Categories
Alumni Events Recovery

Alumni Family Weekend 2014: A Success!

The Alumni Family Weekend has been a celebrated piece of the Visions puzzle for several Visions Alumni Staff 2014years. It has grown and evolved into a widely celebrated event involving parents, alumni, and staff. We always start out the weekend with an alumni-family dinner. It’s so nice to see families from years’ past as well as recent and current families. The dinner is a nice way to launch a weekend of recovery fun, service projects, and the inimitable Alumni vs. Staff softball game.

 

Roxie Fuller, our Alumni Coordinator did a phenomenal job planning this event with the help of her amazing support team, Chloe Huerta and Nick Riefner.  We had an incredibly diverse array of alumni in attendance along with their families. There were even a few alumni who brought their babies to introduce to the Visions family. What a beautiful thing to witness: our alumni’s transformation into parenthood and beyond.

 

This year, the service project included a pet adoption that the kids and their families could participate in. We have been proud partners with Free Love Animal Rescue in Brentwood since April and it was a pleasure to include alumni and current families in this service work. Working with animals can be a wonderful salve for the heart. Many of our teens volunteer with Free Love Animal Rescue during their time in outpatient, Launch, NeXT and at the Day School.

 

Our softball game was off the hook this year! It was Fiesta themed! Our bellies were full and happy thanks to the taco truck on site. We had a solid scorekeeper this year: Bill Hoban! And staff finally got our title back. We won fair and square. It was an amazing game and no one lost an eye! All in all, it was a perfect end to this year’s Alumni Family Weekend.

 

“What another fun and successful Alumni Weekend! It was lovely to see so many familiar faces and catch up on what our alumni have going on in their lives. Thank you so much to Chloe, Nick, and of course Miss Roxie! These three worked so hard and clocked in many man hours to put this event together.” – Lianne Domingo

 

“The weekend was awesome! Between the unity of the clients both current and past and the hardworking spirit of all the staff alumni weekend was again possible and exciting!” – Nick Riefner

 

“As a fellow alumni being a part of the team that plans the big alumni weekend was an honor. I had a great time seeing so many teens and families doing well. It was really cool to catch up with some alumni that I went to Visions with. I’m so happy so many people came out this weekend! I couldn’t have done it without Roxie, Nick, and Christina.” –Chloe Huerta

 

“This past weekend had me reflecting on how Visions continues to evolve.  We have become so much more than just a treatment center…Visions is a community proudly claimed by so many coast-to-coast and even world wide.  From Staff to Alumni Parents, Teens and now Young Adults…we all have a common thread…we are all Visions Family.” – Christina Howard-Micklish

 

We are grateful for the turnout and diverse array of alumni and their families that joined us this year. We know that no matter what happens in the lives of our alumni, they will always have a community ready to support them. Thank you to all who attended this year,  and a special shoutout to Roxie, Chloe and Nick for their hard work and dedication to making this year’s Alumni Family Weekend such a success. Until next year!

Categories
Mental Health Mood Disorders Personality Disorder Recovery Self-Care

Mental Health is Mental Wealth

When someone suffers from mental illness, there is a deprivation of the joy and emotional wealth that’s present when there is ideal mental health. Mental illness can drain our joie de vivre, and make for a muddy emotional existence. Relationships with loved ones tend to be difficult, and there tends to be a propensity for loneliness and isolation. Worse yet, when mental illness is left untreated, the toll it can take on the one suffering and their loved ones can be taxing and sometimes devastating.

 

Some types of mental illness are more straightforward in their treatment: anxiety and depression, for example, are often treated with various modalities of psychotherapy and balanced with medication. Personality disorders are complex and there are some instances where the patient doesn’t recognize their illness despite their deep suffering. The work involved in treating all mental illness requires a nexus of therapeutic support and a desire for positive change from the patient themselves. The question many have is, Why are personality disorders so challenging?

 

Personality disorders are grouped into three clusters:

  • Cluster A personality disorders are “characterized by odd, eccentric thinking or behavior.” The disorders that fall into this category are:  paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder
  • Cluster B personality disorders are “characterized by dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior.” The disorders that fall into this category are: antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.
  • Cluster C personality disorders are “characterized by anxious, fearful thinking or behavior.” The disorders that fall into this category are: avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

 

Psychotherapy is the most common treatment for all types of mental illness; the most efficacious modality is determined by the needs of the client. Findings show that DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) in particular is the most effective therapeutic treatment for personality disorders and bipolar disorders. Other effective tools used in treatment may include:

  • Individual psychotherapy
  • MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction)
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Somatic Experiencing
  • Neurofeedback

 

To date, the FDA hasn’t approved of any medications to treat personality disorders. However, medications are often used to treat symptoms that are detrimental to the individual’s recovery. Medications like:

 

  • Antidepressents: for depressed mood, anger, irritability, mood swings, impulsivity and hopelessness.
  • Mood stabilizers: to even out mood swings, and to reduce impulsivity, irritability and aggression.
  • Antipsychotic medications (also known as neuroleptics): if symptoms include losing touch with reality (psychosis), and sometimes anxiety and difficulty with anger
  • Anti-anxiety medications: For anxiety, agitation or insomnia. Note, in some cases, they may increase impulsive behavior and are avoided with some personality disorders.

 

Treating mental illness requires the cultivation of balance. Participation from the client, a cohesive treatment team, and the correct combination of medication can create the desired environment of mental health.  It takes work, dedication, and a willingness to unveil one’s difficulties in order to create a healthy shift toward mental health. I have experienced the shadow side of untreated mental illness with family members who are unwilling to get help. It does, in fact, take a toll on everyone involved. I have learned that one of the key pieces for my own recovery is developing clear communication skills, creating firm, compassionate boundaries, and building consistent program of self-care. Families struggling with mental illness need to ensure that their own wells are filled, that they are getting their own needs met, and that they have a community of support around them.

Categories
Adolescence Family Parenting Recovery

In Honor of Father’s Day: Celebrating Visions’ Dads

It’s Father’s Day weekend and we want to honor some of the fathers we have here at Visions. Stepping onto the path of recovery includes working with dysfunctional root systems, which includes parents that aren’t emotionally and in some cases, physically there for us. However, the recovery process also presents another opportunity: The chance to view others in a positive light, and to be able to look at some of the men in our lives who are good and present fathers with what the Buddha calls sympathetic joy.

 

Our founder, Chris Shumow is a great example of this. I often look toward Chris with great admiration and hope, excited to see a man who has not only turned his life around in terms of recovery, but who has taken the helm of parenting and gone to great lengths to be an amazing father. It’s a relationship he treats with deep respect, humor, love, and joy, and it’s an incredible thing to watch.

 

Our Director of Operations, John Lieberman, is another dad that has transcended that which we assume parenting should be. John is a wonderful example of what it means to be an engaged, supportive father. He’s also a grandfather, and I have to tell you, seeing him talk about and rave about his granddaughter is remarkable. He’s also playful in a way that makes anyone around him know that he is a kid at heart.

 

Daniel Dewey, our Residential Director of Education, is not only a seasoned father, having a burgeoning adult under his wing; he is also a new dad. There is something really beautiful and gentle about Daniel’s disposition. He’s accepting and kind.

 

There’s also Mason Rose, one of our Recovery Mentors and father of a young daughter. We were able to watch Mason’s metamorphosis from young man to father, and it’s been really inspiring. Vito Romani is another one of our amazing young dad’s! He and Mason both grace Visions with regular visits from their little ones. There really is nothing like seeing these young, proud papas with their daughters. And John Johnstone, one of our Recovery Mentors is one of the most dedicated dads I know. He is willing to talk about the tough stuff, show up, love unconditionally, and maintain a sense of humor. That’s inspiring!

Last, lets not forget the role of the step-father: Joseph Rogers, Education Coordinator stepped into the role of fatherhood over 6 years ago and has been able to navigate the treacherous waters of forming a partnership and taking on part of someone else’s role with great kindness and compassion. I can say from watching this one up close and personal that the role of step-parent is often the role of the real parent, and taking that on is a challenge. It’s been really inspiring to watch Joseph do this in the way that he has.

 

The role of a father is not always easy, but we are fortunate at Visions to have a group of men in our midst that consistently show up for their kids. These men show up in the same way to our clients, showing them that the father role has the potential of shifting toward love and acceptance. Father’s day can elicit a varied set of emotions for our kids and for us as parents. They can range from untended loss, or expectations, abandonment, and deep grief rising internally around parents that were never available for us, be it physically or emotionally. The recovery piece is finding our voice amidst that loss. Sometimes it wobbles. Sometimes it screams. But it’s there, waiting to come out. Knowing and working with good men in our recovery can help heal that wound and allow us to experience sympathetic joy instead of anger and resentment.

Happy Father’s Day, gentlemen. You are truly an inspiration.

Exit mobile version