Tag Archives: MHA

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?

 

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You Belong, You are Love, Help Is Available

This is a song called “You Belong”  by Casey McPherson.  He is a singer for a band called AlphaRev.  He lost both his brother and father to suicide and he volunteers as a spokesperson with Mental Health America Texas(a branch of the national mental health organization).  He helps others who have lost loved ones to depression and suicide.

Denial and Learning Acceptance

Last night at my NAMI support group meeting we started talking about how many of us were in denial when we were first diagnosed.  It made me think about when I was first diagnosed.

In one way, I was very relieved.  My whole life I had been suffering with immense emotional pain.  I had been severely depressed and had suicidal thoughts since I was about 10 years old.  I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what and I didn’t want to be different, especially as a kid and teenager.  So when I finally got my diagnosis, it was a huge relief – it was a medical issue, there was a name for it, I could take medicine!

But then – it hit me.  There WAS something wrong with me, I had to take medicine for it, people thought that “people like me” were not normal and that we could just snap out of it – not that it was a medical problem. I didn’t want people to judge me.  I was already judging me.  What would others think of me?  I didn’t want to take medications for the rest of me life.

Denial caused me a lot of harm.  I would start the medication and I would stop the medication.  I would start it and then just not want to take it.  I hate taking meds, so that would be one reason.  Then I would just end up back in the hospital.  Or, I would start the medication and it would actually make me feel better!!! And so I would quit taking it, because of course, I thought I didn’t need it anymore – I was fine, why was I on meds in the first place?  Then, the downhill spiral would occur once I was off and I was back in the hospital.  For me, meds are needed.  As I have mentioned in some posts before, not everyone needs them and some can function fine without them.  But for me, I need them, so when I was in denial, and felt I didn’t need the meds, it just caused my mental illness to get completely out of control.

It wasn’t until I hit completely rock bottom.  It wasn’t after my first suicide attempt, my second suicide attempt, or even my 7th or 8th suicide attempt.  It was after I was finally admitted to the state hospital, and 3 months into that admission when they decided to get the court order to extend the commitment another 3 months because I was not progressing, that I realized I did have a problem.  I realized I NEEDED to accept that I had mental illness.  I needed to learn about my bipolar, my PTSD, my borderline personality disorder.  I am still learning about all of them.  I needed to learn to cope with them.  I needed to learn to take my medications as prescribed and not be more own doctor.

When we are first diagnosed, it can be a relief but it can also be scary.  Education and a good support system is the best thing we can do and have.  It is hard to accept our illnesses at first, especially when there is a stigma attached to it.  I have learned to open up to those around me, even if they are not willing to accept the diagnosis.  I will continue to educate those around me as much or as little as they are open and willing to learn.  Just as I slowly had to open up my own mind to learning, those around us will do the same.  Attending the NAMI support groups and the MHA support groups really helped me to gain the acceptance, support, understanding, and education about my illness.  With the help of others with mental illness as well as my long term hospitalization, I have really come to terms with what I will, most likely, be dealing with the rest of my life.  But, I know I will be able to face it head on, and I am ready for it now!

Importance of Support Groups

Today I “graduated” from the NAMI Connection Facilitator Training!  I officially can be a facilitator at my local NAMI meetings.  Why am I so excited about this?

Well, first off, NAMI has been an integral part of my recovery through mental illness.  I first found a NAMI Connection Group when I was in college and began having severe symptoms.  I was in nursing school and had heard of it during my psychiatric clinicals.  I was nervous to go as the meeting was held in the local hospital where I did my clinical and thought some of the nurses might recognize me.  I went anyway, and continued to go.  Meeting others that had similar diagnosis and faced similar problems in their day to day lives with me helped me tremendously.  I was able to relate to them and learn new coping skills.  I still struggled a lot and was in and out of hospitals, but they were there for me.  I had no family in Indiana and they really became like family to me – they were my support system as I did not really have one before joining NAMI.  After moving to Florida, I immediately began attending a NAMI group here.  The closest one to me was about 45 minutes away at first, but I went anyway.  I made such amazing friends.  Another one started closer, about 30 minutes away, so I went to that one too – but I could leave my friends from the other one, so I went to both.  And now a 3rd one is even closer, only 15-20 minutes away.  And I have trained to become a facilitator for that group, as I want to step up and grow within the organization which has helped me so much.

So, what exactly is NAMI?  NAMI is the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.  It is the largest mental health grassroots organization.  It has local affiliates all over the US and Puerto Rico.  There is most likely one in your area – and you can go to http://www.nami.org to find out if there is one.  They run all types of educational programs.  They have support groups for people with mental illness (NAMI Connection), support groups for family members of people with mental illness (Family to Family), educational classes for people with mental illness (Peer to Peer), educational classes for family members (also called Family to Family), educational class for parents of children with mental illness (NAMI Basics), and many other services depending on what your local chapter might also offer.

Support groups are important to our success when we are trying to recover with mental illness, whether it be through NAMI or another organization.  Whether we feel great or bad, attending them helps us.  It helps us focus on how to continue to focus on the positives, how to socialize and not isolate, how to help others which in turn makes us feel good, how to learn new coping skills, how to examine our own needs, and how to express ourselves in healthy ways.  Someone once told me, when you feel like you want to go to a meeting you should go, and when you feel like you don’t want to go to a meeting, you need to go.  They said this because generally, if you don’t want to go, that is when you really need to go – you are isolating or feeling depressed, and being around people and hearing the support they can give is what you most likely need.

I hope that if you are not already involved in a local support group, you find one and check it out.  There are many out there.  A few that I know of are DBSA (Depression, Bipolar Support Alliance), NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) and MHA (Mental Health America.  Depending on your area, these organizations might or might not run groups or another organization might have groups too.