mental illness

10 Years - and my sincere #gratitude!

Something pretty magnificent took place on July 14, 2017.

Thank you to Ryan Hampton's #VOICESPROJECT for featuring me on my 10 year anniversary.

Thank you to Ryan Hampton's #VOICESPROJECT for featuring me on my 10 year anniversary.

I celebrated 10 years aka ONE DECADE (!) of continuous sobriety/long-term recovery.  

Truly hard to believe. My life has gone in many directions since that fateful New York City hospitalization late the night of July 13, 2007. In some ways, I wouldn't wish my experience on anyone else - because I was in pain and hiding behind shame and not to mention the fact that I was destroying my insides and outsides with binge drinking. Even though it was over the moon fun at times - a wild roller-coaster of parties and life whooshing like a metaphorical convertible with the top down on a wide open highway - it was getting dark and fast. They say it's a progressive disease - alcoholism and all its relatives: at risk drinking, binge drinking, etc. If I hadn't chosen the path of sobriety when I did, who knows how bad it could have gotten.

I, for one, am glad I didn't have to find out. 

Sometimes I wish the whole world had a program of recovery - whatever that program may be - because it gives them a moral code for living and improving their own and others' lives. It allows for service to others; it makes us grow as individuals. Besides the fact that it's HEALTHY to not poison our bodies and minds and souls and spirits with toxins. 

Every year I go to a candlelight 12-step meeting to celebrate my anniversary - the men and women in the room never judge me for only showing up once a year (editor's note: I'm the one who judges myself most harshly. Wait. I don't need an editor's note. I'm the writer *and* the editor. Giggle)  Because remember - the only requirement for membership to Alcoholics Anonymous is a desire to stop drinking. You can be a member of however many or few programs as you want - you are the boss of your own recovery and there's power in owning your own path. Please believe me - and know that it's taken me years (ten, to be exact) to get to where I am today.

^ Here I am with one my closest friends in recovery, Amy. She and I met one year ago at Tom Coderre's [this guy is kind of a big deal in the recovery policy/advocacy world] summer recovery BBQ and she's become my SOUL SISTER since. In May, we traveled to New York together for She Recovers in NYC and met up with two of our other sober sisters, Nona and Robin.  (See below images: left image L to R: Robin, Nona, Amy, me; right image L to R: Amy, me, Robin, Nona).

If not for being in recovery and wanting to give back to others and improve my own journey and connect with other creative spirits - I wouldn't have started The Sobriety Collective in April of 2015. This collective? It's for you. And for me. But it's about YOU, about US. I want your suggestions and feedback -- what would you like to see this coming year? There are plenty of exciting updates coming your way soon but for now, my greatest joy is to share others' journeys with you in the sporadicly updated RePro section. Writers, artists, entrepreneurs, musicians, athletes, advocates, filmmakers and photographers - these are the people whose recovery (from addiction and mental illness) I'll be sharing with you. 

Thank you all <3. 

Thank you all <3. 

Lastly, I want to give my thanks to all of you who contributed to my GoFundMe campaign when I was at a recent financial low. Money sobriety is something I'm still struggling with - and I didn't realize the cost of this undertaking until it bit me squarely in the rear. With your help, I was able to sock a bit away and pay for a full year of web-hosting. If you still want to donate, I'm not going to say no. But I just wanted to extend my most sincere gratitude to all of you. 

Thank you so, so much.

Love,
Laura

Guest Blogger: Katie DePaola of Inner Glow Circle & Bo's Effort

Katie is an inner and outer beauty with a spirit that sparkles. 

 
Meet Katie   .  Isn't she lovely?

Meet Katie. Isn't she lovely?

 

She's believes strongly in empowering other women in her work as founder of Inner Glow Circle, a life coaching collective and program -- and is a steadfast advocate for mental health. Working to end the stigma of mental illness is one of her family's goals in their non profit foundation, Bo's Effort, which celebrates the life of Katie's brother, Bo.  According to the family, Bo "was a one-in-a-million" kind of guy and he was living with undiagnosed bipolar disorder most of his life.  Bo died of an accidental overdose at only 20 years old.  As advocates for recovery (from mental illness, addiction, or both for those of us with co-occurring), we know that turning to substances can often come with the territory of having a mental illness.  Self-medication. 

But it doesn't have to.

It's by recovering out loud, being allies and advocates for awareness and change -- these are ways we can have a truly lasting and positive impact on future generations to come.

I've had the pleasure of spending time with Katie on multiple occasions and I think she's just magic.

xoxo,
Laura


WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE DIES...


You're different. For a moment. For a year. For many years.

A loss like that is the most disorienting experience in the world. The world crumbles around you, as you stand frozen asking, "How?" "Why our family?" "Why me?"

And then again, but in a different sense, "Why me?" "Why was I left behind?" This new reality feels like a responsibility you weren't ready to take on.

"You were here, just yesterday." You say to him or her, to the trees, to the sky. "Where did you go?" "Are you coming back?"

You walk into the house. And right before you ask if he or she is out with friends, still at work or school, you swallow your words. And you remember.

"You're not here anymore. Please come back. I miss you."

People say it never goes away. The pain. The grief. The heartache. I say it's ever changing. There is collateral beauty. It can even shape you into a better person, if you let it.

And yet, there's a part of you that wishes you could die of a broken heart, just so you could be together again. But you stay. And you make promises to your loved one, to the trees, to the sky.

"Next time...when we get to do this thing over again, I promise I'll be better. I'll hold you more. I'll never call you names. I'll kiss you every night. I'll be better. We'll be better. And then maybe you'll stay a little longer. Next time..."

May 23 marks the two year anniversary of my brother's passing. He was 20 years, 2 months and 1 day. Thanks to our amazing friends, family and community, we're hosting our 2nd golf tournament and dinner (May 22) to celebrate his life and raise money for mental health. Bo died of an accidental overdose, peacefully at home. He simply went to sleep and never woke up.

Said golf tournament - I wish I could go but someone has to work...

Said golf tournament - I wish I could go but someone has to work...

I spent a lot of time with his girlfriend after he passed. It was my way of keeping him alive a bit longer. I asked to know everything. What was their love like? Why did she fall for him? Was he a good kisser?

She said the night before he died, he was so happy. He took her all over the backyard to look at the stars from different views. He was a child of the universe, and when I heard that story, I thought, "Wow, he must have known he was going home." I felt an unexpected sense of peace. It's a peace I believe we can all receive if we allow ourselves to be okay with what is.

Bo and his family.

Bo and his family.

Bo continues to do work here every day through his foundation, Bo's Effort. Last year alone, we raised nearly $100K to help provide better programs for kids and adults like Bo who struggle with mental health and often, substance as a result. Bo was an amazing kid, a bright spirit who made people laugh every day. Perhaps he knew his time would be shorter than most, so he chose a family who would tell his story and carry on his message to help others. We consistently get messages from people who say Bo helped them, their sister, their child. Connect with the right doctor. Find the right help. Get on the right medications. Stay clean. Get their life back.

My brother is a miracle worker, and that part is not sad to me. That is an honor. If you feel moved to donate, Bo's foundation gives to NAMI and AAMC every year. AAMC has begun planning for a phenomenal mental health facility and needs our support now more than ever.

I will continue to give, support and show up, because it eases the pain of missing him. Somehow it makes the pain worth something.

Don't sit back. From the depths of my heart, I urge you to do what you can to turn your pain into purpose. Of course, it's not everything, but it's something.

You Want to Help Others? Let TSC Help You.

The Link Love campaign was such a fabulous hit!  Thanks to all who participated and shared their websites, blogs, podcasts, and more! 
 

But here at The Sobriety Collective, we find it's even more paramount for people struggling with substance use disorder, mental illness--or both--and those who may be questioning their behaviors--that they find resources and tools that work for them.  

Leave a comment with the name of your organization (or an organization you'd like to nominate be listed), social media info (Twitter, FB, Instagram, etc.), and URL-- and you could be added to The Sobriety Collective's
Get Help.* 

There's a section to "Get/Stay Sober," a section for "Mental Health" resources, and a list of books/authors that have helped me and so many others. 

What's the value of being listed?

The Sobriety Collective has been featured on After Party Magazine's 20 Best Recovery Blogs of 2015 andAddiction Unscripted's Top 25 Recovery Bloggers of 2016.   Our founder, Laura Silverman (by the way, she's writing this right now because she's the one woman shop behind your favorite collective), was recently invited to be on a panel of sober bloggers at She Recovers in NYC in May 2017register today!  Some of the event's keynote speakers--Glennon Doyle Melton,Gabby BernsteinMarianne Williamson--just received a top honor of inclusion in Oprah's inaugural Super Soul 100.  

Love, 
Laura

 

*This is not a free-for-all for rehabs to get their sites listed.  Treatment is extremely important (trust me, I believe this wholeheartedly), but this page isn't going to turn into an A-Z rehab directory.  There are already a few websites I've listed that have those very things, for those who are interested.  /end PSA*

Do You Have a #RECOVERY Blog/Website/Podcast?

Link Love.jpg

Leave a comment with your name, social media info (Twitter, FB, Instagram, etc.), and URL-- and you could be added to The Sobriety Collective's Link Love, a fantastic, comprehensive list of recovery resources (from both substance use disorder and mental illness) that people refer to again and again.

What's the value of being listed?

The Sobriety Collective has been featured on After Party Magazine's 20 Best Recovery Blogs of 2015 and Addiction Unscripted's Top 25 Recovery Bloggers of 2016.  
 

Our founder, Laura Silverman (by the way, she's writing this right now because she's the one woman shop behind your favorite collective), was recently invited to be on a panel of sober bloggers at She Recovers in NYC in May 2017register today!  Some of the event's keynote speakers--Glennon Doyle Melton, Gabby Bernstein, Marianne Williamson--just received a top honor of inclusion in Oprah's inaugural Super Soul 100.  

To pay it forward, please visit one site of your choosing on Link Love, and either follow them on social media or comment on one of their blog posts.  Tell them The Sobriety Collective sent you on a mission to expand your heart, mind, and soul.  
 

No one is paying me to do this.  

I just think it's time we all connect.

 

Love, 
Laura