Thursday, August 9, 2012
Friday, August 27, 2010
We hear it all the time and it is probably the most difficult thing to do. And that it to be positive. Now, not being positive does not necessarily mean that we are negative. Sometimes we are ambivalent or in a state of limbo. We find ourselves in the middle of an intense life situation and we do not know how to get through it. Just the mere fact that times passes and that everything changes is one way we are assured that we will get through it. As the U2 song laments, "We are stuck in a moment and can't get out of it". The moment can be an actual moment or a situation or an hour, emotion, behavior or a multitude of many life's problems. At the time though...it really isn't as important as to how we got there than it is to learn how we must move forward and get through it. It is often said that by talking about it, you move forward but this isn't easily done. Sometimes we just relive the situation and there is no forward movement. So what to do?
My last post was indicative of emotional, psychological and physical trauma but this post can be applied in any situation. Big or small. Not just the traumatic ones. One thing to do is to be conscious of knowing, as I have said, that time passes, whether we like it or not, and the world will change. Our goal is to encourage change in a positive direction instead of an undesirable one. One cognitive function is called, "automatic thinking". A situation occurs and from our past experiences, we automatically know what the outcome will be. And it usually isn't a good one. So, we must recognize our automatic thinking. Stop and look at the situation with an empty head (yes, that is possible). Erase all past thoughts and experiences when caught in a perceived hopeless situation and start to think about the good (or at the very least, the easiest) things that could come out of our situation. The may be require quite abstract thinking but the goal is to change the way we feel (the hopelessness) of the issue. Try to think of all the solutions that can be achieved, whether they have happened to us or not. When something of advantage crosses our mind, the hopeless situation may not seem like one without merit anymore. Exploring each possibility can take us away from the negative repetitive thoughts that we automatically find ourselves engaged in and a new feeling, whether it be hope, joy, curiosity, open minded may blossom.
By no means is this easy to do yet we read about it (like here) all the time. So, I say to think outside the box and be open to many possibilities. Not necessarily ones that have dragged us down in the past. We just may find that we are feeling a new sense of strength and act in a way that is reflective of our new way of feeling. An example: I lost my job, I'm depressed and feel worthless so why even leave the house. A new way of thinking: Wow, now I can the chance to do so many other things, excited and feeling hopeful and getting out in the world making our new goals come to fruition. Again, I want to stress that this is not easily done and we will try and fail, slip and slide into hopelessness from hopelessness but once we accomplish this ONE time, then we have a new history in which to draw from. You know, even thinking that things can get worse can challenge our hopelessness feelings, hence...encouraging us to be a bit more assertive to make a change. Two steps up and one step back. When we find our behavior helping our lives, it re-enforces this new advantageous thoughts that we are thinking, effecting emotions....and so on and so on. This is how the cycle of change can work in a positive way instead of our automatic thinkingthe same thoughts that are keeping us stuck to begin with.
When we try and fail, we need to get right back up and start changing our thoughts over and over over again. This perseverance starts to become a new automatic part of our make-up. The assistance of a professional, a friend or even alone will soon give you more confidence regarding your new set of skills. Yes, many of us fear change because of the unknown but change is going to occur naturally and I, for one, would like to be at the helm when these changes are happening. Sometimes the change isn't what we expected but to accept it, we must change the way we feel about this unfamiliar situation if we are to do the next right thing. The next right action.
Start with small changes and see how it works. To discover where you feel powerful over the process. This could be a good impetus to be prepared for the bigger unexpected changes that occur in our lives. We can all change but we must all put effort into it because, good or bad, nothing in life stays the same. Be the master of your destiny with an adequate amount of awareness with new skills to learn how to use your power.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
What constitutes trauma? It many be different for all of us but the core feelings are the same. Fear, anger, withdrawal, confusion, intimidation are all emotional elements of those who have survived a traumatic situation. Working through it can be a lifelong process and it involves many types of coping skills to deal with it effectively. I am not speaking about physical trauma but rather psychological trauma though one can certainly lead to the other.
Many years ago emotional trauma brought up the feeling of shame. It was hidden away by families and never spoken about, fearing the stigma of having survived trauma would cast a disgraceful light on the victim. The 'we do not air our dirty laundry' syndrome. Blocking out the incident was the only means of treatment but, of course, this did not solve the problem. Learning to withdraw or disassociate from the memory of the event was encouraged but this merely suppressed intense negative feelings, rendering the victim to live a wounded life. Never being able to escape the multitude of emotions associated with surviving trauma. And when those feelings are ignored, they eventually re-emerge in the form of self-destructive behaviors.
This was especially the case with soldiers who had experienced the horror of war. So overwhelming were the experiences causing death and severe injury, the mind could not comprehend the magnitude of the situation at the time. Long after the event, if not processed, a triggering (reminde event caused them to live the memory of the trauma over and over again and believing that it was happening again. Never being able to obtain peace. Thus, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) became a diagnostic psychological impairment in the psychiatric world and a new way of approaching treatment came to light.
We do use our survival skills to get through the trauma (though it may not seem like we do at the time) to ensure self preservation. It is the aftermath that creates the severe difficulties in our thinking and behaving. As I have said, repression is usually the first condition noticed. We use this as a defense mechanism in which to deal with the event but this usually cannot last forever. At some point, when the sufferer cannot function well in the day to day living situations of society, the issue must be gently addressed. Associated with repression, reoccurring nightmares, panic attacks, anxiety, addiction and depression can consume one's life. The decision to address the traumatic event is a major breakthrough and only then can the intricate work can start to occur. It is not a decision that is easily reached. With the guidance of a qualified mental health professional, the victim discovers that they are really a survivor. This change in thinking sets the stage for the rest of the work. It is important to address the details of trauma in a safe environment. A therapist can pace the amount of information revealed and will recognize when the survivor is become overwhelmed. In some cases, it is a delicate balance but the therapist usually takes his/her cue from the client with the hope that, in time, the entire event can be processed.
I usually discourage those sitting alone at a computer to relive the details of their trauma as they can become devastated by the disclosure and there is no safety net in which to fall. I understand the human need to allow others in but emotional safety must be considered. A therapist will remind an overwhelmed client that the trauma is not happening in that moment. The trauma was done in the past and that the client is not in any immediate danger. This is very grounding for the client as they realize that they are, indeed, talking about the past without the danger of re-occurrence. The goal of therapy is not to eradicate the trauma from the clients psyche but rather to make the memories more manageable; no longer paralyzing them or destroying their quality of life. Discussing the event on a regular basis assists in reducing the emotional power that the client initially feels their trauma has over them. In support groups, talking to others who have experienced trauma and discussing the feelings that they all share can be very therapeutic in showing the client that they are not alone. Once the event no longer rules over the life of the survivor, they are free to experience the positive aspects of their lives. We all want the best possible life and learning healthy coping skills to deal with past traumatic events can be life saving.
Remember to be kind to yourself during this process. You did not ask for this. We are all fragile human beings, sometimes feeling alone with our past so processing it takes love and patience. No one wants to live in fear. We want to live in the sunshine, reclaiming our lives and relationships. It is never a requirement that past traumatic events must rule over our lives indefinitely. We learn to be the ruler over the after effects of our crisis situations. We can live with the knowledge that our trauma is behind us and we can have exactly the kind of life that we want. It is all possible.
National Center for PTSD: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/
Monday, January 11, 2010
We hear it all the time. We read it and truly believe it. I am even guilty of saying it myself. Most religious, spiritual and metaphysical beliefs endorse it. Almost every philosopher, past and present, has used it as the basis of their individual creed. I suspect that even those in the animal kingdom instinctively base their annual rituals on it. I speculate to say that even aliens from other world's light years away embrace it. Almost no one can deny it. What is it? Four simple words: "We are all connected". There are as many interpretations of this phrase as there are sources that incorporate the meaning, whatever that may be, into their daily lives. It is such a universal phrase, easier to say than to explain but it sounds profound so surely there must be some existential truth to it. Being connected spiritually, connected biologically, connected emotionally are but a few of the popular accepted concepts. I think that the phrase promotes peace and is perceived as a cosmic welcome mat into our neighbors world. Among the myriad of connections we, also, have physical connections....tangible connections. How can we visibly connect to each other in less elusive methods? The answer lies within our community. There are pockets full of people everywhere in this world. There are groups coming together socially (fun) or coming together out of necessity (cause). Coming together socially, a group can ebb and flow as they merrily control the input/output of their activities. A ski club, for example. But what about the groups that come together out of necessity? These groups have little, if any, say at all regarding the purpose or variables of their circumstances. A children's cancer ward springs to mind. These strict in structure groups feel isolated from the rest of the world. They are always challenging. Yes, they have each other for support but, similar to the free flowing social groups, they need to feel connected to the world. One very effective way to do this is by bringing the external into the internal. Recently, on my social web site, Twitter...I have started to provide information on how we can tangibly connect with these isolated pockets of people. Whether it is assisting with our homeless population or bringing a moment of joy to those living in an end of life care facility. We need them and they need us. By our donations, we raise our own self esteem, as well as making others feel loved. By receiving, they feel gratitude and experience being part of the real world. Connections. There can be simple tasks such as bringing a box of chocolates to a hospice or donating a teddy bear to a children's hospital pediatric unit. Some tasks may require a bit more involvement. Such as offering a homeless person a ride to a shelter in sub freezing weather. Bring a friend for support if you are weary about being so close to a stranger. You get the picture. I am asking us all to raise the bar a bit in terms of tangible connections. You can make these symbiotic connections alone or with a group of friends. It is a well known fact that there are always countless volunteers to assist in soup kitchen shelters over the holidays but what about the rest of the year? Our small contributions can be life changing 365 days a year. And I do not necessarily mean only money. Sometimes people just do not know what to do or where to start. This is where I actively come in. Either for pure joy or maybe out of necessity, I will be suggesting who may need what. What would make life at a shelter, a mental health group home, a detox facility and other such places a little bit easier?What would make those at such places feel more connected to the world?
Once accomplished, this short term volunteering can be an inspiration to others. Charity work is justly contagious. I realize that money is tight everywhere so my recommendations for purchases will always be very modest. Even the smallest amount of money can be divided between friends. Donating money is important. It is a quick fix but why not take a little time and custom make some of your donations, emphasizing the human touch...which is getting lost in a world of fast paced technology. Price aside, your heart will burst with love for yourself and humanity knowing that you have made someones life a little happier. You would be bringing a slice of the real world into the isolated lives of others and maybe lessen the burden of worry...if only for a moment. There is no other feeling like it. As my gift to you, I want everyone to feel this omnibenevolence. In good times and in bad times, I feel it almost everyday. I feel rejuvenated at every junction of assistance. Once you are touched by the hand of altruism, the sensation will stay with you always. Of course, anyone can donate anything anywhere but if you are indecisive on what to donate or where to go, just contact me at Twitter and I will gladly give you appropriate suggestions with exact locations in your city where your gift/donation will make the greatest difference. This is a joy for me to participate in. We will make tangible connections this year. Everyone wins at this. Every one's heart will grow a little bit larger and a little bit stronger. My name is Rich Bassett, CADAC and can be reached at: http://twitter.com/RichBassett
Friday, October 16, 2009
This is Dame Elizabeth Taylor at her most magnificent. She stunned the world with her exquisite beauty, captivated us for decades... as her generous heart helped to save millions of lives from the ravages of AIDS. Her tender prayer, "God...maybe Heaven can wait. This time, maybe Heaven can wait. Please" was heard globally. No one has ever illuminated the silver screen as she has, and there will never be anyone like her ever again.
To see other magical Dame Elizabeth Taylor video's, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/richardbassett1956
Friday, October 2, 2009
Hopeless, helpless and dying. Anyone that has lived with a severe chemical addiction is very familiar with those realities. Soon the thought of actually being dead seems better than a life of torment and daily decay. The idea of just ceasing to exist is the only comfort that you feel. Immersed in addiction for 24 hours a day becomes physically and psychologically draining as you look for anything everywhere, trying to escape each fearful passing hour. But there is nowhere to run and the next day is a dismal repeat of the present one. You watch people that you love pleading for you to seek help, and you also watch them all eventually walk away. The pain of seeing you self-destruct is soon more powerful than the act of begging you to get help. Once apart from everyone who ever mattered, darkness seeps in and the opportunistic mongers, who term themselves as ‘friends’, infiltrate your empty world of sorrow… bringing you even further down into the endless pit of self destruction. Much further than you ever thought that you could fall. Morals vanish. Ethics are nonexistent and you value nothing…except maybe the drug. You value something that you, also, hate and despise with a vengeance, yet, crave for every waking moment. There is no more humanity within your lonely cold existence and even the occasional spark of hope is soon extinguished by a drug induced haze. Society passes you by though you are hardly cognizant of it. People will reject you, will degrade you and pity you. It won’t matter. It is an ugly world but it is the world that you know. This internal vortex. This is addiction.
It takes one day to die, another to live. There are many motivating factors that bring addicts into treatment. Broken laws, broken bodies, broken hearts and broken dreams may be contributing factors; none are more important and powerful than a broken soul. True recovery starts inside, moving outward. There comes a time when your broken spirit is more powerful than your life destructing addiction. At some point you realize that you are not yet physically dead and a wavering thread of consciousness asks: ‘why?’ This may be the first sensible thought that lives with you for longer than thirty seconds. A deep thought that isn’t being obliterated by your chemicals. This is the beginning of your recovery. It is a little seed. Some say planted by God or another higher power by divine intervention or even a spiritual awaking. Some believe it is a primitive survival instinct. Others believe that it is a product of sheer will. Whatever the impetus, a journey begins. There will be many trials and errors, temptations and disappointments as one rediscovers the hidden fragile persona that has been long since buried. In early treatment, the drug is physiologically removed from your body and a sea of feelings rushes to the surface, waiting to be acknowledged, understood and felt. The discussion of addiction being a disease or a repetitive pattern of self destruction is explored. In the beginning, there will only be unfamiliar words to comprehend as the avalanche of emotions sweep through. So overwhelming that this process can be, it is essential to once again connect with the human spirit. Not only your own spirit but with the reverberations of others. At first, it is emotional painful and frightening but as the murky fog lifts the once dim vision of hope becomes an ever growing shinning spotlight. Once you embrace this new found gift of life, the world will conspire to help you. This is a process that cannot be done alone and the loving hearts, minds and hands of others will guide you through this turbulent but rewarding early transition. You hold your breath. This can be. This is inspiring. This is hope.
One day the sun will shine. The sky will never look as blue and the rainbow colors that surround you sparkle like neon. Was this here all the time? Every day seems to be a new adventure and waking up in the morning, no longer in sickened despair, welcomes pure joy. You are in recovery. Looking in the mirror, you start to see a productive member of society smiling back at you. Sustaining and maintaining a life in recovery takes diligence, as well as dedication to the many support systems that exist to guide you. Some are faith based, immersed in spirituality (turning over your will to a higher power) while others are cognitive/behavioral (a new way of thinking and acting) and others rely on logic (recognizing rational beliefs and using self awareness). They are successful with some people separately or in combination. The common denominator in all forms of treatment is the fact that recovery is an ongoing process that must be attended to on a continual basis. Recovery is much more than abstaining from chemicals. It is reemerging with the world and learning how to live again...then love again. Learning to love yourself. When your capacity for love overflows, you are able to share that with others. Respect for yourself and mankind will develop with an escalating sense of dignity. In time, there will be laughter, and even tears…but the empty shell of a sufferer will exist no longer. The day may include kindness and compassion for the ones you see that are agonizing…as you once did. You will reach out to them…just as others once reached out to you. Will they listen? Did you? Having been at the bottom of the barrel, a new found appreciation for life emerges. You are grateful for even the little things that the world has to offer. For many, this rejuvenation of the spirit is seen as the miracle of recovery. A growing sense of self worth wraps itself around you as the healing process obliterates the reality of a life once dictated to by poison. I do not mean to paint recovery as a mere bed of roses. Repairing the damage done by a dented life requires raw self realization of how, why and when your life spun out of control and ended up in such a sorry state. Couragously exploring the answers to these questions may prevent it from happening again and new found dimensions of your recently learned life skills will truly enhance this new state of being. With time/effort, peace and tranquility will prevail. As you gain personal and/or spiritual faith in the recovery process, the belief that all things are possible will bring comfort to you. You may start to believe that it is, indeed, true. You will move with the world, no longer watching it pass you by. This is now a journey towards all things beloved. This is a new beginning. This is recovery.
Unfortunately, this does not happen to everyone who suffers from chemical addiction. There are those who will never experience the rewards of recovery. But as an Addictions Counselor, I am dedicated to insuring that all who I am blessed to encounter have the best chance to be successful. I am one part of a team of experts. I am Richard Bassett, CADAC and can be found on Twitter: http://twitter.com/RichBassett
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
If you look at my Twitter profile, you will see several non-profit organizations and charities that I associate myself with. You may be surprised and wonder how one person can support so many agencies and still have time for themselves. Let me tell you a bit of my experience in working with so many (and there are many more that are not listed). I once worked for The United Way of America as an Information & Referral Specialist. This is an actual job that requires extensive training, as well as national testing. Once trained in this field, I took calls from the general public, who were usually at the end of their rope, looking for assistance for a variety of problematic issues. Some of the calls were from those about to become homeless and were looking for resources to prevent this devastation. Some calls were from those who had just lost everything from a fire or flood and needed immediate assistance. People called in with addiction issues needing treatment, as well as, health/ insurance issues. There were those who needed help with utility bills, finding financial assistance for school, issues with work related discrimination, HIV/AIDS support, suicide ideation, domestic violence, sexual abuse, mortgage difficulties, and just about every topic that you could imagine. It was my (and several of my colleagues) position to contact the referring agencies and discuss the type of assistance that they could provide. This work was very interesting because all of these agencies wanted to reach out and help those in need. My callers usually called us as a last resort, as they have tapped into every other suggestion given to them by friends and family. I was amazed at the services that were out there wanting to lend a hand, if people would only ask. In some cases, financial assistance was readily given. I thoroughly enjoyed this cross talk with these organizations, as it was a learning experience for me, and I soon became very familiar with every individual service that each agency provided. And there were always more agencies willing to help. They just needed to get the word out to let the public know that they existed. I felt great joy from connecting people to services that would make their lives a little better. And it is all about these ever so important connections. Once involved with an agency, you are likely to become a lifetime client and always be provided with support, if needed. Like all non-profits, funding is necessary. Some receive state and federal grants, and some rely on private donations. To keep these agencies up and running, money is needed. Even giving a small amount can make a big difference if the masses are donating. On Twitter, I saw that there were users who were promoting a cause, but these users usually posted an article related to their cause and that was it. I thought a more personal touch was needed so I decided to make myself as available as much as possible to answer questions, give support, give referrals and (as a Counselor) just listen to the trials and tribulations that people were going through. Sometimes, people need only to vent and feel as though they are being heard and understood. This reduces anxiety. If their situation remains in their head, it gains power, seeming worse than it actually is, and almost becomes paralyzing. Once out in the open, problems seems much more realistic and solvable. So please take the time to investigate the link that I provide and skim through the list of services that each organization provide. From, "Feeding America" to "UNICEF", you will be a bit more educated. You may not be in need of the service, yourself, but you may know someone who can benefit from them. And you know, there are tens of thousands of people on Twitter. Everyone has baggage and life issues to deal with so I believe this service can be helpful. Every section of the country has their own division of the, "United way's First Call For Help". You need only to call your directory to locate the phone number of your local branch. Hopefully, connecting people to services will become a little easier on Twitter. http://twitter.com/RichBassett