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Farewell Post: Doing It Scared

Hi TPCT! It has been a wonderful journey working on this project over the years, and most recently the past 2 years. However, all things come to a closing and it is my time to move onto my next journey! I may not be on the TPCT project, however, I’ll still be there in some capacities. I’ll still be co-facilitating the Alternatives to Suicide support group – aka Alt2Su – and would love to see you!

My New Position

I have accepted a position working with Liberation Programs! I will be working as a counselor at Staples High School in Westport, CT for two days a week. With the other three days of the week, I will be working with the Bridgeport school district, helping implement a Train the Trainer (TOT) mentoring program!! It has been a dream of mine since freshman year of high school to work inside of a high school. I couldn’t believe I was offered this position!

Doing it Scared

As excited as I am to begin this journey, I’m low key scared! School systems, starting a new job, getting to know the agency and crew, and being a part of a new project is so intimidating. Despite the reassurance and encouragement I’ve received, I’m still human. I feel terrified that I’ll mess this up. I’m not sure if it’s a trauma thing or an anxiety thing, but I’m nervous. I worry about my performance not being good enough. That I’ll have a PTSD flare-up and get fired. I worry that I won’t “look the part”. That people may judge my counseling style.

Understanding Myself & My Feelings

I’ve learned that trying to eliminate the fear is never successful. I may be able to relieve my anxiety a bit, but it will still exist at some capacity. So instead, I’m doing this new adventure, scared. Even with worst possible scenarios, they are still manageable. I’m grateful to have an incredible support system that has been enduring my endless ‘what ifs’. Especially my fiancé, Eric. Poor guy has had to convince me to not back out and actually accept the position so many times!

As I wrap up my duties at this position, I’m in awe of the people that I have had the opportunity of sharing a space with. I think of the peer participants I worked with and their experiences of triumph, resiliency, and humanity. Helping participants navigate life has been the most rewarding part of this role. I also enjoyed facilitating the Recovery Coach Academy and connecting with all of CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) Young Adult Services (YAS).

Job Opportunity

If you are interested in filling this position, I would encourage you to check it out here. I hope that the next person to fill this role is ready to meet people where they are at and to fiercely advocate in all areas of this job. USE YOUR LIVED EXPERIENCE – IT’S IMPORTANT! Although it can be intimidating, it’s so needed!!

January: National Mentoring Month

January is National Mentoring Month. Mentoring others is a passion of mine that started by being mentored. Through TurningPointCT, I have been able to mentor youth and young adults all across CT. It has been an incredible experience and although I will be leaving this position at the end of the month, I am looking forward to the ways I will continue my mentorship skills in the next job.

For me, mentoring means to guide someone in the direction of their desires and dreams. It means to meet someone where they are at and help them see their strengths, reflect on areas they want to improve quality in, and encourage them through every part.

Oftentimes, I feel as if I am most successful as a mentor when I allow the mentee to lead. Although as a mentor I need to uphold role-modeling behavior, one effective way of creating a good relationship is to show my human side. Being transparent about my own life helps break the ice and creates a safe space for vulnerability and trust.

Mentors that I seek support from accept me in all ways. They are never judgmental and always embrace every part of me. Whether I’m seeking direction or a space to vent, having a mentor has not only helped my quality of life, but also has helped me become a better mentor to others.

-Ally K

A Full Pardon: From Convict to Coach

2022 closed for me with giant envelope waiting for me in my mailbox. It was from CT Board of Pardon and Parole; a certificate I had been waiting for… a full pardon!

From 2010 to 2014, I was convicted of multiple felonies and misdemeanors. They were all related to narcotics, the use and sale. On April 1st in 2014, I served a little under a year in prison. Upon release, I was unable to sustain recovery and wellness, resulting in a relapse. Clearly, incarceration did not rehabilitate me.

The Journey to Eligibility

For the past 8 years, I haven’t been re-arrested or re-incarcerated. Although I relapsed, I was thankfully not part of the statistics of recidivism. Having a record has prevented me from varies types of employment, caused rejection of housing applications, and has prevented me from sharing my stories in various institutions.

The looming feeling of knowing that I have a record haunted me. Although I’ve turned my life around and use my experience to help others, I still live with my own stuff. There were many moments where I would pause and say to myself, ‘You can’t do this, you’re still a convicted felon’.

When I became eligible for a pardon, I looked at the application and process of it. All of it seemed so overwhelming, so I would often completely shut down and think, ‘I’ll try it again another day’.

Applying for Full Pardon & What it Means

One morning I decided to look at the process and break it down into a process that would work better for me as an individual. After doing that, I started to notice that completing this application was possible, I just needed to follow through with it. So, I went through each step carefully and spent 3 months working on my application before submitting it. Once submitted, I let go of the outcome and was proud of myself for at least trying.

I wouldn’t know the results of the pardon unless I applied, so I needed to go for it, or else I would never know how it could have turned out. I’m so grateful that I applied. It was a 5 month process. It was worth it because I received the best news of being granted a full pardon.

This means, legally I can say that I’ve never been arrested or incarcerated. Although my story is public, there is a way to still know that I have a history. But on paper, I’m all set and clear. To me, that’s what mattered.

Had I not taken the chance on myself at this application, I wouldn’t be able to type that I received it. It truly felt as if that chapter of my life could close a little more. Many people have said to me, ‘now you can close that chapter’, and although I can resonate with that, I will never fully close that chapter. To be honest, it’s kind of ridiculous for people to assume that I can one day.

The Impact of Incarceration

The experience of incarceration will never leave me. I’ve done various forms of treatment. To say the least, it’s more manageable to keep in my memory. And not eliminated; I’m ok with that. I use my experiences to help me connect with people who feel trapped in life. People who are about to be incarcerated or those who were released. Especially to advocate for a better justice system. To forget and close completely would be foolish in my career.

Also, PTSD is real. I can do therapy, holistic remedies, EMDR, etc., but all it takes is one smell/sight/sound/taste/touch that could bring my body right back to that time. Feeling unheard or experiencing feelings of entrapment, I experience how it feels to be an inmate again. Being surrounded by unethical systems bring me back to being an inmate. Listening to providers push the long term effects of incarceration to the side impacts me. It brings me back to being an inmate.

Relief from Full Pardon

When this happens, before my pardon, there would be a belief of, ‘I’m still an inmate’. Now, I’m able to remember my pardon and tell myself, ‘I am not that anymore, but I can use my knowledge and experience to make this manageable’.

If you are in CT and you are looking to get a pardon, let me know! I would love to sit with you and help you through this process!

– Ally

It’s You, Not the Place: Recovery

Recently, I heard a presentation on outcomes of Peer Support Services. The presenter had a slide comparing places of services to fitness centers. The relation is that ‘fitness centers don’t keep people fit’, just as treatment centers don’t keep people in recovery. They highlighted that the individual, in addition to ‘outside’ support, is what keeps people ‘fit’ or in the treatment aspect; ‘in recovery’.

I liked this perspective because it keeps people out of a box. It births opportunity for authentic individualized care. I commended another participant in the webinar that showed vulnerability by sharing their agreements on this. They’re a CEO of a large behavioral health organization. They said, “We claim to provide individualized care to the people we serve. But in reality, this isn’t always the case. We need to do better at this and remove barriers that cause cookie-cutter approaches.

I was impressed by their willingness to share that, especially being the role that they are in. So often, people in leadership roles have ego’s that prevent true collaboration, teamwork, and employee retention. I felt validated by the presentation and discussion that was happening amongst individuals of all walks of life. It was relieving to hear that people deserve to give themselves more credit while going through life and a healing journey. So many times we neglect our own resiliency, power, strength, and comprehension by crediting our success to an outside source. Whether it’s a treatment center, support group, higher power, loved one, etc. we tend to resist the idea of praising and acknowledging our own role. Do these things play a large role in maintaining our lifestyle and healing journey? Of course. We can recognize and appreciate others’ influences, while still showing ourselves love, empathy, and praise.

So next time you are around the person, place, or thing that helps fuel your wellness, take time to pause and acknowledge all of the hard work YOU’VE done. After all, every support system could be in place, but if YOU don’t put in the energy, you won’t have the results that you have now. Give yourself the same energy that you give others. Thank yourself for becoming the version little you have wanted.

– Ally

Alternatives to Suicide (Alt2Su) Support Group

Alternatives to Suicide is a free peer-led support group! This is where people can talk openly about suicide thoughts, attempts, or experiences like self harm. It’s a safe, non-clinical space where people ages 18+ come together to talk about their experiences and emotional distress. And without judgment or fear of unwanted interventions.

We do not assume suicidal thoughts are connected to mental illness, and you do not need to be experiencing a current crisis to attend. You are welcome to join us with no need for a referral or requirement to be connected with mental health services.

Feel free to just show up to a meeting, or call 203-227-7644 or email Ally at Alt2Su@positivedirections.org for more info.

If you would like additional Alternatives to Suicide groups in CT, visit toivocenter.org/alternatives-to-suicide or click here.

Survivor of Suicide: Ally’s Story

I’ve lived in Fairfield County, CT my entire life. I was so grateful to see an event about suicide awareness happening in Greenwich, CT. I was invited as a guest speaker and wanted to share my speech with you all as well!

Surviving Suicide, Self-Harm, & More

I am someone that has lived with thoughts of suicide and self-harm since I was in elementary school. I didn’t always know that I was experiencing this and didn’t have the right words to express and
understand. But what I did know was the feeling of pain, disconnection, and shame. These thoughts started to express themselves in ways like trying to make myself small and staying out of the way of things… By remaining silent so that I didn’t have to burden anyone… By showing desperation for connection, even if it meant being in a toxic relationship. I didn’t know that some behaviors were self-harm, until they became more ‘traditional’, like cutting and disordered eating. My first suicide attempt was in middle school. And still, to this day, I feel shame in sharing that with my family.

If I were to try to find a blame for suicide and self-harm, it would be trauma, shame, and disconnection. Suicide is too complex for it to be one thing. But these were the emotions I felt consistently throughout my journey. I would turn to anything to feel self-worth and connection. A toxic connection is still a connection, and I unfortunately gravitated towards that.

I ended up experiencing numerous violent relationships, became addicted to heroin, was homeless, and at 22 I was incarcerated for multiple felonies and spent a year in prison. For me, many of these consequences were results of desperation of trying to find purpose and meaning. I continuously wonder what kept me fighting throughout those years… and what I’ve found is that it’s never one thing. It’s many little things, the hope for future things, and the simple things.

Currently, I still live with thoughts of suicide and self-harm… I’ve just learned key differences than before: I know how to express what I’m experiencing…. I know the people and places that are safe to share them with… I have connection to my community, to nature, and with myself. Some days, my most effective coping skill is curling up with a blanket and watching my favorite shows… And other days I cope with therapy, nature, and attend support groups.

It has been ten years since my last suicide attempt and in just a few short weeks, I will be celebrating 7 years in recovery from addiction. I’ve found purpose in working in a career field that allows me to connect with people experiencing the same challenges. I run a support group for anyone in the community that experiences thoughts of suicide and self harm. I work hard to show that there are alternatives to inpatient care and hospitalization… That there are ways to talk about suicide and self-harm and ways to support someone experiencing it.

The most helpful for me is when someone empathizes with my pain, rather than compete against it, dismiss it’s seriousness, or try to problem solve. When someone sits with me and simply says, “wow that sounds terrifying, how can I support you”, [it] shows me that they are listening to learn, rather than rescue.

I’m grateful that the endless efforts of working on myself have brought joy, understanding, and resiliency. I’m grateful to have a great partner, a safe home, a dog and cat, healthy relationships with my family, a career I love, and just recently, I have enrolled back into college to continue my education. I received a full pardon this year and am no longer a felon. I have new milestones and goals to live for… some small, like living for good pizza and walks with my dog… some large, like planning a wedding and being an aunt and godmother.

Every day looks different, and some days are full of darkness. But with hope, connection, and vulnerability… together, we can create a world where people experience self-love, rather than self-harm.

– Ally

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): How it Effects Children

At the CT Women’s Consortium’s 2022 Trauma & Recovery Conference, there was a breakout session about Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). I was drawn to this breakout session because I am a survivor of IPV and always want to learn more about it. Side note, if you’d like to learn more about my conference breakout sessions, visit my first post!

In this session, I learned the impact it has on children. I had witnessed IPV in my early childhood and in high school, I found myself in a violent relationship. I learned about the ways that children develop differently and the struggles they have when witnessing IPV. In summary, they develop attachment issues and have a higher risk for having mental health struggles, addiction, and be in an IPV relationship themselves in their future.

I can relate to this a lot. During this conference, I noticed that a lot of my childhood trauma was coming up. Fears and insecurities were starting to surface. I was grateful that the CT Women’s Consortium had rooms available for people to practice self care and wellness. There was a room with a labyrinth, sound healing, yoga, and more. I found that I was feeling both empathy and rage towards the people in life that had hurt me from IPV, whether I witnessed it happening to my mom, or by my ex’s that were abusive.

I noticed that I had empathy only for my mom’s situation, but not for my ex’s. Additionally, I noticed the ways that I have a challenging time with being comfortable in a healthy relationship. My fiancé is incredible, and this is the type of relationship I would close my eyes and dream of when I felt trapped in past relationships. So why can’t I enjoy every moment? Why do traumas resurface and cause me to doubt my worth? Doubt the validity of my partner’s love for me, and doubt the chances of our marriage sustaining a lifetime?

It all comes down to trauma for me. I’ve realized that I can’t simply process my trauma and then, poof, things are all good. My body remembers things, my mind remembers things, and my subconscious remembers things. Right now, I can sit with my emotions, utilize my coping skills, lean on my support system, and continue to be curious.

What’s been helpful for me lately is challenging the negative thoughts, approaching them with compassion, and letting the emotions flow rather than suppress or numb them when possible.

– Ally

Restorative Justice: “fighting for a circle, not a courtroom”

restorative justice
A statue of lady justice looking out towards a rising sun.

After attending the 2022 Trauma & Recovery Conference, hosted by the CT Women’s Consortium, I had left with a lot of new information, resources, and perspectives. The first thing I would love to share with you is ‘Restorative Justice’. If you’d like to hear about the general theme of the conference, visit my first post about it, then come right back here!

Marlee Liss was one of the keynote speakers at this conference. She shared her experience with Restorative Justice. I had never heard of this concept and I was very intrigued. Marlee is a survivor of sexual assault and when the assailant was arrested, she started going through the motions of the judicial system. She describes her negative experiences in the courtroom and shares with her friend that she wanted a different process. That’s when she discovered Restorative Justice.

In summary, Restorative Justice is an alternative pathway to the typical judicial system. Through this alternative, the assailant was to attend therapy for a period of time and then sit face to face with Marlee. It was called a circle and she had a mediator, her best friend, her family, and others that were impacted by the assault join the circle. The assailant attended with his friend. Marlee and every person part of the circle had the space to share thoughts, emotions, and other ways that the assault had impacted them. Marlee shared how she was able to cry, scream, blame, and … forgive.

By utilizing this alternative, Marlee was able to receive the justice and healing that she sought, despite the people thinking it wasn’t ‘true justice’. Marlee wanted reform, not revenge. She wanted long term change and restoration.

I was in awe of her bravery, openness, and vulnerability. I don’t want to share more details of her story, because I want to direct your curiosity to her. She has a book, website, and a growing following on social media. I highly recommend looking her up and checking out her work!

2022 Trauma & Recovery Conference: CT Women’s Consortium

Ally Kernan, Peer Support Specialist, hosting a booth

We were able to have a booth at the 2022 Trauma & Recovery Conference through the CT Women’s Consortium. I was able to host the booth, as well as attend sessions!

Every year I attend this conference and leave feeling validated, intrigued, and motivated. I will be posting additional posts on specifics that I learned from the conference. This entire conference is about trauma, the recovery of it, and the many pathways of support that are available. My favorite part of the conference was that the CT Women’s Consortium had several speakers that were people with lived experience. Often times, at big and fancy conferences like these, lived experience speakers are put on panels or breakout sessions. Although that is great, when the keynote speaker and the opening remarks are done by lived experience speakers, I feel more connected to the conference. I also feel as if the conference host truly cares about the people that are being served, rather than having a fancy celebrity or expensive unrelatable speaker come.

At this conference, I learned about Restorative Justice, how trauma effects the nervous system, generational trauma regarding epigenetics, and Intimate Partner Violence. Although I’ve had familiarity on these topics, this year they brought presenters that went more into depth of what I had already known. I’ll be looking forward to sharing the details of these topics with you all!

Lastly, I had the humbling opportunity to speak about a person the conference was honoring. Dr. Charles Atkins had passed away not too long ago and he was an incredible provider in CT. He taught courses and workshops, lead several committees, was an amazing public speaker, an author, and a wonderful mentor. I had the blessing of being mentored by him for 5 years. He even featured my story in one of his books. Going up on stage in front of the whole conference attendees to share words about him was healing for me, but also heartbreaking. I hadn’t spoke about his death and really hadn’t processed it fully. I had been burying the tears and keeping a smile, although I know he would’ve wanted me to process it. I didn’t expect to completely start bawling on stage. I have never struggled to compose myself during public speaking until this moment. I’ve done over 1,000 public speaking events to this day, yet this one was so different. I’m grateful for the consortium to allow me to share my thoughts and I can now speak about him completely composed. Thank you, Colette, for allowing my words.

Whenever you have an opportunity to attend conferences and trainings, take advantage of it. Put your phone and laptop away and actually pay attention. Don’t skip out early or use it as an excuse to only socialize. Learn what is being taught because you never know what you will end up learning about your work and yourself.

-Ally Kernan

Recovery Month 2022

September is National Recovery Month which recognizes people in recovery from addition (and often mental health, but this is mainly focused on addiction). Each day of the month in September, I follow the trend of posting a picture on social media that represents what recovery looks like for me. I decided I’ll post some of them here, and give a sentence or two of what it means to me. Tbh, I have an entire album on my phone titled, ‘my why’. It’s filled of pictures that are my reasons to stay healing, avoid relapsing, and avoiding self harm and suicide. Some of the pictures are obvious, like family, friends, and places. Some are not so obvious, like a rock on the ground and a picture on a wall. There are always powerful stories behind both kinds of pictures, and I find myself scrolling through the pictures often as a coping skill. It hasn’t failed me yet, even when guilt and dark thoughts creep in while looking at the pictures.

This was me at 8 years old. I had already experimented with substances at this age and had significant trauma.
This was a gift that a past participant of mine gave me. When I first met them, they were homeless and severely struggling. I was able to get them connected to services and they have been able to find housing, maintain recovery, and are in a management role in their job.
Left: Matt, Right: Thomasi. These two were my closest friends. They both unfortunately lost their lives from an overdose. Matt rented a room from me for a few years and Thomasi was constantly over. We all hung out together and I picture them together in spirit as they listen to live music, practice graffiti art, and telling jokes.
This was on International Overdose Awareness Day in 2021(maybe 2020). There was a new statue being placed to represent loved ones who lost their lives to an overdose. Many of my friends names are on the statue. When they finished revealing it, I looked up and there was a rainbow only above where the statue was being housed.
This was cut out from a folder I had in prison. On the front, I had to write my name and inmate number. On the back, I decided to write a 1 year goal to have when released from prison. This goal came true and I became a counselor shortly after graduation.

International Overdose Awareness Day 2022

Each year on August 31st, communities rally together to remember their loved ones who have died due to an overdose. This year, I’ll be celebrating 7 years in recovery from opiates. As grateful as I am to have not lost my life from drugs, my heart aches for those that have. I try my hardest to not feel survivors guilt, but it seems to come every year, especially on this day.

How could I possibly think of my recovery when my friends aren’t alongside with me anymore? To be honest, when I hear the raw stories of families grieving, it helps my recovery. I vividly remember and picture them during those moments that I feel so vulnerable to relapsing. So if you’re reading this, and you speak openly about your grief, I promise that it does help people stay in recovery.

Survivors guilt is real. This is what I hear in my head on International Overdose Awareness Day:
-“my friends should’ve been here too”
-“what makes me the lucky one?”
-“I don’t deserve this while others are suffering”
-“some of those friends that died was because they first used with me”
-“it’s my fault”
-“I could have done more”

It’s a constant tape that plays in my mind while I attend these events. How can I comfort the mother of a son I adored, knowing that we used together? How could I share my recovery story while all of these people are grieving?

Honestly, I don’t have answers. I call when called upon and my mission is to bring hope to someone still struggling. My message is of healing and resiliency, which I share with the intention of helping someone else. Although I grieve alongside so many others, I feel as if any strength that I have is from my friend’s who no longer have their voice. This day of recognition is one day out of 365 that I think of them, and I’m grateful to carry their memories with me.

I learned how to be a Recovery Coach

I took the Recovery Coach Academy and there were many things that I got out of it. My favorite part of the course was discussing how to operate with Recoveree’s in difficult settings and how to actively listen outside of words(body language, etc). Some of the most meaningful moments were: connecting with other classmates & our similarity & diversity in situations, societal roles & religion.

Honestly, I felt like the course helped me feel welcomed and know that anyone can be a recovery coach no matter your past. I would definitely recommend this course to anyone working in the field and I am going to start looking into jobs of being a recovery coach.

-Emmie, 25 years old

Harm Reduction: A Peer Perspective

I recently attended a conference with a theme of ‘harm reduction’ for people experiencing addictions. I was amazed at the presenters and the information that was shared. One presentation went into the history of harm reduction services and what is practiced now. Another presentation took me by surprise when the panelist introduced themselves as someone who was currently using substances.

I couldn’t be more proud of the organizers of this event to have welcomed someone who didn’t identify as being in recovery. I think this truly proved that every voice matters, but most importantly, so does the voice of those who many of us are trying to help.

I credit harm reduction services for my sustained recovery because had it not been for it, I wouldn’t have been so open about going to treatment. The agency that provided my treatment was the same agency that provided harm reduction services to me. I will never forget the shame and humiliation I would feel while using substances, but when I would get access to the harm reduction services, I would feel valued, loved, and embraced for exactly who I was in that moment.

That team of incredible people helped me feel safe to trust the agency for additional support when I needed it. Had I not had these services, I couldn’t have been alive in order to receive the higher level of treatment I needed in order to find recovery.

There is a lot of stigma around harm reduction. Many assume that it’s enabling someone to continue to use or self harm. In reality though, it’s enabling someone to stay alive. You cannot have healing if someone isn’t alive to experience it. Several people use harm reduction methods on a daily basis and don’t even realize it. Some of those examples include: sunscreen, seatbelts, speed limits, cigarette filters, condoms, and more.

Whether you believe and agree with harm reduction services or not, we all must come to an agreement that recovery cannot exist without keeping someone alive. The next time you may come across someone who is hurting, try to remember that every breath that they take is another chance they can begin healing.

Prevention: What I Wish I Had as a Recovering Addict.

I grew up in the era of prevention that was the D.A.R.E. program, ‘tough love’, and “Just Say No”. These methods, for me, didn’t prevent me from experimenting with substances, and instead added shame, fear, and invalidation. It made me more sneaky and secretive.

If I could look back at my struggles with mental health and addiction, and try to think of a way the struggles could have been prevented, I think about the messaging that was given to me growing up. Whether it was judgmental media or presentations at school, the delivery and content were horrific.

I believe what would’ve been helpful prevention methods within messaging would have been to have frequent guest speakers that were people with lived experience, close to my age group. Hearing someone close in age share their experiences would’ve helped me relate and less stigmatized. I also believe that having more messaging around mental health and coping skills would’ve prevented a lot of issues that I faced. Had I been taught in depth about mental health, stigmas, grounding techniques, and mindfulness practices, I could’ve been able to handle the things I was going through.

All of the prevention tactics taught in school perpetuated stigma and kept families suffering in silence. I remember messaging coming across as if addiction was a choice and made me question foundational beliefs I had of my loved ones. These prevention methods were also a cookie-cutter approach, assuming that one-treatment-fits-all. As many of us know, what works for one doesn’t always work for the other, and that’s ok.

So to the prevention professionals and parents, allow prevention to include meeting someone exactly where they are at. Focus on what can be worked on and put a pause on the rest. Try to avoid a fear and/or shame based method and instead approach situations with empathy, grace, and love.

Trauma and Women’s Health

Women’s Health Week is this week and I can’t help but cringe when I hear it. I have struggled since a teenager with accessing healthcare, for several reasons. After some time in therapy, I learned that all of the reasons why I wasn’t able to access necessary healthcare, all came down to: trauma.

After explaining to several different providers the history of my trauma and how it effects me in medical settings, I was offered little solutions and supports and instead heard, “well keep going to therapy and it will get better,” or “it won’t feel the same as the trauma did”. The amount of insensitivity and lack of training around trauma that I have observed in so many practices astounded me. I thought if anything, OBGYN’s would be well-equipped.

So for years I went undiagnosed and untreated and eventually found myself in the depths of serious health complications that I had to face. About two years ago, after a horrific experience getting a pap smear, my diagnosis left me feeling shame, embarrassment, guilt, and worthlessness. In order to attend to my physical health needs, I had to put my mental health needs aside, which was a recipe for disaster. I spiraled into a severe depressive episode, started to have plans of suicide, and struggled to keep my addiction recovery strong. I had to get procedure after procedure, all under heavy sedation, which sky rocketed my medical bill, and brought old traumas to the surface. Not only was I now experiencing physical and mental health issues, but this situation caused a huge financial burden on me and the savings I accumulated over the past few years was back to negative.

I’m still struggling to find a provider that truly understands trauma and can respond appropriately and empathetically. My current provider tries to understand, but can be very dismissive and have a “no big deal” type of attitude. Attending to my physical health needs caused a PTSD episode as I continued to experience the traumatic events as if they were happening all over again. This caused strain in my romantic relationship, distance from friends, and secrecy from family. All the while, I struggled with keeping things private because of the transparent person that I am. I’m not at the point where I’m comfortable talking about what I’m going through, but I can say that I’m taking it a day at a time with gratitude at every step, even on the rougher days. I’m saying yes to self-care and I’ve established firm boundaries around my professional and personal life. As for support, I have people in my corner that I trust, and the one’s who question and don’t honor my boundaries, I have 0 desire to teach them respect or alter my reality to fit their comfortability.

Recovery Travels: Austin, Texas

Traveling and exploring the world has been a dream of mine since a child. I remember being PUMPED for vacations and trips that my family would take me on. Whether it was a beach trip or visiting family, I always loved traveling. I love airports (gasp!), trains, hotels, and all the tourist things.

When I was struggling with my mental health and my addiction symptom would be unmanageable, traveling was a nightmare. Whether it was worrying about having enough drugs to get through the vacation or worrying about how to smuggle it with me, there was always something to worry about. I would have to sneak away from my loved ones to use and it was always a walk of shame as I came back to them, trying to cover up what I had just done.

Addiction stole my joy of traveling and since starting my healing journey, I have found that joy again. The most recent trip that I’ve taken was visiting Austin, Texas. This trip was so much different than others and I’m noticing myself starting to let go and forget about the broken version of myself that I once was.

This trip to Austin came alive because my boyfriend, Eric, has a goal of running a half-marathon in all 50 states. Texas was his 15th state on his quest AND he reached a new personal record! He had a 7:25 min/mile pace and I chased him around on an electric scooter throughout the city to follow him and cheer him on. I was able to pack this epic collapsible blow horn for better effects!

While visiting, we scooted all around the city on electric scooters that I think may have been my favorite part. It nurtured my inner child more than I thought it would, plus we were able to get around so fast and see a lot. We scoped out a lot of murals and street art and I didn’t expect them to have such a strong emotional response from some of them. Many of them were about women and their power as females. Those were the ones that kept me frozen, staring in awe with chills on my arms.

We rented a little electric boat and floated around the city rivers. We did tons of shopping and of course we ate as much BBQ as possible. We went to 6th street and scoped out the nightlife – we even went to a live piano bar!

Traveling in recovery means that I can be present in the moments that I’m living. It means I can easily eat a meal or go for an adventure without anxiety about drugs. When I come across people that are selling or using while I’m traveling, I have no interest in it.

I can’t help but wonder if I’ll always think about drugs, whether it’s that I’m not using them or are. Sometimes I wonder if I can experience things without the voice in my head saying, “remember you couldn’t do this when you were getting high?” I don’t know if it’s a way that my body is trying to remain humble and to remind me to never go back, or maybe it’s PTSD. I guess what I want one day is to be able to do things without the reminder that I was a drug addict. I want to be able to simply go to a park and not have a thought about my past life. Even though it keeps me in gratitude, I can practice gratitude without that reminder.

Because with that reminder comes shame and grief, no matter where I am in my healing journey. So for now, I’m accepting these reminders and the emotions and thoughts that come with them. After all, experiencing the emotions and thoughts are part of my healing journey and I will try to welcome them and treat myself with compassion.

Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month Pt. 2

If you haven’t read part one, definitely start with that!

In this part, I’m speaking out on Purity Culture and LGBTQIA+ within the fundamental Christian religion I was a part of. So, trigger warning on those topics!

Purity Culture within the evangelical community is a big deal. There are two sins in the belief system that are the ultimate no-no’s: sex before marriage and identifying as LGBTQIA+. First, I’ll share a true story I’ve experienced about purity culture several times.

“Good morning teens! Welcome to Sunday School!” The teacher said. He was a young guy, probably in his early 20’s, and he was going to be teaching the group of pre-teens and teens. It was a typical Sunday morning routine for me to be at church. I was wearing an ankle length skirt with three layers of shirts to cover my chest up to my neck and cover my shoulders.

“Today, we are going to be talking about how to please the Lord. You all want to please God, right?” He continued.

“Ladies, do you see what I’m holding here? It’s a brand new piece of gum unwrapped. I am going to use this piece of gum as an example for you ladies to live by, ok?” He said, as he was holding up a stick of gum wrapped in foil. He did not address any males in the room and kept his attention on females.

“You are like this piece of gum. You are untouched, you’re holy, and you’re pure. This is how God wants you to be and this is how your future husband will value you.” He continued, as he held up the piece of gum for all of us to see.

“Now, what if I do this…” He said, as he unwrapped the gum, stuck it in his mouth, chewed on it a few times, then removed it from his mouth. He held the partially chewed, drool infested, wad of gum into the air and said, “This is what you are like if you allow yourself to lose your purity. You will be just like this piece of gum: used, chewed up, and unwanted. Think about it, would any of you take this gum?”

And that, was one of my core memories of a message that women are valued based on sex and that if I ever were to experiment with sexuality of any kind, I would be a used up piece of gum that no one would ever want. The worst part was that there was no discussion on consent, safe sex, and most importantly; there wasn’t a purity message for the boys. Our virginity was considered a prize. If you were to participate in any form of masturbation, you were also to be considered ‘impure’. However, for the males, they were given a pass for this if there were ‘health related issues’.

They would take purity culture to another level of extremism and control by teaching us all of the different ways that women are responsible for men’s ‘sexual sins’. One time, we were told to cover our shoulders because it can cause a man to lust, which is considered a sin. It was taught that married women MUST give their husband sex, even if they didn’t want to, because it was their ‘duty’ and ‘prevents affairs’.

They didn’t stop at that teaching and instead added that if you were a woman and you were sexually assaulted and/or raped, you needed to sit and think about the ways that YOU could’ve caused it. Maybe it was that you were at a bar or maybe you had your shoulders showing. Maybe you were out running an errand during your normal bible reading time when the assault took place. Any possible way that they could help a victim find fault within themselves, they did. In the next part of this blog post series, I’ll be sharing the final event that helped me leave this religion for good, and unfortunately, it’s addresses this type of scenario.

So what does someone like me, who followed this purity culture scam for YEARS and then broke it, do when coming back into this church labeled as a big wad of used gum? Hide in shame. On one hand they would tell me that my testimony of struggles turned success was a ‘beautiful example of God’s grace’. On the other hand, they would remind me that it would be best for me to find a husband that would be ‘ok with’ the fact that I broke God’s orders and am ‘not pure’. I was told that it would be very challenging for me to find a ‘Godly husband’ because I have had sex and/or masturbated. To be honest with you, even typing these words brings this cloak of shame, despite being out of this belief system for years now. It was taught to me at such a young age for a consistent period of time, so it’s not easy to shake off. There are times that I wonder if I really am the derogatory names that they call women who’ve had sexual partners in their lives.

I was taught to hate my body and only value it based on sex. I was taught that all of this had God’s stamp of approval. I already struggled with the way I felt about my body, so adding that my higher power had standards on my body, did NOT help.

When it comes to LGBTQIA+, this religion is relentless on proving that every word behind each letter is one of the worst sins imaginable. In their doctrine, they believe that marriage and relationships should be between male and female only. Unfortunately, parents who do not support their child’s identity and/or sexuality, are praised for not supporting them. To take it a step further, conversion therapy is strongly encouraged. The entire congregation will pray for you to change and you will not be able to participate in any form of leadership or activities such as choir, caring for kids or teaching lessons, being in nursery with the babies, etc. All because “you are not right with the Lord”.

A young man in my church was ‘caught’ on a tv show dating another male. He was ‘exposed’ to the pastor and within days, he was no where to be found. He was told to leave the congregation and was referred to several conversion therapy residential programs for teens (many of which the church’s offering had a portion supporting them). Come to find out, he was so hurt by this experience and suffered with his mental health and survived suicide attempts. I’ve tried to find him for years, but never could because he’s completely isolated himself from the chance of seeing an old Christian friend.

Another friend of mine was banned from his Christian college for the same thing. His immediate family went no contact to him and only his grandmother is in his life. When his grandmother hosts holiday gatherings, his mother makes a point to state that she will not attend if her son is there, whether he brings his significant other or not. Someone please explain to me how this is considered love from God. My friend is still with the man he was caught dating and lives a beautiful life, but still has to live with the daily reminder that his own parents completely abandoned him.

I remember being attracted to both male and females and always thinking that I was evil for it. I truly believed that my parents would go no contact as well if they ever found out. They have found out and haven’t really said much, but I know in my heart that my mom forever supports me, even if it’s different from her beliefs and way of life. As rejecting as it can feel, I know that who I love or who I’m attracted to isn’t what makes her love me any more or less. I remember as a teen I would ask hypothetical questions to my parents like, “if I were gay or bisexual, would you come to my wedding? Would you support me and still love me?” and without hesitation, my mom always answered, “Of course I would.”

I couldn’t continue to support this belief system and doctrine knowing that it was directly harming myself and my loved ones. I couldn’t support something that caused others to question their value in this world. I couldn’t keep supporting a belief system that hates people for loving someone. Stay tuned for the final part, part 3, where I’ll share my departure story and where I’m at now in my spirituality journey.

Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month Pt. 1

I’m hoping I can write this without feeling guilt, but I wouldn’t be transparent if I didn’t tell you, reader, that speaking out on this topic is an abomination to the community I left. There is so much that I want to uncover, so this will be in a 3-part series. For this part, I will cover the basics of the religion that I left and the concept of a place called Hell.

Trigger Warning: religious/spiritual abuse, hell

When I heard that January has been recognized as ‘Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month’, I got excited to write about it. Then, the nerves set in on the reality of the consequences that would come by sharing this. Come to think of it, almost every post I make, blog or social media, somehow always pokes a bear.

It’s worth it to me though, because someone somewhere may read this and feel as if they aren’t alone. So here’s to speaking my truth!

I was raised in a church, an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church, to be exact. That title of the church denomination is important to mention. My parents were both deep into the church, but despite the ridicule they would receive, they had independent thoughts and beliefs that were separate from the church’s beliefs. For example, my mother had a job (something that was very taboo and shamed to have as a woman and mother), and my father believed in women’s choice for their bodies.

When my parents split and my mom remarried, my family transferred churches because the doctrine became too extreme for them. However, what they didn’t know was that attending another IFB church was going to end up being the same type of messaging. This new church was fun as a kid- I got to play a lot and it was all the happy stories of the bible. It wasn’t until I started to get older that the messaging became extreme.

I remember as young as 5 years old being in Sunday School and hearing the teacher say that at that age, my soul was eligible for eternal torture in a place called Hell. I was eligible because at that age, according to that doctrine, I knew right from wrong.

In that religion, they believe and teach the concept of Hell. They teach that it is a literal place that a persons soul will spend eternity after physical death. They teach that Hell is where you will feel constant burning and pain, you will be blind, you will hear haunting sounds and demons all around you, and much more graphic things that I will spare you from hearing.

They teach that the ONLY way to avoid this eternal consequence is to:

  1. Believe that Jesus is the literal human form of God, which he is also God’s son.
  2. Proclaim that you are a sinner and currently sin. (Sin in their world is basically doing something wrong, but I’ll expand on what they consider to be wrong)
  3. Proclaim that you deserve this eternal suffering because of your sin.
  4. Believe that Jesus came to earth to die on a cross for your sins to avoid hell.
  5. Believe that Jesus came back to life after three days of being dead in a tomb and currently resides in heaven with God.

If you question anything in those steps, you’re considered an “unbeliever” and you’re going to Hell, period.

According to someone in that religion, this is vital for everyone (children and adults), to know about. After all, in their minds, their loved ones’ soul depends on hearing this message. For me, and thousands of others that have left this religion, it was one of our earliest memories of fear in the church. For parents that are taught to support this belief, it’s often an internal conflict because on one hand, they don’t want to scare their child, but on the other hand, they, too, are taught that their child’s soul is at risk. In fact, parents that strictly follow this teaching are promoted in their church’s hierarchy, given donations when struggling, and are more respected by the church members.

The teaching of Hell in the IFB doctrine is horrific. I remember believing this with every bit of my heart and was constantly afraid for my loved ones that are part of a different belief system. I still struggle to think that a loved one that has passed is not suffering, especially if they weren’t Christian. Come to think of it, I remember the preacher saying that if anyone in the congregation lost someone that isn’t a Christian, they will not be seeing them in the afterlife. What a bold statement for this guy to make about someone’s life they had never known.

Although I believed this whole-heartedly, there was a huge part of me that knew deep inside something wasn’t right about this church, its leadership, and the teachings.

Stay tuned for part 2 where I will uncover the teachings of purity culture and other harmful beliefs, and part 3 where I will share how I got out of that religion and how it impacts me today.

Ally’s #10YearChallenge

First pic: 90 pounds because my diet was snickers bars and whatever food I could steal from my supervisors home (I was a nanny!). A flip phone because iPhones were worth money and anything I could sell I would. The tank top and shorts? Stole those from a 10 year old because I had nothing clean or could fit. Hair never cut because again, money. Where was my money going? Heroin. My addiction was brutal at that time and little did that 19 year old know just one month after this picture I was going to lose everything I still had, wind up in prison, and experience traumas I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Oh sweet girl if you only knew the healing that would come after.

2nd pic: celebrating my cousins wedding with my family and Eric. 6 years heroin free, 4 years out of church (for me, this is healing), 6 years of trauma therapy, a career, a degree, a homeowner, a savings account, a soul sister best friend, a team of women in my corner, my family repaired, my body back, 8 years arrest free (despite the 85% chance of recidivism), a cat and doggo, and a business owner. You see, I needed that strong yet broken 19 year old in order to become the strong and healed 29 year old. This last year of my 20s showed me that I’m a warrior and resilient AF! I would do anything to be able to tell that girl just how precious and valuable she really is. That the love she thought she had was nothing compared to what she has now. I would tell her that she’s not just a junkie, and that when it comes to survival, there is no choice. So for anyone thinking I chose that life, we should have coffee and share our stories. I would tell this girl that she is brave and that even though her rock bottom had a trap door, she would be the one to find the way out. You go, girl.

Ally’s Back to Blogging

Hey readers, it’s Ally, from the blog, “The Monkey on My Back”. It’s been awhile, but it’s time for me to get back to blogging on this page. I do have a separate personal blog that you can follow as well.

So last blog post, I shared, I mentioned some updates and highlights as we were entering 2020. Little did I know the pandemic would hit and life would change for so many of us.

Looking back on those updates, I’m excited to reflect on the changes that happened.

One major change that I mentioned was that I’m exploring an alternative spiritual path. This is important for me to mention, especially since so much of my previous blog content incorporated my spiritual beliefs. I no longer attend church, and haven’t since that last post. For me, this is a huge milestone in my healing journey. I have SO much to open up about this whole topic, so I’ll save how I went from a Christian to a Wiccan Witch for another blog post.

One thing I’m happy that didn’t change is the relationship I’m in. I’m still with Eric, and we have had quite the adventures. In June 2021, we purchased a house together and are officially homeowners. I share what it’s like living with him in this podcast. Eric and I celebrated two years together on October 13, 2021. We went to a beautiful cabin right on a lake waterfront in Maine. We rode on a sea plane, explored the woods, did tons of shopping, had some incredible dining dates, and so much more. We travel a lot together and have the best time. We are into a lot of the same things, so it’s always a fun adventure when I’m with him. Being with someone that is so safe and kind is a whole new experience for me. Trust me, there will be blog posts all about how I’m allowing love in & even how my past trauma is surfacing because I’m so safe now.

I’m now officially a dog mom! I still have Pebbles the cat, but we now have Lola, the dog! She is a Husky, German Shepherd, and yellow lab mix. She was born on August 5, 2021 and she is such a light in our lives. I will try to not dump too many blog posts about her, buuuut that’s going to be a challenge! No one prepared me for the love I would receive from a dog.

As for advocacy work, I never stop! Not only have I continued public speaking and advocacy work, but I’ve increased my audiences, gained a larger network, and have learned some new skillz! I’ve also been sticking true to myself throughout my advocacy work, and let me tell you, it’s gotten some serious criticism. I’m excited to share with you all what kind of moments I’ve been having with all of that through this blog.

So, if you’ve read this far, thank you. I hope you stay for the upcoming blog posts where I will dive deeper into all that I’ve mentioned. One thing is for sure, the consistency of my transparency and grit will not waiver, I’m committed to that.

How I Went From Inmate to Business Owner

#402446 is my inmate number. I say ‘is’ because once one is in the corrections system, they will forever have a number to identify themselves. No name – just one number after another. I spent time in a prison for felonies that I was charged with, all caused by my addiction to heroin.

I was told that my future was forever active addiction, jobs I wouldn’t enjoy, no education, no home, and no family or friends. Although the chances of recovery were minimal, I found a way to cherish and grow any crumb of positivity I could find.

Sometimes, that looked like a sunset. Other times it was overcoming an obstacle in my healing journey. Many times, it was a giant scoop of my favorite ice cream with a comfy outfit on.

Not only did I defy the odds, but I fucking crushed it in life after incarceration. I say that knowing that I had a relapse less than six months post release. However, that relapse launched me into a journey of self-love and healing that I’m not sure would have happened had I not experienced it.

I started small when changing my life for the better. First, I worked any job I possibly could and found a way to excel in it. That opened a door to going to therapy and other various treatments, which led me to a job I felt passionate about every day I clocked in. After receiving a promotion, it ended up giving me the confidence to completely wing it at going to college. Somehow, I managed to succeed and received an Associates degree.

As I started to continue to grow, I found myself pondering the thought of having my own business and doing things in my own unique style. Several people had planted that seed, but I could never picture even watering.

Until, I had enough of doubting myself. I decided to play the wild card on myself and start my own business. I literally googled it, talked to a friend that has her own business, and after a few small steps, my business was finalized.

I’m taking this chance on myself. I’ll never know what will happen if I don’t start and so far, my business has been flourishing!

First Pride Month

Hiii – Ally here 🙂

I’m super excited to openly celebrate #pridemonth2021 ! For years I had to support my lgbtq peeps behind closed doors because I was deep into a religion (Christianity- independent fundamental baptist) that would shame me for accepting and being an ally (Being an ally is literally my name so yeah you’re not taking that from me, especially with some book that isn’t even interpreted accurately). I lost my membership at one church because I posted that I support gay marriage and was happy to see that the SUICIDE RATES decreased since it’s been legal in all states. My (step)family’s church that I was deep into was very open about and taught how lgbtq are “sinning”, going to be eternally tormented in hell, kicked many young people out for identifying as lgbtq, sent them away and fully support conversion therapy, and the list goes on. I always knew in my gut that the belief system was extremely flawed. As someone who has always been attracted to both men and women, I thought something was wrong with me and still to this day my family doesn’t know that. You cannot convince me that love is wrong. Your scripture means nothing to me. I can find scripture that literally supports lgbtq. If you’ve read this far, thank you for holding space for me. It’s a big deal for me because I would literally not be permitted to celebrate love and who I always had been. Since leaving religion and finding a different spiritual practice that works for me, my life has been dramatically different. Indoctrination is real af and I’m struggling daily from deconstructing. I’m def going to be more open about the church situation since y’all saw me going from posting verses daily.. to now tarot cards and manifestations. To anyone who ever felt shame or rejection from me, whether indirectly or directly, I am so sorry. I am now committed to be VERY open about supporting things I always knew to be right, and even more committed to helping people like myself, who left a belief system that ended up completely controlling you.

My Cat, Desi

Desi is an Exotic Oriental Blue Point Siamese, the other night he was cold so he curled up into a ball on me lol

FREE Community Film Screening

The Connecticut’s Women’s Consortium is showing the  film, “Making Me Whole: Prison, Art & Healing” for FREE on March 18th

More info here

Meredith: You Are Not A Failure

Watch Meredith’s inspirational video on life after recovery. In this video, she talks about her experiences and how she believes that “you are not a failure if you feel behind in life due to struggling with a mental illness during your teenage years.” Meredith supports her mental wellness by practicing yoga regularly as well as meditation.

A Quote From Meredith: “Because I struggled with a mental illness during my teenage years, the hardest part of recovery for me was figuring out adulthood. Because I spent so much time in the hospital, I didn’t graduate at the same time as everyone else. It can be so easy to compare your journey to someone else’s. When in reality we are all on our own unique timeline. People don’t realize how much strength recovery takes.”

Join the conversation about this video here


Podcast: Why is it important for young people to vote?


Eliza and Ally sat down to answer the question: why is it important for young people to vote?

We talked about how we break the stigma around voting, why we personally are voting, and why we think our vote matters.

Tell us your answers and join in on the conversation here!

Listen here:

Norwalk SMART Teen Group!

We have launched a SMART Recovery Teen Group in Norwalk, CT!

Run by Blogger Eliza, find ways to live a balanced lifestyle with teens your age, all over pizza!

Every Thursday from 5:30-7 at Norwalk Public Library 1 Belden Ave, Norwalk.

Join the convo & read more about it here

Not in the Norwalk, CT area? Find a group near you



Help navigate through a 4.5 acre corn field that offers 1.5 miles of twists, turns and checkpoints! This is a great opportunity for team building and will end with some homemade ice cream & Italian ices which are made FRESH DAILY on the premises!

This event will be taken place on Sunday, Oct. 28th at Plasko’s Farm 670 Daniels Farm Rd in Trumbull.

We will be starting at 12:30 and will have plenty of time to go through the maze, eat some ice cream, and say hello to the critters on the farm!

Need help with transportation? We got you!

All we need from you is an RSVP and please invite/bring a friend!

You can RSVP to Ally @ Akernan@healthymindsct.org

Join in on the convo


CT SMART Recovery Groups

SMART Recovery support groups for teens and for young adults and SMART Recovery Family & Friends groups are popping up all throughout Connecticut! Find out which ones are near you and check them out with a friend!

Our TurningPointCT staff are running a SMART Recovery teen group in Fairfield and about to start one in Norwalk. To find a SMART group near you, click here, or to find other cool spots to check out in your area, visit our map here. Join in on the conversation here.

So what exactly is SMART Recovery?

SMART Recovery is a peer support group run by trained facilitators. It is for people seeking support with any struggle they may have: substance abuse, anxiety, depression, bullying, fighting, etc. But it’s more than your average support group–it also helps you develop coping skills by analyzing your behaviors, triggers, reactions, etc.  When our TurningPointCT staff got trained to facilitate SMART groups, they tried the skills out on themselves–and the skills worked! Check out our “What We Like About SMART Recovery” discussion about it on our Videos page.

For more information on SMART Recovery in CT, click here or to find an online meeting visit www.smartrecovery.org

So what exactly is SMART Recovery Family & Friends?

SMART Recovery Family & Friends groups help those who are affected by substance abuse (drug abuse, alcohol abuse) or other addictions of a loved one. If your boyfriend, sister, parent, friend or child is dealing with any type of addiction, this group will not only give you social support from people who have been exactly where you are, but it will also help you develop skills, based on the CRAFT model, to help you handle their behaviors better and also to help you get them into treatment.

For more information on SMART Recovery Family & Friends visit: https://www.smartrecovery.org/family/


FREE Recovery Coach Academy!!

This October through November TurningPointCT.org  will be offering a FREE CCAR Recovery Coach Academy for young people aged 16-29.

Every Saturday from 10am through 5pm (we will provide lunch) we will gather at the Smilow Life Center in Norwalk and learn skills that will help us support people with their recovery and help us to manage our own lives and recovery as well.

If you are interested in attending and becoming a Recovery Coach, email info@healthymindsct.org and tell us why this matters to you and how you plan to use your certification.

Not Getting Notifications From Us?


Hey TurningPointCT.org! We have recently switched up our system to improve this site. So if you’re wondering where your email notifications are, check your spam folder! Remove us from spam so you can get up-to-date posts and other info. Have questions? Email us at coordinator@turningpointct.org

Hike at Lake Mohegan!

Come join TurningPointCT crew for a hike at Lake Mohegan in Fairfield, CT on Saturday, September 1st. We will be meeting at noon and starting the hike at 12:30. Lunch will be provided afterwards!

For more information visit: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/topic/hike-at-lake-mohegan/

Overdose Awareness Day Events in CT

August 31st is National Overdose Awareness Day. For a list of events in CT and to add more click here.

TurningPointCT blogger Ally will be speaking and hosting a resource table at a International Overdose Awareness Day Vigil hosted by Fairfield CARES Fri. Aug. 31 7-8PM at Sherman Town Green, Fairfield.

To read her blog about her recovery from heroin addiction click here

Spread the word if you know someone who may need help with addiction and recovery. They can find resources here.

Free Ice Cream Social!

Hey everyone, you’re invited! TurningPointCT.org is hosting a FREE Ice Cream Social right in Fairfield, CT! Come chill with our bloggers Eliza, Luca, and Ally and meet new people!

For more info visit: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/topic/free-ice-cream-social-for-teens/


YAZBIZ is hosting a luau JULY 27th at CAMP HARKNESS!!!!!! 275 Great Neck Rd. in Waterford, CT from 10am to 2pm

Get more info, see the flyer, & join in on the convo here: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/topic/7-23-18-luau/

Podcast: Sustaining Recovery in an Urban Environment

We sat down with young adults from Young Adult Services(YAS) New Haven – Marrakech to talk about how they have been sustaining their recovery while living in an urban environment.

We answered questions like:

How do you avoid relapse?

What challenges do you face that are different than other environments?

What are healthy ways you cope with emotions and thoughts?

Join in on the conversation and answer these questions here: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/topic/podcast-sustaining-recovery-in-an-urban-environment/

Talking About Borderline Personality Disorder

Watch Luca, Ally, Chelsea, and Eliza talk about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) after seeing the film Borderline.

Watch the video & other shared videos: https://turningpointct.org/category/media/videos/

Join the conversation about it here: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/topic/new-video-talking-about-borderline-personality-disorder/

Follow Eliza’s blog about her experience with living with a mental health disorder as a young mom: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/forum/blog-well-willow/

Share your video!


Podcast: Is Spirituality What Young People Need?


Hi TurningPointCT.org! Today we sat with Chris, Connor, Ally, Beth, and Olivia to talk about spirituality.

We answered questions like:

Is spirituality always religious?

What does the term ‘spirituality’ mean to you?

How has spirituality helped shape your mental wellness?

Join in on the conversation by answering these questions too: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/topic/podcast-is-spirituality-what-young-people-need/

What We Like About SMART Recovery ®

Listen to our young adults Eliza, Ally, and Olivia talk about why they choose SMART Recovery ® and why you should too!

To watch the video and other shared videos click here

If you’d like to know more info on our group & join in on the discussion click here

If you’d like to get more info on SMART Recovery click here

Podcast: How to Survive Freshman Year of High School


TurningPointCT.org blogger’s Olivia and Ally sat with Norwalk High School teens to talk about their experiences being a freshman. Listen to Ben, Emma, Nia, AJ, and Caesar share their fears, challenges, successes, and advice to incoming freshman & current students.

They want TurningPointCT.org listeners to know how to survive your freshman year and ways that teachers can help with giving their students’ an awesome high school experience.

We asked them & now we ask you:

What was the transition to high school like for you?

What kind of challenges did you have and still have?

What do you think should teachers should know?


Keep the conversation going here: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/topic/freshmanyear/


Listen to the podcast here:

NAMI YA Facilitator Training

Hey everyone! Just a reminder that NAMI Connecticut is offering a FREE training for young adults who would like to facilitate a peer-run support group.

Their first state-wide training with the new YA Connection Model will be on Tuesday, March 27 from 9AM-4PM at 1 Park Street, Norwalk

Join the conversation and get more info!



SMART Recovery Teen Group In Fairfield, CT

Join us for a free SMART Recovery Teen Support Group on Friday’s in Fairfield, CT!

Learn ways to gain control of your life and sort through it all in the company of your peers, run by trained TurningPointCT young adults.

This is for anyone struggling with anything: stress, school, peers, family, self harm, mental health and substance use disorders, bullying, fighting, etc.

Snacks are provided and monthly social activities with peers (that you get to help plan!)

We can help with transportation.

Starting Friday, February 16th from 3:30-5:00pm
First Congregational Church
Wakeman Hall
148 Beach Road, Fairfield CT

Need more info?
Contact Ally:
203-840-1187 (Office)

P.S. if you are a high school student that enjoys mentoring or a social work/psychology student and see this as something you would like to get involved in, please contact us!

Join the conversation here: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/topic/smart-recovery-teen-group/

Watch Ally Share What She Learned at a Naloxone (Narcan) Training

Watch Blogger Ally share what she learned at a Naloxone (Narcan) training! Naloxone is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Watch the video & other shared videos: https://turningpointct.org/category/media/videos/

Join in on the conversation about Narcan here: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/topic/new-naloxone-narcan-video/

Follow Ally’s blog about her experience with addiction recovery: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/forum/addiction/

Share your video!

For more information on Naloxone (Narcan), trainings, pharmacies, and more, please visit: http://www.ct.gov/dmhas/cwp/view.asp?a=2902&q=560348


Intramuscular Naloxone


Intranasal Naloxone


Intranasal Naloxone


Intramuscular Naloxone


Podcast: What are your plans for 2018?

TurningPointCT reflects on 2017 and embraces 2018! Our blogger’s, Eliza and Ally, talk about things they are proud of that happened in 2017 and discuss their plans for 2018. They mention their fears, their hopes, and what they plan to do differently this upcoming year.

What do you want to do differently this upcoming year?

What do you hope to accomplish or succeed in?

Any fears?

Join in on the conversation here: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/topic/new-years-podcast/

Listen to our New Year’s podcast below:

Being a young adult female and its struggles

Our young adults, Ally, Olivia, and Eliza, came together to discuss their struggles as a female.

They share their experiences as woman, but also how their age is a factor in their struggles as well. They have many things in common and find it empowering to get honest and personal. Work, school, and home-life are all talked about, along with sexual harassment, relationships, and how they stand up for themselves! One thing they all have in common is feeling intimidated and discriminated against as a young woman.

Therefore, you can join in on the conversation – are you a young adult female that has experienced similar situations? Any different struggles? – we want to hear from you!



Are our youth over-medicated?

We’re back and this time we are talking our experience with medication and asking the question, are our youth being overmedicated?

Listen to Ally, Olivia, Eliza, and Michael


share their experiences with medication for behavioral health issues as teens and young adults. In this podcast episode, we talk about both our struggles and successes with medication and how we are influenced by it today.

Join in on the convo right here and share your thoughts — are we overmedicating our youth? What has your experience been like? https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/topic/podcast-medication/


Change – How do you deal with it?


As the fall season is approaching, it brings a lot of change with it! We got together again and discussed that very thing; change. Michael, Rachel, and Ally are featured on this one and they discussed the current changes they’re going through, how they cope with difficult (and sometimes unwanted) change, and what they’ve learned from change in the past!


Join in on the conversation and share your experiences with change:


Celebrating Recovery Month With Ally

Watch Blogger Ally talk about her story of addiction and mental health recovery and how she is celebrating Recovery Month! Join the conversation about Recovery Month on our forum and read her blog!

Watch the video & other shared videos: https://turningpointct.org/category/media/videos/

Share your video!

New Feature Up: New London Connects

CT Strong, Child and Family Agency of Southwestern Connecticut Inc, and High Road School brought the New London community together on August 11, 2017. We were able to attend to provide resources, support, and feature Blogger Ally as a guest speaker who shared her lived experience. The event had activities for children of all ages and included guest performances!

To read about our whole experience and to catch up on new features, follow this linkhttps://turningpointct.org/resources/featured-events/

LGBTQI Support Groups For CT Children, Youth, and Young Adults!


Check out these LGBTGI support groups for children, youth, and young adults in CT!

They include contact information, location and time of meet, and they are community based!

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Getting Through Tough Times Podcast

How do you get through tough times?

Keeping up with TurningPointCT.org is always an easy thing but to make it even easier, we’re bringing the conversation straight to you! Check out a few of our young adults as we sit down and discuss today’s hot topics in our new podcast series! Every month you can be sure to hear something new and interesting from a few people just like you and even from some special guest.

It’s not everyday that we get to chill and weigh on what’s going on in social media, our culture or around the state, so make sure to catch us!

Here’s our episode on sharing about the tough times we are facing and how we get through it featuring Ally, Kevin, Michael, and Rachel.

There are no wrong or right answer, all opinions are welcome. 🙂


Summer Stigma Slam!

CT is slamming Stigma on July 8th! You are invited to be a part of Connecticut’s 1st “Summer Stigma Slam” sponsored by Advocacy Unlimited and DMHAS!

There will be a resource fair with food and musical performances by singer/songwriter Daphne Willis and Hip Hop artist Tw1tch, along with many others!

Click here for more info!

New Feature Up: Tampa Conference!

TurningPointCT.org collaborated with CT STRONG, NAMI, and Street Smart Ventures to present a poster at the 30th Annual Research and Policy Conference for Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health located in Tampa, FL!

We also were able to attend the conference which was filled with great information! Our poster presentation attracted a huge crowd that had so many great questions for us!

To read about our whole experience and to catch up on new features, follow this link: https://turningpointct.org/resources/featured-events/

New Feature Up: CHRIS HERREN!

TurningPointCT.org had the pleasure to attend, “REBOUND, The Chris Herren Story” in Wolcott. We heard his story of becoming a basketball legend, then becoming a legend of telling his story of addiction recovery!

Check out the full feature on our page and be on the look out for more updates on events: https://turningpointct.org/resources/featured-events/


I learned a few years ago there is something called sleep hygeine. Getting sleep, and enough sleep is vital to me phyisically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. My body feels tired, like I’m 100 years old often. I shouldn’t because I am 30. Years of trauma and then years of using and the trauma and chaos that comes with that, I did quite a number on my body. If you’re an addict, you may know too well that sleep goes on the way, way back burner. Even if I had a place to sleep, I would be up for days using or detoxing. I still struggle with sleep. Developing a healthy sleep pattern is a process I for some reason still fight. I get to a point where when I actually am able to rest, I physically feel like I can’t get enough. Its 5:56 pm and I can’t wait to go to bed already.


Are we born with it? Does it get stripped from us through our live experiences? Do we find it again? I tend to think I was born with a lack of desire. I may have written about it on here before. I often feel lost and disconnected from the world even when I am sure I am not. I don’t want to use the word “blah” to describe how I feel right now, but that’s exactly what it is. Or maybe I feel empty. Deeper into these feelings, I suppose I could say I feel alone. Invisible. Yes, it will pass but yes it will also come back.

Career Resources: Youth Programs Open House

Come to Career Resources’s Youth Programs Open House!

Learn about training on programs for employment!

When: Wednesday, December 7th, 5:00-7:00pm
Where: 350 Fairfield Avenue • 3rd floor • Bridgeport, CT 06604

Career Resources now offers specialized training for youth between the ages of 16-24.

RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/368970610103836/
Or contact Takina Pollock at Pollock@CareerResources.org

Learn more!



Losing Someone

Last Saturday I found out another one of my good friends passed away due to using. I am completely devastated and I am sick to my stomach over this. She was missing in the morning (which isn’t unusual for someone who uses) but doesn’t mean its ok. Tasha was 28 years old. She really loved to laugh and chocolate donuts. She had two children, a son and a daughter. She liked wings too!!! and pizza! I want her here to share more memories and laugh until we pee our pants. When she was pregnant with Tyson she peed all the time, because she couldn’t control it. Adam, who is her fiance is who I called brother. There was a group of us who lived in the same house and we were like family. Besides lots of laughter, there were also plenty of tears and screaming and yelling. I want it all back. This is really hard.


Sooo….I want to travel. I want to explore. I want to go places I have never been. I never cared before to go anywhere nor was I ever really in a place emotionally and physically where I would have been able to. My friend and I made a decision to go on a vacation next year. It’s more motivation to stay well and to continue taking care of myself. I know its far off, but I am putting my intention out there. I am writing it down. I am “logging” so to speak, my excitement so I can come back and read this some day when I convince myself I don’t care about anything. To be able to go somewhere without any chains will feel amazing. With no obsession to use drugs, with being able to get out of bed in the morning. I have some desire today. I never had desire. I wasn’t sure if I was just never born with it, or if it was ripped away from me at a very young age.

Again, I am throwing it out there!

Where have you traveled or where would you like to travel to?

Meeting Myself

Meeting myself….the last thing I ever wanted to do. I am the person I have been trying to get away from my entire life. Forever, I have lived and believed all negative about myself. Anything less – worthless, helpless, hopeless….I could go on and on. I felt undeserving of the love I so desperately wanted to fix me. Shame and guilt could have put me in the ground and I don’t say that lightly. Today, while I still feel those negative feelings, I challenge them. I challenge my thinking and When I am in a place where I cannot challenge, I have others in my life to help.

I want to know more about myself and shame and guilt and self hatred and trauma have all crippled my emotional and spiritual growth. I know a lot of what I don’t like, but not much of what I do like.

To be continued…

Feeling Left out

So I struggle with this..majorly. I struggle with feeling left out, even when I’m not being intentionally “left out”. So when it really happens, I am even more hurt. I take it extremely personally, how can I not?

Saturday there was a surprise party for one of my friends 30th birthday. I out of everyone was the only one not invited. It wasn’t small, it wasn’t just a family gathering, I was not invited. I don’t know why, and I eventually said something to my friend about it. Before that, for days, I lived in shame, embarrassment, self hatred, pity. My mind has wondered over and over what I’ve done wrong. I immediately put it on myself and how theres something wrong with me.

Regardess of the details, its the way it made me feel its the way I wanted to disappear and leave everything behind. My feelings were so hurt. I felt betrayed. I felt unloved and like everyone was making fun of me. Its so hard…

Inspirational Quotes

Inspirational Quotes:

Without no struggle there’s no progress.


Only God can judge you.

No matter what people think only Gods opinion matters.

…by jay252

For more inspirational quotes check this out!

TurningPointCT.org PSA

What is TurningPointCT.org? Watch this PSA to find out:


where do I find motivation when I feel like I have nothing to live for. When I can’t get out of bed or brush my teeth. Days when I don’t feel worth it. Feel like the boat is sinking, I don’t know. I can’t give up, I made the commitment to myself. I promised myself I wouldn’t. Gotta get out of my own way.


When something you care about ends, how do you start to see it as a new beginnings?

Gratitude #keepthepositiveflowing

I want to express how grateful I am. I wrote about quieting the noise in my head and about how at one point it was suggested to me to record all positive thoughts and moments throughout my day. I am going to commit to that again because it helped me greatly. it helped fight the constant negative self thoughts and obsession with my own death. Positive thoughts and moments throughout my day today..

1. Sun was shining
2. Enjoyed my morning coffee
3. Got a ride to work instead of taking the bus
4. payday today’
5. potpie for lunch
6. I love pot pies
7. I haven’t smoked a cigarette yet today
8. I love water
9. I love my friends
10. I am so proud of my brothers
11. I work where others understand me
12. I am looking forward to attending my favorite 12 step meeting tonight
13. laughed so hard it hurt with girls at work today
14. that felt great

There are more moments and many negative ones that came through too but its time to continue to focus on the positive. Feel free to comment about your positive thoughts or moments. #keepthepositiveflowing


Chandelier – I edited this pic a year ago. I was heartbroken, depressed and I didn’t know how to deal. I started drinking for one particular reason, to try and heal my broken heart. I had a moment and realized no matter how many drinks I had, my issues weren’t going anywhere and it was up to me to move on and take care of myself.



superpower – I took this shot of one of my best friends. I always tell people we have more power than we know. A simple opinion, conversation, or even a hug can heal so many people and can potentially save lives. During my dark times, he was always there.


Around The World

Me and my friend made this using LED lights. I wanted to create something that brought me back to when i used to wait for kids to leave the playground so I could play because i was too afraid or nervous that they would mess with me. I find myself still going through this sometimes.


Quieting the noise in my head

I’ve been very aware for many years that my brain does not stop. It goes and goes and goes and sometimes that’s great, and other times it is a battle. Its exhausting and I am learning I have to be willing to do a lot of work to take care of myself. When I say noise in my head, I mean more specifically all the self defeating, negative feelings I have in my head. The “I’m not good enough” and “What is wrong with me”, “Everybody hates me and wants me away from them”. All less feelings tend to amplify in times of darkness and isolation. Less meaning worthless, hopeless, helpless, etc.

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling flooded with negative emotions often. Is this a minute to minute, life long process? I have found yoga helps, for that period of time throughout my day when I am practicing, my head receives some relief. Any other exercise, music, writing, reading, 12 step meetings. Connecting with others although I don’t always want to be around others. I spent a lot of years trying to numb out the trauma, the memories, the self hatred, THE NOISE! Those “coping skills”, attempts to numb myself were killing me no longer serve me anymore. Positive, solution mode only. How do we get rid of the noise just enough to keep moving forward each day? How do others not give into the noise?

SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

I’m in the hardest time of year for me right now, and I’ve been talking to my therapist about it and she has brought up getting a lightbox. Does anyone have any experience using one? Has it helped? I’m looking for any ways to survive the winter – all the cold and dark. It’s already hard enough when I have upsetting anniversaries, awkward holidays, and everyone else I know is having a hard time. I just feel like im drowning and im scared I wont make it out of the dark.

Staying Busy

I’ve been having a difficult time with work lately. I have 3 jobs, and I feel very stagnant in all of them. I prefer a work environment where there is plenty to do, and I don’t have to sit around and make up new things to do because there is already enough to do for my scheduled shift. A lot of people don’t seem to like constant work and enjoy the kind of flexibility and freedom that I have, but I find it overwhelming and useless. I don’t have a real sense of accomplishment anymore since the jobs stagnated, and what things I do get done simply don’t fill my shift. When there is solid, concrete work with a beginning and end to do, I’m more than happy to do it, it’s just open-ended work that bothers me. I used to really enjoy my work, but now that I need more hours and money, I’d rather do something that feels, well, real. I’d like to show up to an 8hr shift and really have 8 hours of work to do.

If I didn’t feel so connected to the work I’m already doing, I’d look for something new, maybe even go to school for something specific, but I’m already very invested in these endeavours – I wish I knew what I wanted to do.

All the little things

I’ve set up a defense against my mental health problems that is as thorough as humanly possible. I was supposed to be in and out of hospitals for the rest of my life, but my life is comparable to my peers without mental health problems. But little things still get through and mess up my life more regularly than is acceptable. Just over Christmas I was feeling good, I had just got over the lack of sleep from my Grandfathers funeral the week before. I have problems when I’m away from home waaaay more often than when I’m at home. So I was being really careful to make sure I took my meds, ate enough food, kept my stress at a minimum and I did all those things perfectly. In the end it was the sleeping that killed me again, and I was being really careful about it. I opted to sleep in the same room as my uncle instead of with my baby nephew and that was a mistake. The baby slept soundly, my uncle snored so loudly and erratically, that when I moved to sleep on the couch downstairs I could still clearly hear him. The next morning when I woke up, I was sleep deprived and very angry that this was the thing that messed me up. And a week later I am just getting over it again. This is so frustrating because I’m trying to get another part time job. The only jobs I can accept have high levels of flexibility and those don’t come along very often. I’m also trying to make a friendship with a very close, very attractive, longtime friend, more than a friendship and It would be much more difficult to do either of those if I keep having random mood and fatigue. It’s frustrating as hell. I catch 99% of the issues before they harmed me but there’s always that 1% that endangers anything important I am trying do. And of course I will learn from this episode like I always do, but there is always something that can sneak past my defenses and ruin everything. I know I’m always getting better identifying problems I haven’t seen before they hurt , but right now, I just hate that I still can’t avoid everything I don’t know will hurt me.

School’s & Understanding Mental Health


I found this article very interesting and I can relate to it in many ways. Finding this article was a relief in knowing I am not alone. Has anyone else felt this way or have had the experience to talking to a teacher or professor about this topic?

Saying "No"

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with holding my roommates to standards to ensure we all have a decent quality of life, but I find myself always lending money and bending over backwards to accommadate them. what are some techniques/tips folks might have to learn how to say NO without being a huge b#$^&

Are We Breaking Into the Mainstream?: John Oliver’s Segment on Mental Illness

John Oliver is the host of the TV show “Last Week Tonight”, a political satire program in the same vein as the Daily Show. On October 4th he did a segment on Mental Health Problems, and it was INCREDIBLE. After the Oregon shooting, the killer was immediately, and without clinical support, labeled “mentally ill”. As with every mass shooting, it seemed that us people with mental health problems would be subject to another BS round of politicians and reporters making attention and vote grabbing judgments of what should be done with all of us. John Oliver took the opposite track, and he tore them all a new one. To my knowledge, he willingly addressed what no one with a national audience had ever done. He started by arguing that we don’t like talking about mental health problems, and do it terribly when discussion does occur. Throughout his talk he covered stigma and the perception of people with mental health problems as violent, the lack of mental health care and competence in many places, and concluded by saying “if we are going to constantly use mentally ill people to dodge conversations about gun control, then the very least we owe them is a f****ing plan”

I am ecstatic. I’ve been discussing these issues with peers in the mental health community for years, but I didn’t expect anyone who didn’t have first hand experience to talk honestly about these issues for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean we are being listened to. His perspective seems to be formed by evaluating sources and opinions that are not people with mental health problems. Also he was unaware that “mental illness” can be offensive. But this does mean someone outside the mental health community took a look at what we have to go through and said, “This is terrible, why is this happening?”. Then they thought it was important enough to spend a huge chunk of their show on. There was realization AND action. I have noticed a lot of people outside mental health are gaining realization. Now that one prominent person has broken the ice and taken action to discuss the matter maybe eventually others will follow. I’m hoping this is a sign of a more honest, rational view of us people with mental health problems, and our treatment. What do you guys think?

Check it out here.

Diagnoses & Identity

I was just diagnosed with another mental illness (Bipolar Disorder) and I have so many mixed feelings. It is helpful because it makes so much sense when I think of past experiences, feelings/etc. over the years, but at the same time I am thinking, “why do I have to have yet another diagnosis?”. “And why are my sisters so normal?” I’m kind of struggling with separating all my diagnoses from myself. Right now, I often feel like my whole life is taken up by work & recovery and while that is better than perhaps not being in recovery, I need to figure out who I am as a person. I am working really hard to try and discover hobbies/interests & maintain my friendships outside of my recovery friends so I have more balance in my life. Anyone feel the same way?

Hi I’m Elizabeth- Black & White Thinking

Hi everyone! I’m Elizabeth- first time posting here!

Anyone have any advice on dealing with black & white thinking? Recently it’s been a huge problem for me- whether I’m thinking about my sexuality (and the need to label myself), diagnoses, food & body stuff, work, medications, etc. Any strategies that have worked for others?

End of an Era

As high school is coming to an end, it is incredibly exciting but also incredibly terrifying. For twelve years, I have gone to school with the same people, and for thirteen years I’ve gone to school in the same school district. My best friends have been my best friends since first grade which makes leaving them so frightening. However, having had the same friends for so long makes me curious about who I am going to meet when I go to college and who will be my new friends.
I am already counting down the days until I get to arrive at my dream school this fall, but the fear of being away from my parents, my brother, and the best group of friends a girl could ask for is making me equally as nervous as I am excited.
Does anyone have tips for how to handle the transition from high school to college?


Prom can be one of the most stressful times for a high school girl – the hoping to get asked, finding a dress, figuring out where you’re doing pictures, planning the after party – it can be really get to be too much. As prom passes, it is a major relief, but there has to be a better way to handle planning for prom.
This year, I was hosting pictures at my house. I have a huge backyard and I was inviting anyone who needed somewhere to do pictures. Everything was running smoothly until I checked the weather forecast – it was supposed to thunderstorm all afternoon into the night. This was not going to work because we couldn’t be standing in the rain but we couldn’t do pictures inside of my house because of the poor lighting. At this point, I had over 40 people planning on coming to pictures at my house, and more people were asking to come. Trying to find an inside location that would fit everyone was incredibly stressful. I had my mom searching while I was in school, and I was distracted in all of my classes. Everyone kept turning to me for the answer but I didn’t have any. It was beyond stressful, especially as I was nearing my last week of high school with piles of projects, papers, and tests in each class. It was truly more than I wanted to handle, not to mention that no one knew anything about where the after party would be. It all turned out fine and luckily it didn’t rain, but the stress it brought about was ridiculous.
Planning for events is so stressful, and while I know that I (thankfully) won’t have to deal with preparations for another prom, there will always be another event that will require planning. Does anyone have some advice on how to plan these types of events without letting the stress get to you?


I have been friends with the same people for pretty much all of my life. I met two of my best friends in first grade, when I moved to a new elementary school. The next one I met in second grade when she moved to our school. I’ve always been friends with them, but I’m getting to a point where I’ve outgrown them. We are very different people and it has been a huge adjustment for me in recent months as our differences have become more apparent. I am becoming increasingly more excited about leaving for college so that I can find new friends who are the right friends for me.
Not fitting in with my friends has definitely been a struggle for me as we have different clothing styles, music tastes, taste in guys, levels of maturity/independence, everything, so I am extremely curious to see how my friendships with them will grow and change as we embark on our new journey to college at the end of summer.

Embracing Yourself: Caitlyn Jenner

A reminder to always embrace yourself has come to press recently with the story of Bruce Jenner’s transformation. Bruce has now become Caitlyn, and her transformation is a reminder that support will always be there for you. For the month of July, Caitlyn Jenner is the cover of Vanity Fair, and has a 22 page story accompanying it. The world is progressing, and it is so important to embrace yourself. Accept yourself and people will accept you.


Kim Kardashian on mental health

While on Facebook I happened upon this article about Kim Kardashian and #redflag. What are your opinions on this article and what she is starting to bring into the media? Do you think stars such as the Kardashians stepping up to talk about these difficult topics will help end the stigma?


School stress

It is beginning to be that time of year when I have over a million things going on between exams, papers, drama, and stress for summer plans. Sometimes I get so caught up with everything that I forget to breathe. What do you guys do to keep organized and stress free during such a stressful time?

Mental Illness in the News

Lately there has been a lot of talk about the airplane crash by the German Airliner into the French Alps this past week killing everyone on board. However they are linking this violent act with mental illness, not helping that already strong stigma on mental illness. Check out this interesting article on the stigma related to the airplane crash.

Jumping to Conclusions….

Do you all ever feel like you are taking everything people are saying negatively? Or do you have days where you feel like you can’t do anything right? I know this is often referred to as “cognitive distortions” in the field of psychology and this can help me separate what is really happening vs. what my mind perceives!!! Especially if you are an unfamiliar situation and presented with change- do you tend to catastrophize things or expect the worst?? How do you break out of this cycle? HELP!

Thoughts on Suicide

Have you ever had a friend or peer die by suicide? What was that experience like for you? I have had a friend die by suicide this past year and it was a very new experience for me. At first, I felt numb as it was just difficult news to digest because my friend was young and extremely bright and to my knowledge, was on her way to getting help that very week. After the shock died down a bit, I talked to close friends who knew her. I felt grateful to be able to have people to talk to about her. I felt sad for quite a while and still struggle a lot with my faith when it comes to things like this. How do you all get through loss like this? What does grieving look like for you?

When is Enough, Enough

One of my close friends is in an emotionally abusive relationship and it is so hard to see her in this situation from the outside and for her just not to see it. I totally get it though, when I was in an emotional abusive relationship I was blinded by “the good” parts of the relationship. It took me many months to completely get out of the relationship successfully. I want her to see what he’s doing to her, but at the same time she wont want out until she sees how destructive the relationship is. I don’t want her to have to wait like I did until I was hurt myself to figure it out and get out. I’m not exactly sure if I can do anything more for her besides just listen. I was looking online at articles and happened upon this one: http://www.xojane.com/sex/staying-in-an-emotionally-abusive-relationship. The reasons why this woman decided to stay in the relationship for so long were extremely similar to what I experienced. Have anyone experienced similar feelings or have any advice on what I can do for my friend?

Setting Boundaries

Have you ever had to set really firm boundaries with a peer, friend, or co-worker? How have you done this? When I set boundaries, I try very hard to make it about ME and not about that person, that way I can try to prevent from hurting the person’s feelings. Do any of you have experience with setting boundaries? Have you ever had to “take space” from a friend?

When people don’t like you….

Have you ever had a situation at work or school when you feel like someone just didn’t like you? You may even feel targeted a bit by this person or singled out. How do you cope with this? If it affects your self-esteem, how do you manage your self-esteem?

Family is TOUGH!!

Have any of you experienced difficulty accepting family members for who they are? Does anyone find that they are more sensitive around certain family members or around certain holidays? If so, what do you do to cope with the stress?!?! HELP!

Being Authentic

What does it mean to “be authentic”? How do you know if you are being authentic? Is this a quality that you look for in others? Do you think it takes time to learn how to be your “authentic self”?

Losing someone

Last week marked the one year aniversary of my best guy friends twin brothers passing and yesterday was their 21st birthday. He has been on my mind a lot lately and it has deffinetly takin a toll on myself emotionally and my friend. It’s so difficult when you want to be there for someone when they are so far away from you at school. It’s also so hard when you loose someone so young, especially to an overdose. Have you ever lost anyone close to you or had to be there for a friend?

The Oscar’s Speech about Suicide!

Hey friends!

Last night on the Oscar’s, screenwriter Graham Moore talked about his experience with suicide in his acceptance speech….if you didn’t get a chance to watch it- here is the link:


I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as “normal” and that it is only a mode on the washer machine…Graham Moore says “Be weird. Be different”. How can we encourage each other to be accepting of who we are? Do you think society encourages a certain idea of “normal” and, if so, how can we address that?

Body Image!!!!

How do you guys feel about the way that females are portrayed in the media today? I believe it has improved a great deal over the past decade or so with awareness campaigns, more awareness about photoshopping, and more real-looking models. This TED Talk sheds light on a lot of issues related to the modeling industry:


What can we do as girls do improve our self-esteem?? If being a model is the top .001% of the world, then what do the rest of us do who feel the pressure to live up to that standard? How do you all get comfortable in your skin?? HELP!

having difficult parents

While in grade school my parents got a divorce which was hard enough for me to handle, but then I decided to move in with my alcoholic mother. Most of high school was spent feeling like it was my “job” to fix her and be there for her meanwhile she was being emotionally and verbally abusive. I felt very trapped and it affected my mental health. Because of my mothers behavior after a while I couldn’t stand it anymore and realized it wasn’t healthy for me to live there, but there are times where I feel bad because I wasn’t enough to help her. Did anyone else struggle with any of this stuff or feel this way?

Practicing empathy…

Recently I have heard a few people open up about really tough and challenging life circumstances. This isn’t the first time I have heard others talking about loss, trauma, addiction, and tragedy. I have even experienced some of those things myself. This time, though, I found myself really wondering why some people experience much more challenging circumstances than others.

The minute I begin to start questioning this, I know that it is a question I can never understand. My life has led me to a strong belief in something greater than myself. Maybe that’s it then— maybe I am not meant to understand why others suffer. Furthermore, maybe I am not meant to understand why I have gone through the things I have gone through.

I am wondering,though- has anyone experienced similar feelings or thoughts? Can we truly practice empathy for others who experience trauma? Or do we just have to acknowledge our own limitations and “be there” for them?

Using Language to Reduce Stigma

As mental health issues gain more attention in the news today, we hear the word “stigma” thrown around quite a bit. There are various campaigns aimed at reducing mental health stigma—”Stop the Stigma”, “End the Stigma”, “Fight Stigma”—to name a few. But how are we using these campaigns to inform, educate, and impact people? More importantly, how can YOU change your language to reduce stigma? What are some ways in which language affects attitude?


Ever have days where you feel insecure about yourself? What helps you to get out of this mode? What helps you to motivate yourself and get your self-esteem back?

Wanting to Isolate

Hi all! I find that during the winter-time, especially, it’s so easy to lose motivation and want to isolate inside. My question is this– how do you stay motivated to socialize in the winter? How do you avoid isolating??? HELP!

Roomie stuff

I recently got back to school and am expecting my roommate to move back in on sunday. I am excited but nervous to face a problem that we never really got to talk about last semester. Towards the end of last semester I thought I saw cuts on my roommates wrist, but I wasn’t completely sure. I did not want to falsely accuse her of something because of the way I know she is. If i see anything on her wrist this time I want to talk to her about it. Any ideas on how to approach this situation? I know from experience someone shockingly finding out and being angry makes things worse. I want her to understand that I am here for her and that getting help is not a bad thing.

Best article- 5 Secrets of Mentally Strong People

With everything I go through, I’m learning to be mentally strong. I’m also learning that just because someone is mentally strong, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask for help. People have emotions, struggle, and we get through it. As I learn more about myself, the more I learn about what mentally strong really means to me.

This article says it best.


NAMI CT Young Adult Connection Community

Hey all!

Hope everyone is making it through these cold days! I’d like to invite you to our peer lead support group on Monday, January 26th. It will be held at the CCSU Student Center in room 1849 at 5:00. We’re going to play a fun board game and get to know each other! This group will meet every Monday at the same place and time. Email me at youngadultcoordinator@namict.org for any questions!

Just a fun article

hope you guys enjoy this as much as I did on this cold winter afternoon 🙂

Searching for Your Happy Place?

winter blues

Last winter I realized that I would get even more upset and depressed on gloomy, cloudy and cold winter days. I started having mood swings, a lack of energy or any reason to socialize with others and just felt very blah all the time! The days like this there was nothing that I wanted more than to lay in bed all day and binge watch Netflix, but this just made me feel worse. I didn’t feel like I had depression since it was only for a short seasonal time, but it still made it difficult for me to function the same. Then I started researching SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder and it made more sense! What helped me most was working out, being around my friends and spending time outside of my house. Has anyone else felt like this? If so what have you done to prevent feeling this way and what has worked?

Weirdest Advice EVER

When I was graduating preschool, they asked us to say something we’d learned while in the program.

“DON’T TOUCH DEAD FISH” was mine, as I had taken a beach trip and had been poking a marooned fish when a life guard told me it was a bad idea.

I feel like this is excellent advice for the new school year.

Don’t engage in harmful relatiosnhips. Use your judgement, trust your gut.

What’s up? The SKY!

Hi! My name’s Justine, I’m 17 years old and entering college next semester.

I’m diagnosed bipolar NOS, ADHD (look! a squirrel!), generalized anxiety disorder, and HUMAN. And I’m proud of almost all of these.

I like meeting like- minded people, and I figured this would be a lovely way to meet lovely individuals, so I am here. (Well, sorta. I’m actually at my desk, but I’m ‘here’ in spirit.)

Anyways, I’m living with bipolar and I’ve come a very long way. I’m ‘all ears’ (but also eyes, nose, and feet… I’m still a good listener; I don’t judge, and I’m very patient.) and I have a list of people I can refer you to if ya need something more than I can give you.

Feel free to comment if you’d like to discuss how awesome I am, or how awesome you are, or if you need help being awesome.

Most people are awesome already, and don’t know it. I’d like to help you, (yes, you.) realize your strengths!

I’m done babbling. Have a lovely day!!

~justine the human