K.J. Aiello describes herself as a mentally ill writer. It is, she says, who she is. After being misdiagnosed in college, K.J. spent a decade and a half wondering who she was and where she fit in. She discusses that journey, her acceptance of her mental illness, and how her life has improved because she simply didn’t care to hide or defend herself anymore. K.J. is a Toronto-based mentally ill writer whose work includes essays, op-eds, and a soon-to-be-released non-fiction book titled The Monster and the Mirror, which explores the intersection of speculative fiction and mental illness. She also authored an article that appeared in the independent publication, The Walrus, titled “Who Gets to be Mentally Ill,” since, as she indicates, not everyone is served equally by the mental health and substance use disorder system equally. K.J. and her work can be accessed at https://www.kjaiello.ca
When a loved one dies from alcohol or other drug use, everyone is devastated, but everyone copes differently. Melissa Largey talks about her brother Chris’s death from opiates, how she coped with his passing, and how that tragedy has affected her life and relationships moving forward. Professionally, Melissa is a Human Services Case Manager. She is also a wife, daughter, sister, and mom. If you or a loved one needs help due to substance abuse, help is available. There are online Alcoholics Anonymous meetings every day at https://aa-intergroup.org/meetings/. A registry of Al-Anon meetings for friends and families of those who are afflicted with substance use disorders can be found at https://al-anon.org.
When students are asked what issues they face, mental health problems and drug usage often top the list of concerns. In Door County, Wisconsin, four county high schools formed a coalition called Project 180 to allow students to make a positive difference on these issues in their schools and across their communities. Jody Nelson and Sara Paye are counselors at Southern Door High School in Brussels, Wisconsin. They discuss the success of Project 180, current concerns of the young people, and the empowerment of students. If you’d like more information about Project 180, contact Mike McGowan at [email protected].
Many people follow very traditional routes towards recovery of substance use disorders; others, not so much. Patrick Ridge talks about his unique road to recovery and the way he uses his social media visibility to help others. Pat is a member of the Hip Hop group Hyper Crush, Owner of Graceland Ranch Sober Living, Co-Founder Of Ridge Production and the Brand Learning To Lose. Recovery is possible, whatever road you choose. Patrick can be reached at www.learningtolose.com, and links to his various platforms can be accessed at https://www.youtube.com/@PATRICKRIDGETV
According to the Department of Justice, every 68 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. Kylene Spanbauer, Miss Wisconsin 2022, provides education and empowerment through her social impact initiative, No Means No: Sexual Assault Education. Kylene is a Certified Inclusion Ambassador and has received training for ACES, CPIS Crisis Intervention and De-escalation strategies, WCASA Sexual Assault Victim Advocacy School, and AMAZE for prevention educators. She discusses her initiative and work in communities to bring greater awareness to the issue of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Kylene can be reached for more information and bookings at https://www.misswisconsin.com/miss-wisconsin-2022-kylene-spanbauer/
Strong feelings don’t just check themselves at the workplace door. Lynn McLaughlin and Karen Iverson Riggers talk about how to address strong feelings that occur in the workplace and how to construct safe boundaries. According to numerous studies, including one from the Harvard Business Review, expressions of anger have risen dramatically across the culture. If you need help for your mental health, it is available. Nationally, you can start your search at https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help. You can also reach out to today’s guests, Lynn and Karen. They are consultants, co-owners, and members of Ebb & Flow Connections Cooperative in Northeast Wisconsin and can be reached at https://www.ebbandflowcooperative.com.
At a time when it seems as though every drug bought illegally is laced with something toxic, it would seem users would be cautious. But drug fatalities are up in 2023, yet again, after record numbers in 2022, and new adulterants are appearing on the scene all the time. Sara Schreiber talks about those souls who lost their lives to their addiction and the combinations of chemicals that killed them. Sara is the Forensic Technical Director in the Milwaukee (Wisconsin) County Medical Examiner’s office. If you or a loved one needs help, it is available. You can find AA meetings here: https://mtg.area75.org/meetings.html?dist=7 and NA meetings here: https://namilwaukee.org/meetings/
Many people believe that pregnant people who use any amount of a criminalized drug will inevitably harm or even kill their fetuses. But media hype is not the same as science, and popular news reports have misrepresented the facts about prenatal exposure to drugs. Dana Sussman discusses the role of Pregnancy Justice’s work to educate the public about the science of pregnancy and drug usage and to defend the rights of pregnant people, especially those who are most at risk of state control and criminalization: those who are low-income, of color, and drug-using. Dana is the Acting Executive Director for Pregnancy Justice, an organization formed to ensure that no one loses rights because of pregnancy. Pregnancy Justice can be reached at https://www.pregnancyjusticeus.org.
Where is the line between healthy and unhealthy relationships? How do we break patterns of unhealthy behaviors in our relationships? Rio Timberlane, the author of the book The Joy of Lucid Love, talks about the journey to finding yourself and navigating life in the healthy lanes of the highway. Rio is a Relationship Scientist, Author, and Speaker. He and his work can be accessed at https://www.riowrks.org/rio-timberlane.
Sometimes, when we are feeling down, we mask our pain behind a smile — or a drug. Dr. Laura Petracek entered her teen years just as her family moved to a new state. She felt distant from everyone she lived with and knew, and she felt invisible. Like many people, she masked her pain. She recounts her journey and discoveries that led her to combine the philosophies and teachings of Alcoholics Anonymous with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Dr. Petracek is the author of The Anger Workbook for Women and The DBT Workbook for Alcohol and Drug Addiction. Her contact information and work, including her books, can be found at https://www.laurapetracekphd.com