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This site is devoted to sharing pictures, letters  and poems of Sean Blake. He was a young man who loved kindness.  He enjoyed giving and receiving love. A gifted poet and writer. He was an amazing chess and card player.  Sean showed his love by cooking for family, friends and strangers alike.  You may have seen him reading palms on Church St. in Burlington, VT.  He touched many lives with his wit, charisma and love of life.

The site is maintained by Sean’ s family. We hope to show that Sean was more than his disease. We share our stories and many stories of families affected by substance use disorder. We hope there will be less stigma and shame with mental illness and substance use disorder. We hope to raise awareness of the dangers of opiates and risk of death from their use. We advocate for compassionate treatment and harm reduction.

As anyone reading this can understand, Sean wanted to live. he wanted sobriety. It takes only one moment of  weakness with an opiate to cause serious consequences. The message is don’t start. No one intends to grow up to be a slave to a substance.

Sean initially began with high dose THC products, this caused mania, psychosis and even a suicide attempt. It ended his career in the Navy.  Unfortunately, he developed polysubstance use disorder. He began use of opiates in addition to cocaine and marijuana. Sean used Oxycontin and eventually heroin.  Sadly, he transitioned from opiates to marijuana. He attempted to treat his OUD with marijuana. While he survived five years after his OUD was “in remission”, he eventually, used something that turned out to be fentanyl. We aren’t sure if he had any idea what he was using. He still, at times, when manic used cocaine. However, he did have needles in his bag and can’t say for sure what was in his mind.  He was impaired with marijuana and alcohol in addition to the small amount of fentanyl.  I wish he had been on some type of MAT, instead of trying to self-medicate.

The poems and letters were written, mostly during periods of good health.  The writings and posts chronicle his struggles with love, bipolar disorder, substance use and life.  Hopefully,  what he has left behind will help another to choose life over addiction or at least show more kindness to those struggling with this disease.

SB died at age 27 from an overdose of alcohol and fentanyl, combined with marijuana.

We will miss him forever.

Our Stories Matter

ourstoriesmatter

Our Stories Matter   

 

Event to End Stigma for Mental Health Conditions and Substance Use Disorders

August 24th 5-7 pm

Oakledge Lower Pavilion, Burlington Vermont

 

Speakers share their personal stories,

Resource Fair,

Slideshow tribute to those lost,

Naloxone training,

Light refreshments

 

Presented by for-kindness.com

(Sean Blake’s family)

 

Have a family member you want to include in our slide show, send photo to blakestb@gmail.com

Mobilize Recovery

especially when you let it! Be kind to each other. (1).png

I recently returned from an amazing conference/training. The Voices Project is partnering with Facebook and several other recovery minded businesses.

It was inspiring and energizing. I felt drawn to doing more work in my own community to prevent substance use disorder and to help those who are afflicted with SUD and/or mental health issues.

Since returning home (via a short camp vacation) I got started planning an event to Stop Stigma regarding mental illness and substance use disorder. #OurStoriesMatter

It is still in the planning stages but, it will entail recovery speakers, book signing, Narcan training and a resource fair.

I have given an interview on costs of treatment to vox.com, and I have started attending a family action group in our state .I look forward to sharing some of the knowledge I gained over the last 10 years or so. I hope to be a resource for families and a recovery advocate.

More to follow…

 

Freefall

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVAv6b5_QFOux4TZGXfiddA

 

IMG-0890This movie was made by Riley, a high school student from Vermont. She made an award winning short version of the film and then transformed it into a longer more substantial piece.

As Sean’s Mom, I was asked to help with the film. Riley’s Dad was the ICU doctor who kept Sean alive the first night after his overdose. We weren’t sure of the extent of the brain damage but, we hoped he could get through the next 48 hours so a determination could be made.Unfortunately, the damage was severe. The transition to organ donation took place soon after it was determined that Sean have suffered brain death.

I really appreciated the compassion and care of the ICU team. So when asked I said of course I would help. I had no idea that the film would win awards or even be shown at a local cinema.

Of course, I wish I could have used some less stigmatizing language or paid more attention to my hair and make-up. However, it was filmed just a few months after he died and the emotions were pretty raw.

The real gift was I got to practice my story, or my version of Sean’s story. My husband and I presented Sean’s story a few weeks later to our city’s opioid task force. We have been able to testify at our local legislature. So much of this was possible because Riley,

took the time to encourage our story and perfect the message.  Sean was a beautiful person, afflicted by mental illness. A disease just like cancer or diabetes, unfortunately because the brain is affected, many choices are self sabotaging.

Riley is generously making the film available free and to the public.

Thank you!!

 

 

You’re Just A Marionette

Guest poet Halley Kunen

Halley and I met through Tumblr blogs, at the time I wrote an anonymous blog about parenting a child with substance use disorder. I had only a few followers..luckily Halley was one. I have appreciated her wit, wisdom and earnest posts, poems and messages.

You’re Just A Marionette

I saw something in those eyes
that sparked in me something different from the first time
blue pools of Persephone
a hidden fire
not sure what you used it for
but I’m tired of hurting
a magician uses the wand in a special way
with the key of timing
and that’s what you did
sleight of hand
all the better for clenching the secrets
you kept from everyone
what I could make of your smile
the edges sewn up like a marionette
encapsulating a life
in one dimension pacing in an abandoned cubicle
that was your trip home
while in the other world your space was full
or at least it temporarily felt that way.
I remember you used to write
you know how to use words
to mimick the touch on one’s abscessed spine
how do you cut to the core
when you don’t know yourself
and you don’t say what you mean
and I plead you do
but my expressions go right through you.
I’ve only seen your daughter
a few times it seemed like time slowed down
because I wanted to know her
to understand you
she looks more like her father
but the traces of you are in there

And when she speaks
she is just like you
I don’t know how to explain it
or to prove this
but

like her sudden spurts of energy
like when something brings her joy
I just hope she doesn’t use her grin the same way
I pray that she’s more free
I pray that your traits don’t rub on her
like how your mascara pours off when you fake cry
a waterfall
and your lashes fall into the street
composting the scraps of authenticity that fall to the wayside

And sometimes I think if I could meet your daughter
for more than a split second
I’d get the answers
but I know that isn’t true
other times I pray for amnesia
but I learned so much from you
even if it includes knives
to destroy myself.

AL DOG , the Best Ski Coach Ever

Al was Sean’s alpine ski coach, Sean wrote this draft as a public speaking project in high school. His performance was inspiring. As his parents we were so proud of his message and his gift of charisma. (I was always jealous of his natural grace in front of an audience.)

Sean loved Al, and Al helped Sean immensely in high school and even after, reaching out to him frequently.ALDOG pg1ALDOGpg2ALDOG pg 3

May is for Mental Health Awareness

As May comes to a close, I have been trying to come up with an event to raise awareness. I am grateful the idea came to me and someone suggested a great name.

I want to share “Our Stories Matter ” an afternoon event August 24th, Oakledge Park, Burlington Vermont.

Speakers will talk about their experiences with mental health and substance use disorder.

I am hoping to decrease stigma for people and those that love them.

I know sharing isn’t easy or even natural. It can bring awareness to the struggles people face, the burdens they carry that are too often shrouded in silence.

This event has been my focus this May, organizing, fund raising…generally thinking about it.

Now let us hope the weather cooperates.

Kim, Sean’s Mom