weights, this can help you, your lungs and heart and build your self esteem as well. 

Written by Donald S.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Understanding Schizophrenia

The title of this article understanding Schizophrenia is the blog I am writing about today.  It talks about Toronto’s Lesley Skelly who is getting to know her son who is the age of twenty three.  For her he is not the same son she raised. “When he was diagnosed, at 19, with schizophrenia, it was like he died and our family went through the grieving process, Skelly says.  Now we are learning about our new son who is different from the child we once knew.” The illness changes you.  For me it changed me for the better I believe.  I am not the same person that I was in my teens and early twenties.   I had DUI’s and was in prison.  I do not hang around all my friends from that time.  They have left me their numbers if I ever change my mind and want to talk and be friends again.   I do think of them and sometimes I want to pick up the phone and call my old friend.  Although I am different and I do not get high no more and even though alcohol has not affected them.  They never were in trouble just me.
This illness changed me for the better, although it is not the same for everyone. “The shock of schizophrenia is that it manifests in late adolescence or early adulthood, and parents must accept that the child they have known and loved for more than a decade may be irrevocably lost, Andrew Solomon writes, even as that child looks much the same as ever.”  I am a paranoid schizophrenic and my illness did not come on till I was twenty eight.  I was in prison at the time and it did change me, I went from one prison when it happened to another.  It was not because my friends at the time changed I had changed. It is hard to describe.   I was already waiting on my appeal and knew that I no longer wanted to be locked up.  Although the illness changed something in my life where I wanted to different and was.
The media always portray people with mental illness as dangerous and going to hurt or kill you. “But people with schizophrenia are really at a higher risk of hurting themselves, Baruch says. They are individuals who have difficulties in their thinking, they hear voices, they see things, they don’t perceive reality the way others do; they are often suspicious and withdrawn.  We need to educate the public as to what this disorder actually is.”  I remember at the state hospital thinking the TV was talking to me.  I could not watch it and that is one time you do not want to be in your mind and wish you could listen to the radio or TV.  The radio also bugged me; I believed it was being broadcasted from prison.
The good thing about the state hospital is that they taught me how to take my medication and to do it at a set time.  That helps to always remember and become routine.  “The majority of individuals with schizophrenia do not take their medication, says Baruch, explaining non-compliance can mean anything from not taking meds at all to missing a day here and there.  Data shows that even if you miss 10 days on an annual basis, the chances of relapsing or rehospitalization is doubled.” I never want relapse.  I do not like being mental ill, so I always want to remember my medication.  I have grandkids that I love and do not want to miss a day without them or my daughter.  Life is hard enough but to add being mentally ill that is too hard.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Recovery Story

I have read a few recovery stories, reading them now and then, to keep myself in check with my own Recovery and therapy.  I often cheer for those who have overcome their drug use, their alcoholism and still battle with having to overcome the mental diagnosis which caused them to forsake the world they live in.  The person I am writing about at this time lived a clean and sober life after getting out of prison for many years, then suddenly relapsed on cocaine and became lost in despair and recklessness, living the same abandonment he suffered in his childhood.  He caught himself falling and faced his mistakes once again, this time teaching others as a peer specialist, he has relapsed and gained strength again as others before him have done.
As he began to slip away from his sobriety, thievery began to take him down into other depths.  He had been married and began using again on the streets, literally stealing from his job, yet as he understood what he was doing, he turned and faced the problem he was having and began to stand up again to the circumstances which caused his problem.  He said one reason he relapsed is because he forgot his coping skills as he is a trained mental health educator, who has a dual diagnosis—mood disorder and drug addiction.  He eventually checked into the hospital knowing this was the most necessary of things to do.  This same man was an ex-convict and those whom he had worked with who were either drug users or drug dealers who he felt put his sobriety in danger.
“The mental health care system has long made use of former patients as counselors and practice has been controversial…”
For one thing our ex-drug addict/convict is a self taught ex-convict who has become a prominent peer trainer giving classes across the country today.  He is one of the small number of people whom have described publicly how hard it is to manage a severe dual-diagnosis and what the setbacks could be.  With the help of religion, medication and self expression, he as others have found a way out of addiction and learned to maintain their symptoms of dual diagnosis, without having to return to the shadows.
Written by Donald S.