Category Archives: national alliance on mental illness

30 Day Mental Illness Awareness Challenge – Day 3

Day 3: What treatment or coping skills are most effective for you?

 

I participated in 6 months of inpatient schema therapy which was really great for me.  This helped me with my BPD.  Perhaps having to sit down for 6 months and break it all down into my mind is what this really worked for me.  It was all broken down into every group I went to, plus we had one group where the therapist added in a bit of DBT, but not much.  Schema therapy really was great though.

I also did quite a bit of CBT here and there.  It helped me when I really thought about it, but I never would actually practice it outside of a hospital setting.  When I was inpatient, and had the sheets in front of me, had to do the assignments, it all made sense.  Outside of the hospital — I just could never make myself think of it.

Outside of therapy programs though, using my coping skills is really the best thing for me.  When I am able to bring myself out of my “funk” enough to actually do something ….

  1. painting
  2. zentangles
  3. juggling
  4. reading
  5. writing
  6. writing on here has been amazing!
  7. walking or running
  8. support groups (NAMI)
  9. grounding techniques

those are the ones I try to use most frequently as they seem to be the ones that work right now….they change quite frequently… like a few months ago, I was obsessed with knitting — nonstop!

 

 

Ice Bucket Challenge for Your Passion?

Word Press Post A Day – The internet has recently been swept up by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Is there a cause — social, political, cultural, or other — you passionately believe in? Tell us how you got involved — or why you don’t get involved.

 

I’m a day late on this.  I have been taking a bit of a break from blogging as I haven’t been feeling too well.  But I have thought about this ice bucket challenge for a bit since it started – seeing the positive and negative comments in response to it.

I think it is great that it has raised so much money towards ALS.  I first saw the challenge back in January, by some friends in Indiana.  It wasn’t for ALS though – it was for their own personal favorite charities.  I thought that was a great idea, since it wasn’t dedicated to a certain charity and it was kind of spread out to whatever they felt passionate about.

I am very passionate about a lot of different beliefs.  One thing that I am super passionate about though, which my blog is about, is mental health issues.  Being affected by mental illness, I strongly support almost any mental health organization that works towards awareness about mental illness.  My personal favorite is NAMI (National Association on Mental Illness), as I have been most involved with them; however, all organizations that are so many that work towards awareness.

So, if anyone out there ever gets nominated for an ice bucket challenge — I am not saying to not donate to ALS, but think about donating to a charity of your choice too — challenge people to think about what they are passionate about and to donate to that.  Create some awareness about what you are passionate about.  Perhaps create a new viral sensation about your passion to raise awareness?

 

Pros and Cons for Today – 8/17/14

This is my challenge to create a “Pros and Cons” list of my day.  “Pros” are the things that I am happy for, grateful for, or things that just made me smile. “Cons” are those things that you just want to forget about because they do nothing to help with your anxiety or mood that day.

First of all – yesterday I had some goals- to read a bit, to perhaps walk a bit, and maybe paint a picture.  I did achieve some of those!  Yea!!

Cons –

  • To be honest, I can’t really think of anything — I guess that’s good right?  Nothing really happened.  I didn’t do anything at all. So nothing bad could really happen.

Pros –

  • I read a book.  It was a young adult book, so nothing hard to read.
  • I went out to a store for about 30 minutes
  • I really wanted to order pizza, but I stopped myself cause I have no money whatsoever — self control!
  • I got to just hang out and watch some Netflix today – that is always fun 🙂

 

So tomorrow – I have my NAMI meeting that I facilitate, so I need to go to that. I also need to make sure that I continue to stay active.  So hopefully I read or get out again tomorrow.  That is my goal – same thing I did today…continue that.

 

Hope you all had a good day!

 

Spike in Crisis Line Phone Calls after Robin Williams Death

Since the death of Robin Williams, there has been a spike in calls to crisis lines around the US and Australia.  I am not sure about other parts of the world, as I simply saw articles pertaining to these two countries, however I am sure they probably went up as well.

Calls, chats, messages, and clicks on their websites to Lifeline in America, Lifeline in Australia, Beyond Blue in Australia,  the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) information line and Facebook page, and local crisis centers all around the US.

Many people were reaching out, seeking help for their depression, suicidal thoughts, and some were simply wondering how people can be depressed – how can someone look happy and yet feel so much pain and kill themselves.  Perhaps with that last question, people will begin to understand depression more and even see or help someone else around them who might present happy but really be very depressed.

While they do not really know how many people were reaching out for help due to their depression and suicidal thoughts prior to Robin Williams death versus those who were affected by his death and began to feel suicidal after in response to his death (example, when you have someone close to you die, you begin to feel like you want to die) — they are glad that more people know about the crisis lines and support systems and are using them.

While I do think Robin Williams death brought a great deal of attention to suicide and mental health, I also think it is going to die down soon as it usually does even though people seem to care very much about it after such a loss.  However, hopefully after all those posts of the suicide hotline numbers – this will not die down and people will remember these resources – and use them – and reach out for help when they need to.

Here are a few articles discussing the increases in spikes in crisis center calls — and there are quite a few more if you search on the internet.

Australian News Article Discussing the increase in spikes in crisis calls

American Aljazeera Article Discussing the increase in spikes in crisis line calls

Houston, TX News Article Discussing local crisis center call increase

Augusta, Maine Article – Discussing local crisis center call increase

Facing the Storm

In Tampa, during the summer, it rains a lot! There are storms almost everyday, or at least that is how it has been this year. Even in the rain, summer is beautiful and I learn a lot through it. 

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In my life, I feel like I get rained on a lot too. I feel like my life is a storm. There are ups and downs, and a lot of the time, I feel like it is mainly downs, it feels like it is raining and raining and raining and the thunder and lightening roar down around me.  The sun doesn’t seem to be up at all. 

This bird though, he just stands tall in the rain!  He stands out there and faces it!  Jumping from car to car, playing in it, basking in the rain!  He doesn’t hide from it.  He doesn’t run away from it.  It doesn’t hurt him.  Sure, when we have problems in our life, it may be hard, and it may hurt, but we can still stand tall going through them.  We don’t have to run away.  Just like this bird, we can go out into the storm, we can stand in that rain, we can face it. 

When I saw this bird, I was walking out to go to my NAMI meeting.  I wasn’t having the best day, I was going through a “storm.”  But I saw this bird on top of my car, then he jumped to the car next to mine.  He just freely exposed himself to the elements.  I needed to be like that.  I needed to push myself to do that – to be stronger, to not curl up into a ball.  I know I am strong, I just need to come out of that curled up ball and show my strength to myself. 

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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?

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

 

 

 

When You Have a Family Member With Mental Illness

I know my illness affects those around me.  I know that I have said and done things that have hurt my loved ones.  I am sorry for that.

Today, I saw a post on a site from a family member of someone with mental illness (no one related to me) that said something to the effect of, “What about the family members, we deal with them all the time, we have to suffer all the time!”

I actually had two reactions to this:

-In one way I was actually mad.  You deal with it! Think about me! I DEAL with it. I LIVE with it.  Think of what goes on in my head.  How much I struggle with it. Think about how much I hate to do the things I do and struggle to not do them and fight with myself and feel depressed and manic and suicidal and have no idea what is going on in my head a lot of the time. 

-And then, there was a part of me that agreed with their comment.  Yeah, they do have to deal with us.  They deal with our “drama” of our emotions and ups and downs and hospitalizations and medication changes and whatever else we might be going through. 

 

So what can family members do to help them when they are having a hard time with us? There are some things that family members can do to help them cope with having a family member with mental illness.  This will allow them to keep from the anxiety, frustration, exhaustion, and burnout that can occur from the caretaking and worrying of their loved ones.

1) Avoid placing blame – You cannot change anyone. You are not a magician.  Just be supportive of yourself and your loved one and look toward the good things.

2) Take time for yourself – set aside time each day for yourself.  Even if it is just 20 minutes that you can get away at first and slowly build up.  Practice meditation, read a book, get out in the sun, go for a walk, do something you love to do.  This will give you some time to relax.

3) Set limits (boundaries) – Learn to say “no.”  If your family members are asking to much of you, just say no.  Take care of yourself first. 

4) Educate yourself – Learn about the mental illness.  Sometimes it helps just to know about what is going on.  If we understand what the person is going through we are more empathetic about their situation and often get less frustrated when situations occur and know what to do during a crisis.

5) Find a support group – NAMI has a Family to Family Support Group where family members and friends of those with mental illness can come together for support. NAMI also has a Family to Family Course that is 10 weeks which helps educate on different mental illnesses. DBSA also allows family members to attend their support groups alongside those that are mentally ill, so it is a mixed support group.  There are also support groups for those with mental illness through both NAMI and DBSA that you can get your loved ones involved in as well if they are willing.