What do YOU say about Mental Illness?

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Our mental health seriously affects our physical  health, so there should be absolutely no stigma around mental health, none at all~First Lady, Michelle Obama

Depression. Bipolar Disorder.  PTSD.  Schizophrenia.

What do YOU think of when you hear any of these illnesses?

Do you remember the first time you heard someone speak about mental illness?

Has the way you have heard others speak about mental illness impacted your perspective?

Most of us hear  about mental illness or mental health in the news when something tragic happens.  A mass shooting, a mother or father killing the kids, or or a murder-suicide.  We hear about it when our parents or other relatives discuss family members that have a diagnosis.  We may talk about it with our friends if one of them opens up about their own struggle with mental health or in relation to a story-line from a TV show.  But what do YOU have to say about mental health and mental illness?  What is the impression YOU convey to others when discussing either topic? Read More


A Hidden Pain: Anxiety & Depression

This submission is a part of Lauren Hope’s #MentalHealthMondayMondays series at Good Girl Chronicles

Avoidance. I’ve come up with so many excuses not to write these blogs about mental health. I’ve pressed snooze on my alarm clock on days I was supposed to write. I blamed my period. Told myself I needed a mental break, and then convinced myself that no one cared anyway. I’m sorry. I had promised Facebook followers in the month of February every Monday I’d write about an aspect of my mental health journey or someone else brave enough to share. I even found one brave soul who is still waiting to share her story. I have to ask myself, “Why have I been pushing off this blog?”

 

L. Hope quote

Sometimes I don’t want to be the depressed, anxiety attack prone girl. In 2016, I became a real bold mental health advocate. I spoke publicly at huge venues about suicide, depression, and anxiety. Yet, I won’t lie there are many days I wish depression, anxiety, and suicide never knew my name. Depression and suicide are the main reasons I had to walk away from television news career and I’m afraid it’s the reason I can’t get back in. I am mad at it, and sometimes even madder that an anti-depressant is not an instant fix. It’s not a 21-day pill regimen or something I take until symptoms improve. I will ALWAYS have to take that little orange pill to keep the darkness away. ALWAYS. There are so many days I feel weak, damaged, and abnormal because I have severe depression. A condition of the mind no one can see or sometimes even understand.

I was first prescribed an anti-depressant when I was sixteen, a little blue pill called Buspar. When I was on it, I was extra alert, calm, and focused. I wasn’t as forgetful, and the intense pain I felt in my chest when I was anxious didn’t come as much. A gentle, kind Navy doctor explained ….continue reading here


A letter….

At 13 years old I learned the name of the illness my mother had be dealing with for years.  It was written on a court document: paranoid schizophrenia.  It would be almost 20 years before I would actually learn more about the illness and would begin to separate my mother from her illness.  Over the years I have met many people that have a loved one (parent, sibling, child, spouse, or friend) that had been diagnosed with what is sometimes labeled a “serious mental illness.”  According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “ One in 17 (adults) lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder”.  If I had the chance to tell someone what to expect, this is what I would say.  (This based off of my experience with my loved one, everyone’s experience will not be the same.)

For those that love someone with a serious mental illness…..

If you love someone that has a serious mental illness I don’t know if anything will fully prepare you for the roller-coaster ride that comes along with loving someone with a serious mental illness.  There will be high and lows, good days and bad days.  There will be feelings of guilt, anger, helplessness, and sadness.  You will begin to enjoy the “simple” moments that you previously took for granted.

You patience will be tested and used up, but you will find more.  You may say some hurtful things, hurtful things will be said to you-you will forgive and be forgiven.  You will learn about boundaries, but you won’t use them as you should in the beginning.  You will become OK with saying “no”, although you will likely feel guilty, say “no” anyway.
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15 Questions for Your Consideration

“People talk about physical fitness, but mental health is equally important. I see people suffering, and their families feel a sense of shame about it, which doesn’t help. One needs support and understanding…”  Deepika Padukone

 Whenever there is a story about someone with a mental health condition in the news there are a wide range of comments and questions.  No matter if the person was killed, injured themselves or someone else, or if they are just displaying odd behavior, one question that will be found in the comments section:  “Where is the family?”.  While it is  a simple question, the answer can get complicated.

Most recently videos of Maia Campbell have surfaced, and there was a call for LL Cool J to help her (Her mother Bebe Moore Campbell passed away in 2006).  While it is easy to @ someone or retweet the call for help, Mr. Todd Smith, or anyone else, may find if difficult to extended the helping hand she truly needs.

I say this not to discourage anyone from helping someone with a mental health condition, but to help people understand that getting help for an adult isn’t easy.  I don’t want this post to discourage anyone with a mental health condition from opening up to their loved ones, many people that have been diagnosed are living great lives.

The point of this post is to help people understand that helping can get complicated and a support system is necessary (as with any other illness).  Without awareness and proper funding those that struggle with a mental illness will continue have trouble getting help and those that want to help their loved ones will have trouble finding and accessing the resources.

In minority households getting help for a loved one can be difficult because of money, time, awareness and the stigma associated with mental illness in our communities.

Here is a list of questions (and things to remember) I would like people to think about if your your adult daughter, sister, cousin, best friend, mother, wife or child’s mother had a mental health breakdown and was diagnosed with a serious mental illness?  (This could result in the loss of income, a home, or extended hospital stays)  

  1. Would you be embarrassed OR empathetic for your loved one?

In my opinion you can be both.

  1. Who would you turn to in order to get her the help she needs?

Maybe the better question how do you get them to agree to help because you cannot force an adult to go to the doctor.

  1. Would you let her stay in your home?

Remember she could lose her home because of the inability to hold down a job

  1. Would you try to get her admitted for inpatient treatment?

Remember, she is an adult  and she has rights.

  1. Would you have the ability to help pay her medical bills?

Hospitals aren’t free…..

  1. Would you have the ability to help pay for her medication?

Neither is medication…….

  1. Would you have the ability to help pay for basic necessities?

They will need food, clothes, underwear, toiletries…..

  1. Would you have the time to help her get public assistance?

Public assistance may be available but there is an application process.

  1. Would you make the time and effort to ensure she takes her medicine every day?

Again this is an adult and just like most of us when we start to feel better, we stop taking medicine.

  1. How would you get access to speak to her doctor, because doctor patient privileges…..

Yes, this still exist if your loved one has been diagnosed with an illness.

  1. How would you respond when your love one complains about the side effects of the medication?

A few side effects of  medications can include headaches, nausea, tremors, skin rash, fever.

  1. Would you have the money to help pay for an attorney?

It may be to get a Power of Attorney or Guardianship or Custody of children

  1. Would you be be worried about opening up to your friends and neighbors? What do you think they would say?

Many people feel shame when it comes to a loved one’s diagnosis.

  1. Who would you turn to for support for yourself?

Self-care must be a priority if you are helping care for someone else, maybe even get a therapist.

  1. How would you explain the illness to children in the family?

Yes, they deserve an honest explanation.

Read the list of questions again, but replace mental health breakdown with Epilepsy, Cancer, or Rheumatoid Arthritis.   Are the questions easier to answer?  Are your answers the same?


SPEAK OUT: Passion King shares her battle with Postpartum Depression

1I choose to Speak Away the Stigma associated with postpartum depression because I don’t want another woman to have to suffer in silence. I was 27 years old when I became pregnant with my son. The news brought forth feelings of joy & guilt. My joy was due to me growing up knowing I wanted to be a mother. Still, my joy was overshadowed by the guilt of feelings that I had more to accomplish before becoming a mother. I was more concerned with the plans I made for my life than embracing the plan God was unveiling.

During my pregnancy, I began to alienate myself from family and friends. I felt like they were secretly disappointed and wouldn’t understand my depression. I was irritable, cried a lot and stopped praying. I felt like I let God down and wasn’t worthy of His love since I couldn’t obey His Word. My mother was the first to notice a Screenshot_2017-04-27-15-34-22-1significant change in my behavior. I knew she was worried but I hid a lot of what I was going thru from her. She encouraged me to get out the house and enjoy my pregnancy. My son’s father had a hard time accepting my mood swings and spent a lot of time away from me. Our relationship, which I planned to last forever, became toxic. This made me feel alone and caused me to question why God was allowing me to go through this.2The birth of my son didn’t catapult things into a better direction immediately. I had to adjust to the physical changes my body went through, the freedom I gave up for my son and balancing day to day activities. I knew I needed help. A few times I worked up the courage to make appointments to see a therapist. Once I couldn’t afford the $25 copay and another time I felt like they would see me as an unfit mother. Throughout my depression, it was so important to portray being a good mom even though I didn’t always feel like one. I loved my son but felt guilty and like I wasn’t enough. I was in a dark and low point in my life. So, what changed? 3Screenshot_2017-04-27-15-36-36-1I began to get back into my routine of praying, journaling and speaking to other mothers. After speaking to so many women who were close to me I saw how common this illness is. I heard stories of so many extremities from just being sad, to being suicidal and even wanting to harm their babies.  I encourage anyone who is going through this to seek the help I was too ashamed to ask for. Your children deserve the very best version of you! 4.pngMy son is almost two years old and is the light of my life. He will be two years old in June and he is smart (he can count to ten) extremely goofy and loves Mickey Mouse. We pray together, read and do the Chuck E. Cheese dance. My experience has taught me that Gods plan is better than my own. He will always turn your pain into purpose and your test into a testimony! “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”(2 Corinthians 4:17)

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Find Passion on Intagram @ passion_queen

 

The facts about Postpartum Depression on this post are from the National Institute of Mental Health.  You can read more about the symptoms and treatment options here .

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SPEAK OUT: Medication-Why I hated it & What changed my mind

Thara Gould
Edinburgh, UK
Full diagnosis: Depression, anxiety, EDNOS/OSFED, and Insomnia.

Medication-Why I hated it & What changed my mind

Hey Guys,

Recently on social media, I have seen negative posts surrounding medication, and while it’s not always the solution, I believe it is an option that should be explored. During my 8 month stay in a Psychiatric Unit, I refused my medication, this was due to a variety of reasons.

Firstly, I thought I wasn’t unwell. During some people’s ill state of mind, they often don’t realise how unwell they actually are, I consistently told the nurses and doctors that I wasn’t unwell, I just simply wanted to die… I was convinced it was a personality trait rather than apart of a mental illness.

Secondly, my father had brought me up from the age of 8, and he had given off a vibe that told me taking medication was a sign of weakness. He was already disappointed in me for being hospitalised, and I didn’t want him to be further disappointed in my weakness, I.E taking medication. Not only this but I myself, saw it as a weakness and I didn’t want to have to rely on medication and have a ‘weak mind’.

Thirdly, side effects. Ew, side effects… the worst thing about starting a new medication, or coming off one (or even being on the wrong kind). They made me feel sick, dizzy and even more unmotivated. My first medication was Fluoxetine, the main side effect I got from that was pure rage, and increased suicidal ideation and tendencies (the complete opposite of what the medication is meant to be doing). This obviously didn’t encourage me to take that particular medication and put me off exploring other ones.

When I decided to be more positive towards recovery I took a step back and looked at my options. Realistically, medication was an option, and I made a decision to explore it. Therapy didn’t work for me, and the next course of action was to give meds a go. While medication didn’t work for me then, I know it works and helps so many people now, and maybe it will even help me in the future. I do not think people who are on medication are weak or have anything to be ashamed of. In a way, I wish medication had helped me because unfortunately, I am yet to find my ‘thing’.

Life is a big adventure, and I guess during my adventure I will find out what works for me. So, if you find medication helps you, and keeps you safe and happy, please do not look at the negative posts on social media and feel bad for taking any form of medication.

Love always,

-T♥

Read more about Thara, a Mental Health, Lifestyle & Beauty Blogger from Scotland, at her blog Versablogs.


Are we ignoring mental illness? 

Mental illness is an equal-opportunity illness.  Every one of us is impacted by mental illness.  One in five adults are dealing with this illness, and many are not seeking help because the stigma prevents that.~ Margaret Larson

Depression.  Anxiety.  ADHD.  BiPolar.  These are some common words were use or hear almost daily in our conversations, on the news, or on our favorite television shows.

We are hearing more about the importance of mental wellness, and self-care.

We see the green awareness ribbons and read the stories about our veterans’ suicide and PTSD rates.

We are hearing and seeing more and more about mental illness, mental health, and mental wellness more than ever before, but what are we doing with this information?  According to a report by Mental Health America (MHA), a non profit organization, Americans are not getting the treatment they need.  Many people may immediately say that there is a lack of access to the help they need, however the report’s findings disagree with that.  The report entitled “The State of Mental Health in America” gives facts, statistics and other data on mental health from across the United States.  The report also list the best and the worst states for mental health care, and Connecticut is at the top and Nevada is at the bottom.  Even though Vermont is the 3rd best state, 43% of adults that have been diagnosed with a mental illness did not receive treatment.  This number is just under the national average because 56%
of Americans with a mental illness did not receive treatment despite there being more access to insurance and access to treatment. Read More


An Open Letter to Parents

Parents are the ultimate role models for children.  Every word movement and action has an effect.  No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than a parent. ~Bob Keeshan

Dear Parents (mom, dads, and those who take on the role),

You have the pleasure of having one of the most important jobs, you’re a parent.

You are your child’s first teacher, friend, and confidant.  

Your children have changed your life ways you never imagined.

Your children have shown you the true definition of unconditional love.

Parents did you know that your child could have a mental illness, by as early as 14-years old.  According to the National Institute on Mental Health, “…half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14.”  If an illness has an onset at 14 years old, it is highly likely that a diagnosis will come years later.  The symptoms of a mental illness may be difficult to notice for 3 reasons:

  1. They are teenagers!  This is a time when your child’s body and brain goes through so many changes.  Puberty brings not only physical changes but emotional changes as well.  Ask almost any parent that has a child that has been diagnosed with a mental illness and they will tell you that they thought their child was just acting out, or that they would grow of the behavior.  
  2.   Parents don’t know what they don’t know.  Often parents do not know the history of mental illness in their own family and are unaware of the early symptoms.  We may think that since children are resilient that they are immune to trauma, they are not.  Many parents are unaware that mental illnesses has an affect the brain, and there is no amount of punishment, spanking, talking to or prayer  that can change that.  
  3.   Mental illness carries a stigma.  The stigma of mental illness is so great that many refuse to believe that their child could be ill. It is natural that any parent would not their child to face discrimination and be shunned by friends and family.  There is also a natural fear that they will be shunned because they have a child w/a mental illness.

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Could you survive Schizophrenia?

Imagine seeing black spots on a wall, but no one else can see them?  What if you heard someone calling your name, but you were home alone?  What if your family was trying to poison you or your friends were trying to harm you, or so you thought?  This is the reality of someone who has schizophrenia.  The reality they experience, the sights and sounds, are not real at all.

Learning more about his illness changed my life.  Growing up with a family member with this illness wasn’t easy, but Surviving Schizophrenia changed my life.  NIMH, the National Institute on Mental Health, describes schizophrenia  as “a chronic, severe, and disabling, brain disorder that has affected people throughout history”.  While I don’t have the illness, I am at risk  for it.  I had to learn  about it and learn to live with Schizophrenia because my mother has it.  The challenges a family goes through trying to support a loved one with this illness are difficult to describe.  I believe the only way a family can survive these trying times, is to first learn about the illness.  There are many books that help you understand this disorder.  Also, learn about local resources: your local NAMI chapter, your local hospital, and even reach out to a therapist. Once I learned more about the illness, I had I began seeing a therapist, and I would recommend it for  anyone that is close with someone suffering from Schizophrenia. There will be incredible highs and lows, and self-care must be a priority.   I strongly suggest that if there are children involved, they are educated on the illness given additional support.   What I’ve learned about the illness so far: Read More


Kevin Breel Speaks about Depression #NSPW

Would you rather make your next Facebook status:

I’m having a tough time getting out of bed because I hurt my back.” OR “I’m having a tough time getting out of bed because I am depressed.”

That quote is one of  the most powerful questions asked by Kevin Breel during an inspiring talk for TEDxYouthTalk.  During the talk, he discusses being depressed and his struggles with suicidal thoughts. The question is a powerful one!  It a perfect example of the stigma associated with mental illness.  To add to Kevin’s question, I ask what would be your thoughts if your best friends Facebook status was  “I’m having a tough time getting out of bed because I am depressed.”? Your answer to that question reveals how you feel about mental illness.  Would you question their claims of a hurt back or offer up a “Feel better soon!” reply?  It’s time to really consider how we view mental illness.  Check out the video below and share your  thoughts, so we can begin to Speak Away the Stigma!