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**

 


Dads & Depression: The Recap

“…in some ways, depression made me a better soldier.” ~ Dad & Depression attendee

On  Saturday, June 24, 2017, Speak Away the Stigma held it’s first event, Dads & Depression.  It was held at the Cumberland County Public Library, downtown Fayetteville, NC.  Three mental health professionals were invited to speak and educate the attendees on how depression looks differently in men vs. women, coping skills for men, and how Dad’s depression affects children.  Not only were the speakers informative, they engaged the audience, made them laugh, and integrated real-life scenarios into the conversations to ensure they were relatable to the audience.

Richale R. Reed was the first speaker and after a brief statement about how mental illness had impacted her own family at an early age, she turned her attention to the men in the audience.  “Depression doesn’t look a whole lot different in men”, she stated before she asked the men to share what Depression had been like for them.  Three men stood up and shared a piece of their story, and that was unexpected.  Anger, isolation, and a FullSizeRenderchange in sleep patterns were some words used. In this town full of soldiers and military pride it was thought-provoking when a Veteran admitted, “…in some ways depression made me a better soldier“.  He went on to discuss how when he was no longer a soldier he almost felt he had no purpose.  Richale then discussed how stress can lead to depression, why awareness and your words matter, and why deciding how you want to deal with depression is an important decision that should be made with the help of a therapist.

Travis Andrews was the second speaker.  He too agreed that stress can lead to depression, stating that “...no one was born saying I’m going to be depressed or I am choosing this.”  Travis discussed depression and the single dad as well as coping skills, and he educated the attendees on how family relationships, dysfunction in the home, and adjusting to changes increases stress levels.  Travis asked the audience to define “a man“, and touched on how trying to live within society’s definition does more harm than FullSizeRender_1good.  He also pointed out when men have issues they will often turn to men around them for advice, which he likened to “getting back surgery for a broken arm.”   Why not enlist the help of a professional stranger Travis asked, explaining your most troubling and difficult times should be discussed with someone who won’t judge you, who is bound by confidentiality and whose only interest is helping you resolve your issues.  Also, physical activity was one of the top ways Travis suggested Dad’s cope with stress, stating that simply going for a walk does wonders for the brain.

Joanna Nunez was the final speaker.  Her topic, how Dads depression affects the children, was of particular interest to many in the audience.  Anger, isolation and sleep patterns came up again and Joanna stated that it is common for adults to carry the pain of Dad being angry all of the time or the feelings of being ignored when Dad isolates FullSizeRender_2himself from the family.  She gave a reminder that children not only hear what you say but they also emulate your behavior, so it is important to “…not just discuss behavior but feelings as well.”  Joanna and a dad from the audience role played different reactions children have to “Dad’s voice” and she discussed how “..a child’s reaction tells a lot about the about the parent”.  One piece of information Joanna presented that was a shock to many people is that the effects of Dad’s depression on children were not studied until 2011, studies prior to that centered around only the Mom.  While the studies with dads may be new, the fact that children can be predisposed to mental illness if mom or dad has a diagnosis is well documented.  Joanna suggested that Dads take the time to remember what is fun for them and do those activities.

So what do you do if there is a man in your life that may need some help?  Richale, Travis, and Joanna all agreed that focusing on dad’s behavior is the best way to suggest help.  Statements like “You are angry so see a therapist”, are not likely to be successful.  Instead, bring attention to constant yelling or the change in sleeping patterns,  ask what could be causing the behaviors, and suggest talking to a someone may be a good idea.   Dads are often a child’s first friend and the first person they look up to.  If you are a dad or know a dad that may be depressed reach out to them and to see if they need to talk.  Six million men are affected by depression every year so if you are one of them, rest assured you are not alone.

Psychology Today, your health care provider or even your primary care doctor are some places you can find a therapist in your area. Follow @SpeakAwaytheStigma on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to find out about our next event!


Shame. Hurt. Anger. Confusion. And the Power of Sharing Your Story.

 

I walked into the classroom, sat down and stared at the other 20 people.  The first thing I  noticed was I was that almost everyone was older than me.  There were about 3 of us that appeared to be early to mid-thirties, everyone else was 20-30 years older.  Next, I noticed that about 5 of the people were Black. Some people looked rich, some looked poor, some looked happy, and others looked stressed.  Do I belong here? Can I quit this class without being Add headingharassed via email? I hope I don’t fall asleep.  These were the thoughts in my head as I sat waiting for the class to begin.  Two hours later and several tear drops later all I saw were people who understood my struggle for the last 25 years. Read More


I Am Solid She’s Cupcakes & Conversations: The October Edition

img_2973

Cupcakes & Conversations in an event in support of  I Am Solid She’s campaign: “Breaking Barriers to Silence Stigma…One Conversation at a Time”.  The goal of this campaign is “to encourage open dialogue about mental health which creates a platform for women to share stories, information, and empowerment through conversation.

The most recent Cupcakes & Conversation was held this past Saturday, October 22, 2016, at the Myers Park Wellness Center in Charlotte, NC.  The topic:  Silently Suffering…Can You Hear My Cry?”  The guest speaker was Dr. Arloishia Israel, and she spoke with total transparency about living with a chronic illness and how that led to her depression.  Dr. Israel discussed how at she had to accept that she had Rheumatoid Arthritis in her THIRTIES!!  She as well as many other people only know older people to diagnosed with this condition, so she had her husband began to educate others, beginning with their own family. Everyone seemed to appreciate the transparency with which Dr. Israel spoke, because it is not common to hear such honesty when discussing mental health or chronic illnesses, especially  in the Black community.  The attendees were also educated on how chronic illnesses can lead to depression and that depression often occurs in cancer, Parkinson’s and heart attack patients.  Often times people are so focused on the physical healing that little to no thought is given to the mental well-being.  One word that this therapist, wife, mother, sister and daughter had to learn to use was “No” and it wasn’t easy.  Dr. Israel shared moments when her hands were extremely swollen  or when she wasn’t able to stand up long enough to sing one song in church, people still continued to ask so much of her.  She discussed how she had to set boundaries and prioritize because if she didn’t she would not have the energy to put into her own well-being.  Through medication, a therapist, the support of her family and prayer Dr. Israel is doing much better and although she still battles with RA she was able to stand in heels and share her story!  The comments and questions from the attendees’ showed that many were deeply impacted by Dr. Israel’s story.   Read More


NAMI Walks Atlanta 2014

On Saturday November 1 NAMI Walks Atlanta took  place in Piedmont Park, in Atlanta, GA.  Speak Away the Stigma formed a team and solicited donations.  A BIG THANK YOU to Qiana Leonard, Futuera Patterson, & Tiffany Waits for walking with me and supporting an organization I support.  We solicited donations, and I am proud to say that our team goal was $500.00, but we raised $615.00 from 23 generous supports!  Please take a few minutes to read about why The National Alliance on Mental Illness (aka NAMI) is a great organization.

Informative
When I first got the courage to look up information on mental illness www.nami.org was one of the first websites I found. (I use the word courage because reading about what some mentally ill people go through on a daily basis isn’t easy, when a loved one is going through it)  The NAMI website has information and statistics about many different illnesses. It is easy to read and understand, and is a great place to start learning about mental illness.

Virtual Advocacy
When I want to know what is going on with mental health advocacy, I can go to www.nami.org. No matter if it is a new piece of legislation, Criminal Justice and mental health, Mental Healthcare, and advocacy information by state, NAMI has information about it.  There is a “You Are Not Alone” section that encourages individuals to share their story in hopes of inspiring others.

Support Groups
If you are someone living with a mental illness, a school or health professional or just someone who wants to learn more about mental health, NAMI has a group for you!  The Family to Family class was the first time I was able to speak openly about having a family member with a mental ill and knew that my feelings were understood.  I cried, I laughed, I learned, I met people I could openly talk about dealing w/my loved one without shame.  Three things I took away from the NAMI Family to Family class: 1.  That mental illness can affect ANYONE.  The class had a former college president, whose mentally ill son had recently moved  back home, a woman whose brother had been suffering from mental illness since she was a child and a grandmother whose grandson had just had his first episode.  2.  That there is hope.  One of the instructor’s daughters has schizophrenia, and she was in a period of recovery.  She spoke to the class, and I couldn’t help but believe that anyone with a mental illness may be able to live an independent life with treatment and support.  3. The desire to do more.  I have always wanted to give back to those in need.  After this class and reading about mental illness, I know there is a need for more people to to educated on mental health and mental illness to help erase the stigma associated with it.  There is also a need for funding for mental health care, and I want to somehow make a difference.

In addition to mental illness and mental health awareness, Speak Away the Stigma hopes to be able to help pay for medication or therapist visits for those who cannot afford to get help.  One of my goals is to speak about shedding the shame I had, having a mentally ill family member, dealing with my own depression and taking care of myself before I attempt to take care of anyone else.

20141106-204236.jpg

20141106-204307.jpg

20141106-204348.jpg

20141106-204405.jpg

20141106-204424.jpg

20141106-204907.jpg

20141106-205127.jpg