‘It doesn’t mean I’m broken. It means I’m strong enough to ask for help.’

I ran across this article today and thought it might help someone. I don’t take medications. Never gave them a chance to work but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe they work for some people. Here’s the article:

 

‘It doesn’t mean I’m broken. It means I’m strong enough to ask for help.’

“I made a phone call today I thought I’d never have to make again.

I called a clinic to get a new doctor so I can get back on Lexapro and Ativan.

Sometime last fall I decided I was fine and didn’t need the meds anymore. My husband had a new job making more money, we moved closer to some friends of ours, and started going back to church on a regular basis.

I was happy. I was living instead of just surviving. I didn’t need to take medications for my depression and anxiety anymore. In fact, I was so ‘cured’ I’d never have to take a pill again. The sky was bluer than blue and life was good.

But slowly over the last several months the high has worn off. The newness of our lives became normalcy and as the excitement of all the change began to wane, so did I.

The crying started. But crying is normal and even healthy so that was okay.

Then the lack of motivation to do much. But, come on, I’m a stay at home to little kids who are learning and growing. Kids are exhausting. Surely I was just tired from motherhood.

But then the hopelessness began creeping in. The ‘why bother?’ thoughts. The going to bed at 8 because there was no point to stay up; no joy in doing something for just me after the kids went to bed.

Tired all the time despite my naturopath saying I’m fine and just need to take this multivitamin and vitamin D.

No desire to go after the big dreams I have for my life.

No confidence that I could actually achieve those dreams because I’m not smart enough, pretty enough, good enough…

And then last week my BFF sent me this in a text after she was recently put back on Wellbutrin.

‘So here’s the thing about depression that also makes it soooo dangerous- sometimes you don’t even realize you have it until the fog clears and you actually want to go places and do things.’

And that’s when it all made sense.

My depression isn’t temporary. That’s why I was on meds for so long. Because it’s a part of me. It’s not something that some sunlight and spa days can fix. It’s embedded in my brain.

So today I called and made an appointment for medications I never thought I’d need again.

It doesn’t mean I’m broken. It means I’m strong enough to ask for help.

It doesn’t mean I failed at being ‘normal.’ It means my brain chemistry needs some assistance. That’s it.

It doesn’t make me less than anyone else. I’m as much a person as everyone who doesn’t need medication. I’m human just like you. I’m worthy of love and respect and joy and peace and I will have it again in a few weeks once my medication kicks in and I can see clearly.

I’m just a girl who needs some medication to help me be the best I can be. And I always will be that girl. And that’s okay. My medication doesn’t define me or my heart or my worth. It’s just something I need to be the real me.

If you need medication to be the best you, don’t feel any shame or guilt. Feel strong because you did the hard thing and reached out and asked for help.

If you think you may need medications, don’t be afraid. Be strong enough to make an appointment. You deserve to be the best you possible. To live, to dream, to laugh again.

Let’s walk together towards a life of light and joy. We deserve it.”

This story was written by Toni Hammer. The article originally appeared here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

The link to the article is here in case you want to share it.

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The 6 Blessings of Mental Illness

I ran across this article today and thought it was interesting enough to share. The article can be found here.

Written by Jonathan Friesen

Yes, you read that title correctly.

I could not have written those six words 30 years ago, when panic episodes, anxiety disorders and Tourette’s syndrome clouded my view. But now I see that though the fog was exceptionally dark, good things were developing, good things inside of me.

Conventional wisdom states that certain environments lend themselves to the formation of certain character traits. Team sports, for example, are credited with fostering cooperation and commitment. In exchange for service in our armed forces, soldiers learn the essence of duty, honor, sacrifice and discipline.

In recent years, we have expanded our understanding of “formative experiences” to include seasons of medical struggle. We honor cancer survivors for their dignity and strength, while young children living through childhood diseases receive recognition for their tenacity and resilience.

And they should.

What we are really acknowledging is that during the intense and painful parts of life, some very good qualities are born, qualities that don’t just occur on their own.

However, when we speak of mental illness, there is no talk of a formative experience. The identified mental disorders carried by many, myself included, are not credited with creating anything of value in us. Our lives exist under different headlines, where we are seen as weak and unfortunate, fragile and unpredictable. Granted, many of our behaviors are.

But when there is a call to count blessings, do not imagine for an instant that we have none to number. Within the mental health community, we too have discovered that our storms have silver linings. Our “weaknesses,” like battlefields, create in us the realization that we can more than survive mental illness.

Mental Illness has its blessings.

1. Generosity

Think of the most generous friend you have. I will tell you what you already know: They are not proud or self-important. What they have, they can give because unlike the self-important person, they don’t view their possessions and time as personal entitlements. Mental Illness shatters the altar of self. When minimal mental stability is hard to grasp, of what use is this item or that? Besides, when I give, for a little while, I control the direction of my world, and control is not something I often feel.

2. Spirituality

True spirituality begins with one of two desires. We are driven either by the longing for a transcendent experience or the desperate hope that someone greater than ourselves exists to meet our needs. Those struggling with mental illness rarely question that they are needy. Life makes this rather clear. This allows us to reach out our hands without reservation.

3. Empathy

The phrase “hurting people hurt people” rings true. So does this corollary: “Those who know they need know when others need.” The experience of helplessness is one of the most universal realities of the mentally ill, and meeting a perceived need in another is one of the most potent ways to feel empowered.

4. Accepting spirit

It becomes quite difficult to condemn when it is consistently obvious that my own life is not all together. Awareness of my own confusion allows me to accept you freely. Ironically, although I can accept you with ease, I don’t show the same grace to myself. Here is where I need you to help.

5. Courage

Many formative experiences create courage. But few of them involve Herculean steps of courage before your feet hit the floor. Getting out of bed to begin the day can be a sweet victory, and strings of victories create confidence. Courage to wake. Courage to rest. Courage to live in between. It isn’t a bad mantra.

6. Creativity

There are societal norms for living. We call people who adhere to them “normal.” I sincerely doubt the presence of normal actually exist; nonetheless, those of us who clearly live outside the lines find our square-peg existence in constant conflict with how the normal operate. Living, then, becomes an exercise in creativity. If the world walks from A to B, but my mind doesn’t allow me to, it takes creativity to reach my destination.

If you could be guaranteed that your child would grow up to be a generous, spiritual, empathetic, accepting spirited, courageous, creative adult, if only you would consent to their experiencing this formation through mental illness, would you make the deal? I believe few would. But this I know: Those of us already on that road can be grateful for our blessings.

Well what do you think? Can we be grateful for our struggles with mental illness or as the author states… our blessings? I think I have definitely grown from my struggles. I am not quite sure I am ready to call my struggle a blessing though. However, I do believe that things happen for a reason…

How Long is Too Long in Psychotherapy?

I must admit I have wondered how long is too long in therapy? Is there a time limit? I started therapy last year because I felt better than I had in a long time and I wanted to keep it that way. So I guess in a way I viewed therapy as a wellness program. Is that the right way to think about therapy? I decided to see what info I could find on the topic and ran across this article:

How Long is Too Long in Psychotherapy?

Mailbag: quality vs quantity in therapy

Dealing With Holiday Depression

Dealing With Holiday Depression

9 Things To Do Or Say When A Loved One Talks About Taking Their Life

DEPRESSION

Re-posted from Huff Post. Originally posted on 11/15/14.

By Lisa Esposito for US News

Caring is key to your response. This is what you should do if someone you know talks about taking their life.

Take people seriously and let them know you care.
When someone tells you he’s thought of suicide, it’s scary. Or when a friend confides she’s an attempt survivor, you may not know how to react. At times that could mean coping with a person in crisis, but often it’s more about listening, encouraging him or her to get help and supporting their long-term efforts to stay safe. Here’s how to be there for a family member or friend.

Know when it’s an emergency.
Call 911 in an immediate emergency – when somebody is about to hurt themselves or someone else. Or if possible, get him or her to a hospital emergency room, urgent care center or walk-in clinic. You also can call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 800-273-8255. They can help you figure out what to do.

Show compassion.
It takes courage for someone to reveal that they’ve considered suicide or survived a past attempt. When you’re the person they trust with this information, how do you respond?

“Show them you care about them,” says Shelby Rowe, education and prevention manager at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “That’s the most important thing.” Just as you would with any other secret — such as a possible job change or relationship issue — listen with compassion and without judgment.

Staying connected is key, Rowe says. “Encourage them to get help. Encourage help-seeking behaviors.”

Talk to someone who’s struggling.
If a person you know appears to be struggling with depression or anxiety, “don’t assume someone else will reach out,” the AFSP advises. Its Talk Saves Lives webpage offers five steps for this crucial conversation:

  1. Ask if you can talk in private.
  2. Ask questions to open up the conversation (such as “You haven’t seemed like yourself lately. Is everything OK?”).
  3. Listen to their story and express care.
  4. Ask if they’ve thought about hurting themselves or ending their life.
  5. Encourage them to seek mental health services.

What Not To Say

When someone confides they’re in emotional pain, avoid these responses: Minimizing their feelings, offering advice to fix it, debating about the value of life and offering clichés.

“When someone is reaching out to you in intense pain, telling them they’ll be ‘just fine’ is not helpful,” Rowe says. And don’t debate or bargain, she adds, or say “I think it’ll be better. Let’s just wait.” Think of acute emotional pain as you would physical pain, she suggests. Similar to someone doubled over with a kidney stone, “next week is a long time away,” she says.

When someone’s struggling with thoughts of suicide, it’s unhelpful to ask, “Well, how is this going to affect everyone else in your life?” Rowe says. “At that moment, [he or she] is feeling like such a tremendous burden on everyone else in their life. They’re tired of everybody else having to worry.”

Listen to unspoken messages.
People have different ways of letting others know there’s a problem.

“Most people talk about suicide directly or indirectly within the weeks and months before they take their lives, though not necessarily at the moment at which they are about to act,” says Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of research at AFSP.

Talk of killing themselves, having no reason to live, being a burden to others, feeling trapped or having unbearable pain all mean that a person is at higher risk for a suicide attempt. Indirect statements could be “I don’t care if I die” or “I wish I wouldn’t wake up,” Harkavy-Friedman says.

Most people who talk about suicide do not kill themselves, she notes. However, talking about suicide and death are signs of emotional distress. Asking about suicide will not put ideas in someone’s head or make them suicidal, she adds. Instead, asking “will most likely will provide relief.”

Help people find help.
Mental health treatment is essential to help people deal with their problems and feel better. Encourage the person to seek services and help him or her locate a mental health professional. Psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses and counselors with specialized training are good sources of treatment. Campus health or counseling centers can provide therapy and referrals, and school guidance counselors can point students and families to resources.

Be aware of risk factors.
Certain mental health conditions increase the risk that a person might try to take his or her own life. These conditions include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and types of personality and anxiety disorders. Substance abuse disorders also increase the risk.

Getting and adhering to treatment for these conditions helps reduce risk.

Other risk factors include previous suicide attempts, family history of suicide attempts, serious/chronic health conditions and prolonged stress. According to the AFSP, the more risk factors a person has, the higher their risk.

Having access to lethal means — such as firearms and drugs — is a risk factor. If people have a plan for suicide, ask them what they intend to do. Work with them to limit access to deadly means.

Watch for warning signs.
Things people say, their behavior and mood can all serve as suicide warning signs. The more signs someone has, the greater the person’s risk.

Certain behavior changes — especially when connected to a painful event, loss or change — are cause for concern. These include: increased alcohol or drug use, searching online for materials or means to kill themselves, acting recklessly, being aggressive, withdrawing from activities, isolating themselves, sleeping too much or too little, calling or visiting to say goodbye, and giving away prized possessions.

Moods tied to suicidal thoughts include depression, loss of interest, rage, irritability and anxiety.

Create a safety plan.
If you’re worried about someone, help or encourage him or her to fill out a patient safety plan, such as the model plan on the Suicide Prevention Resource Center website. Action steps include listing personal warning signs — such as specific thoughts or moods — that a crisis might be brewing, along with coping strategies, distractions and professionals to contact in a crisis. Safety plans also include listing three people to call for help. “As a friend, you would want to be one of those three people,” Rowe says.

What do you all think? I don’t like the statement above that says “most people who talk about suicide don’t kill themselves.” I think it may cause people to minimize or ignore someone’s situation and that person may not get the help they need. Anyone who talks about suicide should be taken seriously until the risk that they will end their life has been diminished.