FUNNY FRIDAYS

I am going to start a new weekly series called “FUNNY FRIDAYS”

I just want to clarify that in no way am I trying to make light or make fun of mental illness.  But humor is healthy and sometimes we just need to learn to laugh at ourselves and our situations.

 

When life gets you down —

 

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T.G.I.F. – What I am Thankful For

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Thank Goodness It’s Friday!  As a kid, I LOVED Fridays.  Not only did it mean no school for two days, but there were awesome TV shows every Friday night on the ABC network.  Year to year they changed a bit as some were cancelled and new ones were brought in, but for the most part, as a kid, you enjoyed them all.

Today, I think about the things I am thankful for in general.  I am no longer a kid.  I no longer long to watch TV on Friday nights. 

1) I am thankful that I have wonderful siblings.  My sister and older brothers have been the most caring and loving siblings I could ever have asked for.  We didn’t get along growing up, but they have been there for me through everything as we got older.

2) I am thankful for art.  I am not great at it, but it has given me an outlet to express myself. 

3) I am thankful for nature.  Seeing the life around me allows me to feel alive.  The trees and grass that are green and vibrant let me know that my life is growing just as theirs is even if I feel dead inside.  When it is storming everyday (as it has been here in Tampa), the sun will peak out a bit, maybe just for 30 minutes, or for one day in between, but it shows me that there is hope during my bad times.

4) I am thankful for NAMI as it has given me connections with other people that struggle with similar things as me.  It has given me a social outlet when I all too often isolate myself because of my depression and social anxiety.

5) I am thankful for my dog, who comforted me so much during my severe depression of two years and kept me alive many times because I didn’t want to leave her alone.  She cuddled with me and licked my tears when I cried. 

 

At the end of the week, it is good to look back on what I am thankful for.  I should be doing it everyday to remind myself, but since I know I don’t do it everyday, writing it down once a week is a good start.  What are you thankful for?

Post A Day – She Saved My Life, Stopped Me From Ending It All

Word Press  Post A Day:  Do you — or did you ever — have a Best Friend? Do you believe in the idea of one person whose friendship matters the most? Tell us a story about your BFF (or lack thereof).

 

Growing up, I was quite social.  I can’t say I had one BFF.  I had lots of friends, and some I hung out with quite more frequently though.  Leah and Alex come to mind during my 4th and 5th grade years.  I had started a new school and immediately found them to be great friends.

As I went onto 8th grade, I can honestly say that I did grow to have a best friend.  Although I am not sure best friend is the right word…I think true friend is more accurate.  She listened to me, cared about how I felt, and we did things together.  Vicki was there for me when no one else was.  Throughout my severe depression, she showed me that I wasn’t alone.  I was extremely suicidal and I know she did not know how badly I felt this way, but her actions kept me from ever actually carrying out my plans.  She literally saved my life in high school.  I wasn’t social in high school, in fact I was pretty withdrawn because of my depression and past history of sexual abuse, I didn’t trust people. With Vicki though, I could be open and honest.  She kept me strong and I got through high school and graduated.  She was my best friend, but she was more than that – she was a true friend, and honest friend, a real friend. 

I personally enjoy being a lone a lot of the time.  I do however think that having someone to confide in it important.  Isolation can lead to bad things.  It can lead to depression.  Loneliness is horrible.  Many people might say they don’t need other people, they don’t need friends.  I said that for a long time too, and still say that sometimes, but I am really just hiding the fact that I am scared to let people in. In fact, I wrote about this just the other day, how I longed for friendship, but didn’t know how to let anyone in.  I am not sure it matters that you have one person as a friend who matters the most, and I don’t think that you should have a ton of friends, but I think if you at least have someone or a few people that you do trust and can go to and confide in or hang out with and have fun, that is what is important.

 

LGBTQ – Not a Mental Illness, but they are faced with mental health issues

Homosexuality. Gay. Lesbian. Bisexual.  Transgender. Questioning. Asexual.

These are not a mental illness.  In 1973 The American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees removed homosexuality from it’s list of diagnoses in the DSM.  All major mental health professionals agree with this, that it is not a mental health condition.

However, there are greater levels of mental health problems within this group of individuals.  It is not due to their beliefs though.  In large part, it is thought to be due to the discrimination and stigma that they face on a daily basis.

When a young person is faced with “coming out” to their parents or peers, and rejected by either, their risk for depression and suicide is quite high.  Anxiety and self harm becomes and issue as well. Substance abuse might begin to occur.  Abuse – physically and emotionally at home can occur.  All of these factors can lead to a decline in mental health and serious mental illness later on in life.

It is important that mental health issues of that are LGBTQ are addressed if they need to be.  No, not everyone in this group has them. But when they do occur, they should not be afraid to seek help. And there should be adequate resources to help them.

We should stand behind them to help them get the support they need.  All too many times people tell them they need to change, to seek help from church, to pray, even to get “conversion therapy.”  I am not here to debate beliefs on this blog and will not do so.  I am simply here to discuss that those that are so defeated by the stigma and discrimination due to their own beliefs feel the need to escape life by suicide or self injury or substance abuse – need help.  Professional help through counseling, therapy, psychiatry.  Friendship and understanding.

I had friends come out in middle school, I had friends come out in high school, I had a lot of friends that were out in college.  I am 26 so I knew people that were coming out when we were 12,13 back in 2000 or so.  It was hard for them.  They were not treated that great.  But then, once they came out, a few others did too, and it wasn’t such a big deal.  Honestly, in my generation, it really isn’t as big of a deal as it was a long time ago.  But it still is a really big deal at the same time.  So, if you know someone battling stress, anxiety, self harm, substance abuse, or suicidal thoughts related specifically to this issue – here are some resources.

Some resources are:

GLBT National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

GLBT National Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-PRIDE (7743)

Online peer-support chat: http://www.glbtnationalhelpcenter.org/chat/index.html

NAMI – GLBT Resources

Crisis Intervention Team – Importance of Having CIT Trained Law Enforcement

Recently on The Journey of Kylie, she blogged about a situation involving the cops handcuffing her in a rough, violent manner during a mental health encounter when she was not violent or resisting them in a violent manner at all.

This got me thinking about CIT officers.  CIT officer stands for Crisis Intervention Team.  These are officers within the police or sheriffs department who are trained to interact and deal with individuals who have mental health illness. 

I have personally dealt with CIT officers when I was in college, on many occasions.  All of my interactions with them were very positive.  In my city, the majority of officers were trained in CIT.  In fact, when they were trained, part of their training was to go to the local psych hospital and talk to the patients and get our perspectives on how we were treated by police officers when they were called to our apartments/houses.  I was in the psychiatric hospitals multiple times, so I talked to those going through training about 3 or 4 times to help them understand what would help me if they came to my apartment, and what would not help me, and my past experiences were like. 

Not everyone has positive experiences though.  As you can tell from The Journey of Kylie, interactions with cops during a mental health issue, is not always positive.  And not every city has CIT trained officers.  In fact, a lot of cities don’t.  There are actually countless stories of people with mental illness being shot and killed by cops for one reason or another when it could have been prevented if another tactic could have been used to help them rather than kill them. 

It is really absolutely reprehensible that these things are happening.  People with mental illness should not be treated like this.  If we are not an active threat to someone else.  If we are not an active threat to ourselves.  Holding a gun.  Holding a knife.  Holding something that could be used as a weapon and actually dangerous.  If we are not resisting arrest and causing problems.  Why are we being shot and killed?  Why are we being slammed against walls and handcuffed? 

Yes, I have been taken to a hospital in handcuffs.  But my hands were cuffed by my sides or in front of me.  I accept this and understand why this was done.  It was explained to me and done in a dignified manner.  While I did not really see the need for it as I was not resisting and was voluntarily going, I was treated respectfully at least.  But these awful treatments of people with mental illness are completely unacceptable.  They are not and should not be accepted by anyone. 

If you do not have CIT officers in your city, talk to your criminal justice department about implementing it, I have listed some resources that you could contact about it at well:

CIT International

NAMI – CIT

Mental Health Crisis Institute – Law Enforcement CIT Training

FBI – CIT Article