Clinically Acclaimed!

recovery Day X; depression strikes

mq1Step 1. Tell Someone;

Depression is no stranger to me. I know what it looks like, how it changes my attitude and behaviour. And I know that when it strikes to suffer in silence is a common response. Depression crushes my drive to socialize. It crushes my desire to care for my home, to care for myself. It sucks the joy out of the things I love the most. Its a bummer, like a flat tire during the worst snowstorm of your life. And you don’t have a spare.

Well… A flat in the middle of the worst snowstorm of your life and no spare tire. You call someone. I know its hard. I know its embarrassing. I know it can strip you of pride. Rob a person of their ability to feel independent. Left unchecked long enough it can start to tear your life down. It can affect your job performance. Maybe even lead to job loss. Bills pile up; And the hole gets deeper and deeper.

Last Monday I was diagnosed with moderate to severe depression by my Doctor @ Connections. He diagnosed me because I told him something was wrong. And I was given two choices; Take more medication OR Initiate the use of my most powerful and effective tools, one being Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

For those of you not familiar with CBT, its basically a self or assisted launch of a learned tool. CBT helps a person evaluate situations negatively impacting their mental & physical health. Upon evaluation identify negative behaviours and implement a simple, attainable plan of action to help improve or correct the situation.

My Doctor & Connections are amazing. A worker was notified of my situation, it is not an emergency in my case because I have a strong history of self guided recovery. I set in motion a plan that day to right my course:

  1. Ride my bike! Healthy body, healthy mind. Exercise reduces stress.
  2. Eat Right. Drop the comfort foods, eat green & healthy proteins.
  3. Take out the trash, mentally & physically.
  4. Work Smart, be productive & creative. Feel Accomplished!
  5. Rinse and Repeat, but don’t overdo it. Start Small.

Soo far, since Monday I’ve executed steps 1 through 4 and I’m getting ready for the “Rinse/Repeat” part. I see improvements already. Its small, but ya gotta start somewhere.

Who knows, maybe my medication will increase? Is that bad? Meh, I don’t think so. But I can sure as hell tell anyone reading this;

I’mma fight. I’m gonna use my learned tools & fight!

Knowledge is power.

 

recovery Day X – reboot

After Recovery…

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It has been a while since my last post… I typically posted here mostly about my recovery progress (sometimes retrogress) and after achieving an unprecedented state of mental health wellness; posting here pretty much completely halted.

Recovery in my experience over the past ten plus years has taught me that it is a perpetual state of mind, body & spiritual evolution. For the longest time effort required to simply exist felt paralyzing. Then life changed for me. Huge life changes. Hospitalization, Medications, countless hours spent with Support Workers, Psychiatrists & Peers propelled me into a state of recovery and beyond. 

Now that I’m here, at recovery the beyond part it is proving a bit illusive. Getting to the hear & now was actually pretty simple in comparison to where I’m trying to go for my future; In the past I set goals, put my head down and worked hard until success was firmly within my grasp.

After locking down full time employment with IDEALBIKES and committing myself to excellence in our Bayers Lake, Halifax N.S. Canadian location the rest fell to the wayside. Creative productivity is practically non existent. Even my hobbies lack the feeling of purpose. They are more of a mindless and madly off in all directions waste of time. Escapism. And… I am NOT Ok with that. Escapism IS fine, but everything needs to be forward moving to satisfy my unquenchable thirst to succeed & matter. Matter to me if not anyone else.

And soo we come full circle back to the origin story of recovery_channel™. A story about moving forward, making progress. The pursuit of Passion, Productivity & Purpose. And most importantly accountability; To Myself.

My Career & Passion @ IDEALBIKES 

My Creative Productions @ recovery_channel™ studio

My sense of Purpose in all I do. Work, Creativity, Escape;

I’m back to the keyboard, I have my head down and I’m getting shit done.

Aries; Dual Roles, a healthy part of recovery?

When my Life & the Stars collide (Pt. 11)

horoscope-aries-tattoo-designSource; Metro | April, 13 / 2015 | IT’S ALL IN THE STARS by Sally Brompton

Your passion for an issue or cause of some kind will inspire you to give of your best today. You certainly won’t give ground to those you disagree with so strongly

There are a lot of issues I feel passionate about in life. I always try my best to express that passion in a mild but assertive way. Sometimes though there is that one issue, your passion for it grows day by day.

On the outside of Recovery looking in there is a 10 Ft. wall of Healthcare policy toped by a razorwire of tradition mixed with opinions both good & bad.

The issue growing my passion and lighting small fires in the mental health community is that of Dual Roles. The Question, Can a person in recovery be part of the solution? This is a very gray area of discussion, most professionals say straight up No. A small sect say maybe or yes. But there is that wall of policy that separates us as a community. Patient & Patient Care. And my passion tells me that to separate the two in such a black and white way is not progress or integration.

I’ll give you an example. I participate in an Arts program that supports youth at risk. This program has an age limitation for participants. I have approached the age limit and in turn I’ve asked if it would be possible to fill a voluntary role in the program. This is where things get dicey. I am still “in recovery” and in the eyes of policy makers I am a patient. It would be very gray area’ish to allow me access to people at risk in a care role or allow me access to potentially confidential information via post program discussions ect. (Note; As a participant I am closely associated with many who attend The Spot and free to engage them as a peer. I can listen to their problems and offer my support as a peer. There is not much that goes on around me in my community that I’m not aware of.)

As a patient, I am technically standing behind a do not cross line in the sand that has been drawn there for decades. Don’t get me wrong, policy can be a good thing. But policy that separates those in recovery that want to give back and participate in their community needs to be questioned. It needs to examined, we need to ask how much integration is too much? Is there a sliding scale or is it finite? And how do you determine who is too disabled or not disabled enough? What about those employed in the Mental Health industry that have their own diagnosis? I’m not deaf or blind, I know that some of the people charged with assisting me in my recovery are sometimes recovery stories themselves.

If I wanted to volunteer in an official capacity at any Capital Health program, or programs sponsored by Capital Health (Nova Scotia’s Health Care entity) I would have to discharge myself from the very structure that supports my recovery. I would have to leave Connections Halifax for 1 Yr minimum to apply for Volunteer Services at Capital Health Programs.

That… Is not integration, that is not progress, these are not healthy recovery practices and they should be challenged. The Spot program played an integral role in my recovery, it has motivated me to take my Art seriously and realize that in soo many ways Art & Recovery collide. Everywhere in our community it explodes. Its on the walls, its on the desks, in bus stops, organized community events showcase the talent of this city and, all people who identify as having a mental health issue or not are celebrated in professional galleries for everyone to see. Our worlds collide at every turn, it is not ok or realistic to keep up that 10 Ft. wall topped with razor wire. And I’m not asking for it to be torn down overnight, but maybe drop it to waist height? So I can see over it. So I can see the opportunities for me to give back to the programs & community where I want.

Don’t ask me to abandon the community I’ve grown soo close to. Don’t make me abandon my supports so I can feel Human again and not like a case file to be observed & treated. Give me autonomy to choose where and when I give back. Cause right now, Capital Health… You’re saying to me…

Anywhere but here.

fast forward at Open Studio, Connections; tree building

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Above; (Before) Group project we have been working on at Connections. Our Volunteer Art Facilitator Hanna came up with a great idea for this mundane support beam in our dinning room. Meant to be a multi-session project it is getting the fast forward. Our Director is retiring this month and this is a project we would like to have completed for the 5th of June, just in time for her retirement party. I’m confident we can pull it off and it will look great.

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Above; (After) I managed to complete the majority of the bark, the top minor limbs and the base. Then… I ran outta tape. Time for a trip to Dollarama! Hanna and I will knock even more off this project come Wednesday and there is another art group here @ Connections on Thursday. I really like deadlines, helps me stay focused.

Champion the cause; Part 2

lol Well in the beginning I thought we were championing the pilot for Orientation but turns out we are not. We are the champions of Pilot #2. Evaluation of the role the “contact person” plays here @ Connections. We had some pretty good discussion this morning around process, responsibilities, execution of role in a reactive and proactive way.

Lachie (Connections Employment Worker & Co-Champion) and I evaluated the framework of contact roles in a University setting. Specifically Saint Mary’s University and Dalhousie University. I found the Saint Mary’s info to be much more comprehensive and the position of Resident Coordinator to be most similar to our present contact person position.

This little excerpt in particular; “Residence Coordinator (RC) serves as mentor, administrators and community advisers. RC’s identify student and community needs and then develop programs designed to address those needs. RC’s also foster a positive living-learning environment conducive to the academic goals of the university and promote responsible behavior among residents (including intervention and follow-up with individuals experiencing behavioral / disciplinary issues or other personal challenges)

Our contact persons here perform mostly all these duties with the exception of “RC’s also participate in an after-hours on-call system throughout the academic year” … Here is where I brought forth the thought that when connections closes @ the end of the day or on the weekends my need for support doesn’t end. I go forth into the community with very little guidance on a very constrained budget and no clue where I can go and what I can do to stay engaged. Also is my contact person aware of this and does someone still care about my needs and my condition of wellness outside of the walls of connections.

I followed my thought up with a small example; A couple weeks ago Mike called me to inquire about an appointment I was missing. This is the 1st time I have ever had anyone contact me from the system to find out what was going on for me that I wasn’t there ready to attend my appointment.

5 Yrs ago I dropped off the grid and moved to Toronto and not a single one of the near dozen people involved in my care made an effort to find out where I was and what was going on. I just dropped off the grid into the void and no one missed me. The system since then has improved a lot and there has been a certain seamless procedure adopted that I have hugely benefited from since I’ve moved back here to Halifax.

In overview I have some new information to look over, some actual documentation regarding the role of contact persons. The mission now is to construct a new concise list of roles/responsibilities to be written and vetted by yours truly.

There was also some quick discussion around support roles for the contact person. In most of the comparison roles we used as examples there were always support roles. A second tier of people assisting the RC or in our situation Contact person.

It seems as tho here they use almost like a handshake system. All contact persons touch base from time to time. In these little handshake meetings they exchange info about how members are doing and relay any important information about crisis ect.

It’s comforting to know that things have some built in under the hood functionality but it would be nice to have a little more transparency around that system.

Champion the cause; Part 1

I have recently been designated “Champion” of a new pilot project taking place @ Connections. The projects focus is on Orientation and this morning we had our first meeting. I am not alone in my Champion role, a co-champion has been assigned. Our task is to evaluate the existing structure of Orientation, gather information from our team about other structures ie; high school, community college, university ect. and try to create a new simple, clean and functional way to look @ the process.

I will blog more about the process as the flow of information increases. There will no doubt be many ideas discussed and if any of the readers here have a suggestion or are working on similar projects, please feel free to comment.

I think this project deserves its own category 🙂