WisdomWithin Podcast now available across multiple platforms!

We are happy to share that WisdomWithin podcast episodes are now available through the following platforms:

Anchor.FM: https://anchor.fm/WisdomWithin

Google Podcasts: https://www.google.com/podcasts?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy84ZjFjMjIwL3BvZGNhc3QvcnNz

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1To3Y1WbQuKxi8B05bYzgo

Breaker: https://www.breaker.audio/wisdom-within

PocketCasts: https://pca.st/q727

RadioPublic:   https://radiopublic.com/wisdom-within-GKbdoD

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/anchor-podcasts/wisdom-within

… with further distribution in progress! Check us out on your favorite pod platform today!  We currently have five completed episodes available, with several more in progress! Be sure to share us with anyone who might be in need of support in their wellness and recovery journey! With our love and thanks, as always!

Exciting news!

I know you haven’t heard much from me lately, but there’s good reason. Very excited to share what I’ve been working on… a podcast version of the WisdomWithin blog, same moniker, encouraging emotional/mental health awareness, education & support, promoting self advocacy, recovery and HOPE. Episodes will run about 30 min. The hope is in reaching people “where they are”, with support, resources and encouragement. This is our test drive, and the show will hopefully develop and improve organically (if not technically), as we go. We are, in general, just out to do good. 👍🏼 We hope to add invited remote participants in the future, who can speak on a range of topics from a range of experience. There may even come some guests who wish to remain anonymous. Hoping you’ll give us a listen and share with anyone you think we might encourage. Would love your feedback, input, suggestions, topic ideas guest ideas, your yays and your nays. Podcasting; apparently the future is now. The anchor link is live already, but should work in your favorite podcast platform within a few days. Apologies in advance for a couple of pregnant pauses between sections. Gotta learn to edit better. But this is a self taught endeavour, so I’m just gonna chuckle on through. Thanks all!

https://anchor.fm/WisdomWithin

“Nothing about me, without me!”

I’m still here.

The call to action, “nothing about us, with out us!” was coined decades ago, by a group of mental health consumer/survivors who, through sheer determination, formalized the mental health peer movement and truly enabled the meaningful voice it has today.

No longer is the science behind mental illness denied. No longer are we at the mercy of what experimental treatments might be the latest en vogue. No longer do people deny that mental health and physical health are all part of one person, one wellness.

Well, most people don’t deny it; especially, understanding that 1 in 5 people, across cultures, across regions, across continents – will live with a mental health condition during their lifetime. (Currently, 58 million people in the United States!)

Everyone knows someone affected by mental illness. The peer movement, and now the peer support movement, are here to stay; and still here, to say that there is recovery, there is help, there is hope. We are better selves when we help ourselves, and when we help each other.

Also true, however, as with any journey, that any recovery can experience setbacks; no different than recovery from any physical ailment might. Its true for everyone. It’s also often the case that physical ailment can contribute to fluctuations in emotional wellbeing. Or perhaps, some sort of unexpected life detour puts up a roadblock. Let’s be honest. Any number of things can result in an emotional setback, whether you live with a mental health condition or not. Enough to sort of end up feeling in limbo, almost unable to take a next step, even if we know what the step needs to be.

Having experienced a similar crisis of confidence very recently myself; doubting my ability, doubting what help I’m actually being; I found it was the informal support of another peer supporter, that helped me recognize, out loud, what was behind my feeling of, well, “stuck”. More importantly, it brought me to realize that I am still contributing to the greater good, even during setbacks, because that’s what my goal is. That’s who I really am and what I feel called to do. It’s taken me decades to get to know me. I’m not going to lose sight of myself again, even though setbacks will come.  The journey is here for everybody. I’m no less a part of it by my condition, by my setbacks, or by my sometimes less than stellar confidence level. I am still here. I am on my journey, with all of its ebbs and flows and failures and successes, just like everyone else.

I will continue to make my voice heard, to promote mental health awareness, education and advocacy. I will stand up. Life isn’t about me, but I won’t have it happening without me, either. Because I’m still here.

On perceived threat…

imageIt’s gotten to be a scary world out there. Hard enough without group violence, or group hatespeech in the streets and twitter-verse of America. We are one nation!

I, myself … I don’t get using violence, or hatespeech, to protest or stand up for anything.

But, I get the reason for peaceful protest and the marches today. There are things and people that need standing up for.

My friends that are married, want to stay married. We all deserve protection of our rights. If we cannot keep our children safe in a certain school, we find one that can, or find ways to promote change, or homeschool, etc.; yet, I believe in our teachers. My last two contacts to the police (in 7yrs), were personally more harmful than helpful, I feel, not handled professionally, yet I believe in our police and first responders. It’s not an easy world to navigate for some of us. But we keep going.

People say, believing this “will all be ok”, might apply only to the privileged. Those not affected by the potential for damage ahead.

On the other hand, I am privileged. I am privileged that I have love and good humans in my life. I am privileged to own my home – that I worked my ass off for. I am privileged to be a voting, tax paying, noncriminal, nongunowning (but I can shoot), white female, partially college-educated, worked since I was twelve to support my family, great-granddaughter of immigrants, mother of grown sons, who has lived with a partially disabling condition for the last several years. I am privileged to have worked hard in my lifetime and paid into disability, so that I receive a small monthly allowance.

Make no mistake, I seek no sympathy/charity, rather, simply state as fact, that I am not able to afford all my medication, and co pays, and therapies my husband’s insurer deems not covered – because an insurance company knows better than all of my doctors combined; yet we still pay $500/mo in premiums, so I can keep my doctors. He works a blue collar job, coming up on thirty years. First time he ever voted, was for Obama. I’ve voted all my life.

My point: I still encourage folks, “it will be ok”. No matter which side of the election you were on.

Those who are happy with the new administration, deserve respect, yet need to have as much patience as they’d ask from the rest of us; we are all responsible for “it” to be ok.

Those who feel marginalized, or threatened, it will be ok by getting involved, encouraging folks to get involved, learn the facts – from legitimate sources, and be the constant voice of the constituency, by calling and writing /emailing your elected officials, on the regular. With today’s technology, it is faster and easier than ever. And they listen.

Complacency should never be the norm again. That is partially how we had the election we did. Not just the outcome, but the whole big picture.

Complacency is over. That is what I believe these marches put forth anew today. Mr. Trump is president. That’s what is. Rest assured, the protests are not to change that, but to change and ensure the future. We are still one nation. Our collective voices in our elected officials lives are what will make U.S. stronger, safer, better; I hope. So that “it will be ok”.

I really get everyone’s side. Except the side with the violence and hate speech, which supports no one and nothing. {{{hugs}}}

It’s going to be okay…

imageInauguration Day. No matter which side you were on during this election, I hope we are able to be compassionate. We never know the road another human has walked, or what might trigger emotional response in people.

Today is going to be extremely difficult for some folks. Not necessarily for political views – but for highly personal, emotional reasons.

There were moments during the year,  when tone of voice, condescension, belittling, verbal abuse, narcissism, prejudice, etc., triggered emotions in fellow citizens victimized by such things in the past or present.  I’m one of you.

Those not living with certain mental health conditions mIght have a hard time understanding such deep reaction to election rhetoric. If, however, you have lived with such abuses and triggers, you may not be at all able to help having those rising feelings of fear, panic, and isolation. Worse still, reactions can become physical; shaking, rapid respiration, anxiety, panic, chest pain, nausea, headache… if you’ve lived it, you know what I’m talking about.

But, it’s going to be ok.

We know we have choices in life. Life is good, and it goes on.

We can leave the news off. We know how to check up on the world from reliable sources. We can then focus on what’s meaningful for us. Whether it’s advocacy, community service, more regular involvement in contacting elected officials throughout the year, not just during election season. Or realizing perhaps, we may not be at that point, but that we can still take care of ourselves, be kind to ourselves; utilize those items in our wellness toolkits; utilize our supports. Care for one another, and be understanding of those who view things differently.

I have reached a point of peace with it. This is how our system works. It may not be perfect, but we are a free people. If we want candidates we feel better about in the future, we can ensure the voice of the constituency speaks well and often in the interim.

For now, be well; breathe in, breathe out, repeat. Everything’s going to be okay.

About….

 

Greetings from WisdomWithin!

Who the heck do I think I am, starting a little blog with such a potentially pretentious plaquard as “WisdomWithin”?

It’s been a long road, culminating this past year.

 

In 2016, I became a New York Certified Peer Specialist in Mental Health, with a goal toward encouraging mental health awareness, promoting self-advocacy and wellness; even more idealistically, reducing stigma and improving quality of life for our demographic.

Understand, that 20- 25% of the population will live with a mental health condition during their life time. That’s 1 in 4-5 people. Everyone knows someone living with a mental health condition. We are actually a very large group. Most of us are completely harmless, and … surprise… we are very much able to recover!

That NYCPS certification, is a fancy way to say I have lived mental health experience, lived mental health SYSTEM experience, follow a strict code of ethics, am willing to disclose and share my journey in an effort to be of help to others like me, and those who know and love us. This certification requires a level of ongoing education and work in the field, either directly with peers, or in contribution to the overall mental health awareness, advocacy and wellness community.

My work to date in this field has been voluntary, and in attempting to help organizations develop mental health awareness and peer support programs. “There come a time”, though, dear readers, when DOING it, has to take place of just talking about it. Hence, WisdomWithin. Self-taught techie, unfunded, but dedicated, studied and on a mission. Your interest, commentary and support are invited. This is intended as a safe space & a judgement free zone.

Welcome to Wisdom Within!

First rule in a crisis situation…

First rule in a crisis situation?  Don’t panic.

I know; easier said than done. Nonetheless, its one of life’s simple truths.

Life, life, life, life, BOOM! Crisis….

Crisis + Panic = Possibly bigger crisis.

Example: You’ve been through some stuff and not well, and have tests and have met with specialists, and BOOM! Your illness, be it physical or mental, is causing your doctor to pull you out of work.

Crisis.  Personally, financially; the mind boggles.

Alright, let’s say we go with panic as our first response… hmmmmm… thinking….

Nope, can’t come up with a single positive outcome that will bring.

Not judging. I mean, I myself have gone with the panic response in a number of crisis situations. It’s a valid, and historically oft utilized option.I just haven’t found it productive in dealing with any particular crisis.

On the other hand, and maybe its just because I’m old now – do something the wrong way enough times, you eventually figure out you’re doing it wrong. The first thing, don’t panic, may involve counting to ten, some deep breathing, possible sitting down with a glass of water; just to regroup. But, I’ve taken a sort of new tack on the whole crisis response scenario. More like when my sons were young. There might be sounds of hollering and bumping around, echoing down the stairwell, then one of them screaming, “MOM!!!” Now of course, very early on, I was running to save them every dang time. I found this not only exhausting, but ineffective. It only increased the number of times this exact same scenario would play out.

Finally, Iimage learned to develop a much more straightforward and calm response, at least internally. If there isn’t blood involved, or damage to my home, they will have to work it out. Screaming my name because your younger brother has you pinned, does not constitute an emergency for ME.

But back to perhaps a slightly more complicated crisis, of being pulled out of work on disability. And it ends up being long-term.  Now, we have a monumental problem. Especially if our illness affects our ability to actually complete and submit our application for Social Security/Disability.  It is an extremely complex document, or set of documents, and at the time, I couldn’t read a sentence and understand it. But, no application, no approval, no monthly allowance, no food, no power, no water, no tax money (if you are a homeowner), etc.  And those applications take months for determination as well, so there goes whatever was in savings in the interim.

BUT, if the illness, as in my own experience, is mental health related, there is help! I hadn’t ever reached out for help before. Always paid my own way. Didn’t want to take from anyone else, you know?  Despite my despair and my fear, my own overwhelmedness left me with nowhere to turn.  I swallowed what little pride I thought I had left at the time, and called the Mental Health Association.

They were so understanding. Made me feel like they were absolutely there for me.  They had me come in to meet with one of their staff, who helped turn an insurmountable task into a completed and filed application. And, it was approved on the first submission! I found out later, it doesn’t always work that way.

I’ll be honest. When I went to see them, I was in a panic. But, as one of my symptoms, I get panic attacks, which were much worse back then. Before I left that first visit though, the panic was gone.  What a gift that was. I remain grateful for their presence, their acknowledgment of me as a person, and that they treated me with respect; not like the sad ball of jello I rolled in there as.

The Mental Health Association has been around a very long time, and, while they would likely be the first to admit they are not the best at marketing what they do, the variety of services and programs they offer, can be miraculous to someone totally out of their normal zone; whose reality has been changed so drastically. They are accepting of you as you are, and just about everyone who works there, came from something similar to what you are now going through.  They have a location nearly everywhere in the U.S., so go to MHA.org to find the folks nearest you!

Who’s writing this blog anyway?

Seems only fair, if I’m gonna talk the talk, I should share where it comes from.
Excerpt from one of my presentations:

Inspiration From Within, Part II: Walking the Walk
A Journey of Diagnosis & Recovery – to NY Certified Peer Specialist

I am a survivor.

I live with multiple mental health diagnoses of post traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder and general anxiety.

I am also a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a homeowner, a taxpayer, a volunteer, and an advocate. I worked amongst the gainfully employed to take care of my family from the time I was twelve, until I was diagnosed in 2010.

Now, six years into recovery, I am a NY Certified Peer Specialist in mental health. My message is one of encouragement, inclusion and a call to action. Regular folks out there in the big world don’t talk about mental illness very much. Because it’s taboo, or against their religion or, it’s just “too uncomfortable”. Truth is, most people don’t understand emotional wellness OR mental illness; it scares them. That’s the stigma attached to mental health. Stigma is based in fear and misunderstanding and builds barriers to wellness and community. Sharing positive information and lived experience have been shown to reduce fear and stigma, encourage recovery and break down barriers for those living with diagnoses, which is positive for them, for those who care for them, and for their greater community. But, I’ll come back to that.

For my own experience, I have lived abuse and trauma experience since early childhood, domestic violence at home throughout childhood and two prior marriages. I am also a survivor of rape, and chronic sexual abuse. I have survived armed robbery, arson, untimely deaths of family members, and the kidnapping of one of my children. I also experienced stalking and menacing subsequent to two divorces.

Despite seemingly insurmountable traumas, I am now happily married for over four years, to a very good man I’ve known for three decades, and between us, we have five grown sons, four of whom have known each other since nursery school. In spite of what both my husband and I come from, all of our sons have had opportunities and life experiences we could never have dreamt of for them, or as youths, for even ourselves. We have, somehow, seemingly reprogrammed the results of our own epigenetics.

Four of our sons are married or in long term relationships. One of our young men is an air traffic controller, one is a supervisor in commercial production and distribution, one is a director in media marketing production, another does band tour management for other musicians and is a professional musician himself. Well, actually, two are musicians, two are parents, one has traveled to all 48 states in the continental U.S., two have traveled to multiple foreign countries, two own homes so far, and one is a veteran of the U.S. Navy. They continue to be the greatest joy of our lives. They are, collectively, our own personal miracles, and we are so grateful for them.

When I first “destabilized”, it was 2010, and it was a long and difficult path. I suffered two nervous breakdowns within three years. They don’t call them that any more though. They are now referred to as major depressive episodes. Like somehow, that sounds so much better. Doesn’t matter what you call them. They suck. Such episodes are different for everyone. In my case, I initially believed I was having a heart attack, chest pains, short of breath. Had all the tests. Nothing. I’d rest, but then have racing thoughts in my head, couldn’t keep my thoughts straight, couldn’t read a sentence and understand it, I’d feel physically unwell again, and confused; uncontrolled shaking, long crying spells, just lost, and in such emotional pain, like I just shouldn’t be here, my heart literally felt broken. I. Felt. Broken.

When my mental health diagnoses came, I was scared. stunned. I thought my life was over. How would I tell my sons? What about my job? I had always worked. We couldn’t survive without that income. We were going to lose everything we had worked for and it was all my fault. Ugh. It was just beyond my comprehension. I was completely overwhelmed and as scared as I had ever been in my life.

Since then, I’ve been through trial and error to find the right interventions for myself. A year and a half to develop a med regimen that let me function, think straight and sleep without nightmares. Voluntary In patient hospitalization, day treatment, six months of dialectical behavioral therapy, private counseling, EMDR, support groups and workshops in trauma informed healing, workshops of all kinds – ACEs &Resilience, art therapy, music therapy, wellness programs in yoga, mindfulness, meditation. I have explored a lot of ground in working my recovery. The Mental Health Association was there for me, with someone who helped me file my complicated disability application, when I was too unwell to comprehend it. My husband was there for me through every struggle. My grown sons supported me and loved me, despite the fact that my illness brought such fear to them.

Recovery is possible. I am living proof. It turns out, recovery is normal. It’s what most of us do, just like we do with physical illness. Sure, there are extremes in any illness. Most of us are not the extremes. Not if we take responsibility for our own wellness, our own abilities, our own rights, and our own responsibilities. Now, I offer encouragement toward resilience, recovery and hope. I encourage people: if it’s not for yourself, then someone you know, find out what works for you and use those tools toward wellness. If you put your mind and your heart in it, there is nothing beyond your reach. There are good resources available, no matter your need.

I am also a firm believer in keeping your sense of humor. It can help you through absolutely anything. There has not been a day since my beloved husband and I got together, that we haven’t laughed. And he lived with me through those breakdowns, hospitalization, recovery, all of it! He also says he met all of my personalities before he married me and everyone gets along, so we are all good.

It’s a scientific fact though, that laughter releases naturally produced endorphins in your brain, which are known to reduce stress and anxiety. Along those lines, I have also, for the sheer fun of it, AND toward my own wellness, completed an 8-week comedy improvisational boot camp, TWICE, with the local Geva theatre’s impov group. It’s two months of weekly skill building and losing inhibition and then…. GRADUATION. Boot camp graduations consist of performing onstage at the theatre for a live audience of family, friends and community. I encourage you, no matter your circumstance, to find your funny. It is very liberating, and I highly recommend it.

I hope to utilize skills developed thru all of these explorations, to find ways to move forward and encourage others. If I had connected with someone like me early in my treatment, who had survived and thrived, I know it would not have taken me six years to get to the point I’ve reached now. If there were school age requirements in wellness instead of just physical education, I might never have gotten to the extreme level of illness I did.

There were also times, I have to admit, in the depths of my illness, I was sure the world would have been better off without me. Were it not for recognizing the need to take action and get help, were it not for the love and support of my husband and sons, were it not for my sheer curiosity as to how all this could possibly work out, I might not have found the strength to go on. Some people don’t have those kind of supports in their lives. They may have NO ONE.

Mental health systems in our country are reactive only, AND we have to pound on the door several times to get even that help. Mental health reform is slow and painful, but it is not the only piece of the puzzle.

WHATS MISSING? What are we not doing to be proactive in today’s world? We do not teach emotional wellness. Physical health and mental health are inextricably linked, yet we only teach physical education in school. With over 50% of diagnosed adults experiencing onset of mental illness prior to age 14, the two should not be treated as separate issues. Recovery is the norm for those who get treatment and support. Every illness has its extremes, but like any other health condition, most mental health diagnoses are treatable, manageable, and we can recover to become more than we were before treatment.

Those who live with mental illness are more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators, we are homeowners, coworkers, taxpayers, parents, teachers, volunteers, first responders, musicians, artists, authors, scientists; we are every where. We make up 20-25% of the global population, across cultures, genders, races, religions, including gun owners and non-gunowners alike… 70% of our prison population are estimated to have mental health conditions.. . And to repeat, 50% of all adults diagnosed, experience onset prior to age 14! Teaching and promoting and encouraging wellness, awareness, breaking stereo type and stigma, can go a very long way toward improving the lives of future generations.

If I had been involved with a peer support professional earlier in my diagnoses,, I might never have had suicidal thoughts. Well, I guess that’s not really true, because I had those thoughts in childhood. You see, what ever you live through, or come up through during your youngest years, that’s what normal looks like for you. If your existence is dysfunctional, you don’t necessarily realize it’s dysfunctional. To you, that’s normal, that’s how life is. Doesn’t everyone live this way? But at every stage of brain development, and there are seven stages, those early traumas impact emotional development going forward. And then to learn as you grow, that in fact, no one lives the way you do, you grew up with a sociopath, well, by then, you just get good at it. Trying to fake normal everywhere else, when you aren’t even sure what that looks like, or feels like. Of course, this was way before information became so widely available. Without all of today’s technology, the Internet,, or cell phones, things were just much easier kept hidden back then. It was a different world then. When I was 9 yrs old, our family of six moved from a cottage in Western NY to a single wide trailer in the backwoods of SW Florida. We walked a dirt road to our school bus everyday, through a nearly abandoned strip of dilapidated migrant shacks. Just a small scary, everyday thing then. It was a very strange childhood, but at the time, I thought everyone lived like we did. I do not remember much of my youth without fear as a daily component. But that is a whole separate conversation.

The world is a very different place near fifty years later. I want to help people understand that recovery is the norm, that recovery is different for everyone, that it does take time, but all of it is progress toward wellness; that there are tools to help in developing our resilience; That knowledge equals power. Power equals resilience. Resilience leads to recovery. That there IS hope. HOPE, is a great acronym – Hold On. Pain Ends.

And when it does, some of us want to give back. To make it better or easier for the next person in our shoes. This thought is not new amongst survivors. The peer support movement in mental health actually began over one hundred years ago. It gained more prominence with deinstitutionalization, and the end of involuntary treatments and medical experimentation. Now, peer support is a recognized piece of the recovery puzzle. New York State his behind the curve though, and we need to change that.

This is my mission now. To raise awareness, encourage emotional wellness and self-advocacy, dispel myth, reduce fear, share lived experience, encourage resilience, recovery and hope. If I am able to somehow just help one person come back from, or maybe avoid, some of those darkest places, I will have been successful in this mission.

I thank you for your time today. Be well.

WW Premiere! Section Spotlight

Our “About” section:image

Greetings from WisdomWithin!

Who the heck do I think I am, starting a little blog with such a potentially pretentious plaquard?

In 2016, I became a New York Certified Peer Specialist in Mental Health, with a goal toward encouraging mental health awareness, promoting self-advocacy and wellness; even more idealistically, reducing stigma and improving quality of life for our demographic.

20- 25% of the population will live with a mental health condition during their life time. That’s 1 in 4-5 people. Everyone knows someone living with a mental health condition. We are actually a very large group. Most of us are completely harmless, and … surprise…  we are very much able to recover!

That NYCPS certification is a fancy way to say I have lived mental health experience, lived mental health SYSTEM experience, follow a strict code of ethics, am willing to disclose and share my journey in an effort to be of help to others like me, and those who love us. This certification requires a level of ongoing education and work in the field, either directly with peers, or in contribution to the overall mental health awareness, advocacy  and wellness community. I welcome your interest and support. This is intended as a safe space & a judgement free zone. Welcome to Wisdom Within!

Our “Numbers” Section:image

MENTAL HEALTH AND MENTAL ILLNESS… BY THE NUMBERS:

20 – 25% – Percentage of people in the United States who live with diagnosable mental health condition during a given year. It turns out, this percentage holds true globally and across the spectrum; regardless of race, gender, religion, location, political persuasion or socio-economic status – mental illness is the great equalizer. It is 100% immune to segregation. It is fully diverse and multi-cultural in its impact. In this, we all become the same.

59% – Percentage of U.S. adults with a mental health condition in the past year who did not seek treatment. Research shows negative stereotypes often prevent those with mental illness from seeking professional help.

One Third – The proportion of adults with mental illness who are likely to become victims of violence within a given six month period. Research published by the American Psychological Association. We are much less likely to be perpetrators of crime than we are victimized by it. Our illness can actually find us targeted by crime.

$16,306 – The estimated reduction in earnings for a person with a serious mental illness, according to a 2008 report published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

2.5 Trillion Dollars – The approximate global cost of mental illness in 2010, according to information presented by health economists at the World Economic Forum.  This means mental health issues were one of the largest economic costs when it came to health care – even more than diabetes, respiratory diseases and cancer combined, according to the the National Institutes for Mental Health (NIMH). The economists estimated that figure will rise to $6 Trillion Dollars by the year 2030!

75% – Estimated percentage of people with mental illness who feel like others are not caring or sympathetic when it comes to their condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Take away?  We must work together to do better. Because we ALL deserve a path to wellness, to be seen as a whole person, not as our illness,  & to live meaningfully – in a more compassionate society!

Our “Resource Links” Section:

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Resource Links

If you live with a mental health condition, you are considered a “Consumer” of mental health services, or a “consumer-survivor”. When we are first diagnosed, it’s difficult to know what resources to turn to for help with our rights, available services, protections, how to find effective therapies, navigating medication, navigating “the system” in living with mental health. This page will be a continually updated document of valuable and trustworthy resources for consumers like us.

Lifeline (NY Finger Lakes Region)  24/7 crisis/suicide intervention program and information and referral service serving six counties in New York State. (Check online to see if a similar program exists in your region!)

NY Offices for Consumer Affairs – Health and Wellness  (You are the consumer! This office is for you! Every imaginable resource as far as rights and inclusion in the greater community!)

International BiPolar Foundation  (Amongst other wonderful supports, IBPF provides a Mental Health Awareness ‘patch’program, earnable through scouting and other such organizations – I am happy to be facilitating our first such program for a local girl scout troop here in May 2017, Mental Health Awareness Month!)

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National Alliance on Mental Illness  (An outstanding organization, also with local chapters, doing great work for the community, within the community, and in advocacy across the country.)

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)  (Another wonderful national organization, offering support, good information and advocacy for families living with depression and bipolar conditions.)

Mental Health Association (Rochester, NY)  (There is a MHA branch near you! Look up MHA.org!) Some of their resources include: Creative wellness opportunities, family support, life skills, workshops, employment support, peer support, teen support groups, volunteer opportunities, self- and system advocacy, community connections and involvement.

Mental Health on TheMighty.com  (Real info and discussion – all about mental health!)

Our “Fact vs. Fiction” Section:

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Fact vs. Fiction

PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION…

There is stigma in the world against /surrounding mental illness, or those with mental health conditions. It’s difficult enough to hear diagnoses and have to address them, without having bad things just presumed by you or about you.  This page looks at dispelling some Mental Health myths and old wives tales (no offense to any old wives out there…).

Topics & “Myths”

1.  Health and Wellness:

Mental Health and Physical Health are part of the same thing. Part of each one of us. If you are physically unwell, not sleeping, not eating, etc., this can be symptomatic of something more than a physical problem. And continual loss of sleep and lack or appetite (amongst many other signs), can lead to worsening of any mental or physical health condition.  If you have a broken leg, you sort of have no option but to seek help and get it fixed. If you need a heart valve, you get surgery. If you have a mental illness, you don’t just do nothing. That helps no one and fixes nothing. You take responsibility. Every type of treatment is considered a therapy, so don’t think you’ll just be lying on a psychiatrist’s sofa somewhere. It is a combination of therapies, education, wellness habits and supports that truly help us recover. It is our responsibility to seek those out and find what works for us. The first step is always to see your primary physician to rule out or deal with any physical causes, and then psychiatry/psychology referral, should mental health pieces be suspected. More on therapy types, rights and responsibilities coming soon…

2. “I’ll never be the same again.”

I didn’t just start having mental health issues when I received my diagnoses. I was 46 years old at the time. I had apparently been unwell, although very high functioning, for many years. I held a job, owned a home, had a family. But, and I can be honest about it now, I knew I wasn’t “ok”, and that it had been that way for awhile. My point here, is that you will NOT ever be the same again. Diagnoses allows us a direction to work in, rather than just floundering through life. If we know what we are dealing with, we can learn how to do so. In essence, we end up much better than we were before. Cuz, who would want to go back to being so unwell anyway, right?  More on early considerations around diagnoses coming soon…

3.  “No one else I know has a mental illness.”

Logistically, that’s pretty much impossible. It is a fact that 20-25% of any given population, no matter gender, culture, ethnicity, religion, profession, political persuasion, financial health, poverty level, socioeconomic factor, etc., the percentage remains the same globally. Mental health conditions, are, for the most part, livable, survivable, and yes, even thrivable, providing we educate ourselves and consistently take responsibility for our wellness.  More on education, rights and responsibilities coming soon…

4. “Really successful people don’t have mental health issues.”

Let me just throw a few names at you. Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Audrey Hepburn, Carrie Fisher, Robin Williams, Ernest Hemingway, Abraham Lincoln, Harrison Ford, Michael Phelps, Macy Gray, Howie Mandel, Buzz Aldrin, Whoopi Goldberg, Cary Grant, Charles Darwin, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Dickens, Ben Stiller; the list goes on and on.  All lived through, lived with, survived and thrived, despite mental health issues in their lives. More on this coming soon…

5. “I will have to be medicated like a zombie for the rest of my life…”

The truth is, medication IS one part of the possible recovery equation. We will have a separate page just about medication issues, but obviously, all medication questions should be referred to your health care professional. The truth is, there are different classes of drugs, all of which are highly effective, in the right people. The difficulty is in determining what, if any medications will help you as an individual. Everyone reacts to medication differently. I have been on a medication regimen for multiple years now. I am not a zombie, I am a fully functioning, conscious, thinking individual, without any apparent zombie like tendencies. The other truth is, some folks find the side effects difficult to deal with and want to live without meds. (The only side effects I’ve experienced are weight gain – it’s a trade off. But I’m working on that…) The fact is, if you decide that you ultimately cannot be helped by medication, it is still your responsibility to find the therapies that allow you to live well despite your condition. That is possible. But we are responsible for our actions or inactions.  More on this coming soon…

6. Some people just don’t believe in mental illness.

This is, unfortunately, true. I have been told over the course of time, by assorted well meaning individuals, that I would be well if I just give it all to God, that I should not medicate, that its all a scam, that I would feel better if I just lost weight (or whatever the suggestion of the moment was…). Some religions do not allow for mental illness to exist. Some people just are in denial, or have bought in to all the stigma attached to mental illness over decades, and therefore are unable to face that a friend or family member has such a condition.  It is still our responsibility to work toward wellness and find the course that works for us as an individual. No one else’s approval is needed.  More on stigma and stereotyping coming soon…

We will add more on myths and untruths, and hope to clarify with researched truths. Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Life is all about change. Its a journey from one change through another, throughout our existence. So learn how to take care of yourself, and if you haven’t already, learn to adapt, adapt, adapt.

One more very useful quote to close this particular page for the moment, from Winston Churchill; “Never, never, never give up.”

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