Dispatch - not just a band, but a symbol of my recovery.

Dispatch - recovery

If you know my story, you'll know Dispatch plays a big part. [If you don't know, read more here.]

Suffice it to say, the last night I ever drank (and of course, I drank to the point of blacking out) was in New York City at Madison Square Garden, the night of July 13, 2007. Dispatch hit the stage and the crowd went wild. At least, I think they did. I know I did.

**Hours of crying, screaming, drunk babbling, running and wandering aimlessly about the lobby of Madison Square Garden, breaking down, being scooped up by paramedics who whisked away to a hospital**

Seven hours later I came to in a hospital bed wearing hospital socks and feeling what I can only describe as a witch's brew of fear, terror, shame, guilt, bewilderment, and shock. This was the last time, I promised myself, and somehow I meant it.

**Fast forward 10 years, 11 months, and 13 days**

I never thought I'd have the opportunity to see Dispatch live again, mostly because I heard rumors they split up, did their own thing. That was that. Or so I thought.

This year not only have they reunited, but they've partnered with Propeller LA to have fans volunteer at shows across the country. Through a volunteer application, I shared my story of why it was so important for my experience to come full circle. To go from seeing them last in a drunken stupor to this year's show date 11 years later really does feel like a crazy miracle. I'll get to show up and help the community, in cause and action.

And I'll get to experience a band I love so much completely sober, paying homage to who I once was and I've since become.

The Quest: How to find the right therapist for you

quest to find right therapist

The Quest: How to Find the Right Therapist For You

The quest to find the right therapist is a lot like dating. You have every right to weed out who’s not right for you so that you can be open to the possibility of finding the right person for the job. And just like dating, it can be equally as exhausting. I mean, there are apps for both – designed to make the process for each easier. But like anything worth doing, it takes time.

As I sit down to write this, I know fully well that not only do I want to find someone new to work with, but I need to:  1) if at the very least (one end of the therapeutic spectrum), to have an unbiased party to listen without judgment and 2) at the most (the other end of the spectrum), to grow and let go of traumas and issues holding me back from complete personal expression.

I wouldn’t be an active and engaged participant in my mental health and wellbeing had I not gotten sober on July 14, 2007. Not knowing it at the time, that day I entered the world of recovery and personal growth. Over a decade later I’m still actively invested in my mental wellness. As you probably know, recovery is anything but linear; like life, there are peaks (celebrations, love, friendships, etc.) and valleys (deaths, debt, depression).  Close to a year ago, I experienced a gut-wrenching trauma that I’ve been working through with the support of close friends, family, and my online community – but I’m still on the quest to find the right holistic mental health professional with whom I can unpack it all. So please believe me when I tell you that therapy can always help, no matter where you are in life.

Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength.

To demonstrate what I’ve learned, here's a quick Q&A between me on day 1 (Q) and me today (A).

Q: I’m scared. I don’t even know where to start. I mean, I don’t plan on getting sober forever. I just need to get my sh*t together and figure out why I have so many panic attacks.

A: I hear you. Just be gentle with yourself. This won’t get “fixed” overnight. It’s going to be a process. If you have health insurance, start there – see what’s covered within network. You can find a therapist, a licensed counselor, or a psychologist – those can be the folks you’d talk to about what’s going on with you. I’d look into finding a psychiatrist too, in case you need medication (although try not to be so dependent on the meds that you can’t consider living your life without them). Not sure where to start? Mental Health America’s screening tools can point you in the right direction.

Q: But I have panic attacks all the time. If I’m given something to help with my underlying anxiety, shouldn’t I take that?

A: Definitely consider it, and also consider holistic methods like amino acid therapy (www.vryeveryday.com is a great start) to help change your brain chemistry. Neutraceutical companies (e.g. Amare Global) have tapped into the power of the gut-brain-axis. Taking prebiotics, probiotics, and overhauling your nutrition are holistic ways to target mental health concerns. If you need a medication, then take that medication. Remember, your brain is just as much a part of you as your liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, etc. Just think creatively about your treatment.

Q: What about all my internal scars from years of bullying? That’s why I started drinking, so I could feel cool, less anxious, and forget about my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). God, I feel like such a cliché.

A: Stop beating yourself up. Seriously. I promise you that the right therapist will show you different ways to recover through that pain – he or she may use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Exposure Response Therapy (ERT). And I highly suggest starting yoga, getting outside, meeting other like-minded folks, and writing.

Q: But what if I’d rather use an app or website first before going to sit in someone’s office? Is that OK?

A: Yep, as long as you still consider meeting one on one with someone at some point. Start with Talkspace, Workit Health, Good Therapy, Psychology Today, Better Help, etc. If you want to try meditating, try Insight Timer and Headspace apps. Do you laugh at the thought of a guided meditation? Then laugh along with H*nest Meditation. There are loads of blogs and podcasts out there too. Just take it one day at a time.

Q: Will I ever not have anxiety?

A: I can’t answer that definitively. I can tell you, though, that you WILL absolutely know how to manage and deal with life. Always reconnect with yourself, your breath, and your community.

Q: Will awful things happen in recovery?

A: Yes. And you will get through them. I promise you. You’ll have your family, your friends, your online recovery tribe (in about 8 years, you’ll be the founder of The Sobriety Collective). You’ll get your heart broken, experience a heavy trauma, be in a crazy amount of debt. You’ll also mend your heart through time, personal work, therapy, and loving again. You’ll rise above the trauma and write about it one day. You’ll work on a debt management/settlement plan and prove to yourself that you can live debt-free. You will do all these things because you’ve made a commitment to yourself and your recovery.

Q: Will I be able to help someone some day?

A: Oh honey, you already have.

Guest Blogger: Charlie Baulm on Artists in Recovery

artists in recovery

Artists in Recovery from Addiction:
How Creativity Can put a Spin on Getting Clean and Sober

by Charlie Baulm, guest blogger

When we think of artists in recovery from addiction, we often think of the ones who have been painfully obvious in their downfalls. The Philip Seymour Hoffman types are an all-too-blaring representation of addiction unchecked, and many of us just assume that almost every artist in Hollywood and beyond is struggling with some kind of substance abuse issue.

The thing is, lots of really amazing artists who used to believe that their creativity stemmed from their use of substances choose to get clean and sober, and they find that they not only succeed with the help of being creative, but they are often even better at their jobs than they were when they were actively using or drinking.

Pushing the Limits

Let’s look at Eminem and his journey. He’s proud of his recovery from an addiction to prescription drugs, and he should be. While his popularity began to soar, the pressure of becoming a world famous rapper, combined with the way that these drugs made him feel mellow and pain-free played a significant role in the development of his addiction.

When, in 2007, he overdosed on methadone, it shook him to the core. Marshall Mathers was really scared. Scared enough to get started on a recovery journey complete with steps, sponsors, and rehab. That was in 2009. For this star, addiction actually smothered his creative abilities, and it wasn’t until he was clean and sober that he began writing again, and he’s done it with a zeal that amazes many.

Demi Lovato is another star who has taken her recovery from an addiction to drugs and an eating disorder and turned it into fuel for a stunning comeback in her career. For her, looking back at who she used to be is a bit embarrassing, and more than enough to keep her living clean and sober.

She admits that she was difficult to work with, and even while having a sober companion, she continued to use for quite some time. At 18, she entered rehab, but that didn’t end her battle. A fear of losing people she loves drove her to finally surrender to treatment and recovery, and it’s kept her going since.

Demi also admits that food is still a huge struggle for her. It’s something that she still struggles with, and something that she may always struggle with. She admits that even at 8 years old, she was using food as medicine, and the battle with emotional eating – and purging – has been going strong ever since. Even today, she talks about how much her relationship with food affects her everyday life.

True recovery is helping Lovato to learn more about herself than she imagined, and it’s giving her power to be more than just a victim of her addiction. It’s helping her to be a voice for recovery, and it shows in her music.

Even famed horror writer Stephen King has had his struggles with addiction, and it wasn’t just to one substance. In fact, some report that thanks to his combination of alcohol and other substances, he was able to write some of the most nightmarish novels ever experienced.

His addiction story lasted decades, and has said was the product of a terribly painful and poor childhood in which he suffered anxiety and nightmares that helped fuel some of the most frightful characters to his stories.

However terrifying his nightmares, his life became just as scary when he found that if he didn’t overcome his addiction, he would lose his family. When he finally did finally start overcoming his addiction, he found that he struggled with terrible writer’s block, which was even more crippling.

Time and the patience of his wife helped King to get back to storytelling of a different, gentler type of tale. While he no longer uses drugs or alcohol to fuel these stories, he still uses the art of storytelling to deal with his many fears.

We All Know Addiction Knows No Boundaries

As a society, it seems that we almost expect that almost everyone in the spotlight will use some kind of substance to help ease the stresses of maintaining a perfect outward face. It seems like it’s never much of a surprise when another star admits that they are struggling with an addiction to something, but still, the scandals that erupt as a result of these confessions can be career-ending. On the other hand, they can be what helps artists to become a better version of themselves, as we’ve seen so many times.

For some reason, so many of us believe that the “average person’s addiction,” is somehow different than the addictions of the rich and famous. We mourn the losses of great stars like Prince, Heath Ledger, Whitney Houston, and Michael Jackson. We pity those who we live close to that lose their lives to addiction and shake our heads.

However, we all know that addiction knows no boundaries, and neither does recovery. People who aren’t so famous find that being creative in treatment and recovery can be a tremendous way to overcome their addictions. In fact, the many types of arts are becoming a common treatment for people working on living clean and sober because, very simply, they work.

Art Therapy Has Been Proven to Help Recovery

When it comes to art as a form of addiction treatment, it has been shown to have many benefits. It helps when coping with feelings of shame and fear. It allows those in recovery to get in touch with their emotions, and eventually encourages the ability to talk about what they’ve been going through. It’s a form of communication that requires no words but speaks volumes. These benefits are perhaps why, once in recovery, artists who had been struggling with an inability to create due to addictions seem to flourish in ways they haven’t been able to in ages.

No matter whether the recovery transformation takes place in one of the best drug rehabs in the US, or it is something quieter, and less structured, the healing power of creativity and art in one of its many forms cannot be denied or ignored.


charlie

Charlie Baulm is a writer and researcher in the fields of addiction and mental health. After battling with addiction himself and finding sobriety, Charlie aims to discuss these issues with the goal of reducing the stigma associated with both. When not working you might find Charlie at your local basketball court. 

8 Women Share What Made Them Finally Decide To Get Sober

  Spoiler alert! I'm one of the 8 women featured. What an honor! 

Spoiler alert! I'm one of the 8 women featured. What an honor! 

Via Angela Haupt for Women's Health

“Like many who struggle with addiction, my wake-up call came in the form of a series of unfortunate events, each one a neon sign blinking, 'this is a problem,' rather than one single event," says Dani D., 34, who's been sober for seven years. Dani's story echoes that of many alcoholics: The drinking was fun, until it wasn’t. And deciding to get sober? That was hard as hell—but worth it, every day.

“It is so powerful to hear women’s stories of sobriety,” says licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor Beth Kane-Davidson, director of the Addiction Treatment Center at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. “It’s dealing with a disorder, just as if you were dealing with diabetes or cardiac issues, and people are much more open these days to saying, ‘This is the disorder I had, this is what I did to recover, and this is how my life is now.’” The more women talk about alcoholism, the easier it becomes for women to get the help and support they need, she says. It's time to end the stigma.

Here, eight women reveal their struggles with alcoholism and how they got—and stayed—sober.

Read more via Women's Health Magazine...

10 Songs About Addiction via Talkspace

10 songs via Talkspace

Via Talkspace (Joseph Rauch, Staff Writer)

Shame, guilt, desire, regret — these are only a few of the emotions people experience when they are dependent on a substance. This anguish has been fuel for thousands of beautiful, moving, raw and intense songs about addiction. For many decades artists have used their lyrics and melodies to tell stories of relationships with drugs and alcohol. Their songs have satisfied the curiosity of the sober and eased the loneliness of those who are struggling with the mental illness.

For many decades artists have used their lyrics and melodies to tell stories of relationships with drugs and alcohol.
— Joseph Rauch

Rather than using subjective rankings to form our list, we thought about which songs most vividly describe the experience of addiction, how the illness can destroy lives and bonds. We looked for tracks that detail the mindset and behavior of someone who is falling into the void of substance abuse or realizing they have a problem (Keep in mind that recovery is the other side of the coin and deserves its own list).

Use our playlist to sympathize with those afflicted with addiction or remind yourself that millions of others carry the same burden. Here are our picks for songs about addiction (in no particular order).

Read more for Talkspace's top 10 song picks...