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A New Chapter

Hi TurningPointCT  Welcome to the next chapter!

I haven’t been on here in some time, so I think you’re all due for an update! I have some new blogs on the way, so stay tuned for my normal style of writing.

So it was a bit of a bittersweet good-bye to my position at TurningPointCT… I’m still involved, but I’ve ventured onto a new chapter! I am now the Recovery Liaison for Recovery Network of Programs (RNP). RNP has 19 different programs and several levels of care for people seeking recovery for addiction and/or mental health disorders.

What’s really cool about my new job is that I’m the first of this project that I am a part of. RNP partnered with Optimus Health Care to bring more services to their clients and patients. Basically, I’m mainly stationed at one of the Optimus Health Care locations and when a patient comes into the facility to receive general medical care, they are given a set of questions and depending on their answers, I get involved. Once someone indicates that they are in need of either mental health care and/or substance abuse treatment, I engage them and try to get them enrolled in treatment.

It’s really exciting because I have so much flexibility with my job role. RNP supports the involvement I have with CT and local communities, so they are encouraging me to still do public speaking and be on committees and whatnot. One thing I love about RNP is that the leadership are inspirational women that have had a huge impact on my life, as well as members of my family. Sometimes I get to bounce around to other agencies and site locations and spread the news about our new “Primary Integrative Care Team” aka the PIC Team 🙂 So if you see me all around Bridgeport – I promise I’m there for good reasons 🙂

But here’s a little secret: I was once a patient at RNP. I used many of their services throughout my active addiction years and still utilize their services. I went from being a patient to an employee! A blog on that is in the making!

So that’s an update on my professional life. My personal life has had some major changes as well:

1. I moved into an apartment with my best friend Jen earlier this summer!
2. I graduated college – check out the blog on that here
3. I changed churches & am shifting my spirituality pathway- stay tuned for a blog on that
4. I found out I’m not as weak as I thought I was

Wait, can we just go back to number 4 … I found out I’m not as weak as I thought I was.

This summer, I’ve learned that the weak, broken, bruised woman I thought I still was; is not me. Since so many big changes happened in such a short time, my mental health was starting to be neglected. I was becoming so absorbed in everything and I had quickly labeled myself as some awful things. I couldn’t be happy for myself because I was allowing other people, places, and things be the decision-maker of my emotions and thoughts. For someone living with PTSD, having no control is one of the worst feelings and can trigger a spiral in my thinking process.

So long story short, it bubbled to the surface and the only word of defense I was able to come up with was: No.

Little did I realize, this was going to be the beginning of using a word I was afraid to use my entire life.

Once I saw that I CAN say no, it was a ripple effect. I was “no this” and “no that” for everything. E V E R Y T H I N G.

It felt so empowering. I felt in control. I felt peace. It started off with little things, then the big things came. I said no to men. I said no to helping someone when I mentally couldn’t. I said no to pushing myself when I knew it wasn’t safe to keep pushing. I said no to plans that I couldn’t uphold. And ready for this… I said no to things that I simply just DIDN’T FEEL LIKE DOING.

I may seem cold, but it was the best way that I felt I could shake my fears and insecurities and start becoming my own woman.

So anyway, that is some updates for now. I’ll be posting some cute apartment pictures soon! Jen and I living together is literally a constant sleepover with my best friend. Plus, Luca basically lives with us too, so it’s nice always having them with me. There’s never a moment that we aren’t laughing – or eating lol

I love you all and to the one that’s reading this that is struggling at saying ‘no’ — start with small, manageable things and then keep going– you will be surprised how it will create a ripple effect. I hope you all keep watch for my upcoming blogs about: my new spiritual path, becoming an employee at a place I was a patient, more about my PTSD, and lots more!

<3

Meme Monday!

Hey Guys!!
Check out our new thread- MEME MONDAYS!!
It doesn’t have to be a Monday to post a meme! We want to see them all! Funny memes, weird memes, home-made memes.. SHARE THEM ALL WITH US HERE!

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week!

Today marks the start of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week! From February 25th- March 5th we can try to commit to being happy with ourselves and our bodies the way they are, not the way we think they are supposed to be. Instead of trying to fit into a box, we can appreciate the utility of our bodies, the way they function to keep us living. The amazing strength we have. The unique beauty each of us posses. We are all amazing!

Today, I thank my body. But, I also thank myself. Because for a long time I hated nearly everything about my body. The things I focused on we small details of perceived perfection I wanted so desperately to achieve. Yet, no matter how much I forced my body to change, no matter how unkind I was to myself, using food and weight as my weapon, I did not grow to love my body any more. I grew to hate it more, to see my flaws as being bigger, more unmanageable, more important and glaringly obvious to everyone. How exhausting it was to fight a battle for years against myself and food, a battle I had no idea was impossible to win.
So, I thank my body and myself. Because today I am a person who has recovered from an eating disorder, and it is such an incredible thing to say!

Even if you have never suffered from an eating disorder or known someone who has, this week is important. We all face stigma, shame and “rules” about our bodies, beauty, and standards. Isn’t it an exhausting ride to be stuck on?
So, instead of trying to fit into some arbitrary ideal of beauty, which doesn’t truly exist, lets love ourselves. Lets love our bodies, even the parts we sometimes hide. Because our bodies love us, they are for us, they do everything in their power to take care of us. Lets thank our bodies with some well deserved love, and reap the benefits!

If you are concerned you or someone you care about might be struggling with eating or with their body image in some way, help them out by suggesting they take a screening and offer your support. Help is out there. Recovery exists. Here is the link to a free and confidential screening that you or someone you know can take online, click here.

For even more resources on Eating disorders, check out our map or go to “resources” and click “support by topic”

If you have ever struggled with an eating disorder, how are you doing these days? If you have found recovery, what helped you?
If you have never struggled with an eating disorder, in what ways do you struggle with your body? In what ways do you love your body?

What are you proud of from 2018?

Hey guys! It’s 2019!
Pretty cool, kinda.

Some people seem to really care about New Years, it signifies a time to reflect and commit to change. Other people think it’s BS. And some don’t really care too much!

However you feel about New Years, it’s always good to reflect on time that’s passed and recognize strides that you have made.
My favorite quote when I was in the midst of a lot of struggles was,

“I may not be where I want to be but thank God I’m not where I used to be”

We don’t have to leap from ditches to mountain tops to recognize our power and strength. And sometimes it’s not even steps that deserve recognition, sometimes it’s staying right where you are, because it can be really hard to not fall backward, and good enough is good enough.

This New Years Eve, I laid in bed next to Willow while she slept and realized the changes that occurred over the past year. I thought about the pain, fear, and excitement I felt, and how hopeless I was at times. I realized how far I have come by looking back for a few moments. And it felt good, and it made me feel proud of myself. And I didn’t feel bad saying that.

So, what are you guys proud of from 2018?

I’m proud of myself for starting school, taking the leap to “real” employment and beginning the process of getting off of disability and SSI, moving, admitting to myself and a few friends that I was depressed, sticking with my path even when it was scary and painful and uncertain, trying every day to be a good mom, working hard, getting certified as a SMART recovery facilitator, Recovery Coach, and a Recovery Support Specialist, starting the path to getting my licence, and beginning to throw away things that I don’t need.

Let’s congratulate each other on our success in being here, even when it’s really hard work.

Recovery Month

Hey guys! September is recovery month- and that means that we get to celebrate the incredible changes our recovery has welcomed into our lives.
This is also our chance to reach out to those who are struggling, who have not yet realized how to begin the lifelong process of healing and growth.
In the wake of many recent overdoses and suicides, this is an incredible time to break stigma, celebrate life, and help those who are struggling.

What is the best thing in your life after recovery?

I am finally able to move towards the many goals I’ve had for years and years. When I was struggling, I knew I wanted to be different, I knew I wanted to go to school, to be happy, succeed, work, and more. Yet, I believed it wasn’t possible. I thought I was doomed to a life of “sickness”. And the times I tried, and wasn’t able to continue were only evidence of my inability to grow. Yet today, I am breaking the stigma attached to many of us. I am happily raising my daughter, going to school, and working- something that several years ago I thought would not be possible.

Share your hope and why you love recovery with us.

FREE Recovery Coach Training!

This October through November TurningPointCT.org Project Coordinator Ally will be facilitating a FREE CCAR Recovery Coach Training 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.
Space is limited, so please apply as soon as possible!
See you in October!
Recovery Coach Flyer JPEG

Hike at Lake Mohegan!

Hey everyone!

Come join us for a hike at Lake Mohegan in Fairfield, CT! We will be meeting at noon and start hiking at 12:30. Come have a free lunch afterwards too!

hike at lake mohegan

4 Phrases I’m tired of being told when I’m struggling

I have been inspired to write this after coming across a similar article and from people that I have been recovery coaching. Although people say things with a good intention of encouragement, they don’t always realize that what they are saying can cause the opposite effect. So, I’ve gathered some phrases that people have said to me (and others) that aren’t very helpful and what would be more encouraging to hear instead.

1. “You must not be really giving it to God” or “you aren’t praying/reading/attending church enough”… basically something along the lines of criticizing and assuming how my Christian walk is going. This is said to me on days that I’m struggling with my mental health. It’s not helpful because if you think that I reached out to a human before the Lord, you’re very wrong. Not only have I read, prayed, attended services, but I’ve literally laid on the floor, sobbing, begging Jesus for peace and strength. And you better believe I thank Him for having an answer I don’t have. No one should have to defend this.

2. “But you’re in recovery now, so why do you still struggle?” You would be surprised how often I hear this. I hear this whenever I tell someone that I’m having cravings/urges/temptations, or when I’m just having a rough day. Just because I am sober doesn’t mean that when I’m going through a difficult time I don’t think about getting high or am tempted to give up the fight.

3. “Don’t forget where you came from.” UM HELLO I HAVE PTSD IT’S IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO FORGET! Sheesh, I WISH I could forget! Guess how often I’m reminded of my past? Every single day, multiple times a day. I just don’t necessarily act on the reminders, with the exception of things that are nearly impossible to control: panic attacks, flashbacks, and stomach aches.

4. “Just try not to think about it, just ignore it.” If ignoring triggers, urges, emotions, and thoughts were that easy, I would be out of a career.

There are more helpful statements to say to me in contrast to the ones listed above. Not only do they show validation of how I’m feeling and what I’m experiencing, but they also show some empathy. Sometimes just simply reminding me that you are there for me and that my emotions are real for me, can be so soothing and comforting. People seem to be worried that this is ‘enabling’ behavior, but it’s not. It’s reminding me that I am not alone and that I’m not crazy, I’m simply human, and most importantly: it is going to be ok.

1. Instead try, “I’ll be praying for you” or “Can I pray for you? Can we pray together”. For my spiritual friends, I know that your first thoughts are often accusing me of not doing enough in my spiritual walk. Try being a part of growing my faith by encouraging prayer WITH me. Giving me some comfort verses are also helpful, after I vent. Don’t forget to remind me that greater is He in me than in the world.

2. Instead try, “I’m here for you during difficult times”. Because the struggles still come and are difficult to face in recovery, gently reminding me that you are near is so helpful.

3. Instead try, “I’m proud of you and how far you have come”. I’ve noticed that whenever I post something that I’ve accomplished, people are quick to remind me to remain humble instead of acknowledging a victory in my struggle. Being proud of the work that God is doing in my life is much more helpful.

4. Instead try, “This will pass.” or “I’m here with you.” Again, reminding me that I am not alone. Maybe suggest a time that you have witnessed me accomplishing something or getting through a struggle. Saying something like, “I know this is difficult, but I’ve seen you get through tough times and I know you can fight through this” is not only encouraging, but it shows that you believe in me, because chances are, in that moment, I don’t believe in myself.

Is there something that someone has said to you that isn’t helpful? Is there something you would rather be told instead? I’d love to hear about it!

The days I dreamed of in prison

I was driving to work the other day and a song came on the radio. I got so excited, turned it up, and danced while driving (yes, I’m definitely THAT person).

After about 30 seconds into the song, a wave of emotions started coming over me, then I was instantly reminded of prison. I was not only reminded, but I felt as if I was really there again. I could smell the scent of bleach that was often lingering in the air. I could hear the sound of people talking and the keys clanging as correctional officers walk through hallways. Then it was as if I almost heard a girl that was housed down the hall from me say, “Ally stop listening to music we have to go!”

The song that came on the radio was a song I listened to on the radio I had in prison. We had an AM/FM radio that had awful reception. It was one of the few tools I had to be able to have a sense of freedom in that place. I was able to put my headphones in and drown out the emotions and thoughts that I was experiencing. But that song… I would get so excited when it would come on the radio and would sing and dance and drive my cellmates and ‘hallway mates’ CRAZY. We didn’t have the option of putting a song on repeat or hearing it whenever we wanted; it was only when the radio DJ decided to play it.

I used to dream of the day that I could hear that song whenever I wanted ‘on the outside’.

I dreamt of many days that I hoped to have when I was out of prison. The day I would be able to:
-shut a door in the bathroom and be able to use the restroom in privacy
-have a real breakfast outside in my backyard
-wear clothes that made me feel beautiful
-wear makeup
-go out to dinner
-watch a movie with my family
-go for hikes and walks

And the list goes on…

I don’t know if it’s part of my PTSD or what, but when moments happen, little or big, I immediately think, “I remember when I would dream about this day.” I don’t know why I go back to that place so often, most of the time unintentionally. Sometimes I wonder if my mind maybe blocked out a lot of experiences I had there. I heard one time that your mind will literally not allow you to fully experience a situation in order to protect you from trauma. I don’t know how much I believe that because the trauma was definitely there. But I did handle it differently than I think I would if it happened right this second. So maybe, just maybe, my brain did some protecting and now it starts to flare sometimes.

The days that I dreamed of in prison seemed so far away, sometimes impossible to achieve, and as if they would never come. I can now say that I’ve experienced so many of these days and more importantly, ones that I didn’t believe were in the cards for me.

So if there is a day, or moment, that you are dreaming of happening; stay encouraged, it will come. But make sure that you try to live those days more than once. Go on two hikes, not just one. Go out to dinner more than once. Do something that you dreamed of weekly or monthly if you can. Just keep dreaming, keep pushing and your days will come.. and you will experience them in a way you never imagined.

Today, I Was Triggered

Today I was triggered.

It happened early in the day. I woke up tired, so tired. But I was happy, I was ok.
I looked out of my bedroom window. My small bedroom inside of a shelter, where I sleep alone with my daughter.
It wasn’t raining, just wet, it was dim and the air looked wet. It looked so comfortable.
I blinked, not a normal quick blink, the type that lasts years and years and sends images of memories running through your head. I was in Redding, waking up for school, living with my mom and my brother.
And for a moment, without quite realizing it, I became sad, so sad.
My eyes got heavy, and my mind became wet with thoughts and feelings.

Then, in the shower, with soap all over my body, the water pressure slowed gradually until nothing came out. I stood there for a few moments, trying to wash the soap off myself with the final, cold drips falling from the pipes.
Willow smiled up at me and reached to be picked up.

While we were getting ready Willow began to cry. She whined, and reached, and yelled a few times. She wanted something, but I didn’t know what it was.
I made a conscious effort to keep hold of my patience and not become upset with her. We both just felt a lot and needed a moment.
So we sat in bed, half dressed, and read a few books and had some quiet time.
By the time we were ready, we both felt a little better.

Then, leaving a few minutes later than I intended, I stepped outside.
Again, I was triggered.

The air was filled with a smell and a feeling and a look that filled me with a feeling of memory.
Someone came from behind me and hit me in the back with a bag of feelings and thoughts and half-memories.

Nostalgia.

The memories weren’t whole; they were feelings that were happy and sad, and thoughts that were too fuzzy to really be thoughts. No actual memories came. It was a feeling of memory.
As I walked, I felt somber.
I was also really content. The air smelled so good, and I felt very mindful. I enjoyed the foggy air, and I felt calm and able to observe everything around me.

Suddenly, I would feel sad, or have an intense longing for something, although I wasn’t sure what for exactly.
I would look at a building, one I see every day, and it was as if I had just noticed it was there. Suddenly, I would be clubbed with this feeling of memory.
I saw the water through the buildings and felt a strong urge to wander.
I felt no urgency or sense of time, almost as if I had been suspended into my own universe, within the outside world but separated by a strong sense of awareness.
Or something like that.

As I continued to walk, I thought about how I felt, I wrote about it in my head.
My contentedness grew into a subtle happiness. I felt so calm.

The wind blew my hair over my eyes and nose. The smell of shampoo filled my nostrils.

Again this wave hit me.
No actual memories.
But the bodily sensation of being somewhere I wasn’t.
The nostalgia.
A vague mixture of happiness and sadness.
And many thoughts I couldn’t quite place or identify.

Today I was triggered.
And I’ve never quite handled it so well, and I’m so glad I was.

Spring is almost here! To celebrate, here is Willow destroying nature. (P.S. I do not pick flowers or disturb nature, someone gave this to us)

Uncomfortable, For Now.

**I posted this blog on March 23rd, and accidentally deleted it while editing** Repost**
March 23rd, 2018

I hate where I live.

Yesterday, as a group, we were told that we would be on lockdown. For three weeks. Three weeks trapped in the house, being punished for the actions of the other women I live with.
I feel angry, so incredibly angry.
And I want to scream and be juvenile; I feel the strong urge to act out, show them how stupid and senseless this is.
But I am trying so very hard to resist this urge.
I am reminding myself that what is most important, is my daughter, and her wellbeing. I am going to remind myself that she will not realize how unhappy I am unless I show her. But I am struggling.

I live in a shelter, and I am constantly being judged based on the assumption that I have wound up here by some wrong-doing I have committed.
In reality, I came here as a result of domestic violence.

I lived in my own apartment, paid my bills, and had a savings account.
And then my relationship changed. Or maybe it didn’t really change, maybe I just woke up one day.
My awakening happened so gradually that I rejected each sign that I should leave.
And when I tried to look at it, it was only for a moment.

Slowly, the savings account disappeared. My belongings were taken or broken. I was convinced that my friends and family were horrible and no good for me. And I was no good, too.
I was promiscuous, crazy, a druggie. I flirted with everyone I spoke with. Said too much, was so embarrassing and stupid. Dramatic. I was so lucky to be loved by him and would never be loved by anyone else. I was so hard to love, I wasn’t too likeable. He was special for putting up with me.
And sometimes, I was a good mom, I tried my best, even though I was usually still bad. I was good company sometimes.
I believed it all, and never questioned it.

He handed me a mask, and I taped it to my face without any thought. At some point, I forgot it was just a mask.
Then I realized I was unhappy, and as I realized one thing was off, it all suddenly came slamming down in front of me.

And then something scary happened.
It wasn’t the first time.
But it pushed me out, I had been looking for a good excuse to leave anyways, but this was a reason to run.
And so I did.

I looked back a lot at first.
And now, months later, I feel happy. I’m feel proud. I am beginning to feel like myself again.
I still see him, talk to him, I still think of him as my friend, sometimes I think maybe I love him. Sometimes I hate him, so much. But things feel weirdly normal, and I am ok.

I cannot wait to leave this place, this dark angry place. This shelter is hard to be at.
But I remember that nothing lasts forever.

I remember staying up late at night, crying, laying next my sleeping baby because I felt so trapped. And I wanted to escape, and get out but I didn’t know how and I didn’t even know if I had the right to feel that way. And then, slowly but suddenly, I did. I set my intention, and I left. And I know that nothing lasts forever, and that is especially true for things that are painful and uncomfortable.

Life is not supposed to be good always.

And it is not bad always, and it won’t be. One day soon, Willow and I will wake up in our own bed, in our own home and we will be happy and comfortable and at peace.

(My beautiful Bear a few months ago around Christmas)

Spring is coming!!!

So it looks like Spring is staring to kick Winter’s butt a little more each day! (Whoo-hoo get out of here Witner!!)


What are your favorite things to do in the Spring?!

I love just sitting outside when the sun is warm and the air is cool, its so relaxing and refreshing.
I wish I had my bike, too, because I love that.
I can’t wait to take Willow to the park and go for walks every day again! Of course we still do that now, but it’s a little less enjoyable.
Long days are the best.

What are your plans this Spring?

Anxiety Chart

Hey everyone!

I came across this blog post about how someone living with anxiety who struggles to explain her anxiety to her peers/family/loved ones. She talks about how frustrating it is and how people don’t seem to understand the actual condition. So she decided to make an “anxiety chart” to help explain her anxiety. I looked at it and thought it was AMAZING and described it PERFECTLY. Here’s the article in case you want to read it: https://themighty.com/2018/03/anxiety-chart-help-other-understand-anxiety/

And here is the anxiety chart (let me know what you think and if you think it can be or is helpful!):
anxietychart

Thinking About Everything and Nothing

Friday, March 16, 2018
Life is weird. It’s horrible and wonderful and fun and scary and exciting and sad. All of that is loosely wrapped into a pattern of wrapping paper that you don’t chose, that doesn’t change the contents it holds or matter much, but is what many people will judge us based upon, without looking inside. Then we throw in feelings; lots of feelings. Thoughts, too- which are different from feelings, but maybe they are exactly the same. I’m not sure. There are also experiences, both good and bad. Whether we perceive them as positive or negative, they happen, and they change us. And they help us and they hurt us: and supposedly we have control over that, but I’m not always quite sure of that. Then there’s time. We can’t control it, have little understanding of it, and are unaware of how much we have. And time changes and it changes us- constantly. It’s like this river that can grow into an ocean or shrink into a puddle suddenly and without clear cause. And finally there’s uncertainty; lots of that.
We are thrown into life holding these packages that grow and grow, or maybe they stay the same for a long time, or maybe they shrink; we don’t know, or at least I don’t, and usually we don’t even know or understand what’s inside of them. Then we are sounded by millions of other people and their packages and their feelings and confusion. And we are constantly bumping into them or holding their hands or pushing them away. That’s mostly what life is made of. I think.
Sometimes I think my anxiety or my depression or whatever it is: something in me that I don’t like, but should probably try to make friends with, forces me to try to define things. So constantly, I am attempting to place reason upon the unreasonable. This futile attempt to define many small things, alongside the one big thing- life- is not good for me. I mean, maybe it’s not all that bad. Sometimes I come to a reasonable understanding of something. Or maybe it gives me a unique lens to look at life through. But I think more often than not, it either causes me to romanticize that which is unhealthy or sad or negative; or it causes my mind to run in circles, chasing its own tail, desperately attempting to catch something that will never reach my fingertips.
But I am not all bad, and neither is life, or the people in it, or the packages glued to our palms. And today is a beautiful day, and spring is coming which fills me with happiness and hope. Recently, I got a new camera, and that means I can be creative again, which I used to be able to do constantly. And Willow and I had a beautiful night and morning today. I cannot wait to bring her for a ride on her new tricycle-thingy. And I’m happy and content, and the sun is pulling the sorrow from my skin and replacing it with hope. Right now I am happy, for the most part, and today is a good day. And all I can ever ask is to be good enough, and anything after that is extra. Someone I love told me that, and I like to hold onto things which make me think of people I love, and I like to think of life in lose but concrete ways, if that makes sense. Because even though everything is always changing and always will, right now it is how it is and that is ok.

Bearing the Bang of the Bells

It was July 2014 and I was being transferred into a new building to be housed in. I was put in the back of a van and driven through the York Correctional Institution’s back roads. This was the first time I was able to see the entire campus and was able to see the difference between the high security and low security sections. I was leaving high security and entering into low security which I was very happy about. Rumor had it that I was able to have my cell door open and I was able to roam around the building for many more hours of the day. Another bonus rumor: I was able to go outside every day.

I arrived at the new building I was to call home and the Correctional Officer looked at me and said, “well, looks like they put you in the building with the drug addicts. So that must mean you are here for drugs and alcohol huh?” I shook my head and walked up a few steps to the brick building. After being let into the building, my senses were igniting. I heard a sound that gave me a sense of comfort immediately; laughter. True, genuine laughter. I saw that the wall had painted letters on it, spelling out, “God is good, all the time”

My heart felt an easiness the second I read that. I knew with every bit of my heart that God was right there with me.

After settling in and meeting the other women, I got the scoop of what this building was all about. It was a program building for women that were incarcerated because of a substance related crime. AKA DUI’s, DWI’s, Possession, Sale, etc. There was structure, schedules, mentors, “friends”, counselors, recovery meetings, and group therapy. This was my first taste of what rehabilitation would be like.

On weekday mornings, the entire building met in a room and we had “morning meeting” which consisted of a meditation, sobriety anniversary recognition’s, announcements, etc. In order to get the room settled and prepared for morning meditation; a counselor would take hold of a black rope string that had two bells on each end and ding them together to make a “calm ringing bell” sound. It would get our attention and when meditation was over, they would ding it again. If we got too rowdy, they would ding the bells together to bring the attention back to the subject.

For 6 months, I would listen to those bells. I hoped that I would never hear that specific bell noise or see their unique design ever again. Not because I didn’t enjoy the program, because I did, but because the constant feeling of being in captivity and confinement lingered over me, despite the good times that I did have in that building. Those bells reminded me of those feelings and all of the pain that came along with incarceration; to my family and to myself.


First semester of college, pursuing a degree in Drug and Alcohol Recovery Counseling, August 2017. I was so excited for my first day of classes. I hadn’t been to school in 7 years and I was happy to be in a place in my life where I had recovery, employment, and kicking The Monkey’s ass.

As the classroom fills and the professor arrives, I was chatting with the people around me awaiting for class to begin.

And then I heard it.

DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING.

The. Bells. Were. Back.

PTSD IMMEDIATELY. HEART RATE ELEVATED, TREMBLING STARTED.

You have GOT to be kidding me. These damn bells were back in my life.

And again I heard, DIIIIING.

It was THE EXACT bells, design and all, that was used at YCI.

Immediately I had a flashback of sitting in uncomfortable plastic chairs with the prison uniform of a maroon tshirt and baggy jeans. I could see the sea of women with maroon shirts on and I could hear the keys clanging as the CO’s walked by.

Breathe, Ally. Breathe.

It was a little humorous to hear my classmates enjoy the method of the professor getting our attention and to settle us down. But for me, it wasn’t pleasant.

I’ve had this professor for 4 classes so far and she uses them in each class. Each of her classes are 3 hours long. Dinging, dinging, and more dinging.

As I got to know the professor, I gained an admiration for her and her professional experience. She told the class that she does work at YCI and I immediately wished that I had known her while I was there; she would’ve been a tremendous help for me during that time.

So, during a break, I decided while few of my classmates were in the room, I was going to face my fear of the bells. I picked up the string and banged the bells together. My heart filled with gratitude and my eyes filled with tears. I left the room and went into the restroom to collect myself.

I immediately found a place to lower my head and close my eyes to pray. I thanked God that I was able to bang these bells again, in a completely different mindset and situation in my life. Three years ago I had to bang these bells as in inmate, feeling trapped, ashamed, and discouraged. Now, I was able to bang them and listen to them as a full time college student, feeling brave, empowered, free, and safe. I used this as a moment to reflect and embrace humility. It was a moment that I was able to relieve the anxiety that came with the noise of the bells. Although it still brings me back to YCI sometimes, I’m now able to bear the banging of the bells.

Stages of life

This week I have been thinking a lot about the different stages in my life.

Luz posted something on the forum about changing your expectations of yourself, and reaching goals you may have never thought yourself capable of. She talked about what her life used to look like, and how she once did not believe she was capable of achieving “normalcy”.
That made me think a lot about my past; where I’ve come from, where I’ve gone, where I’m at now. And most importantly, how I got there, and here. What did it take to go through each age and stage of my life? Where did I go (both good and bad) that I never imagined myself going? How did it change me?

Then today something else happened that hurled me years and years into my past.

I met someone- well didn’t meet, more met again. When I introduced myself she instantly remembered me- we were roommates and friends in the hospital together when I was 12.

That was over ten years ago, and the first time (of over 15) I was put in a psychiatric hospital.
At that point in my life, it was one of the most profound experiences I’d ever had. So much happened in those 7 months (it was technically 3 separate stays, but with only a few days of being discharged in between) that shaped and transformed me.

I cannot help but find myself entombed in thoughts and memories. Reminiscing about a time in my life that was both incredibly painful, scary, and difficult; but also comfortable, safe, and sometimes even very happy. These memories are similar to falling in a rose bush. I’m surrounded by beautiful flowers, and covered in wounds. I feel a small light in my stomach, but enclosed within a deep pit full of sadness.

And then I begin to think about what happened after I left the hospital.

From there my life fell apart.
From there my journey with mental illness began; and has not ended since.
And from there I grew and changed in many ways- both good and bad.

From memories of my first hospitalization, come painful memories of all that ensued afterward; essentially my entire family falling apart both separately and together over a period of 5 years.
What each tragedy encompassed.
How it felt, and I don’t just remember the feeling, I experience it.

I am once again a 14 year old girl stuffing 200 pills down her throat.

Then, I am 16 years old, saying “no” to a 24 year old man, who was too high to listen.
I am 17 years old and waking up from a coma after a suicide attempt I don’t remember making, because all the seizures that resulted from it damaged my memory.
Again and again I am experiencing the traumas I left behind years ago.

And it’s like being beaten with a bat.
I cannot catch my breath enough to beg for it to stop.

Where am I in time and how do I find my way back here?

How do I accept all that’s happened and the place I’m at now when all I want to do I reject it and bury my mind in a deep pit of sand?

It’s so strange how things continue to change at such a rapid pace. It’s all the time and we have no say as to whether or not it happens. Against our will we are under a constant transformation that will only cease to exist when we do.

How do I swallow the fact that I once wanted to die?
That many times I tried to kill myself?
That I hurt myself every day for years?
How do I move forward knowing at one time in my life I would cry thinking about how much I hated myself?
And that at one time I was a teenager and watching my life crumble before me; terrified and powerless.

I ask how do I do this because really, it wasn’t that long ago. And really, I’m still the same person.

Except now I have a daughter and life and set of responsibilities that I was never supposed to have.  I was never supposed to be here. I don’t think I ever planned on being 22.
Yet against my own will, transformations occurred. And somehow, without my knowledge or consent, I began to get better.

What about the times that that old, familiar dark place seems most comfortable?

It’s funny how small things can begin large, unmanageable spirals. Like hearing a song, or smelling something vaguely familiar. And how simple things, like writing this blog post can begin to bring me back into realignment- even if it’s without my consent or intent.

I come back to a place of normalcy where I remember that sadness is not safety. And that I’m no longer a child, and no longer without control or power.

And most importantly, I am responsible for a little girl. Who needs me and wants me. And it’s my job to be there for her, and be good to her. And I promise to her, and myself, and the entire universe that I will not fail her and I will always try as hard as I can to be what she needs.

How I Had Thought Heroin Cured My Anxiety

Wake up, pray, deep breathing, wipe sweaty hands, notice how much they are shaking, tell myself I’m good enough, and then attempt to get out of bed.

That’s just one version of part of my daily morning routine, in recovery from a heroin addiction.

Morning routine in active addiction:
Wake up, grab needle, grab heroin, shoot up, and go about my day.

Notice no prayer, no deep breathing needed, no sweaty hands, no shakey hands, no convincing myself of self-worth, and easily able to get out of bed.

Heroin not only helped quiet my anxiety, but it completely eliminated it.

The second I felt anxious, one bit of heroin erased it. No rapid heartbeat, no shakey and sweaty hands, no irrational thoughts and beliefs, no intense amount of fear and panic, no loss or shortness of breath, etc etc etc.

My favorite thing that heroin solved was my thoughts of truly believing that I am worthless and not good enough for everything and everyone (no matter how many times they reassured me of my importance). All of the self-loathing went away.

But when I wasn’t high and just maintaining my habit, those thoughts came stampeding into my head and worked their way down to my heart.

The same heroin that eliminated those thoughts ended up bringing worse thoughts in.

It was no longer “you’re not good enough, you’re a terrible person, you’re ugly, blah blah blah”.. now it was “your family hates you, you ruined their lives, you ruined your own life, you’re a junkie, you look sick, you’ll never get sober, you’ll never have a job, you can’t have a job, you can’t have a family, you can’t get married, no one will love you, etc etc etc”

The worst part is that most of these thoughts were now completely true. I most definitely couldn’t get a job, I ruined my life, I was a junkie, I looked sick, etc… So all those thoughts that used to be gone with a shot of heroin, was now worse, true, and destroying me even more than before.

The thing that I thought was the cure ended up being a poison.

Although it was poison, it did have some purpose, so letting it go was a little bit of a grief process. Now, being in recovery, when those thoughts come, I can’t help but wonder if the poison would be worth it to shut the thoughts and emotions down.

But then I remember that I have found a cure for the poison and the thoughts that works perfectly for me.

That cure is my faith. God, Jesus, prayer, scripture, church, my Christian friends and family, my bible study.

I’ll never forget when those thoughts came creeping in and anxiety was paying a visit for the first time since I no longer had heroin. Man, it was scary. I literally thought, “How am I going to cope with this without heroin?”

2 years and 2 months later, I’m coping with it without heroin.

Prayer helps the most. Grounding exercises help. Squeezing a stress ball helps. Essential oils help. WoodWick candles help. Baths help. Work helps.

I had to accept my anxiety, I had to accept my depression. But acceptance doesn’t mean I like it or want it or will be chained or controlled by it. It means that I simply acknowledge its existence and learn how to function with it.

There are absolutely very difficult days. There are days that I go to work late, that I struggle through homework, that I have a couple of panic attacks before doing what I had to do, that I let the negative thoughts live in my head and travel in my ear for hours, that I have mood swings, that I lash out on the people that love me the most, that I use dry shampoo instead of washing my hair.

But, those tough days end, they pass. Sometimes it’s a prayer that helps them pass. Sometimes it’s my best friend telling me how valid my feelings are and how beautiful I am. Sometimes it’s hearing my mom’s singing and watching one of our shows together. Sometimes it’s hearing my dad say, “sweet dreams honey” at the end of the night. Sometimes it’s my boyfriend saying in a soothing tone that he loves me. And a lot of time, it’s my cat sitting on my chest and purring, begging for attention.

I learned that recovery doesn’t solve or eliminate everything. Being a Christian doesn’t solve or eliminate everything. I have a cross to bear, I have struggles, I have weaknesses, I have defeats. But faith, my sobriety, my loved ones, my passions, my purpose, my dreams.. are what turns these difficulties into beauty and make them bearable.

heroin

A Healthy Body

Well guys I’m adding another thing to balance and work on in my life; having a healthy body.

Notice I didn’t put losing weight? So losing weight is definitely my mission, but I’m trying to re-word it so
it doesn’t sound hurtful for me. So instead of “weight loss goal” I’m saying “a healthy body goal”.

I have struggled with my body, my health, and my body image in many different ways.

I once had a healthy body, but ya know what I definitely didn’t have? A healthy mind and a healthy
heart.

I used to make the outside look all put together because I didn’t want anyone to know what was going
on on the inside. I didn’t want people to know that I had self esteem issues, was self loathing all of the
time, thought I wasn’t good enough for anyone or anything, had mental health disorders.

So, I would fix up the outside in hopes that it could just cover up the insides. And it worked, until I
completely broke down and continued to hurt so deep inside.

Then I added drugs to the mix of things. As if getting attention from the wrong people, places, and
things weren’t already super high, now I had to be high with hopes that the insides would be fixed and
benefit the outside.

It didn’t; it made everything, inside and out, WAY WORSE.

I became severely underweight and my insides? forget it, they were completely shattered.

So once I got sober, I fixed up my insides and for once in my life, these past two years in recovery have
blessed me with the insides finally being at a point of true healthiness. But because I needed to care for
my inside as my top priority, my outside got neglected. So now I have the inside good and the outside not
so great. I was hating my weight gain.

Besides others making hurtful comments, and I mean VERY HURTFUL COMMENTS, I made the most
hurtful comments to myself. The self-loathing began and it started to get dangerous.

I do anything and everything to protect my recovery and mental wellness. If I sense anything to be a danger, I handle it immediately so I don’t jeopardize my recovery that I worked so hard to have. My body was becoming a danger to my recovery.

So here I am, starting my wellness journey. It’s a little overwhelming and sometimes discouraging because I feel like I’m balancing and maintaining so much already. But, I’m determined. I’m determined to take care of body, improve my wellness, and most importantly; protect my recovery.

I have started my healthy changes and within one week, I’m starting to feel so much better, both physically and mentally!

Comfort Cat

Pete the Cat & Me

Have you ever had a pet or some creature that made you feel as if they were your best support? I have.

I grew up with cats and always loved them. I had cats that played and cuddled and even let me push them around in a stroller I had for a doll.

The two cats I have now, my son and daughter, Pete and Zenny, have a special place in my heart — all because they loved me when I felt as if no one else did.

They don’t judge me and they love me no matter what state I’m in emotionally or physically.

I’ll never forget when I picked up Zenny. I found her online and I fell in love with her picture. When I had arrived at the woman’s house, Zenny was far from the little kitten I saw in the picture – she was MUCH more grown up. I’m not gunna lie, I was a bit disappointed because I wanted a baby kitten, yet here was a cat that was at least two years old. There were big, loud, barking dogs surrounding her and the second I saw the fear of the dogs all over her sweet face, I couldn’t leave her. She was now mine.

We bonded instantly and she couldn’t do anything without me by her side, including eating. She followed me around the apartment and when I would go to the bathroom she would sit outside the door and meow until I opened it.

As perfect as it sounds, we had our troubles, well at least I did. Zenny had been a witness to a terrible time of my life; my heroin use. I would keep her shielded from seeing anything, but she knew. Then I remember when she walked in on me shooting up and I felt terrible. I remember I looked at her and apologized over and over that she had to see that. The second a tear fell, she rubbed against me and loved me no less than she did before.

I remember when I was going through intense withdrawal, she tried to do anything to help me feel better. She definitely helped.
My poor baby girl saw her mom in the worst state, but she still loved me so much. I’ll never forget when she was laying on me the night before I went to prison and I kept apologizing to her over and over and promised her that she would be safe with my mom (her GiGi).

Zenny

Many of you may be thinking that “it’s just a cat”…. SHE is NOT just a cat. She was my comfort and she treated me better than any human did. When I had to leave her for 9 months my heart broke, but she became so attached to her GiGi which made me feel happy to know that she was more than ok.

Zenny bonded with my mom so much that she sleeps with her every night and doesn’t come near me much. I’m sure she resents me, but GiGi reassures me that she’s forgiven me. It hurts my heart a bit that she lost her bond with me, but I guess it’s another reminder to stay away from drugs so I don’t lose my baby.

Then, Pete came along. I’ll never forget how I was BEGGING my parents for another cat. I begged God for another cat. I begged anyone to get me another cat.

Sure enough, Pete came strolling into our backyard one day and made himself comfortable on the patio furniture. He was an all black cat just like Zenny. He was a stray, but had no idea that he was about to be adopted as my son.

I had just had a relapse and I remember looking at Pete’s sweet eyes and saying to him, “I’m not sure if you’ll like me very much, I’m a drug addict.”

So clearly, I have an insecurity with people liking me, but now I also have it with animals. smh.

Pete ended up becoming my best pal. During my relapse he comforted me and once I got sober, he definitely showed me he was proud of me, especially when he cuddled up against an award I had.

His cuddles at night were everything when I was having a tough night. I’ll never forget one night I was up sobbing. I was about 30 days sober and I felt like a failure. I was overwhelmed with the guilt of hurting the people I loved and I felt so hopeless that I would one day make everything better. I was curled up on the floor with my back to the edge of my bed, head in my arms and covered with tears. I kept asking God, “will it ever get better? Will I ever be ok? Does anyone love me?”. Although I did have people that loved me, the guilt of hurting and disappointing them consumed me and I felt worthless. Then I felt a soft tail brush up against me and Pete stretched his paw out and touched the tears on my cheek. I picked him up and he started licking the tears away. Every single time that I cry, even when I think I’m alone, Pete knows. He senses it. He always comes running to me and he will lay on top of me and paw and kiss my face until I stop crying, or at least relax.

So these animals are not just animals to me. They are therapy. They are my babies. They give me a sense of importance.

My comfort cats.

Snuggles with Pete

This Grand Stage of My Life

2017 broke me into 2,017 pieces.
My faith and my strength were both tested in ways that I could have only imagined.
I moved away from the place I called home for 22 years. I finished Semesters 2 and 3 of Graduate School. I ended an old job and started a new one. My journey continued to unfold.

I struggled with my mental illnesses each and every day.

My 2017 started in a horrific mental state. I was lost and broken from 2016. My days were spent mourning the disintegration of my parents marriage, and with that, the disintegration of our family of four. I could feel the anger welling up in my soul. Anger was pouring out of me in ways that I am not proud to own up to. I was angry at my parents for the decision they made to split. I was angry at my grandparents for not wanting to listen when I wanted to vent about my parents.  I was angry at my sister for being so lax about her decisions.
But mostly, I was angry at myself because I had misplaced guilt. I felt like all of these life-changing events were my fault. Maybe if I’d been a better student, or a better daughter, my parents wouldn’t be so angry with each other all the time. Maybe if I’d been a better sister, Sophia and I wouldn’t have argued so much and in turn, my parents wouldn’t have argued so much.

My parents separation was the best thing that could have happened to our family. In the 12 months that made up 2017, I realized that none of the guilt I had should have existed. There was nothing I could have done. My parents both deserve to be happy. If they couldn’t be happy together, it was only fair that they try to be happy separately.

In the months following our first move, I struggled to be happy with most of the puzzle pieces I am made up of. I was doing the one thing I’d been waiting my whole life to do; teach. But I was coming home every day with a headache, and a heartache. And this consistent voice in my head telling me, “You’re not good enough.” That wasn’t what I signed up for.
And then, in the final days of school, I’d been notified that three of my students listed me as one of their Top 3 Most Influential Teachers. I still can’t think about that without tears welling up in my eyes. I’d spent the entire school year telling myself I wasn’t good enough, when all along, I was changing the lives of these students.

I am good enough. I am a good person. I am a good friend. And I’m a really good teacher.
In 2017, I learned all of that about myself.

2017 broke me, and forced me to rebuild myself into the best version of Olivia this world has ever seen.

In life, there are going to be obstacles that seem impossible to overcome. There will be battles that seem impossible to win. There will be people who seem impossible to impress. None of that is your fault. None of that has to stand in the way of you becoming who you truly are meant to be. Some days, it is hard every day for me to get out of bed and be someone that I am proud of. But it’s not impossible. Because there are days where I am someone that I am proud of. There are a lot of days like that.

May 2018 bring moments in your life that change you for the better. May 2018 bring you mental wellness, good memories, and lots of cats. Go confidently in the path that makes you the happiest. And if you are feeling alone on your journey, don’t forget to call me.

Men’s Health Month

Men’s Health Month – Celebrate Men’s Health Month with us.

This week is Men’s Health Week. Make sure to wear blue on Friday, June 16th or any other day of the month to show support.

Additionally, here is a link to the CDC about men’s health so make sure to read it and raise awareness!

Men's Health

Here, you can learn more about men’s health and stay informed.

Norwalk Community College Fresh Check Day

NCC never disappoints! We’re here at the Fresh Check Day event in the west campus cafeteria and just as we expected, it’s super lit (really fun and exciting)! There’s tons of booths with a lot of great activities, the music is blasting and everyone is dancing. This is the perfect way to celebrate mental health and to spread awareness about it on campus. This year we’re holding down the uplift booth. When life is busy, it’s hard to remember to take care of yourself… especially as a young adult with everything that’s going on. Practicing self care and wellness can reduce stress and improve your physical and mental health ! Remember to build those healthy behaviors and find things to do for you!

For pics and more from the event, check us out on instagram: turningpointct_org !

Teen Dating Violence Survivor

Hey guys! February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. So with that, I figured I’d open up about my experience as a survivor of a domestic violence relationship.

*Name changed to protect the privacy of the individual. Because I’ve gotten to a place in my life where exposing doesn’t result in healing, that comes from within for me.

His name was JC*. When I first met him, he was SO charming. He was kind, compassionate, funny, and overall a great guy. We started off being friends first and then we transitioned into a relationship. I was 16 when I first started officially dating him.

JC always complimented me and made me feel so special. However, slowly, he started to change.

JC started to become very jealous, possessive, and controlling. However, he would always make it seem innocent. For instance, he would tell me how I should dress and then make it seem as if he had good intentions behind it. He would say in a soft tone, “Hey babe listen, I think you shouldn’t wear a tank top so revealing because men stare at you and you deserve to be looked at for your insides, not the outsides.” It sounded nice, and although my tank top wasn’t very revealing at all since I dress very conservative, I would listen to him and believe his good intentions. Little did I know that it was a form of control that was going to take a turn for worse.

He would continue in his soft tones and good intentions, but he cranked his control up a notch. He started saying things like, “You should do your homework later so that we can have more time to spend with each other because I just miss you so much.” I believed and followed all of his wishes and suggestions. I think I did it because I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. I also had self-esteem issues and a twisted view of love, so I slowly became his puppet.

Then, his tone changed after a few months. Once he started to gain some control, he would then make himself a victim and I was the one who was wrong. JC started to say cruel things to me and started to make me feel terrible about myself. One time he said, “Ally you can’t wear that because you make yourself look like a whore and you have a boyfriend.” He went from being nice, to being rude. Then he would start to tell me what I could and could not do. Slowly but surely he started taking everything away from me.

The progression of his abuse became worse as time went on and I became almost possessed by him. Looking back, it was a lot similar to how addiction took over me too. I remember when he started to become more verbally abusive by calling me names all the time. He literally called me “cunt” as if it was my first name. I was constantly being called stupid, worthless, ugly, fat, etc. The worst part of it was that I started to believe it myself.

Then he laid his hands on me. That was a progression in itself. He would first grab my wrist and squeeze it, and then it turned into slaps, punches, and literally beating me up. I remember the humiliation that he would cause me. I hid the abuse, just like I hid drug abuse when I went through that too. I didn’t want anyone to know what was going on behind closed doors and I was also very fearful of the threats he would make me if I told anyone what was happening.

I remember trying to escape the relationship so many times. I was in the relationship for about 2 years until I finally left. He was the one that introduced me to narcotic drugs and brought trauma to me that the drugs helped me cope with. A part of me blames him for my addiction, despite the free will that I had.

It took me months to stop flinching when someone would touch me and accept respect and love from men and just people in general. Sometimes I still find myself flinching at a certain touch, even when the person isn’t trying to hurt me. The damage that the physical and mental abuse that JC caused held onto me for years and was mostly submerged with drugs instead of healthy ways to get through it. It wasn’t until I got sober that I decided that it was a chapter in my life that I had to address and work through in order to get full recovery from that. It was a tough process, but I got through it. God helped me the most along with professional help.

The one major thing that helped me with this was forgiveness. I had to forgive JC. I was sick at the thought of having to forgive someone who caused me so much betrayal and pain. PLUS HE WASN’T EVEN SORRY!!! HOW WAS I TO FORGIVE SOMEONE WHO FELT NO REMORSE?! However, I knew that I had to forgive him in order to help myself. So I did. I allowed vengeance to be the Lords. I felt so much peace when I truly forgave him in my heart.

They say what goes around comes around. Well, let me tell you, he reaped what he sowed. I didn’t get revenge. I didn’t get payback. I let go of the desire for that. JC ended up having some serious struggles shortly after we had broken up. He had lost all of his belongings, had 0 friends, 0 relationships, and many other struggles. Although I don’t wish pain and struggle on people, a part of me couldn’t help but think, “He got what he gave”. Everything that he took from me was taken from him.

Although I can comfortably talk about the experience I had with DV, just writing this makes my anxiety in full throttle. My hands are shaking, my heart is racing, and I’m sweating. I don’t know why this topic makes me feel this way, but talking about the depths of addiction doesn’t bring this, which was actually worse for me. I think I’m subconsciously still very angry about all that he did. I can’t help but wonder if I would have never become addicted to drugs had it not been for his abuse. I also hate the fact that some of the trauma and damage still stays in my subconscious. I hate that I still fear anger and tempers to the extreme. I HATE that an innocent touch can trigger the trauma too. However, I face the same thing with drug addiction triggers too. Thank God I’ve developed good coping skills that I resort to when these triggers come.

In the end, I’m a survivor. I have to keep the promise to myself to recognize the red flags and warning signs that I ignored if they ever come up again. I have to advocate for myself and most importantly, allow myself to be truly respected, loved, and cared for.

10 Stress Relief Songs

1. Happy – Pharrell Williams

2. Jason Mraz – I’m Yours

3. Bruno Mars – The Lazy Song

4. Maroon 5 – She Will Be Loved

5. Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire

6. Ella Henderson – Ghost

7. Survivor – Eye of the tiger

8. “Beautiful Day” — U2

9. Bob Marley-Don’t worry be happy

10. Beyoncé – Run the World (Girls)

Pride in the Park 2016: Norwalk, CT

Pride in the Park 2016: Norwalk, CT –

Have your heard? Triangle Community Center is hosting the largest pride event in Connecticut for the second year!!!

Pride in the Park is Fairfield County’s Pride festival brought to you by Triangle Community Center. Over the past two years, Pride in the Park has hosted thousands of guests for live entertainment, including nationally known entertainers from RuPaul’s Drag Race, family-friendly entertainment and activities for kids, food vendors and so much more. 

Pride in the Park is a wonderful opportunity for you to engage the LGBTQ community. Whether you chip in as a volunteer, sign your business up as a sponsor, or advertise to our thousands of guests and website visitors, we want you to have the opportunity to be part of our most exciting Pride celebration yet. For More information visit Triangle Community Center

 

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Pride in the Park

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Mathews Park, Norwalk

Free, Public Event

12pm – 8pm

 

Get Your Flyer HERE

4 Hard Core Detourist Survival Skills to Get Through ANYTHING – Part 1

Who knew that mental health first aid was as simple an inspirational wall hanging?

Survival – Simplified.

Surviving – and “thriving” – through any setback, obstacle or ”detour” in life can be that simple.  I learned that from over ten years of “detours” in and out of hospitals, where every road sign said “uncertain path ahead.”

detour paint

Now I like to share what helped me through my stressful traumas with others, because whether it’s surgery, traffic, a disappointment or…well, anything that you don’t expect – life can sure be stressful.

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The latest stop on my “detour” will be the Mental Health America Conference next month!

Hardcore Survival Skills

After my show, I like to talk about the four “hardcore” survival skills that helped me through this huge detour in my life.  They were not quick fix solutions, a treatment plan, talking to a stranger in a tiny room, or a prescription from one of my many doctors. These were skills I learned as I went. I call it “self-service therapy.”

russs

To put yourself in my shoes, I was discharged from the hospital because I was medically stable after a plethora of emergency stomach surgeries, but I was missing one tiny little thing… a stomach.

So doctors sent me home, asked me to check in periodically, and when my wounds had healed enough from the previous handful of surgeries, they’d try to reconstruct my digestive system.

Creating a Survival Strategy

Look at this like any other unexpected “detour” in life – and believe me, this was very unexpected at 18 years old!But so is a flat tire, a lost job, a breakup, or a breakdown. We all need to learn how to cope with things in life we don’t expect.

chasing blue hope

I like to share the four essential “hard core” survival skills that honestly saved my life.

Four Simple Words

These four words might be easily confused with inspirational wall hangings you see in home decor stores, or whimsical words in bubble letters on the cover of gifted journals you’ll find at the bookstore.

But that’s what makes these “survival skills” so great – they are basic, long-term mindsets that anyone can foster.  Which means we are all capable of surviving and “thriving” through any detour in life!

I’ll only be sharing the first “hard core skill” with you today.  Stay tuned for the rest in this four part series!

Four Survival Skills for Any Detour in Life

1.) Gratitude

When you know what you’re grateful for, you know what you’re about.  Try keeping a daily gratitude list. When you see what’s makes you feel grateful, you’ll see what is important to you, and in turn, what your values are.    Your values act like arrows telling you what direction you need to take on your detour. When you know what your values are, you know what moves you – literally.

The reason why we have trouble knowing where to go on a detour, is that detour shakes up everything we thought we knew. We lose our trust in our world and in our selves.  Make a gratitude list as a daily practice, and you’ll see your value start to emerge.  Once anchored in your values, you’ll know intuitively which way to go on your detour. 

So that’s #1. What do you think the other three might be…?

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Comment here – but definitely stay tuned!  You can follow my adventures on my blog at amyoes.com, or tweet me @amyoes!

And remember – there are a ton of amazing “hard core” survival resources at Turning Point CT!

Safe Travels!

The Detourist