The Founder of Speak Away the Stigma shares her story

Author Kendra Bell  host the podcast “Calming Sense” where she discusses mental health related topics.  Kendra reached out to find out more about Speak Away the Stigma and what led Christina Lattimore to become a Mental Health Advocate.  Check out Calming Sense and find out more about Christina, how mental illness has impacted her family and the future plans for Speak Away the Stigma.  img_0234

Kendra’s book, Battle Scars of the Mind: Do You Have What It Takes to Overcome the Enemy’s Temptations? is available on Amazon.  “Using biblical narratives and personal stories of others overcoming atrocities, Kendra brings a much needed, fresh insight to the important issues we face in our society. Using compassion and empathy, she shows you how to:
•Challenge negative thoughts
•Embrace healing
•Avoid temptation using biblical principles
•Overcome rejection
•Receive the gift of forgiveness, grace, and mercy
•Live a life of redemption”

**The November event PTSD & Her has been pushed back, however there will be a different awareness event in October or November!  Sign up to get our updates so you’ll be the first to know about our next event**

 


7 Ways to Shoo the Holiday Blues

The holidays can be a depressing time for many people.  Many of us know one or more people who turn into The Grinch (or a cousin of the Grinch) during this time of the year.  The holidays for me have never been an overly joyous occasion. As a child this time of year was hoping we had a few gifts under the tree on Christmas morning so I wouldn’t have to lie when kids at school asked what I got for Christmas.  In college, this time of year was spent studying for my finals and hustling extra shifts as a waitress, so Christmas Day was my day to rest!  Since I have been working in corporate America, there are holiday parties, early days off, and a lot of holiday chatter in general.  This forces me to deal with the lack of joy I often feel around the holidays and really work at making sure I don’t get the “Holiday Blues”.

For many years I believed that this time was when families came together, enjoyed good food and each other’s company.  While I have experienced these happy times while visiting my friends’ home, I have rarely experienced this with my own family, and that lead my VERY BLASÉ feelings about the holidays.  What made my feelings worse is that I wanted to enjoy this time of year.  I wanted to be excited about spending time with people I love, giving gifts and discussing my holiday plans.  Once I let go of the holidays were “supposed” to look like, I learned to enjoy the holidays MY way.

If you are worried about having the Holiday Blues here are 7 ways to shoo away those Blues!

1.  Count Your Blessings!  This time of year it is easy to be reminded of what we do not have.  It could be the loss of a family member or the loss of a job.  It could be the lack of the ability to fulfill Christmas list or the ability to afford to go home to be with family.  Although, it is not easy, remember what you do have and think outside of the box for gift giving.  Be thankful for the loved ones that are still with you, enjoy and celebrate your time with them.   

2.  Redefine Your Holiday!  Everyone doesn’t celebrate Christmas in the same way-hell everyone doesn’t even celebrate Christmas!  You don’t have to follow the masses and put up a tree, do a bunch of shopping, travel to visit family you really don’t want to just to “celebrate the holidays”-create your own tradition.  Decide what the holidays mean to you, and DO THAT!  So what if it is different from what everyone else does, I promise you people will find your “non-traditional” holiday interesting. 

3.  Have SKYPE or FaceTime Holiday!  Being away from home can be difficult, and sometimes a phone call isn’t enough!  Thank goodness for technology!  Reach out to your family or close friends and set up a time to talk!  The beauty of using Skype or FaceTime is you can see them.  It may make you wish even more that you could be there, but you will probably end the call with a smile on your face!

4. Reach out to others.  If you don’t want to spend Christmas day alone, ask your single, childless co-workers if they have plans.  If you all don’t want to do dinner, just make plans for the movies.  It will at least get you out of the house.  If there is a small group of you all, plan a Christmas Eve happy hour, there is always a bar open, somewhere!

5.  Volunteer.  Many places will feed the homeless during the holidays, and this is a great time to volunteer.  You can also check with local children’s hospitals. Volunteer list fill up quickly around the holidays so begin your search early. By volunteering you will be out of the house, meet new people and give back to the community all at one time.  A simple Google search will give you shelter, soup kitchens, and hospitals in your area.

6. Plan a lazy day.  Yes, plan it!  To have a good lazy day one must be prepared because leaving the house will not be on the agenda!  Get any snacks and food you need, maybe hit up Rebox a day early (for those movies you never made it to the theater to see), plan your binge list from Netflix or Hulu or even grab a good book.  If you will be alone, it is the perfect opportunity turn Christmas Day into YOUR Day.  Also, you pick up some magazines and craft supplies and work on your vision board for 2017!

7. Avoid the Grinch!  Hey if you don’t like the holidays, fine.  However, when someone is constantly complaining, whether it’s about the traffic, the decorations, their lack of money to buy gifts, being single on the holidays-You do not need to be around that person because their negative energy will rub off on you!  You can’t take the chance of me catching their Holiday Blues too!

Remember you are in control of you feelings.  You are in control of your perspective.  While you may not be able to have the holidays you want,  you can’t crawl in a cave until they are over so you may as well find a way to enjoy them.  Life is too short not to enjoy your life, even if it is not perfect.


Mama has “the blues”? The Carmichael Show gets serious about depression

Many families share the good, the bad and the ugly with each other, especially spouses.  But how do often do spouses speak about their mental health?  Some moms and daughters and sons and fathers are best friends, but would they open up about being depressed?  In this week’s episode of The Carmichael Show, Cynthia, the wife, and mother (Loretta Devine) is caught crying while she is in the kitchen alone.  While this is a comedy, the response of husband and father, Joe, (David Alan Grier)  is that she has “the blues”, which he describes as some crying, sadness, and excessive sleeping.    

 

Maxine, the girlfriend of Jerrod Carmichael (one of the shows creators), pushes back and the family has an open conversation about depression.  Surprisingly, well maybe not actually, all of the responses are common in the African-American community;  “only rich people get depressed”, “your mom isn’t depressed, she is strong”, and there is an “uncle that hasn’t left home in 15 years” that gets swept under the rug.  The episode goes on to discuss therapy, shows how the Carmichaels deal with the news that mom is depressed.  Jerrod Carmichael, encourages his mom to seek help.  He and Maxine are in the minority as other family members chime in on the subject.   

According to the National Institue on Mental Health, “Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States“.  Depression is defined as “A period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image”  according to the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).  It is understandable that many parents, especially moms, feel like they cannot open up or even address their own feelings or needs.  It is accepted that parents are supposed to be the strong ones, and be the “backbone” for their children and sometimes the rest of the family.  Parents are supposed to be an example of  perfection and strength, right?  Not all of the time!! Children need to know that sometimes mom and dad need their own time and that mom and dad have rough days too.  They need to see examples of self-care and self-love!  Letting anyone believe that you have it together 100% of the time is a disservice to your family, as well as yourself.  The better we take care of ourselves, the better we can continue to take care of our families.
The Carmichael Show tackles this sensitive topic with truth and laughter!  Tune in each Sunday for new episodes of this great comedy!  NBC.com has full episodes of season 2 online.  The link to the full episode is here.


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


7 Tips for a (Menatlly) Healthy Freshman Year

FROM LUMBERJACKBLOG

It’s a time for new beginnings!

It’s a new chapter in life, but it feels like a whole new book!  

Freshman year is a year of first and forevers. This is a time when new friends will be made, and experiences will yield life-long lessons.  This year of learning and transition will be exciting, yet stressful. One thing that needs to be maintained is during this time is your mental health.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, As you head off to begin the next phase in life, here are 5 tips that will help you have a mentally healthy freshman year.

Designate your support  system NOW!!

You will have happy, sad, and WTF moments the entire year, have a person to call and share these moments with. Real life situations will happen and you may not have your family and close friends close by.  Get your family up to speed on using how to use Facetime, Oovo or Glide and email if necessary.  Set up group chats if your close friends that are going to different schools because sometimes they will be the only ones that will understand those WTF moments!

Exercise!

Exercise is an important habit to work into our daily routines.  Not only will a regular routine help keep the “Freshman 15” away, but it will keep your mind fresh.  Balancing a college workload, a social life and sleep can be stressful, and one of the best ways to alleviate stress is to get moving.  Head to your schools gym/rec center to shoot some hoops, treadmill time, or a Zumba class.  SN-This is a good way to see and meet upperclassman too!   

Learn your school’s resources!

During orientation is a great time to ask about the services on campus.  Some schools may offer counseling with professionals while others may offer peer-to-peer counseling.  Some services may have a fee, but there should be some services that are covered by the cost of tuition. Your residence hall staff is a great place to ask questions about available resources.

Be Social!

More than likely your school as social media accounts, and that is a great place to find out what events are happening on campus!  Join interest groups, attended meetings, form study groups, and volunteer.  Ask when your roommate or neighbors are having lunch or dinner and ask to join them!  Your professor may offer or know of study groups, or campus organizations, so don’t be afraid to ask.  One of the most important things you need while in college and once you leave college is your network, so work on building a good one.  

Journal

Keeping a diary or journal can be therapeutic during tough times.  It is also a great way to keep those college memories forever!  Do a recap of your week, or write about your frustrations.  Physical journals that require the use of pen and paper may seem outdated, and if you’re one of those millennials, then there are a few journaling apps available.

Just say no to drugs and alcohol

Maybe this should have been number one, lol!  As we all know drugs are illegal and so is alcohol by those under 21 years old.  What many people don’t understand is that drugs affect the chemicals in your brain.  Different people have different reactions to drugs, plus if there is a history of mental illness in your family, using drugs can increase the chance you may develop a mental illness as well.  People drink for various reasons, if you drink because you are stressed or because you “loosen up” after a few drinks review the tips above.

If you are reading this have passed your freshman year, what tips do you have for upcoming freshman?  If you are a freshman, what tips will you use to increases your likelihood of having a mentally healthy freshman year?



surviving schizophrenia

At about the age of 13 I found out my mother’s diagnosis, it was Schizophrenia. I was reading through some court papers, that I wasn’t supposed to have  been reading, and saw it: “…… has been diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia”. I can’t recall exactly how I felt reading it, but I do know I was a bit relived.  For the past 5-6 years I knew my mom wasn’t OK, but I didn’t know what was wrong with her.  I didn’t know why she always heard voices, I didn’t know why she would get so angry when we told her we didn’t see the things that she saw.  I didn’t know why my mother didn’t hug us or tell us that she loved us.  I didn’t understand why she thought the breakfast we made for her on mother’s day, had poison or spit in it.

No one talked to us about why my mom was in and out of the hospital, every couple of years. No one in my family told me my mother had Schizophrenia, I read it in court papers.  Whenever I had a chance , I would try to find out more information about the illness, but at my age I didn’t understand what I read, so I just stopped.  I just accepted that is what my mother had, and to me, she was uncaring, unstable, irresponsible, and angry. 

Despite my feelings, I was always grateful for the values she instilled in us at a young age.  During the years, when her recovery periods were short, we were able to still take care of ourselves.  We knew how to get ourselves off to school, cook for ourselves and do our school work to maintain good grades.  I credit that not only to my mother, but also to my grandparents, and the grace of God.  It would be almost two decades before I would be able to separate the symptoms of the  illness from my mom.  She was not the illness.  She was just the opposite.  During her periods of her recovery, she was a different woman, and I had to learn to remember the confident, hard-working, big-hearted, loving, smart, and somewhat stubborn woman she will always be. Read More