The Meadows Blog

Friday, 16 September 2016 00:00

Recovery Requires Shining a Light on Trauma

By Peter Charad

It's one of those memories that feels like it happened yesterday.

Tuesday evening, October 5, 1976, I had checked into the Sheraton Hotel in Hong Kong. As I arrived at my room I heard the phone ringing.

I was excited as I assumed it was my Hong Kong pals phoning to tell me what the arrangements were for the evening.

I have never been able to describe the feeling when, as I picked up the telephone, my ex-brother-in-law told me that my brother had taken his own life.

Colin was the family hero; my personal hero. My belief was that when all else failed he would be there to catch me⎯and he was gone!

I couldn't breathe, I felt nauseous, and then an enormous, scary howl screeched out of me. I started sobbing uncontrollably. I felt so alone and in dire stress; completely out of control.

A colleague had been phoned before I was phoned and very shortly arrived at my door with a bottle of XO Brandy. He poured out a very large glass for me. Those powerful feelings began to subside.

Early the next morning I bought the first 10mg Valium tablets, of many to come, and booked my journey to Johannesburg for the Friday funeral. There was no direct flight so I was booked to leave in the evening via Australia, a 37-hour journey that I survived on alcohol and Valium!

I made it to the funeral and returned back to Hong Kong two days later to continue on as if nothing had happened. The reality was that it hadn't happened on a “feeling level.” I had gone way up into that space where I couldn't feel hurt anymore and I continued to live up there for another 12 years surviving on alcohol and drugs.

I entered a treatment facility in November 1988 to help me stop using these substances. It worked; I was there for five weeks and thankfully haven't found it necessary to use alcohol or any other substance since.

However, little did I know that all the feelings I had numbed before, over and over again for those 12 years were waiting to be felt and processed. It was overwhelming at times; I did not think I would get through it. But, little by little, those enormous feelings began to ease and slowly, after three and a half years of sobbing and screaming I began to surface feeling calm⎯not high, just calm.

It allowed me to emotionally bury my late brother with love and then start healing from all the pain and find the real person under all of that trauma. I am so grateful that I stayed and found mentors who shone lights for me when everything looked so dark.

Share Your Story

In honor of National Recovery Month, we want to hear your story and share it with others. What does being #fearless mean to you, and to your recovery? Tell us in a short essay (500 words) or short video (2 minutes), and we may feature you on our blog or Facebook page! Email your submissions to asauceda@themeadows.org, or share them on Twitter and mention @AndreaSauceda in your tweet.

Published in Treatment & Recovery
Thursday, 15 September 2016 00:00

Being Fearless in Recovery Means Being Vulnerable

By: Rachel Margolis

My immediate thought about the word "fearless" is of one being without fear. For years, I have been literally frozen by fear and pain from childhood trauma that rolled into adulthood. As a child, displaying any feelings at all prompted being shamed by my caregivers, who I was afraid of most of all. I dived into addiction in order not to feel that fear and pain. Eventually, I was unable to feel anything without feeding my addiction - and that soon ceased to work. The result? I found myself not even able to get out of bed. I wasn't afraid of dying - I was afraid of living. I couldn't feel anything and didn't want to.

During my stay at The Meadows this year, I learned to identify my feelings and "sit with them" opposed to minimizing, denying, and avoiding them. I was full of fear as I faced the darkest parts of my life and I did something so painfully difficult for me - I asked for help each step of the way. I took the risk to be vulnerable and trust people - my peers, my therapists, and my Higher Power. When I reached out for help, I found the "fear" became "less"!

Being fearless in recovery to me is taking the risk to be vulnerable - willing to be seen and to see and accept others where they are. Being fearless is putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward with openness, honesty and willingness, even when it's painful. It's being perfectly imperfect and accepting the humanity of myself and others - while striving to be the best me I can be, which will always be enough. I have discovered that my addiction and trauma are stronger than ME, but not stronger than WE! With that WE strength I know I can walk through the most challenging times that I might face.

Share Your Story

In honor of National Recovery Month, we want to hear and share your story. What does being #fearless mean to you, and to your recovery? Tell us in a short essay (500 words) or short video (2 minutes), and we may feature you on our blog or Facebook page! Email your submissions to asauceda@themeadows.org, or share them on Twitter and mention @AndreaSauceda in your tweet.

Published in Treatment & Recovery

Jim Dredge, CEO of Alita Care, LLC, has announced that Kyle Wescoat will join the company as Chief Financial Officer. Wescoat’s responsibilities as Alita Care CFO will include oversight of the Finance and Information Technology operations for both Sunspire Health and Meadows Behavioral Healthcare.

Wescoat comes to Alita Care with more than 25 years of CFO experience in a variety of well-regarded public and private companies, including Emulex, VIZIO, and Vans. He also has previous experience in the field of behavioral health as the former Executive Vice President and CFO of Aspen Education Group and as CFO of Meadows Behavioral Healthcare. Wescoat received his undergraduate degree from Drexel University and MBA in Finance from the University of Michigan.

“Kyle has proven himself to be a tremendous CFO and organizational leader in a variety of settings. He brings with him a remarkable set of skills and experiences that I believe will benefit Alita Care as we continue to evolve our 15 differentiated programs for treating addiction and other behavioral health disorders,” said Dredge. “I look forward to working with Kyle to create more high-quality treatment options for patients and their families, clinical referral sources, and payors across the country in the rapidly changing behavioral health environment.

Wescoat is also active in his community. He has maintained a long-time involvement with Hoag Hospital Presbyterian and serves as Chairman of Hoag Irvine’s Executive Advisory Board. He also serves on the President’s Advisory Council at Drexel University.

“I appreciate the confidence of our new investor (Kohlberg and Co). I think Alita Care is uniquely positioned to offer a care continuum not found in any other neurobehavioral health company,” Wescoat said. “ I am excited about the innovative ways Sunspire is addressing the in-network market, and Meadows Behavioral Healthcare remains the highest quality provider of trauma-based therapy and eating disorder treatment available anywhere. “

Published in News & Announcements
Thursday, 18 August 2016 00:00

Trauma from Natural Disasters Can Linger

Trauma that arises from natural disasters—like the horrific flood that has devastated much of Louisiana this week—can have a heavy emotional toll on those who are directly affected, including survivors, rescue workers, volunteers, bystanders, and witnesses. Mild to moderate stress reactions are normal and expected for anyone involved. Although their reactions, emotions, and behaviors may seem extreme at the time, they generally don’t turn into chronic disorders.

For some, though, the trauma can be so overwhelming that it more or less “rewires” the person’s brain, putting them in a state of hypervigilance and/or helplessness for many months or years beyond the event leaving them with the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or severe anxiety and depression.

When Does Stress Become a Stress Disorder?

Peter Levine, a renowned trauma expert and Senior Fellow at The Meadows, defines trauma not by the event, but by the person’s reactions to it and their symptoms. Earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, shootings, and massive violent attacks are events that typically come to mind when people think of traumatic events. Many might also include being involved in a serious accident, being a witness to a serious accident, or being the victim of or witness to a serious crime as “trauma.”

Some people will be more severely affected by a traumatic event and struggle for varying periods of time based on the nature of the event and their own temperament. Some of the warning signs that someone is experiencing levels of stress beyond what is normal and expected after a traumatic event and may be struggling with PTSD include…

  • Dissociation (amnesia, feeling as if he world is not real, losing your sense of identity, taking on a new identity, feeling disconnected from your body)
  • Flashbacks (vivid “screen” memories, night terrors, repetitive reenactment)
  • Panic attacks, violent impulses, inability to concentrate
  • Paralyzing anxiety, constant worry, severe phobias, obsessions, fear of losing control
  • Problematic drug and alcohol use, sexual acting out, eating issues, and other forms of self-medication
  • Delusions, hallucinations, bizarre thoughts

Any of these symptoms indicate that the person likely needs help from a mental health professional or treatment program.

When to Get Help for PTSD

It’s not possible to predict when or if someone who has experienced a traumatic event will develop PTSD. Some people will seem fine at first—maybe even strangely fine—only to be overcome with the disorder some time later. In general survivors of natural disasters should see a therapist or mental help professional if acute stress symptoms don’t subside after a month, or if they feel that their thoughts and emotions, and their lives, are spiraling out of control.

If a treatment program is needed, it might be helpful to look for one that offers not only talk therapy but also EMDR, Somatic Experiencing©, and the latest neurofeedback techniques for treating trauma. A comprehensive, brain-based approach can help PTSD sufferers recover more fully and return to “normal” more quickly.

Published in Trauma
Thursday, 11 August 2016 00:00

Start Your Comeback

In one way or another, to the outside world, you are a picture of success. Chances are you have several things in your life to be grateful for. Maybe you are a leader at your company or in your industry. Maybe you have a great spouse and great kids who you are sending to the best schools. Maybe you have the nice car, and the nice house and the vacations and all of the other spoils that make up the American Dream.

But, in spite of all of this, something doesn’t seem right. You keep making the same mistakes in your life and relationships over and over again. You’ve noticed that you often can’t concentrate, are highly irritable, or are inexplicably sad. You’re starting to wonder if you eat too much (or too little), drink too much, rely too heavily on sleeping pills at night, or watch too much pornography. You’re starting to worry about people finding out your “secret,” and about losing your spouse or partner, your friends, your job, or your livelihood.

Or maybe you’re in recovery, but feel like you’re starting to slip. You know you need to do a little more therapeutic work to get to where you want to be in life.

“What is going on with me?” you wonder. “And, what can I do about it?”

Book Your Stay at The Rio Retreat Center

The Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows offers intensive workshops that can help you through either of the above scenarios and many more. The workshops are designed and led by some of the nation’s top behavioral health experts. In a relaxing and restorative setting, you will explore the root causes of your troubles and begin to resolve the negative thoughts and feelings from which unwanted and self-defeating behaviors arise.

If you are struggling to achieve your goals and enjoy your life in the same one you once did, we want to help you stage a comeback. So, from now until September 30, we’ll give you 25 percent off the price of a Rio Retreat Center workshop when you book overnight accommodations at the Rio Retreat Center Bunkhouse.

Bunkhouse Benefits

The Rio Retreat Center is about an hour away from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Those who stay at the on-site Bunkhouse have the added benefit of free transportation to and from the airport—no need to worry about the hassle of renting a car!

The rooms at the Bunkhouse are purposely free of the distractions that often accompany hotel lodging such as TVs and phones. This helps makes your stay more conducive to the process of healing and recovery. Bunkhouse occupants also have access to the swimming pool during certain hours.

Make Your Reservations Today!

Space in the Bunkhouse is limited, so don’t hesitate to book your workshop and your room. Call 800.244.4949 today. You must mention this blog post when booking your stay in order to take advantage of the special offer.

Special Offer Details

Book a room at the Rio Retreat Center Bunkhouse and receive 25% off the price of your workshop.

  • Workshop participant must book single or double occupancy in our bunkhouse at normal rate
  • Rio Retreat Bunkhouse accommodations include round-trip transportation from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, Sunday evening snack and all meals through noon on Friday and all complimentary activities
  • Workshop registration must be completed and payment made by September 30, 2016
  • Workshop attendance can occur any time before December 31, 2016
  • Offer applies to most workshops offered at the Rio Retreat Center (see note)
  • Workshop registration is subject to availability
  • Participant must be clinically appropriate for the workshop
  • Travel expenses are the responsibility of the participant

NOTE

  • Discount does not apply to these workshops: Discovery to Recovery, Family Workshops and Couples Workshop.
  • Rio Retreat Bunkhouse has lodging available on a first come, first served basis.
  • This blog post must be mentioned when registering to receive the discount.
Published in Workshops

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