Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Different Road to Recovery

This is a follow up to Donald’s blog  earlier in the week.  I also live in an apartment building, no longer one for the low income and I still visit a couple of friends at my old building.  They do not have a mental illness.  I have never really hung out with friends that had a mental illness.  I once dated a girl when I was first let out of the state hospital that went to AA.  That was a bad idea especially when she went back on the cocaine my first choice in a drug when I was using drugs.  It also costed me thousands of dollars and put me in debt, never again. 
I had one friend from the state hospital although he was never on medication so I never believed he had a mental illness.  We hung out a few times that was it and we drifted apart.  I had one more friend from the group home I was at when I was released from the state hospital.  He started drinking again and I said goodbye.  I told some acquaintances where I worked about it.  They could not understand how I could be friends with them and they drank.  It was different they did not have a mental illness and struggle with alcohol.
They did not know that I was mentally ill or an alcoholic at that job.  They are still my friends till this day.    No one knows that I have a mental illness unless I tell them.  The only ones that know are my medical professionals including my eye doctor and dentist.  No one else needs to know unless I want to make a point that we can succeed at anything.  I did my college and my recovery all by myself and my case manager at the time.
I socialized with my AA and friends from my job at the time. I quit smoking as I mention in an earlier blog  and just keep trying to improve myself.  When I was almost done with college and getting my Master’s I found out about 2succeed and finally was introduced to other people with a mental illness.  They were looking for work like I was.  I have my grandkids and I do not know if they even understand that I have a mental illness. It is not something we do not discuss.  To me Geodon is a wonder drug.  I can do so much with it.  I know when I did not take it.  I know to take it and when.
Every ones recovery is different the one thing that is helped me all my life and not just with a mental illness is hope.  I have hope that tomorrow will be better than today.  That is why it is so hard for me to understand depression.  I know it happens although I have never been depressed because of hope.  I understand that life can be hard and you just have to keep pushing forward and not give up.  I was once going to write a book about my life. I lived a crazy life and then I did become crazy.  I do not mind that word as I think everyone is a little crazy and does crazy stuff in their life.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Recovery with Understanding

I felt this blah feeling inside as if loneliness was a door to door salesman without any commodities. I realized being a mental health consumer, you have to find your niche, or a special group of people who understand, and don’t think about having an illness; that is, carrying the weight of being mentally ill, or being different. We are a different breed of people as I see it, many of us are loners, many cannot find themselves out of the rut of chemical dependency, others still try to live their lives as a family unit, having become married or being single parents. The wondering has begun and I am curious about what am I suppose to be doing? Writing a blog, cleaning my apartment, socializing with strangers on the bus route, going where there are other strangers who are wondering life about the same as I.
Recovery is a small part of the reclamation of life. It is defined very well, yet I must leave the room where I have had my psychotherapeutic sessions, I must take the medications to maintain my stability and pull myself together as many mental health consumers do and try to carry on with my life. What is Recovery? “Recovery in mental health is different than recovery of physical health”. Recovery in mental health means staying in control of your life even though you may be experiencing mental health issues.
Putting recovery in action means, you are focusing on caring, support and building a friendship with people who are facing similar mental health problems. There really is no one definition to Mental Health Recovery but there is a guiding light and that is hope, working towards what is possible to rebuild a meaningful life in spite of being mentally ill. Recovery is a principle of spirituality, belief, commitment and support.
As I sit alone, I think that I must go beyond existing; I must set new goals and develop new relationships which will influence and change my life as well as others. I must always be in search of a newer meaning of life in order to accomplish something new. Someone once told me that, I may carry my illness for the rest of my life and thought I might not control what may be the signs of the disease of illness, yet I can have control over my life. There may be limits, but we can look beyond those boundaries to help others and help ourselves to recognize our goals and dreams. We are traveling into the realm of self recognition and with what we experience we also grow.
Written by Donald S.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Alcohol and Recovery

This is a follow up to Donald’s blogI used to drink alcohol since I was about fourteen.  I remember my first drink I could not even finish the first bottle.  After that I could never get enough.  I used drugs although I would quit them and drink better than drugs.  More friends would pitch in for alcohol.  Every crime I committed I was drunk.  I never was put in jail because of something I did when I was sober.  A person does not think when he is drunk.
My first DUI came when I was nineteen and few months later I received my second DUI.  I was put on antibuse and probation.  The day I was off probation I proceeded to get drunk on my favorite Bacardi 151.  The police tried to stop me as I was driving again.  I did not want to go back to jail.  So I attempted to elude them and they chased me even through Lincoln Park and they set up a road block on Speer and 14th and stopped me.  I received thirty more days in jail and put back on probation.
It costed a lot for the lawyer to get me that deal.  I was always paying the government to keep myself out of jail with fines and lawyers.  They asked me if drinking and the life I was living was so rotten why I did not just quit.  The answer I knew no other way of life.  I would drink and be angry at the way life was going, never had anything that I did not destroy.  I had been to AA meetings with a friend although was always drunk going to them so I never heard the message.  My friend when he finally did quit it was too late because he had developed cirrhosis of the liver.
That is eventually where that disease lands you in prison for life or a medical disease.  I’ve had two good friends that were heavy drinkers that passed away young.  Again I can say I am lucky, mental illness brought me a stop to my drinking.  I cannot say AA did even though I believe their message.  My last drinking that brought me to the state hospital was my bottom.  You can put all the alcohol in front of me and I will not drink.  I know what kind of life it will lead to and I do not want it.
I remember attending an AA meeting in college and this new person came in and he told me when I first saw you here and I was running the meetings at the time.  He said “he is not a drunk, until you told your story”. He became a good friend.  It is like I lived two lives.  This second life with my daughter and grandkids I would not give up for the world. I do not put blame for those that started me off so young.  It would have happened anyway. I am just happy with life as it is and the problems I have that I do not have to drink or drug to still be the same problems tomorrow.
I can deal with life and it is a lot better.  I do not destroy my stereo or possessions no longer.  I can enjoy them.  I do not make a fool of myself.  It is going on twenty four years sober in April. I do not have any old friends from the old days because in the past they were my trigger.  When I try and get sober they did not know what to do with me.  They are from my other life.  I cannot forget the ways life was then and them.

Do I Need Dependency

Alcohol dependence and Drug dependence or chemical dependence is a disease that has a destructive pattern of abuse which leads to problems involving tolerance (the need for more: satiation), withdrawal from the substance and problems associated with society, work, school and law.  I am dual diagnosed and this is in reference to being not only a drug abuser having dependence issues yet I also have mental health issues when I do drink and drug as I have in the past.
Substance abuse or chemical dependency is common with people who have a mental illness, or face problems involving society or relationships.  It took a long time for me to work myself away from my dependence, thanks to the Recovery Program at MHCD, which I accepted because of the poor state of mind and body I was in.  My dependency began at the age of ten and I have since ceased my use of drugs and alcohol, yet I wasted thirty three years and gained not very much in the way of respect amongst old friends nor much of an education to excel in this world.  I have since then gained a matter of self esteem and freedom from fears which caused me to live those past years in addiction.  I wanted to get high because I thought I liked the feeling, I lied to myself.  My self esteem as I was growing was the reason, lack of friendships, my fears because of my growing dependency and last but not least, wanting to fit in with the wrong crowd, was the cause of my past destructive attitude.
Alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, LSD, the list goes on and I didn’t want to realize I was a drug abuser, I was a “want to be hip junkie” no one ever heard of,  whose associates thought was just as “cool”.  Alcohol played a major part in my dependency and I thought nothing of my health or my ability to socialize at home or work.  I soon had neither and became a transient on the streets, virtual homeless and begging for anything that would get me “high”, to keep me from feeling the pain I wasn’t aware that I suffered myself with.
What stress can a ten year old child face, new to the city’s neighborhood, no friends, except family, if that?  What causes the pattern of chemical dependency to escalate?  Accepting responsibility, consistency of drug use, problems with the law and relationship problems, I met the criteria well into my late thirties before I quit using, becoming a part of Mental Health Sytem, having attended numerous AA, NA meetings, before the door opened to Recovery, I learned I can be free of guilt and pain and finally closing another door to old acquaintances who had let me see the old me in themselves, a person who could not care for himself, or others.  That all changed, and with the struggle, a new idea, how to accept myself and what I can share that is worth the esteem of being.  In my Recovery I learned to want what I want, what is best as a part of a more responsible world and to care not only for me but those I respect without fear of denial or retribution? 
Written by Donald S.
February 17, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Quitting Smoking and Recovery

This is a follow up to Donald’s blog about smoking and the mentally ill.  Also here is an article about the mentally ill smoke one third of the cigarettes in the United States.  I used to smoke about fourteen years ago that is the age of my oldest granddaughter.  I was not the one that was supposed to quit.  It was supposed to be my ex-wife as my granddaughter was going to live with her.  Although I wanted my granddaughter on weekends and any time I could get her.  I decided to quit.
I had smoked for fifteen years at that time.  I was never out of cigarettes even when in jail.  I would smoke the kind that your roll your own or buy them two for one.  Even when the last time I was in prison I smoked generics.  When I was released from the state hospital my smoking had gone up to a pack and half a day of Marlboros.  That was my favorite cigarette.  When I was on SSI I would spend 120 dollars on five cartons of cigarettes and the rest on TV dinners for food for the month.
I knew how to cook although I did not really start until my granddaughter was old enough to eat and I had quit smoking.  One girl who knew me at college and at my job at that time said “he smokes like a train.”  Whenever college had a break in class you could find me smoking.  I smoked three cigarettes upon waking up in the morning.  When I decided to quit, I went to my doctor and he gave my zyban and wellbutrin to quit smoking.  You cannot combine the two so I used wellbutrin.
First thing I did was call a friend who learned and taught quitting smoking classes.  He sent me a list of the side effects from wellbutrin.  I started the wellbutrin and did not know what to do with all the cigarettes I had so I asked this guy at school he said give them away or throw them away.  I gave them to a friend in my building that was always out.  I received the list of side effects from my friend for the wellbutrin.  Darn if I did not have every side effect listed.  I suffered for a month including to have to brush my tongue a lot during that month because all the nicotine or the medication was coming out and it tasted awful.
When the month was up I went back to the doctor and he refilled the prescription although I did not refill it because of the side effects.  I have not smoke since that time.  I do not know what helped all the side effects or the medicine.  I just know I do not crave them and I could not afford to smoke Marlboros now.  I gained weight because I was hardly eating when I was smoking.  I do know it was self-medicating because I am schizophrenic.  Whenever I was mentally ill I would smoke more. I am happy my daughter wanted to raise my grandchildren in a smoke free environment the most she could.
There is no telling how much I would be smoking if I did not quit.  The thirty days were the hardest not because I craved cigarettes but because of the side effects of the medication.  I would do those thirty days over to quit smoking again though.  Many things were happening around the time I quit so I cannot blame all the weight on quitting smoking.  Although with a change in exercising and portion size I am losing the weight.  I do not want to get back to the low weight of 135lbs I weighed when I smoked though.  I want to weigh a little more.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mentally Ill: Kicking the Habit

“The smoking rate for American adults with mental illness is 70 percent higher than for those without such problems, U.S. health officials reported…” I began smoking at a very early age. Most everyone in my family smoked as I knew before we moved to Colorado. Though I knew smoking was bad as I was a teenager, I managed to quit for a while, but returned to smoking when I joined the armed forces. Again I quit smoking after my discharge, but due to my ignorance and drug usage, began smoking again and to no avail have I been able to totally quit. Stress seems to be the reason I can’t quit, finding some sort of quietness about me when I am feeling stressed, becoming a bit calmer as my thoughts don’t race as much thereafter smoking a cigarette or two. “Overall, 36 percent of adults diagnosed with a mental health issue smoke, compared to 21 percent among the general population. Among adults with mental illness, cigarette smoking rates are especially high among younger adults and people living in poverty or with lower levels of education.” Though I am not poverty stricken with a fair and ongoing education which includes being at work, I have not been able to put a solid hold on my smoking, even though I do not drink or use drugs any longer. I do admit to myself that being mentally disabled has it setbacks and using tobacco does alleviate some of the distressful feelings such as boredom and worry not to mention the certain fears I live with, such as diabetes, and being overweight, tobacco may keep me from being the stronger in caring about my health, yet I feel it comforts me. When I want to get away from the hurried thoughts or just relax, I smoke a cigarette. Even when I am surrounded by others who may not smoke, I excuse myself just so I can feel comfortable in certain social situations. I have since given it an effort in quitting the tobacco habit; by buying gum, lessening the amount I smoke, exercising my mind and to date I have come from a pack and a half a day habit to a pack a day.
Help is necessary to quit such an overwhelming habit, a person can not readily quit on his own. There are throughout the United States institutions which have been able to lend a helping hand and mental health is now getting involved in helping consumers who smoke or use tobacco products overcome their habit of tobacco use in many Mental Health Centers.  “To address the issue, SAMHSA has partnered with the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center to develop ways that mental health facilities and organizations can help patients stop smoking. The CDC is also involved in efforts to help people with mental illness quit smoking.”
Written by Donald S
February 10, 2013

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I wrote last week what happened when I had stress before my mental illness in this blog.  I will talk some more today about stress and how it affects me and others.  This article  gives some examples of stress and how to overcome it.  As I wrote last week I do not have all the answers to give someone when they are facing stress.  I can only be a sounding board.
What do you tell someone when they have no job, no money and they have kids to feed.  You can say it will get better.  That is all.  As I wrote in last week’s blog the biggest stress I ever had was facing twenty four years in prison.  It made me forget a person I knew well.   Today if I get stressed I usually will try and put it in the back of my mind and watch a movie or if I am really stressed it is music time.  That helps me forget and let the problem ruminate in the back of my mind it is where I do the best.
I know how problems in the subconscious will wake you up in the middle of the night and you will say why I am I awake.  Then the problem will come to light.  I just try and think of something else and get back to sleep.  It is not that easy for a lot of people.  Usually by morning I will feel better about the problem.  Sleep does wonders for me.  Everyone is different.  You would not be able to tell that I have a mental illness my Geodon works wonders for me.  I take it two or three hours before I want to sleep and I sleep.  I know when I do not take it because I cannot sleep and I will go look and make sure I took it.
I do not have the problem of stress with it like I had when I took moban.  Then when my turtle died it affected me and I could not sleep until early the next morning and had to take a PRN for that.  Now I do not have that problem.  I often wonder would I be tired if I did not have to take my medicine I will never try to find out because of bringing my mental illness back.  Although I see how family and friend react to loss of sleep and I do not have that problem.  I will yawn sometimes although that is with at least eight hours of sleep.
I wish there was some way that everyone with a mental illness did not have problems.  I mean negative problems.  If this illness did not happen when I was already twenty eight and happened earlier would I have went to college would I have done so well?  My mom is my sounding board when I went through college and even now.  I believe we all have to have someone to tell are problems to and the relief we have afterwards when we get it off our chest.  Then the answers will usually come to me after I got it off my chest.

Monday, February 4, 2013

What to do – Facing Stress

Have you ever noticed how much time it takes for you to remember a small detail or if you have a hard time concentrating on a project? Are you over anxious or have racing thoughts or worry a lot? I go through this maze of symptoms enough to cause myself anger and overwhelming feelings. I have explored these and other symptoms (checking reality) and found that stress is not only made up of what are called Cognitive symptoms, yet can be found to be of Emotional symptoms as well. There are physical symptoms such as overeating or not eating at all, nausea and sleeping problems as well as isolation or neglect and last but not least, drug use, excessive alcohol and or smoking. I tend to see myself as not a stress filled person, yet I have these symptoms tying me to a post at times causing me to wonder how and why instead of finding some other direction to turn without worry by working my problems out or understanding the emotions themselves.
I do admit at times I am under stress, during the weekends when I wouldn’t rather be anywhere except at home working or trying to relax from the work week past, yet others would rather see me out and about town, yet I tie myself down and withdraw from the world only to become somewhat depressed. I am shutting down for the moment yet I feel the pressure of having to be where I don’t want to be and I know this stressful time is affecting my mind, body and the way I behave with others and myself being alone.
Stress is good at most times, when you are challenged in some game or sport, at work meeting deadlines. It helps you to think more clearly or concentrate, yet there is a line drawn where stress can debilitate you health, your attitude, how you conceive on the job even your personal relationships.
What causes stress are situations and the pressures of life, either personal or social and these are called stressors. “We can look at stressors as anything that is negative from exhausting work to bad relationships. Anything that puts you into high demand or a forceful mode which causes you to make changes can cause of stress.”
You may understand what may be stressful to you, yet the same situation of another person may not be stressful at all. To live with your stress might take up stress management, which helps in relaxing the mind and understanding your own emotions. You can learn relaxation techniques, meditation and deep breathing exercises to relax your physical body in order to gain the self confidence you need to face the world without being negative or physically feeling under the weather. Stress beyond fun can ruin you day, find the time to relax.

Written by Donald S.