Chrysalis Caterpillars Stick Together

By Colleen O’Brien and Scooter Killary

Dynamic duo Scooter and Colleen here. Since us Chrysalis caterpillars have to stick together, we wanted to share a message of hope. This may be a difficult time, but we can not give up. We can stay healthy and hopeful by putting time aside for things that make us smile, give our lives meaning, and keep us active. 

Humor is very helpful during hard times. How can you add humor in your life? First, don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself and silly things that happen in your day. Be on the lookout for humor in your everyday life. Second, include things in your day that make you laugh like a funny movie, show, or video. Whatever flips your switch! Third, add humor into your everyday conversations. By adding jokes to your conversations, you are spreading joy to other people.

Animals are also a way to find hope during this time. Be on the lookout for critters on your walks, drives, or even out the window. Seeing animals in the wild is a great way to focus on something other than yourself, connect with nature, and can be something to look forward to in your day.

Taking a walk outside can be a great way to see other people and critters. This change of scenery and exercise can be a great distraction and can improve your physical and mental health. 

Alright Chrysalis Caterpillars, we hope this was a reminder to find what makes you smile and do more of that.

Tips for Coping in the Pandemic

By Candace Berger

This blog is intended to help you relax and be safe. Now “The Five Senses Tips” is to help to bring you back to the present if you find yourself dissociating. These also help when you find you are worrying about things in your life. It will help distract you from worrying. Continue to do them until you feel better or you had enough.

The Five Senses goes like this:

1. Sight- what are 5 things you see?

2. Touch- what are 4 things you can touch?

3. Hearing- what are 3 things you can hear?

4. Smell- what are 2 things you can smell?

5. Taste- what is 1 thing you can taste?

Now on to the next exercise. The Deep Breathing exercise is to help you with anxiety and worry.  It is a simple breathing exercise that doesn’t take much effort. You can do this anywhere. First, you want to take in a deep breath in through your nose and count as many numbers you can go. It doesn’t have to be a lot of numbers, just some numbers. Then breath out through your mouth and count as many numbers you can go. Keep it at a slow steady pace. Be sure to stop if you are feeling dizzy. This has helped me become calmer before a job or a meeting with a peer specialist. I hope this helps you to become calmer and feeling safer.

Drawing with pens or pencils is a way to distract yourself from the stress caused by the pandemic. Draw anything that your heart desires even if you feel it is not good, just keep at it. Or you could get some drawing tutorials online on Youtube to help with forming your pictures. Here is a tutorial that might help you start out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewMksAbgdBI and you could subscribe to the page if you like the lessons. This will give you more lessons on how to draw.

Now I heard about this from my housemate about a color by number app on your phone that has me going back for more. So, I went searching for it on google play and found an app called “Happy Color”. It has many different scenes and many different colors in the picture itself. Some have 50 colors while others have about 91. It all depends on the complexity of the picture. There are hints as to where one uncolored spot might be in a light bulb at the top right spot of the screen. There will be a light bulb appearing on the left hand of the screen. If you click it, it will go to an advertisement and then when it is done and you have clicked the x on the screen, then you gain two more hints for finding color spots. I hope this app brings you countless hours of fun.

Another artistic thing you could do is paint, especially if you have the paints and canvas. You could do abstract to realism styles of painting or paint whatever comes to you. The four types of paints I know of are Watercolor, Acrylic, Oil, and Tempera paints. Again, you could use youtube to find painting tutorials that match your style. Some stores you can find these paints and canvas are Amazon, Michaels Craft Store, and Utrechtart. If you have Pinterest on your phone you can search for boards with painting tutorials. My favorites are acrylic pouring tutorials and acrylic painting of pictures. You could try those if you ever want to do some of it.

If you feel like it, you could write a short story or a novel if you are ambitious about it. Another thing you write is a song, especially if you have a desire to with your musical talents. This is another way to distract you from the doldrums of being indoors. Again, go to Youtube for tutorials on writing and grammar and writing a song.

The next thing might be something you already do but it could be used to talk about it here. Take a nice long bath with bubbles or salt. That is usually soothing to the body to help you calm down. And if you are in a place that allows scented candles, then go ahead and light them for a while you are in the bath. Also, you could listen to music while in the bath. Just be careful not to electrocute yourself if you have ear buds attached to a phone. Keep the phone at a good distance or on a chair next to the tub. You could still continue to listen to music while you get out of the tub. Then when you get out of the bath put some comfy clothing on like soft pajamas and soft slippers. This tip could be used for a nighttime ritual.

Last tip is that I encourage you to keep in contact with people either through the phone or through video chat if you have a computer or smart phone. You could also talk with the people that you live with and see how they are doing at this time. I hope these tips help you to relax and find support through the means that you have.  

Hats off to our essential workers!

By Jean Bissell

A month ago I shopped at a very large grocery store at 6 a.m. for seniors and the immunocompromised.  I put on my mask and brought  my hand sanitizer convinced there would be a small crowd as it was very early in the morning.  What I found was a full parking lot with many masked older adults lined up to get in.  The store was intensely busy with very little social distancing.  It was a scary and surreal experience walking as quickly as possible while playing dodgeball  with other carts.  After I finished shopping, I stood in a long line to check out, and was pleased that it took only 15 minutes to check out.  This experience made me appreciate and respect the front line employees who face these types of working conditions on a day to day basis.  What courage and strength it takes for them, or any other essential worker,to go to work.  Without them we couldn’t get the services we need.   For now, I order what I need online, but still take a moment to thank the human power that goes into getting the package to my door.  All I can say is bravo and I don’t know what we do without you!

Be your pandemic best.

By Hilleary Reinhardt

The first weekend we were practicing social distancing, I decided to make a list of things I wanted to accomplish during the time we would be home due to COVID19. By the end of week two, I had not accomplished one of those many tasks I told myself I would do. I felt disappointed in myself for not organizing my closet, not cooking healthy meals, not teaching myself how to make French croissants, not waking up early to work out, not putting on clothes other than my grey sweats and cozy sweatshirts, and not reading the book that has been sitting, closed on my coffee table for months. The only thing I had energy to do during those first two weeks was to make it through each day–feed myself, make sure I was getting enough sleep, and make multiple phone calls to my loved ones. 

At first I was telling myself “Hilleary, you are so lazy and unproductive. Snap out of it, some people are putting their lives on the line for this pandemic and you are just loafing around.” With the encouragement from loved ones and the support of my coworkers, I began to have a shift in thinking. Executive Director, Dani, said it in a way that resonated with me “be your pandemic best”.

Many of us have never experienced an event quite like this pandemic. We have not had to figure out how to work from home, have limited–and in many cases no–face to face interactions with friends and family, and have guidelines in place as to where we can and cannot go. This is a new experience for all of us and all we can do is “be your pandemic best”. Our goals and aspirations in life can always take more of a backseat during this time. And don’t compare your “pandemic best” to others’ “pandemic bests” because we all deal with the unknown and experience emotions in different ways. 

I tore up that list I had made that first weekend. I was no longer going to let a list dictate my worth during this pandemic. Instead, I have focused on being MY “pandemic best”. Since I have given myself this freedom, I have noticed that my stress levels have decreased and I am finding some enjoyment and peace during this time. My hope for you is that you too will be kind to yourself during this time and “be your pandemic best”.

2,346 Days Sober 24 Hours at a Time

By Jen King

Don’t isolate! This was a fair warning I heard often when I was getting sober, “stay connected, stay in the middle, go to lots of meetings!” This has worked for me to stay sober for over six years, but what happens when a pandemic comes to town and I am told to stay safer at home? What if I don’t feel safer at home because of my alcoholism, because of the isolation and disconnection that comes with it. What will distract me from the increase in alcohol ads I am seeing on social media and on tv?

Routines, I thrive when I keep to my routines, but my routines can be easily interrupted by excuses. How many times have I not gone to a meeting because I didn’t want to drive, I was tired or hungry ? There’s been times my social anxiety was so high, I drove to the meeting and I couldn’t even get out of my car and go in. More than not though my weekly routine was going to recovery meetings.

After the first week of the Covid 19 shut down I heard some local meetings were going online to the Zoom platform. I was resistant at first, probably that same social anxiety even though I was sitting alone at home during a pandemic. Once I did my first online meeting I wanted to go to more. I’m honestly able to attend more recovery meetings now. Most meetings I have Zoomed into have technical assistance and a contact person for questions. I Googled directions on how to use Zoom, and a list of recovery meetings in my area. When I go into a virtual meeting I may see some familiar smiling faces. I have the option to speak or just listen, I can leave my camera
turned off or I can be the speaker or chair person. Most importantly for me, I’m there, I’m ending isolation! I’m hearing something positive, it’s keeping with my routine, and it’s what I would want to do for my recovery regardless of my excuses.

Going to online meetings has been a way of finding myself safer at home. It’s allowed me to stay active in recovery, even during a pandemic. I’m amazed at the recovery community for picking up the Zoom meetings right away, keeping the doors open and the lights on so to speak.

Zoom meetings are available by phone or computer.
Links to Smart Recovery, AA and NA online recovery meetings in Madison,Wi:
https://www.smartrecovery.org/community/calendar.php
https://aamadisonwi.org/meetings/
http://www.badgerlandna.org/meetings/

Alcohol Awareness Month – Jessica’s Story

By Jessica Perez

I remember making the call as if it were yesterday except it was twenty six years ago. It was the night before Mother’s Day and I was looking for my mother. I had called the last number she gave me however the man from the halfway house said she had moved out. I called a distant relative, no dice. I tried calling a friend of hers but to no avail. I should have been used to it by now but I always had hope. Hope that she will answer. Hope that she would be healthier, taking her meds, seeing a therapist. It didn’t get easier as people say time does. What happened was that I got angrier and then I got sick. But first my mother.

 My biological mother was many things but I knew her as an addict and bi-polar. I know you may be thinking, for someone who prides herself on working towards de-stigmatizing mental illness, works as a peer support and believes in mental wellness versus mental illness, that is pretty strong labeling and language. But you see I wasn’t that evolved yet. I was young, scared, angry, sad and traumatized. I wanted to know why I had to leave my mother and New York and move to Florida to live with my aunt and uncle, whom I would later call mom and dad. I wanted to know why my mother didn’t get more help, why she abandoned me, why she chose drugs over me. It wasn’t until I got older and I got sick and then received help that I realized, it was never about me. It wasn’t my fault. I was good enough. I was worthy. What I wasn’t was more powerful than the disease of addiction. Which brings me to, well, let’s call it a part of me.

I was living in fear. Fear controlled my life. Fear of the future, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection. Fear of becoming my mother. What eventually happened was that I made some choices in my life that fed into my fear, my illness, my disease. I was unhappy, unhealthy, unloved. I did not love myself and I made it extremely difficult for others to love me. I settled, became complacent, froze and in the height of my illness I became self destructive. I became exactly what I feared the most and it was terrifying and I did not see a light.

The light found me. A difference, of many, between my mother and I was that I found support, connection and hope. I found a great group of women in meetings who told me, “believe that I believe it will get better,” and “I will hold the hope for you until you have it for yourself.” I started to love myself again and I began to want more. I wanted to be that support, that connection for others. I wanted to see others grow and flourish and feel empowered. I wanted to live life to the fullest not only for myself but for my mother who was not as fortunate as me.

My mother died while I was starting to truly live. One of the greatest gifts that I have been given in my life was being able to be there for my mother in her last few days. I was able to forgive her, love her and thank her for bringing me into this world. Holding my mother’s hand while she passed was so cathartic in my recovery from substance use and mental health challenges. Releasing me.

Recovery hasn’t been perfect but nothing really is. Recovery is non-linear, hard, fun, challenging, empowering and real. Recovery gives me a chance to grow and live free just by being, accepting and loving me. 

 “I hold you close, 

 I release you to be free; 

I am in you and you are in me.”

  -Thich Nhat Hanh

Alcohol Awareness Month – Alysha’s Story

By Alysha Clark

April is Alcohol Awareness month- a month to talk about the stigma and shame that can come with alcoholism.  When I personally thought about this month, I thought about what it would be like to ‘out’ myself. Some people know that I have struggled with alcoholism but may not know how recently I struggled with it or that for several years I denied I had a problem.  

Today I am 526 days sober.  In October 2018, I decided I wanted to take a break from alcohol.  I had been drinking since I was 14 years old and was “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”  I made a goal of 60 days, 90 days, 6 months, 9 months, one year and now I make a goal that I will stay sober today.  I do not feel the need to think long into the future about my sobriety because I do not feel the pull to drink like I used to.  

Like many Wisconsinites, alcohol is a big part of my family, we drink anywhere we possibly could for any reason.  Alcohol was part of who I was, my identity. That’s why when I got sober, I developed more anxiety attacks, panic attacks (first time in ten years) and really had to rediscover who I was.  This was more of an undertaking than I ever would have imagined. 

“Finding yourself” is not really how it works. You aren’t a ten-dollar bill in last winter’s coat pocket. You are also not lost. Your true self is right there, buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are. “Finding yourself” is actually returning to yourself. An unlearning, an excavation, a remembering who you were before the world got its hands on you.” Emily McDowell

Now, I have a better idea of who I am but I want to make sure people know that the journey isn’t over for me.  In this pandemic, there have been more people than ever saying they are triggered to use. I also have felt more triggered and we all ask ourselves why?  Is it boredom? Is it stress? Is it resentment that alcohol sales are up 55% since mid March? Is it feeling left out from that cocktail zoom hour?

I’m not sure, but I can say that I have had to be more intentional about how I use my time.  I need to do things I fully enjoy, I need to talk to other sober people, and I need to be honest with myself.  If I feel the pull to drink- I need to tell someone, maybe it’s my mom who is also sober now- pretty cool right?

For anyone reading this, I really mean it when I say- If I can get sober, you can get sober.  Shame follows us everywhere but it doesn’t have to. 

Thank you. 

Navigating a Racial and Global Pandemic, COVID-19

By Brook Landeo

Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) gave us some language around what to call the global virus, SARS-CoV-2, that continues to impact us all. This organization shared the acronym, “COVID-19” that stands for Coronavirus disease of 2019, which is the disease caused by the virus. The few times that I allowed myself to tune into social media, I saw and heard this name, “COVID-19” being referenced in relation to social distancing in the majority of media outlets. It was not until I listened to one of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force briefings that I heard the names, “Chinese and China virus” being used to reference the Coronavirus disease of 2019. I later saw a Facebook post by the Asian American Studies Program at UW-Madison that showed the phrase, “It’s from China #ChineseVirus” written in chalk on a sidewalk on State Street in Madison. These references angered me, and I reflected on why COVID-19 was now being called something other than the name it was given by the WHO.

Certainly, this is not the first time a disease has been associated with a location or ethnicity. For example, the 1918 flu pandemic took on the name, “The Spanish flu”. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2019), there is not universal consensus regarding where “The Spanish Flu” originated, but it spread globally to the United States and other countries in Europe and Asia at the end of World War I. Another virus that was named in relation to its location of origin is the Zika virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019) “The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and is named after the Zika Forest in Uganda. Outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.”

After getting into researcher mode to look up all these cool facts for all of you, I realized two things at face value. The first realization that I had was that the names of these viruses were given MANY years ago! “The Spanish flu” was given its name in 1918, and the Zika virus was named in 1947. Although this may have been a popular method of naming diseases many decades ago, we now live in 2020 and have the capacity to evolve over time with a new way of thinking, and at the very least, a new scientific and methodical way of naming global diseases. My second realization was that these names did not accurately describe the locations or ethnicities that they were named after. The Spanish flu impacted millions of people globally, so if the origins of The Spanish Flu were actually tied to Spain, it really did not matter because people of all ethnicities across the globe were also being impacted. The Zika virus exists in several countries as well, so again, the reference to the location of origin is not relevant. These were two reasons, at face value, why the reference to “Chinese and China virus” did not make sense, but this way of thinking didn’t get to the more emotional, human level of why this wasn’t sitting well with me.

As a social worker, I have seen people at their best and also at their worst, usually in moments of crisis. One thing that I know is that people are generally not functioning at their best in times of crisis. People often get scared and shut down completely in an attempt to try to control some aspect of their lives in moments of crisis. When people are feeling scared, it is very easy to blame others and want to hold someone accountable for what is happening around us. Brené Brown states that, “blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain”. There is certainly enough discomfort and pain being felt by millions of people around the world during this time of COVID-19. When people label diseases in ways that associate illness and fatalities with ethnicities and locations, people are simultaneously spreading more pain and discomfort, which leads to even more people feeling targeted, hurt and scared. I do not know about you, but this global pandemic is scary enough, and I do not want to be spreading any additional pain or discomfort to anyone. If we can prevent people from feeling hurt and scared by simply calling a disease by its name, COVID-19, don’t you think that we can all make this change?

Sincerely Your Change Maker,

Brook Landeo

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-pandemic-h1n1.html

https://www.cdc.gov/zika/about/overview.html

8 Self-care Apps to Aid in Recovery

By Andrew Lopez

Mental health challenges can be overwhelming for many individuals even when their receiving the benefits of medication and work with mental health professionals. While mental health services in medications help greatly utilizing natural supports and self-care methods is an essential part of recovery for many individuals. Self-care can be very tricky though and varies greatly from person-to-person. A lot of people have a hard time deciding what self-care to use or have a hard time staying consistent with self-care practices. With these challenges in mind a number of app developers have created apps intended to aid individuals who require a little bit of assistance using self-care for the recovery. With more and more people using smart devices such as phones and tablets having these apps to assist with self-care enables them to utilize the power of the technology for their recovery. Most people nowadays carry a phone with them always and this enables individuals to carry their self-care tools with them at all times. It also is a discreet way of receiving this information as it is not on for people to be staring at their phones even for long periods of time. This greatly reduces anxiety people experience over the stigma of using these tools public. While there are great many apps that have been developed for mental health purposes the following is a list of apps we have tried and found to be helpful in many situations.

WRAP App (Wellness recovery Action Plan)

After using the wrap workbook for number of years I was excited to find out when this app was available so that I an easy way of taking my WRAP with me wherever I go. This app enables you to generate a plan to maintain wellness, stay on track with life goals, create organization planning on day-to-day activities, identify barriers and challenges and remind you of support and self-care methods. The app is $5 and is the only one on this list that requires payment.

Get it On Google Play Store

Get it on iTunes App Store

7 cups: Anxiety & Stress Chat

7 cups is an app that enables you to talk with real life people who are volunteers that have a minimal training on listening and privacy. These volunteers are not therapist’s and the service that the app provides is not intended to replace therapy. Instead this app provides support from peers and a listening ear for times where an individual is not in heavy crisis and not need of professional help. I found this to be very helpful for the times where I could use support in between professional sessions. People can choose to become volunteers on this app as well. This app is free but it also offers a subscription that gives you additional tools for planning and skill building. There is also an option to communicate with her therapist over the app $150 a month. I have not tried the therapy version of this and do not have enough information about it recommend it or not.

Subscription info: https://www.7cups.com/backus/upgrade7cups.php

Get it On Google Play Store

Get it on iTunes App Store

T2 Mood Tracker

I’ve used the T2 mood tracker more than any other mental health app and a been using it for at least 5 years. The app is very simple and easy to use an old enables you to track your mood and mental health symptoms quickly and easily. I find that it’s easier to have conversations with therapist and psychiatrists over what has happened over the week and tracking my mental health symptoms by using this app. By taking a quick survey that takes about 20 seconds your able to quickly record and tracked your symptoms and mood. The app enables you to track on a chart changes over time. You can also put in individual notes when you want to put in more information about that point in time. All of this information can be shared with a therapist or other mental health provider quickly and easily. The only trick is remembering to use it and use it often which can take some practice.

Get it On Google Play Store

Get it on iTunes App Store

Headspace: Meditation & Mindfulness

I’ve only had a little bit of experience working with headspace but I found it to be pretty helpful and a powerful tool. I found it effective way of performing self-care and working on goals. I find that in moments of great stress and crisis it can be hard to remember and practice good self-care but apps like this have been very helpful. This app is chock-full of helpful tools for keeping track of symptoms and working on specific goals.

Get it On Google Play Store

Get it on iTunes App Store

SuperBetter

This may be the most creative mental health app I’ve ever seen. The designers created this app with the mentality that people tend to use apps more often and consistently if they’re having fun much like playing game. This app turns self-care practices and symptom tracking into a game giving you points and conquering enemies. I urge people to give this one a try if they are into any type of mobile games. Below is a description from the developer on living Gamefully.

“To Live Gamefully means bringing the same mindset and psychological strengths naturally displayed when playing games – such as optimism, creativity, courage, and determination – to real life. It means having the courage and openness to try different strategies to discover what works best. It means collaborating with allies, and building up the resilience to tackle tougher and tougher challenges with greater and greater success.”

Get it On Google Play Store

Get it on iTunes App Store

PTSD Coach
     
While I don’t have PTSD myself, I’ve taken a look at this app and found it to be very well organized and pragmatic. Here’s a description given by the developer:
“PTSD Coach was designed for Veterans and military Servicemembers who have, or may have, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This app provides users with education about PTSD, information about professional care, a self-assessment for PTSD, opportunities to find support, and tools that can help users manage the stresses of daily life with PTSD. Tools range from relaxation skills and positive self-talk to anger management and other common self-help strategies. Users can customize tools based on their preferences and can integrate their own contacts, photos, and music. This app can be used by people who are in treatment as well as those who are not. PTSD Coach was created by VA’s National Center for PTSD and DoD’s National Center for Telehealth & Technology.”

Get it On Google Play Store

Get it on iTunes App Store

Youper – Emotional Health

Youper is another mental health app with a very unique design. For those of you that use digital assistants to help organize and manage your life and half like this may feel very intuitive and easy-to-use. This app creates what it calls and emotional health Assistant which is a bot that has a conversation with you to talk about symptoms and symptom management. Users should be aware that they’re not talking with the real person and that suggestions made by the program are designed to be very general and nonspecific. That being said I found using the out to be easy and very helpful.

Get it On Google Play Store

Get it on iTunes App Store

Coloring book for adults

Mental health symptoms can be managed a number of ways. A summary who lives with anxiety I find that participating in activities that focus my mind can be a good way of coping with symptoms. The coloring book for adults app I find to be useful for coping with my anxiety symptoms and refocusing my mind. This app is simple and easy-to-use and can be used as a mental health app or just for fun. In my experience using more physical medium is a little bit more effective as a mental health tool but the portability of this app makes it extremely useful and pragmatic in situations where you might not be able to carry paints or other art supplies.

Get it On Google Play Store

Get it on iTunes App Store

2019 Success Chrysalis Celebration

By Alysha Clark

While walking into the Goodman Center for our Annual Success Celebration, I would have never dreamed of the participation and inspiration that came out of it.  Each year, Chrysalis hosts a Celebration of Success to recognize the successes of the Consumers, Staff, and Chrysalis. We also have staff available to serve delicious food, this year catered by Chipotle. 

There was time to socialize with consumers, agency partners, staff, board members, parents, and friends.  We then started the speeches. Executive Director Dani Rischall started by talking to us about different program successes.

Then Vocational Peer Specialist Matthew Strickland took the mic and invited people to share their successes in 2019.  We had several people share- from “developing leadership skills” to “working for 10 months”. We had parents share about “what Chrysalis had done for their child” and agency partners share about Chrysalis services being “night and day” change in the consumer’s lives.  It was an extremely inspirational moment, that we will all remember.

We then moved on to the awards.  This year, IPS Supervisor Amy Yonker presented the Employer of the Year award to Madison Marriot West for their dedication supporting an individual doing banquet set up and their great communication with Chrysalis.

The second award was presented by Employment Specialist Furman Avery to David Gober for the Chrysalis Achievement Award.  David Gober gave an inspirational speech talking about how work has helped him in his recovery and reminding us all that the work is never over- especially for David who will continue to work towards his dreams.

To finish the celebration, we showed off the beautiful collaborative art that we created.  Each butterfly has a written success by someone in the room that day. Now we have a piece of that inspirational day to remind us of all the successes in our welcome area.