Crisis Prevention

This post flows from having read a recent article called “I am Adam Lanza’s mother in the Huffington Post. It was not written by Mrs. Lanza, but by Lisa Long, who has a difficult 13 year old son. We are not just taking about a bratty child. He is a child that she frequently has to take to the emergency room for threats of suicide or against her and his siblings. Her other children have an emergency plan of how to get to safety if he starts to act out. She has to collect all the sharp objects in her home and carry them with her.

She gave up her career as a free-lancer to get a job with benefits to get the help she needs for her son, although it sounds like there aren’t the resources they need that are actually available (or even that exist), let alone are covered by even “good “insurance. She cannot predict what will set her son off, or how a day will proceed. She wants help for her son. She needs help for herself and the rest of the family as well; I suspect that most of the resources go toward helping her problematic son. What must it be like for the siblings in such an environment, let alone the parents? [Read more…]

Please follow and like us:

Great excuse

Maybe not. I always end up reading a few stories when I go to download the LA Times crossword puzzle on Sunday. Today I was gobsmacked. I can’t think of another word to describe the story about Charlie Sheen and morals.

Basically, the story says that there was a time when stars would be dropped by the studios if they did not abide by morals clauses, that in the day, included out of control drug use. OK, I can understand the need for balance between the studios owning a person, and good judgement.  Alcoholism and drug addiction are now classified as diseases, but there is treatment. Although there are many ways to get there, the treatment, the cure is abstinence. And that starts with mindset. Oh, and consequences.

Many recovering, abstinent and sober folks might admit that if there no consequences, they might pick up their drug of choice again. Consequences is a whole other post, an article, an e-book even.  Maybe I don’t know the whole story with Charlie Sheen, but I’ve been working with addicts and alcoholics for over 25 years, so I have an idea of the patterns and excuses.  I just heard (read) a new one: he says he was sober 5 years and bored out of his mind. He’s a partying kind of guy (paraphrasing here), so sobriety isn’t authentic.

After I picked my jaw up off the ground, I busted out laughing. I guess the public displays of the legal consequences of his drinking and drugging are authentic. Hmmm, might just be me, but I don’t think I’d want to admit that kind of spectacular behavior is my authentic self.  Just saying.

and returning to the scene of the crime several weeks later……

So it got even more spectacular, as I, and I’m guessing many of you, watched the Charlie Sheen train hurdling out of control. Really, it was like passing a bad accident: I didn’t want to look, but I just couldn’t help myself.

Then I saw a wonderful and compassionate commentary about the whole thing.  I wish I could remember the bloggers name, I’d share it in a minute. He even posted a clip from Craig Ferguson’s show about not getting on the bandwagon with Charlie Sheen jokes. The blogger also reminded readers that Charlie has a family that is suffering.  And I’m paraphrasing, but he asked readers to think how much it would mean to them to have helping, compassionate hands reaching out to them if they were in trouble.  Kind of like holding the healing space when the addict or mentally ill person is ready to accept it.

May compassion and healing guide you to be strong when you need to be and loving always.

Please follow and like us:

It’s a family dis-ease

I have seen some examples recently that remind me how much families are affected by mental illness and addiction.  The family intentionally or unintentionally does a dance around the mental illness sufferer or addict.  This is often labeled as enabling, but I have found it to be exacerbated by the lack of education, intervention, support and resources for the family members.

In some cases, the “identified patient” (IP) , the addict or severely mentally ill person has declined treatment, or will not comply with treatment recommendation such as AA, abstinence, therapy and/or medications.  Many families do not know what to do that this point, where to turn, who to ask. Families of addicts are told to attend Al-anon or Nar-anon and “work on themselves.” This is a very good recommendation, but they often need more: education, options, resources, coaching. Sometimes, they just want to ask questions like what can the addicted person expect in treatment? In AA or NA? What will change for them and us if our “IP”  takes medication, or gets sober or whatever.  A professional if better prepared to answer these questions more objectively and help the family develop a game plan, goals and initiate self-care whether or not the IP is getting treatment.

Even when the “IP” is getting treatment, family members feel left out or that they are walking on eggshells. They do not know if they can ask questions, let alone what questions to ask and how to ask them. They are reluctant to express their own concern and feelings, even optimism.  This is especially true of families with young adults who still live at home. They may understandably want to limit the family’s ability to “butt” in by not signing releases of information. At the very time the family can help, the young adult, addict or mentally ill, will decide to exert their independence.  I’m not talking about crashing boundaries here, but understanding how to communicate and realizing how all family members are affected. In fact, it is often a time to establish or reestablish boundaries, and redefine private vs. secret. It’s a time to visualize mental illness into mental wellness.

Yes, family members do need to do things to take care of themselves, but they often desperately want to know how to help the IP, and don’t want to be told to” butt out, it’s their problem. ” If they can learn healthy ways to help and support the IP while taking care of themselves, the process is less painful.

In response to this need, I will be launching my Recovery Coaching products and services over the next few months. In short, the goal is to teach families how to recover from the impact of addiction or mental illness in their family. How to return to or create equilibrium. How to set goals as a family and as individuals that promote health and a peaceful spirit.

Additionally,  many recovering addicts/alcoholics get to a point in their recovery when they no longer need therapy, but need help to envision the next step in their life journey. They may need to work on certain areas within their recovery that do not get addressed in 12-step meetings, such as mindfulness, nutrition, “secondary” addictive behaviors such as food or love.

So what can you do today? Well, you just did something by reading this post.

What else? Talk to the “IP” in your family, and simply remind them “I love you and I care about you.”

How about telling yourself: “I love you and I care about you.”

Start to learn about mindfulness: Take a few moments to sit quietly and focus on where you are in the moment. Notice where you are sitting, what is around you. Observe or witness your thoughts: who are you thinking about and how does that change when you sit quietly and simply breathe. Close your eyes, count 5-4-3-2-1 slowly, then open your eyes.  You may be surprised and delighted how centering and refreshing a mini-mind-vacation can be.

To your mental wellness!

Please follow and like us:
%d bloggers like this: