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My Treatment Experience | Sean McMahon

I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and after a couple months my mom took me off the medication because she believed it changed my personality too much. Later on in life, at the age of about 35, I was again diagnosed and starting taking medication for it again. The short term benefits were immediate, I was able to better function at my job, spend hours on end concentrating on menial tasks, felt revitalised – I explained it to people like a light having been suddenly switched on in my brain.

But after a while I started to notice some of those other side effects mentioned in this article, specifically depersonalisation, hostility, manic reactions, delusions and drug abuse.

Although my drug abuse was a pre-existing factor I now had legal access to to what I called “go-getters”. Pretty soon I was using the larger doses of long acting Concerta available and topping that off with quick boosts of Ritalin in the morning and to get me going and in the evening to ward off the come down from the Concerta and keep me going so I could work into the night. I’d take weekend “drug free breaks” in order to stock up on Ritalin for the coming week and also managed to get over-prescribed on one or two occasions so I had a good stockpile of my uppers with me at all times.

I was also using prescribed anti-anxiety / anti-depressants at this stage, and smoking a lot of weed in order to bring me back down from what was becoming a really manic day-to-day lifestyle. Pretty soon though I was using all of my legal and not so legal drugs all of the time in mixes and matches that I knew was hugely problematic, but could not see a way out of.

Like I’ve said before I know I was an addict going into all of this, but if I wasn’t yet I would surely have been by that stage anyway. I shared all of this information regarding my excess use and supplementary use with my doctors, who were sympathetic but were not equipped to deal with the level of manipulation I was able to spin. Yes I started to take less of one thing and more of another under advisement, but that only changed nightmare and didn’t help make it go away.

It was only when I had reached past the end of the line and with the help of my wife and the people at The Foundation Clinic that I realised that I was suffering from a disease of the soul and not the brain. Within the 24 days that I spent with David Collins’ team I earn’t more about myself than I have in my previous 39 years alive.

But with all of the above said, this is the message that I want to add to the conversation. When I was diagnosed with ADHD at 35, it was at a time of my life when I was working at a job I hated – like really hated (I’d wake up in the morning and spend at least an hour in bed in tears at the thought of going in to work). I was doing work that hated with people I didn’t want to be with. I was in a situation which was not conducive to me being myself. The hours of my day were controlled by someone else, the way I represented myself to others had to be carefully crafted by people in positions of power above me, I felt like the woodcutters from the story Fiela se Kind. And while I can’t say that this alone was enough to drive me stir-crazy, it certainly played its part.

I can remember another time like that, those 12 years spent at school, where I had to dress like everyone else, eat at the same time of the day, never question the bullshit I was fed by my teachers and generally try to fit into a system that didn’t give a crap about me as an individual. The content and manner in which I was being educated was boring and tailored to turning me into one of many instead of the best me I could be. The similarities between that and the whole “real job” world are all too obvious to me now.

So I’d say to anyone who feels like they don’t fit in or who is restless and can’t sit still – don’t! Get up and move and keep moving until you find something that you can do for hours at end without feeling like you want to climb the walls with boredom. Just move and challenge anyone who tells you that you’ve got ants in your pants or tells you you’re a troublemaker or a “naughty boy” – just get up and move. It’s really not worth sitting still.

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Black Widow | Part 7 |Antidote…Finale | By Taryn

But…even though death awaited me…I still returned.

In a sickening desperation, I still sought out the ‘World of the Machines’ – yet while doing so I became more lost, distancing myself from whatever mattered to me.

‘The Web’ in which I had been ‘Tangled’ and the bitch who spun it, knew I would eventually have NO energy left but to…crawl.

And so, after hitting a curb with my car and STILL not employed & not able to pay the costs to repair it… I discovered that ‘The Machines’ and her master web spread out to a distance I could walk.

My fate…was hers…at any cost!

Entranced & Bewitched my only focus was to again push her ‘buttons’…and so, wretchedly I would creep home thereafter, nothing left but the shadows keeping me hidden from the shame I carried.

My days had become shorter…my nights endless ~ Terror, anxiety, fear & hopelessness were the only emotions I felt >>> all happiness, peace & laughter were forgotten.

I knew that soon I would again feel her fangs piercing my skin…only this time it would not just be a ‘Bite’…she would devour me ~ swallow the rotting decay I had become.

How could I, the Aries warrior…the survivor, become defeated by a ‘Fucking Machine’…so much time had passed, that I could not recall how it all began…but I knew that I wanted my torment to end.

My pride, my glory, my pain… & my sadness were spent & had left me with nothing to hold onto…and so…I surrendered.

By surrender, I mean, I knew that I couldn’t defeat ‘HER’ alone…I needed medicine…I needed HELP…I needed an ‘Antidote’…!!

I didn’t want my life to end like that – I collapsed to the floor, too weak to stand…too many tears for me to see – I surrendered & pleaded for my life & for a power GREATER than my own to save me.

Just then…a number I used to snicker at once upon a time, when I believed I was still ‘Joan of Arc’…riding into the sunset after a battle…was suddenly clear!

That number that a power MUCH greater than my own showed me that day…was the “Gamblers Anonymous” hotline number.

Without a second thought I dialled…

Since that call was answered I was led to the steps of ‘The Foundation |Sharp Recovery Clinic…giving me a platform to share my story with YOU.

To those who have journeyed with me over the past 6 months as I have grown stronger & to those who will use my words as weapons in the future, know always that you are NEVER alone…NEVER give up!!

Reach out… ‘Breathe’… take the ‘ANTIDOTE’.

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Now that I’ve stopped…how do I stay stopped!?

sunset-1367138_1280I meet so many people who have stopped!  Stopped drinking..stopped using drugs…stopped addictive behaviour…and they truly want to stay there.  But there is a vast divide, the Grand Canyon of good intentions, that separates wanting and doing.  I want to live a fulfilled and purposeful life, is a far cry from attaining that life.  It’s a great start, but in between the wanting and the doing is where the real work lies.  Who doesn’t want mature, healthy relationships with their spouse, kids, family and friends!?  A great job that you look forward to, even on a Sunday evening!?  Meaningful interests, hobbies and pastimes, that bring fun, adventure and balance into the everyday!?

There are not a lot of people who I  know that don’t want these (and more)…yet talking about something and actually doing it are extremely different!  So how does one bridge the divide and start to achieve these ideals?  A good place to start is reevaluating one’s values…those things that get me (and you) out of bed in the morning.  What feeds your soul, and makes you come alive?  What makes the hours of the day slip away unnoticed?  For me values are quite different from principles…  I don’t get out of bed to be honest and live with integrity, but rather to pursue my work as a Recovery Coach, spend time with my partner, study and live courageously.  My principles of honesty, integrity, courage and compassion (to name but a few) come into play as to how I undertake to live to these highest core values.

So in order to get from where I am at any present moment, towards where I want to be, takes practising my principles…and there are a couple I find extremely challenging.  Especially patience, forgiveness, acceptance and tolerance (of myself and others).  But armed with my little bag of principles and clear in my values, I take the initial steps towards closing the gap between wanting and doing.  Somehow, just this personal awareness and understanding of what guides my personal compass towards where I want to be, gets me that little bit closer.  Of course I need to be crystal clear in what it is that I am striving for…and I have to be extremely honest, willing and open about whether this is realistic and achievable for me, as well as the opportunities and obstacles that may exist!

So knowing my values, practising my principles and setting SMART (specific-measurable-achievable-realistic-time bound) goals are some of the ways that I managed to move from being stopped to staying stopped.  I also came to understand that stopping was not enough…I needed to build up a set of resources, #RecoveryCapital, that would support me in quest to stay stopped!  I needed to find activities, pursuits, undertakings, interests, hobbies (still battling with that one), and relationships that were supportive of me in recovery.  Because if recovery was going to be less exciting, fulfilling and meaningful than active addiction, what was the point?  And initially it was less exciting, less fun, less invigorating than drinking, dancing and general inebriated adventure.  But slowly, a step at a time, the journey started to unfold for me some of the greatest joy, love and fulfillment I had ever experienced.

The little things started to have more meaning than I could ever imagine…living in my integrity and showing up when I said I would show up was so much better than I believed it would be.  Being present in relationships and noticing what was going on with my loved ones has brought me countless blessings over the years.  Getting to know (and  love) myself, is one of the most fulfilling relationships I’ve ever had.  And it all starts with just a couple of practical, little actions.  The changes don’t happen overnight, the relationships don’t miraculously fix themselves from one day to the next, but armed with just a few tools, a whole lot of awareness (achieved through complete honesty with myself), a set of clear goals (even around what I wanted from my personal relationships), I have managed to walk across the bridge between stopping and staying stopped.

And there have been days when the bridge has been nothing more than some rope and some shaky planks, and others when it’s metal and concrete.  But I keep my focus firmly forward, not letting the past pull at my ankles like terrifying trolls that live on the river banks.  Because one of my biggest learnings has been that hanging onto the traumatic events of my past does not serve me.  I have taken the time to learn from them, but then I have thanked them for their teachings and laid them down along the road, so that they cannot sabotage me or what I want from my life.  I have stayed stopped by learning to say yes to certain people, places, thoughts, beliefs and parts of self and no to others.  I am not perfect, I don’t always get it right, but I have the conscious awareness to know when I am slipping into self-defeating thinking.  And that awareness is like a razor-sharp knife I use to cut the sneaky tendrils of guilt, shame, fear and blackness that sometimes endeavour to envelop me.

And so I continue to be vigilant as I move from being stopped to staying stopped, always equipped with by bag of tools should I need to mend part of my bridge, fortify an area of weakness or build up my inherent strengths.  It might just mean stopping and looking at the view from a different perspective, giving my values a good shake up, reevaluating my goals and action plans, or simply enjoying the slight swaying as life continues to become more fulfilling, exciting, purposeful and adventuresome than I could ever imagined before I stepped out of the mist, took my first step onto the bridge and started to narrow the distance between wanting and doing.

If you are interested in the tools I have learned, and share, as a Recovery Coach, please contact The Foundation Clinic for more information about our treatment and recovery programmes. You can call on (011)728-9200, email leigh-anne@thefoundationclinic.co.za or fill out the form below and we will contact you!

For more information about Treatment and Recovery Programmes visit www.thefoundationclinic.com 

What Do I Choose!?

This post was originally published on my personal blog: www.sobersomething.com, but I wanted to share it with The SHARP Followers.  Enjoy the post and feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.

Sometimes life is extremely challenging and there are times when it’s particularly difficult not to curl up in a ball under my duvet and hide from the world…but then I would not be living the learning that I encourage my clients to practice in their lives.  Because recently i have had a really tough run of events that didn’t result in me having a drink, but did find myself slipping back into those nasty thought patterns that ruled my life while I was drinking!  The woe-poor-victim-me way of thinking that never amounts to anything good.  I have found myself throwing a self-pity party or two that were among my finest…  The beauty of this situation though was my awareness of my behaviour and the consciousness of what was going on.  So rather than staying entrenched in these thoughts, words and deeds of all-consuming abjection, I utilise the tools that I have at my disposal to check myself and my unhealthy thoughts.

Instead of getting sucked into the misery vortex, I has to start thinking about my thinking and I dig into my bag of spiritual principles, and decide how to proceed.  I am not for one minute saying that this is an effortless transition, but by applying what I know to be effective, I am able to direct my thinking in a healthier, more empowered way and start to make plans for how I am going to move forward.  Being told by a radiologist that they have found a lump, while my wonderful partner is at home nursing a broken hand, driving a borrowed car while mine was having the clutch replaced and not having the funds to pay for the biopsy, all made me feel like the universe was conspiring against me…and I slipped right into “my addict” way of mentally processing the situation.  It hasn’t been a great year with my boyfriend’s mother and best friend dying, my best friend losing her baby just before he was due to enter the world, coupled with endless financial stresses and all those annoying little things that seem to be constantly happening.

So when I realised that although I wasn’t using like an addict I was thinking like an addict , I decided to get really serious with myself.  And that doesn’t mean derating myself, telling myself to pull myself together.   This is when I really need to practice the principles of self-love, patience and acceptance.  I have been through a lot this year, and I need to be gentle with myself at times.  So instead of chastising myself for slipping, I have given myself the space to process what it’s all about.  I have spent a couple of weeks dancing in and out of fear and anger, even sadness, but I have been aware of my feelings and understood that even though they might not feel good, they are necessary in order to move forward.  Just because I work with chaos, crisis and conflict on a daily basis in the substance abuse treatment and recovery world, doesn’t mean that I am a guru when it comes to dealing with my own upsets.

What I do know now is even when there is huge uncertainty, I need to practice (not just talk about) gratitude, humility, patience, acceptance and compassion.  That I need to be conscious of my thinking, and if necessary express my fear, sadness and anger in a mature and adult way so that they best serve me and those around me.  I have turned not to run from my emotions, but to work through them with the principles I am developing and strengthening in my life.  It’s one thing to know I need to be honest about how I am feeling, but another thing to practice this essential principle (whether or not one is in recovery)…  I can talk about being patient, but how can I truly implement this and other truths into daily life.

I chooseBut I am learning through practiced awareness, consciousness and mindsight to be in control of the things I can control, and in the situations I have no control over, I do have the choice as to how I show up in these  instances.  I have a choice of how I practice and apply my learnings, and I have a choice as to how I respond to the situations that come my way.  I may not always appreciate what is happening in my life, and it might be scary and overwhelming at times, but  I do have a choice at how I look at these events and whether I approach them as an empowered woman’s thinking or that of my addict…  And although there are many things I have no choice or control over, these are a few of the things that I do!!

For more information about Recovery Coaching and living a purposeful, fulfilled life in recovery | (011)728-9200 | leigh-anne@thefoundationclinic.co.za 

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Black Widow | Part 5 – Numb| By Taryn

Okay…ENOUGH!!…of the bullshit fairy tale…ENOUGH of the “James Bond chick”…that ended.

Anger, wrath & bitterness grew within me toward ‘Black Widow’ Slot/Slut machine. I somehow needed vengeance. SHE had not only STOLEN my money, she had also broken my F****NG toe.

Any bit of logic I had at that time…was NOT!!

Midnight became the hour I drove into the dark of night and descended into the ‘World of the ‘Machines’.

The excitement I vaguely remembered feeling when I first searched for those ‘green-blue eyes’ had been replaced by furious anger.

I BLAMED that ‘Bitch’ for bringing me there.

There was SO MUCH more to explore in this sadomasochistic “lair” of pleasure & pain. Why had I wasted so much on only her?!?

And so I left her behind & went in search of a NEW mysterious EXCITEMENT that awaited me somewhere hidden amongst the crowd.

In CONTROL of everything & everyone around me is how I felt when on a silver platter my first envelope containing large amounts of cash was personally delivered to me.  I felt like ‘Joan of Arc’ galloping victoriously upon my horse after conquering an army .

My money had however surrounded me by the ‘Vultures’ & ‘Vampires’ living in ‘THAT’ world … lecherously sucking & feeding off whatever they can get.

In ‘THAT’ world there is no night or day, no yesterday or tomorrow, there is no existence of time.

Although I had left ‘Black Widow’ behind, her poison continued to pump through my veins … The more envelopes I received …the more 0000’s on the amounts was never enough.

I could not think of anything other than being in the ‘That World’… What else was there? My reality had become distorted. It was now just a perception. I was becoming a reflection of the toxic venom within me.

Who was I? What had I become? I was suffocating …I needed to breathe … I was slowly dying. I was NUMB!!!

For more information about treatment and recovery programmes for addictive behaviour disorders such as gambling, food and sex, please contact us on 0861-ADDICT | (011)7228-9200 or email info@thefoundationclinic.co.za and we will gladly assist you in choosing the correct programme.

Black Widow | Part 4 – Venom | By Taryn

After that night, I never waited for *Brouke or anyone else to suggest going to the casino … why would I want someone hanging over my shoulder; breathing down neck anyway.

As her ‘venom’ began pulsing through my veins, my every thought was consumed by the urgency to see her again…and again…and again.

With only a small daily allowance my family were supporting me with and not generating any income it was a constant challenge to see her financially.  It was not as simple as jumping onto my dragon and flying over to her or filling up the tank of my Porsche Carrera and happily paying the five speeding fines along the way.  I had to use the toxins that had begun fuelling my mind to scheme, plan and make it possible to continue my deadly affair with my ‘Femme Fatale’.

After a month or two, it started to feel like she was just using me, not appreciating what I actually did to see her and what I did to give her what she most desired…MONEY!!  It was all about HER!! I was giving and she was taking. She selfishly gave me nothing in return.

I became resentful…angry…called her a bitch…a whore!!

One evening, in a moment of pure seething fury after she again squeezed every last cent from me, I kicked her so hard that it was only 2 days later when I could hardly walk from the pain, that I realised I broken my toe.  Her ‘venom’ was now more a part of me than my own blood and now I wanted revenge…

For more information on assistance with addictive behaviour disorders such as gambling, gaming, eating and sex please contact (011)728-9200 or info@thefoundationclinic.co.za | Our Recovery Wellness Program is specifically designed to empower people faced with the challenges of addictive behaviour disorders.

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My Learnings in the Recovery Coach Training Process | By Lisa Ann Catano

training2I noticed a gap in the recovery process en route to my own healing practices following the 12-step program. When it came to finding a job and reintegrating back into society as a functional citizen, I could not find the tools in the program, or the necessary courage, to assist me with what felt like a daunting task. I had conversations about this with my sponsor and my therapist, and although their words were encouraging, I remained anxious and still stagnant. I then discovered a Recovery Coaching course that was being offered by The Foundation Clinic | SHARP Recovery Solutions; and decided to interview for a seat on the training.

Throughout the interview I was treated with respect and trust. The interviewer displayed qualities that I have not as yet come across in the business world. My heart resonated with what was being said and I knew that I was in the right place. Naturally, I surrendered to the process.

I have completed all the face-to-face, three-module training to date, and I am currently working through the practical portion of the assessment and certification.  To be a coach one needs to appreciate the delicate nature of feelings and emotion, and to lead in a way that is sensitive and empowering for the client. Therefore a solid foundation is administered throughout the training, and a rigorous set of criteria is required for certification.

An essential element to coaching is creating a safe space for the client to share their story with you. This entails empathetic listening skills, total confidentiality from the coach and respect for the client’s thoughts and beliefs without comparison or judgement. Over time trust is established and the client is able to progress on course to achieving their goals.

A warm and nurturing energy, offered by the facilitators, embodied the training rooms, which allowed me and my peers’ views and personalities to be freely expressed. Although I was being taught on how to become a Recovery Coach; in the process I also learned a lot about myself. I learnt about humanity and to be cognisant of the distinctions apparent among individuals. I learned to assess body language and to listen from an intuitive place in my heart.

The sacred spaced shared between you and your client is called the container. The container is dynamic in that it shifts constantly, indicative to stimulus within and outside of the container. Coaching is a solutions focused approach geared towards living a passionate and harmonious life. We do this through a questioning process to evoke thought, enabling the client to be accountable and accept total responsibility for their life. The client learns that they are their own guru so to speak, while they discover that all of the resources and answers that they need to build a meaningful life are actually inside of them. With coaching as a support mechanism the client can create a life that is in alignment with their highest values and this is where true harmony is felt!

Although recovery coaching is presumed to be centred on addiction and substance abuse, that is not entirely the case. Our aim is to obtain a coherent whole or state of wellness characterised by a sequence of progressive undertakings or goals, from a perceived challenge. The recovery to wellness continuum includes but is not limited to, emotional, spiritual, physical and mental wealth, and the following examples could be posed as perceived challenges for the client’s potential growth: obesity, lack of Spirituality in one’s life, lack of career stimulation, bulimia or drug addiction. Where there is room for change (in individuals or groups), coaching may enter.

Recovery Coaching is an open methodology that welcomes all kinds of antidotes to the solution of building a wholesome life. Taking my own experience into consideration around addiction (the irrational); employing a Recovery Coach (as a coach also needs a coach) will support me in finding my way back into the real world. It bridges the gap on par to healing from addiction, to reintegrating in a sound and rational way. Although it is part of the recovery process, Recovery Coaching makes recovery even more possible.

training-13aFor more information about Recovery Coach Training and corporate training solutions for HR and EAP Professionals, please contact Leigh-Anne | (011)728-9200 | leigh-anne@thefoundationclinic.co.za.

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The 12-Step Cafe | Recovery and a Coffee!?

the-foundation-clinic-6the-foundation-clinic-3The 12-Step Cafe, operated by George, is a wonderful place to create and build #RecoveryCapital.  The cafe serves light meals and snacks during the day, as well as a variety of hot and cold drinks.  The ethos of the cafe at The Foundation Clinic | SHARP Recovery Solutions is to offer recovery-orientated people a space to hang out with friends, met with their sponsor or grab a coffee during the Saturday night Bonfire Meeting.

Patrons are welcome to enjoy the beautiful gardens in front of the cafe or catch up on their recovery reading and step work with internet access available.  George has created a safe, friendly space for people to spend time in a warm and welcoming environment.  The cafe is also a great spot to meet people in various stages of recovery and build their personal #RecoveryCapital and share information, experiences and find support for their ongoing wellness.

So please feel free to drop in for a coffee and a chat with your friends or possibly an opportunity to make some new friends at the 12-Step Cafe.  We are located at 41 Pretoria Street, Oaklands and the cafe is open from 9am – 4pm, as well as Saturday evenings during the Bonfire Meeting.

Come and visit – we look forward to meeting you!!