Category Archives: addiction

FUNNY FRIDAYS

 

 

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FUNNY FRIDAYS

 

 

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Being Friends with Someone With Mental Illness – What You Can Do To Help

Friendships with someone who has a mental health disorder can be quite tough at times.  In fact, my group of friends is quite small.  Most of them actually are other people that have a mental illness, because they understand what it is like.  But I have friends that do not, and they are great! 

I know that sometimes, being a friend or in a relationship with someone with a mental illness can be hard sometimes though.  You don’t know what to say when certain topics come up, you don’t know how to react to certain situations, or maybe you don’t know what they are looking for or what help they want.

Being someone with a mental illness, there are a few things that friends do that really help me and I think most people with mental illness would say they look for in a good friend:

 

1) They listen – My true friends simply listen.  They don’t judge me and they just listen.  They don’t try to think ahead to what they are going to say next or how to respond while I am talking.  They carefully pay attention to what I am saying, then they take the time to form a response if one is even needed.  Many times I don’t need a response, I do not need advice, I just need someone to listen.

2) They support me – They validate my feelings and show me that I am not alone.  They cannot always be present in person 100% of the time, but they let me know that I can text them or email them, Facebook them or leave a voicemail, and when they get it they will get back to me as soon as they can.  They let me know that they care and that they are going to be there for me.  They are empathetic. 

3) They ask how they can help me – Sometimes, they don’t know what to do.  Sometimes I don’t even know what I want them to do.  I just ramble on and on.  So they ask me what I am wanting.  What do I need?  This question gets to the bottom of things.  Do they need to drive me to a therapy appointment? Do they need help studying for a test because of stress? What type of support is needed.  It may seem direct, but there are nice ways of saying it, “What can I do to help you?”, “I want to do my best to support you right now, how can I do that?”, “What are some of the things you need right now?”

4) They are educated about mental illness – They know what is going on with me.  They do not assume I am faking it, that it is all drama, or that I am “crazy.”  They do not stigmatize mental illness.  They take the time to learn about what is going on with me by either listening to me tell them about it or by doing their own research (or both!).  This helps so much in the friendship.

5) They support me healthy coping skills – My good friends do not tell me I just need to have a drink or smoke pot or have sex to feel better.  My good friends tell me I need to do something nice for myself, get a massage, read a good book, exercise, talk to them or my therapist, etc.  My good friends understand that going out and partying late at night and drinking alcohol will interfere with my psych meds and mess up my sleep schedule thus possibly throwing my mental illness into disarray.  My good friends encourage me to go out with them for alternative activities like a movie or a comedy show.

6) They take care of themselves – I don’t want my friend to feel like I am a burden on them.  I want them to have their own lives and I don’t want to be clinging onto them.  Knowing that they take care of themselves first and put up boundaries protects them and me.  If they get overwhelmed by me, then it puts their mental health in jeopardy and most likely I will also be losing a friend.  It is so important when you are friends with someone with a mental illness – or anyone for that matter – you take care of yourself first.  Because if you cant take care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else?

An Autobiography in Five Short Chapters – by Portia Nelson

This is a wonderful poem that I was given when I was inpatient.  Then I was given it again while in therapy.  There is so much power in this poem and I feel like it represent my struggle with mental illness so much.  I feel like I have gone back and forth between the chapters of it multiple times in my life and I am sure I will continue to throughout my life. 

 

A POETIC INTERLUDE:  AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN FIVE SHORT CHAPTERSby Portia NelsonI

I walk, down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in

I am lost…. I am helpless

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again

I can’t believe I am in the same place but, it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

III

I walk down the same street

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it there.’

I still fall in…. it’s a habit, my eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

IV

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.

 

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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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Mental Illness and Substance Abuse … They Stole Her Away From Me

In November 2013 I lost a good friend to mental illness.  Both of us had a nerve injuries to our arm.  I have had a brachial plexus injury since December 2008 and have struggled with the nerve pain since then.  My shoulder and arm were paralyzed for 1.5 years and while I have gained 80% of the movement back, the pain is still awful.  We bonded over the frustration of no one understanding how hard it was to live with chronic pain.

Her injury was much more recent and I felt as though giving her hope that things would get better was my job.  She struggled with deep depression as well as drug abuse.  She was in therapy but still felt like no one understood.  She felt like talking to those around her just made her seem like she was complaining and everyone would get sick of it.  I understood completely what she meant. 

I think most of us with mental illness can understand that though.  After a while, when we tell people that we are down, it just seems like people say, “What’s new? You always feel that way.  Why don’t you do something, go out, have fun, get a hobby, spend time with friends, etc, etc.”  We seem like a burden to those around us.  I think it got the best of her.

Her only escape was drugs.  It took away not only her physical pain, but her emotional pain too.  I feel guilty many times because I feel like I should have done more.  What if I had been there for her more?  What if I had listened more? What if I had pushed her to get into a rehab?  What if I had shown her more hope, and pretended that my life was better and not complained about my pain in my arm so much?  Would things be different?  Would she still be alive? 

Unfortunately that is what mental illness does, it is a vicious disease that tears us apart and lies to us about our lives.  And when substance abuse is involved it clouds our minds even more.  These two things took away my friend.  They stole her from me.  I know she made the decision, but I also know that if she hadn’t been affected by these two diseases that her decision might have been much different than it was that night.  Her outlook might have been much more hopeful.

Despite that she left this world 8, almost 9, months ago, I still think about her all the time.  Sometimes I am jealous that she is not in pain anymore and I still struggle physically and emotionally.  But then I think about all the pain she left behind her – the pain that her family and friends feel.  I look at it and think about what would happen to those around me if I let mental illness win.  I have to stay strong.  I have to keep fighting this battle.  I have to win it – for me, for my family, for my friends, and for her.

Mental Health Organizations Promoting Advocacy

I have talked quite a bit about NAMI on here.  But there are a lot of other good organizations that promote mental health advocacy out there. 

Here are a few of them:

To Write Love on Her Arms – I really love this organization. A little bit about it, per their website – “To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest directly into treatment and recovery.
To Write Love on Her Arms began in Orlando, FL in 2006 when our founder, Jamie Tworkowski, wrote a story about a friend who struggled with self-injury and addiction and the five days preceding her entry into treatment. The story, which was entitled ‘To Write Love on Her Arms’ went viral, and T-shirts were initially printed and sold as a way to pay for that friend’s treatment. Since then, TWLOHA has become a non-profit which serves as a bridge to hope and help for people facing the same issues.”

Rethink Mental Illness – This is an organization based in England.  They help provide advice and information to those affected with mental illness. They provide support groups (150 across England!) and have 200 mental health services.  They campaign for policy change and run the Time To Change campaign.

Active Minds – Is a great organization that is developed on college campuses.  It promotes those on University’s across the nation to get involved in educating others about mental health and encouraging people to seek help if needed. This organization aims to remove the stigma associated with mental illness by educating the minds of college students and the communities they are in by creating open conversations.

Bring Change 2 Mind – This organization is aimed at ending stigma and discrimination by distributing public education materials which are based on the latest scientific insights.

The Jed Foundation – This organization is aimed toward college aged students by promoting mental health and suicide prevention. They work with the public and those involved in higher education to teach them about the knowledge and warning signs of suicide, importance of mental health, how to encourage help-seeking behaviors, and promote awareness and understanding among them.

 

Of course there are others too.  If you know of some, feel free to leave them in the comments section for others to see and I will add them on here too!