I would like to start this off with how I was living in the illusion of the fact that I was in control of my life. I was still employed and in a relationship but had a secret affair with my addiction…..A secret is what I thought it was. Everyone knew except me.
I still did not accept that I was an addict even when I was losing the respect of my spouse, my co-workers and even myself. I would not be willing to accept the fact that I had a sickness, a disease of addiction, until I lost everything. I had hit what they called bottom.
I came to TOGETHER WE CAN and they taught me that together with people that had the same sickness of addiction could achieve a manner of living through hard work. I found out that my fellow brother, father, or uncle could live a life of joy, happiness, and peace to be the best men we can be.
Through honesty, willingness, and being open-minded to a new way of life I could develop a spiritual path to recovery which would require hard work but tremendous benefit to myself and all the people in my life.
I owe everything to the care and concern and especially the love of all the staff/clients like myself for their support through the biggest struggle and journey of my life.
With sincere thanks to TWC,
We want to express our appreciation to you for all you and the staff at TWC and James at Discovery have done for Michael. What happens at TWC is a miracle and it would not happen without all the hard work from the dedicated staff. You have a wonderful community there, you have enriched our lives.
DAWN MC KECHNIE’S TESTIMONIAL
My son is alive today because of TWC. To say the past 12 years have been a nightmare is an understatement. It happened so fast. One day my happy, loving son was gone and I was living with an abusive addict. He became a compulsive liar and manipulator, stole everything I owned of value (repeatedly), and the threat of violence, if he didn’t get what he wanted when he wanted, was always there. Through all of it, I never forgot my son and always loved him in spite of his behaviours. Most people didn’t understand my dedication to him as they saw only the addict and not the boy I knew. Nick’s life wasn’t easy with learning disabilities and ADHD, his father suffers with debilitating mental illness, and Nick was devastated when his step-father and uncle (both his closest father figures), died unexpectedly when he was 13-14. I was very alone (with the exception of a few people) in my struggle to save Nick’s life and I became an enabler and codependent. I rationalized and made excuses for his behaviours due to his disabilities and the tragedies he experienced. My health deteriorated and my life was on hold. I was living each day fixated on saving my son while he was fixated on killing himself. Nick had been in two previous treatment centers and ended up worse off after then he was before. As much as I couldn’t give up on him, I started to believe he couldn’t be helped. When I spoke to Stacey Wilson at TWC, my gut told me this was my son’s best hope to survive. Stacey has gone above and beyond since May 2014 to help my son save his own life. Even when my son chose to leave, more than once, the door was never permanently closed. Stacey continued to give him another chance to save himself and finally, through TWC’s love and perseverance, Nick decided he was worth saving. I am so grateful that today, Nick is 26 and for the first time in over 12 years he is happy and healthy. With TWC’s help he is building a bright, independent, sober future for himself. Nick will always have struggles, but TWC has taught him to focus on his strengths and not his weaknesses. Nick still has a lot of work to do but instead of being scared, he is ready for the challenges because he has the support of TWC. TWC is so much more than the very best treatment center. It’s a community. It’s a family. It isn’t a 30 day or 60 day treatment and off you go back to your old life. It is a group that are committed to continued, life-long relationships of sobriety, friendship and acceptance. My son belongs in the TWC family and I consider TWC an extension of my own family. Special thanks to Robbie Edgar and Stacy Wilson for believing in Nick and taking all my frantic calls and emails over the past year and a half.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a widely prevalent anxiety disorder characterized by mentally and physically invasive symptoms that can severely disrupt someone’s life. During WWI it was known as shell shock. After WWII it was renamed combat stress reaction. Vietnam veterans became best known for their flashbacks of combat, a terrifyingly common symptom for many diagnosed with this disorder. However, PTSD doesn’t just affect veterans of war. Anyone who has experienced a traumatic event can develop PTSD, including victims of abuse, witnesses of accidents or violent crimes, or individuals who have lost loved ones or who have had a brush with death. Any traumatizing event can trigger a response. Trauma is cumulative. Just like a repeated physical injury results in dysfunction and compensation, so do the emotional ones. Physical trauma, too, can lead to PTSD, and I am talking beyond physical brain trauma. Why? Because you can’t separate the body from the mind. We store our emotional trauma physically, and our physical trauma emotionally. Trauma (emotional or physical) gets woven into every cell and muscle fibre of our bodies. Repeated trauma without treatment reinforces the pattern of compensation until the proverbial levee breaks, and there is nowhere left for it to go. This eventually leads to a full system breakdown, otherwise known as a nervous breakdown, when the body and mind can no longer tolerate the strain. This is the place where suicide and homicide live: a terribly dark and horrifying world of desperation and last resort. Many turn to drugs and alcohol as way of trying to cope with their pain. Frustrated with their situation or too afraid to ask for help, they turn to substance, which creates more trauma, perpetuating the cycle of worsening symptoms and more frequent anxiety. PTSD Yoga Therapy for Sufferers Trauma triggers the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) to fire. Designed as a self-preservation system intended only for emergencies, in people with PTSD (and those with concurrent substance use or addiction issues) this system gets stuck. As trauma is relived (as flashbacks, nightmares or at random intervals), or through continuous traumatization on a regular basis, the SNS doesn’t get the break it should. Prolonged firing of the SNS of this kind drains the adrenal glands of their life-preserving juices (adrenaline), leading to what is known as adrenal fatigue. The symptoms of adrenal fatigue are debilitating: extreme fatigue, low immunity, body aches, hair loss, etc., create a complex pattern of illness for the sufferer. Not only is the person suffering from the mental and emotional components of their trauma, but a physiological one as well.
It sounds bleak doesn’t it? There’s hope. Yoga has been shown to be of tremendous benefit. To those that practise regularly, this will be of no surprise. Yoga teaches integration, acceptance and breath-work. It allows the physical body to unwind, align and be at ease. It asks the mind to let go, to be present in each moment. Its benefits have been researched and proven to help treat chronic pain, anxiety, depression, headaches, digestive and sleep problems, and more. It is a physical practice that supports emotional wellbeing as much as it is an emotional practice that supports physical wellbeing. From the TCM view, when the body and mind are diseased, the amount of abundant healthy energy circulating throughout its various connections (meridians) also becomes diseased and disorganized. As trauma shuts down one area of the body, its neurobiological connection to the brain can also become less active, sending the message to the rest of the body that it’s cutting its losses to survive. Acupuncture is also well suited to treating PTSD. Acupuncture gently helps shift the body out of sympathetic firing into parasympathetic firing, making its use in the treatment of trauma and PTSD indispensable. Together yoga and acupuncture help the body to return to homeostatic balance effectively by engaging all aspects of the mind-body in a non-invasive supportive way that is patient-centred. I often suggest a number of simple and gentle postures that are doable for yoga newcomers, coupled with a few equally easy-to-use acupoints when one is feeling particularly overwhelmed:
- Balasana (child’s pose): A posture of surrender and rest. It is also deeply relaxing, and serves additionally to help lengthen the back (the low back in particular).
- Yin-tang: This is an acupoint located at the centre of the forehead. Used to help calm the mind, strengthen one’s intuition, and treat headaches and sore eyes, it is a profoundly relaxing point. This point can be pressed by the hands, or against the floor while the head rests in balasana.
- Shan Zhong (Ren 17): This point is located at the centre of the chest on the sternum (breast bone) on a line drawn between the two nipples. It is used to facilitate the movement of qi in the body (meeting point of qi). It helps guide chest qi downward (for breathing) and is also classified as the front mu (alarm) point of the pericardium. This is an area of tension frequently experienced during anxiety attacks. I often place emphasis on this point when doing sun salutations, when the hands come to rest in prayer at the centre of the chest. At this stage in the salutation sequence, I ask people to pause and take a deep breath into the heart, while pressing their thumbs into the point.
The important piece to take away from this is that there are treatment options available for PTSD. It is a multifaceted illness that requires a multifaceted approach. Employing the skills of a well trained therapist and participating in group therapy are always good ideas.
Be well. Namaste.
I was trying to sleep. It was late or early…I was not quite sure. I was in a homeless shelter in the downtown east end. My feet were so swollen and blistered that I couldn’t put my shoes back on. I had been walking for the last 12 hours with nowhere to go. My head was racing with thoughts. How did I let this happen again? Why can’t I stop? Every thought leads back to my kids. I feel like giving up and letting my addiction win. I became okay with dying in the hell of the east end. I have nothing left and nowhere to go.
I decided to go to detox because at least it’s a safe place to “spin dry” I slept for 3 days and when I woke up I was really sick but my head was just a little bit clearer. I went to a panel meeting that night and there was a speaker there who was from TWC. I had heard of this place before and had seen people succeed there. I started to call and within 5 days I was on my way.
When I showed up at TWC I was completely broken and had no hope that I could even change. TWC and the counsellors here started to explain my addiction and my recovery another shot. I have started to have hope and that hope lead to willingness to give recovery another shot. I have started to do the work honestly, openly and willingly. I’m building a solid support group and a connection with my higher power. In the short time I have been at TWC, I have gone from homeless and hopeless to happy, clean and serene. I don’t have much, but I have my heart and for that I thank TWC!
Together We Can and The Vancouver Recovery Club want to encourage performance in recovery . We want to welcome all comedians, singers, musicians, poets, dancers, actors and whatever other performers are out there to come down and help us put on our show. It will be held once a month at The VRC and we encourage performers to contact Matt at TWC if they would like to book a time slot. Keep your eyes open for our announcement on the next “THE ORIGINALS” performance night. Doors open at 7:30 pm and admission is $5.00 and half price if you’re in residential treatment.
I couldn’t stop. No matter how many times I promised myself or loved ones. I couldn’t stop. I lost my job and my home. As a result of how my life was going, I felt suicidal. I felt empty inside. Life had me defeated. I attended meetings but couldn’t get more than one week clean. My pride was keeping me from reaching out and the suffering got worse as time went on. It got to a point where I ended up back at my mother’s place sleeping on the floor in the spare bedroom. I was sick of feeling hopeless. I was ten pounds underweight, I had bags under my eyes from not sleeping. I was insane.
One day I finally had enough. I was in so much pain that I picked up the phone and reached out to a support worker that was involved at TWC. He told me that I had to commit 100%. I was all in.
Since being at TWC, I’ve managed to get my physical health back and gain a better understanding of this disease I am battling. Thanks to TWC, I am learning how to forgive myself for the past and how to re-build my self-esteem and confidence. Today I have no regrets about the love and care that TWC has shown me. In time I hope to return the favour by working with struggling alcoholics & addicts.