Browsed by
Tag: Mental health

Raising Mental Health Awareness – Why and How to Do it

Raising Mental Health Awareness – Why and How to Do it

This is a guest post by Sam, with Depression for Teens.

1 in 4 people suffer from a mental health illness, yet 9 out of 10 face stigma and discrimination because of it. In this post I will go over why you should help raise mental health awareness.

Why Don’t People Talk About Mental Health?

Mainly because they are scared of being judged by other people. Society degrades mental illness as something to be embarrassed about.

Depression affects us in many ways. Read more at http://hopemire.comHere are some facts on mental health:

  • One in four people will experience a mental health problem in any given year.
  • Depression: 
    • Up to 10% of England’s population will suffer from depression at some point in their life.
    • 6.7% of the US population lives with depression.
    • 50 million people are affected by depression
  • Suicide:
    • Over 800,000 people die from suicide every year
    • In the UK, suicide is the 2nd largest cause of death among 15-29 year olds, and it is the most common cause of death for men between 20-49 years in England and Wales.
    • In America, suicide is the third leading cause of death in both genders, ages 15 to 24 years old. According to NAMI, each day, at least 22 US veterans die from suicide.
    • Over 90% of people who die from suicide have a mental health illness at the time of their death

Mental health illnesses are by no means uncommon, yet it’s hardly ever talked about.

By talking about mental health, you will be raising awareness. And by raising awareness, you will be helping give confidence to those suffering and helping talk about how they feel. And trust me, they will appreciate that.

I’m going to tell you a short story about a friend of mine.

I always had this one friend who I would openly talk to about how I feel. I felt she understood and cared. Little did I know that the person who helped me the most was fighting her own battle with depression.

Eventually I put together some pieces and figured it out. Nobody, except me, actually knew about the battle she was facing. So I proceeded to ask her why she never told anyone and why she’s fighting it all alone. Her answer was “People would judge and look down on me”.

www.hopemire.comThat just proves my point, and it hurt me when I heard her answer. We help each other now, and I hope nobody else has to suffer alone. It’s really important.

How You Can Raise Mental Health Awareness

So I’m going to assume you want to help out now.

Here are 5 ways you can do so.

These 5 are actually from an E-Book I wrote for my website. You can download this E-Book for free by entering your email address. The E-Book goes into all the details of these 5 points and gives you examples for raising mental health awareness so if you are interested then be sure to check it out.

  1. Talk About Mental Health
    This has to be the easiest and most effective way to raise mental health awareness. There are so many ways you can talk about mental health. From bringing up the conversation casually, using an excuse to bring it up and tagging it onto a conversation.
  2. Through Social Media
    Facebook Like
    Using social media is effective because, let’s face it, some people are just more open on social media! The odds are your Facebook post or Twitter tweet will grab the attention of friends and family, who are likely to share it if they are or know someone who is affected by mental health.
  3. Donate to a Mental Health Charity
    This is something you can do without anyone ever knowing! You don’t need to make a huge donation. You don’t even have to do a monthly one! But a donation of any type and any value is a huge benefit to many charities and mental health supporters. Below (after the 5th point) I have listed some mental health charities; sorry if I couldn’t list all of them!
  4. Challenging Mental Health Stigma
    It’s very possible that, in your day to day life, you may hear some comments about mental health. If those comments are discriminating against or putting those with mental health illnesses down, then you can stand up against it! By challenging the stigma that surrounds mental health, you are potentially changing someone’s point of view on the subject. One change leads to another.
  5. Share Your Story
    Show the world just how common mental health is by sharing your story. Don’t feel forced into this, of course, but by sharing your story, you will be inspiring others, giving them hope, and showing people just how common mental health illnesses are. I’ve also put some links below for where you can share your story.

Mental Health Charities

Here are some mental health charities that you can donate to if you wish. They are also a great resource for reading up more on mental health.

Sharing Your Story

Below are three popular places where people have shared their mental health stories. If you want, then you can also share your story with me on my blog.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of when sharing your story. And remember, you don’t have to share anything you’re not willing to share. After sharing your story, you can even go a step further and share it on your social media! #2in1.

Together we can end mental health stigma. Thank you for reading this post, and thank you again if you go ahead and help raise mental health awareness.

For the Weak Pretender

For the Weak Pretender

I’m a wreck.

Deep within me, there’s this desire to be perfect, and perfectly independent. I don’t want to have to rely on anyone.

Because deep down, there’s very few people I actually trust….

So… just let me take care of myself.

I mean, be my friend, yes! And hang out with me. Because I need to know that I’m loved.

Buuut… just don’t make me have to rely on you…. I know the day will inevitably come when you let me down, and that’s painful, so it’s just easier if we keep our emotional distance and I can maintain some sense of control….

But the problem is, so very often, I let my own self down.

I want to be strong, but find that I am weak.

I want to be smart, but realize I missed something when I was planning.

I want to be responsible, but then can’t find the energy to take care of myself or my home.

I want to be loved, but then isolate myself, because I’m too afraid to take the risk of finding that I’m not loved.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 reads:

“Our bodies are made of clay, yet we have the treasure of the Good News in them. This shows that the superior power of this treasure belongs to God and doesn’t come from us. In every way we’re troubled, but we aren’t crushed by our troubles. We’re frustrated, but we don’t give up. We’re persecuted, but we’re not abandoned. We’re captured, but we’re not killed. We always carry around the death of Jesus in our bodies so that the life of Jesus is also shown in our bodies. “

This does a few things for me:

  • I am not alone in feeling weak. The apostle Paul felt it too. He felt troubled and frustrated. He was persecuted and captured. He experienced weakness and challenges on various levels.
  • My weakness is actually a reminder of God’s presence, and His surpassing power. The power of the Gospel lies within me, but my weakness reminds me that this power doesn’t come from me. It comes from God. And if the power that comes from God lives inside me, that means God lives inside me. He is helping me overcome!
  • It’s when we’re in the hardest situations, that we can see the greatest miracles! When I am at my whit’s end, I have a promise that I will see the life of Jesus Christ revealed in me. It’s challenging feeling weak, troubled, and frustrated. I hate feeling that way. But, when things get the hardest, I often feel Christ the closest. And that is a sweet, gentle blessing!

Child, don’t give up. Keep pressing onward, by the power of Christ! Remember that, in your weakness, you are strong. His power is made perfect in our weakness.

If you feel weak, it’s ok. You don’t have to pretend you’re something you are not.

When you feel weak, just talk to Jesus, and know that He doesn’t judge you. He sees you where you’re at, and He loves you all the same.

Pray something like this:

Jesus, if I were to be honest, I’d say that I’m feeling pretty weak right now. I’m not sure what to do or where to go.

But I believe that Your strength is more vast than the depths of my weakness, and You have everything I need to make it through this season.

I trust Your love for me and I choose to have faith — to believe that, even when I can’t see myself making it through this season, Your love and power are still enough to carry me through.

Thank You that, with You, I can be honest, and I don’t have to pretend I’m someone I’m not. Thank You for loving and accepting me just the way I am! For providing grace on a basis of faith, not works.

Help me love You better and trust You more completely! Help me, and carry me through this season. I trust in You!

 


 

Thanks for reading! May you find grace and encouragement for your journey!

If you liked this devotional, here are some others you might enjoy:

Grace, peace, hope,

–Michelle Louise

http://hopemire.com

Thrive: the Little Book that Changed My Life!

Thrive: the Little Book that Changed My Life!

This little book changed my life. Literally…. I’m not joking!

Background:

The Thrive book holds several lessons on holistic health, with a focus on improving quality of life for those who struggle with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. The curriculum was developed by the Mental Health Grace Alliance, in Waco, TX.

How I Learned About Thrive:

I first got involved with the Grace Alliance after my church counselor failed to address the main concerns with which I’d come to her: my fear of conflict and increasing anxiety levels. I wasn’t ready to see a professional counselor yet, but knew I needed help.

At that time, my friend Jenna was on staff with the Grace Alliance, so I reached out to her for more information. We scheduled a meeting, and she told me all about the Thrive curriculum. I was intrigued!

The Difference it Made:

For the next few months, I met weekly with a Thrive coach, who helped me walk through the material and held me accountable in applying those truths to my life. The first topic was about sleep, and it was life altering!

At that time, I was working way too many hours at my job. I’d often stay in the office well past midnight. Yikes!! Not surprisingly, it was negatively affecting my memory, quality of work, stress levels, and overall sense of wellbeing.

The thing was, I didn’t care about myself enough to even consider making a change. The possible negative repercussions (not getting everything done perfectly, feeling like a failure, not being prepared, etc.) were too risky.

Sleep Log - Thrive WorkbookThe Thrive lesson on sleep discusses how important sleep is for quality of life as well as proper brain functioning. Our application step for that week was to try and sleep at least 7.5
hours each night, and to keep a sleep log, recording hours and quality of sleep, as well as how I felt during the next day.

I noticed these immediate benefits within just one week of proper sleeping habits:

  • A huge decrease in stress levels
  • An almost complete reversal of my anxiety
  • Improved memory functioning
  • More efficient, productive work days

But the BIG revelation was this:

I had been working myself into the ground, partly because I’m a perfectionist, but also because I truly wanted to serve people well and give back to the community. I thought that working a lot of hours was helping me get more done and provide better services, but it was slowly killing me.

Because of Thrive, I learned this vital lesson:

If I want to continue giving back to the community for the long haul (i.e. the next 30-40 years), I have to learn how to take care of myself now, so that I’ll be alive for the long haul.

And once I realized that…

For the first time ever, I was able to put my #selfcare first, without feeling guilty about it! Click To Tweet

Amazing! I truly don’t think I would have learned that lesson without having completed the Thrive curriculum. And that revelation was a springboard toward many other positive changes that have overall helped transform my life!

I’m so glad I got connected with the Grace Alliance and would highly recommend this resource to anyone!

So Here Are the Deets:

The Table of Contents is posted on the Grace Alliance website, but roughly, the book covers the following topics:

  • Physical Needs:
    • Sleep
    • Medicine
    • Relaxation
    • Diet
    • Exercise
  • Mental Needs
    • Finding Balance
    • Renewing Your Mind
    • Stress Management
    • Cycles and Triggers
    • Brain Resilience
  • Spiritual Needs
    • Hope
    • Identity
    • Relationship with God
    • Finding Purpose
    • Community
  • Relationship Needs
    • Healthy Relationships
    • Conflict Management
    • Forgiveness
    • Overcoming Stigma
    • Serving Others

Each topic includes:

  • 1-2 Scripture verses related to that topic
  • Questions for discussion / reflection
  • A bulleted list of relevant facts for better understanding of the topic
  • “Making a Change” section that gives tips and ideas for how to improve your habits and quality of life with respect to that topic
  • Homework (i.e. mood charts, sleeping logs, meal plan worksheets)

Mental Health Coaching

The Thrive book can be completed alone, but (depending on location) the Grace Alliance might also be able to provide a mental health coach who can help walk you through the curriculum. Having a coach gives you someone with whom you can discuss the material, as well as someone who will pray for you and help hold you accountable to applying the material. And accountability does wonders!!

The coach is not normally a licensed professional, but rather a peer, and should not replace professional therapy.

There is a small cost associated with utilizing a mental health coach through the Grace Alliance. It’s $35.00 per session and was designed to be not much more than a typical insurance co-pay.

Accessing a mental health coach through the Grace Alliance requires having someone in your area who has gone through their training process, but it’s my understanding that the training process is readily available. If you, or someone you know, is interested in becoming a coach, I would encourage you to contact the Mental Health Grace Alliance for more information.

Target Group:

The Thrive curriculum is designed for those who struggle with mental illness, but honestly, I believe it’s a great reference for just about anyone, providing practical skills and knowledge on holistic health.

Benefits:

  • The steps are easy to understand and apply
  • The curriculum emphasizes small, manageable changes that are sustainable, rather than large, unrealistic changes all at once
  • Each application section includes a variety of suggestions, so the book appeals to any experience level, and the reader can choose which portion he or she wants to focus on
  • Working with a coach provides accountability, which is huge!

Challenges:

  • Depending on where you live, it may be hard to find a coach
  • $35 a week for a coach comes out to $140 a month. It’s definitely worth the price, but for some, that might be too expensive. I ended up moving our meetings to every other week, to better fit my budget. The good thing is, they can be flexible with you.

Where and How to Get it:

You can purchase the Thrive book through the Mental Health Grace Alliance’ website. The booklet is $25.00 for a paper copy and $22.00 for digital only. They do have some bulk order discounts available.


Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this review and hearing about my personal experiences! I loved working through the Thrive booklet as well as attending a Grace Group with this organization.

To all the wonderful staff and volunteers of the Mental Health Grace Alliance, thank you for all you do!

Helping Siblings

Helping Siblings

Moving DayHello and welcome back! Sorry I haven’t written in a while. A lot has changed…. this past month has felt like a whirlwind…. I quit my job of five years, moved to a new town, started a network marketing business (in a new town, gosh!!!), and began taking Psychology classes at the local community college. What’s more, I was doing some research three days ago and… I think I know what I want to do with my life now!

How I Hope to Change the World

One of my clearest memories from childhood was the sound of my brother crying… sobbing hysterically. Shouting things like, “That’s not fair!” or “You never let me do what I want!” Those sobs and accusations shaped how I viewed the world…. I only realized that three days ago. I listened to my brother’s description of the world (unfair and disappointing), and I believed him.

Tiger SiblingsSiblings… we grow up together. We learn from one another. Because we are family, we stay in touch throughout the years, even after we’ve lost touch with other friends. And we’re the same age, so we grow old together.

Yet there is very little research into how mental illness impacts the sibling relationship. I Googled this phrase: “developmental impact of having sibling with mental illness.” Each search result I reviewed said there was almost no research into this matter. Most research so far has focused either on the illness itself or on the parent-child dynamic. And there are very few resources for the siblings of those suffering from a mental illness.

And yet… there must be an impact….How does a “well sibling,” the one without the significant mental illness, learn to trust others when life is a dangerous, chaotic mess? How does the child learn autonomy and initiative when the sick sibling consistently lashes out against him or her? How does the well sibling discover his or her place in the world when he or she constantly feels overshadowed by the presence of the mental illness?

Please understand: I’m not blaming the child suffering from a mental illness…. That child did not ask to suffer from schizophrenia or a similar disorder, and should never be blamed. I’m just wondering about the dynamics….

My Plan of Attack

Collin_CollegeOver this next year, I will take four basic psychology courses and one class in elementary statistics at the local community college. In September, I hope to take the GRE and finish researching placement options, so that I can apply for grad school before the end of the year. …Whew… I still don’t know where I want to study….

If everything goes according to plans, I’ll start graduate school in August 2017 and eventually earn a Ph.D. in Psychology. Then I’ll apply for positions on staff at a university where I can conduct research into the sibling relationship, exploring how the presence of one sibling with a significant mental illness (such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia) affects the early childhood development of the other sibling.

After that, I hope to develop resources for both siblings and parents. Small workbooks that could help siblings learn how to understand and cope with the situation. Other pamphlets or books that could teach parents how to better balance the responsibilities of raising a special needs child without neglecting the emotional needs of the other healthy child.

Workbooks

That’s the goal anyway. I have to say I’m nervous…. The idea of getting a Ph.D. sounds like a long, scary journey…. But at least right now, I believe this is what God has for me. It’s surreal and exciting! Jesus take the wheel!

Subscribe Now to Follow My Journey

Not for the Faint of Heart

Not for the Faint of Heart

Working through the mental health recovery process is not for the faint hearted.

Most of my life, I have chosen negative coping methods: binge-watching TV, comfort-food eating, poor sleeping habits, self harm, anything to distract myself from the pain of dealing with old wounds and a negative self-image. As a result, my perspective of the world (and especially of myself) is neither healthy nor accurate. Now as I work toward recovery, I have to address these deep places of pain. And… I’d rather not… because it just hurts so much!

So how do I find courage to process the emotional pain? How do I find resilience enough to explore those places I’m afraid to go? Here are five tips I’ve used.

Tip #1: You need Jesus.

There might be several different reactions to that statement. Regardless of what you believe, whether you love or hate the church, whatever experiences you’ve had in the past, God is good. People are messy and may have hurt us, but God is good. And Jesus is the only reason I’ve made it this far. He has been my constant friend, source of purpose, and bringer of hope. Jesus is bigger than any obstacle we face and He helps us carry our burdens. That doesn’t necessarily mean our burdens go away, but it means we have a Helper. Jesus is my Shepherd and He will guide me through the recovery process. I trust myself with Him more than with anyone else, including myself.

Tip #2: You need community.

On a bad day, I really don’t want to see or talk to anyone. They’ll ask me how I’m doing. On the inside, I scream, I’m dying! I’m doing terribly! I need help! Please help me! But on the outside, I smile and happily reply, “Oh, I’m doing great! How ’bout you?” Because if I share the truth, who knows how they’ll respond or if they’ll even get it. I’d rather isolate myself than deal with the risk… but isolation isn’t what we were made for.

When God made light, He called it good. When He made water, He also called it good. Plants? Good. Man? Good. But then He said, “It is not good that man should be alone.”

People bring with them various perspectives, strengths, and weaknesses. We were meant to work together, helping one another and growing as a community. Inviting trustworthy people into my process invites fresh perspective and new resources to help me get through the hard days. 

Tip #3: In seeking community, it’s ok to start small.

When I changed lifegroups about a year ago, I didn’t tell anyone about my struggles with depression, anxiety, and OCD. There’s normally this underlying fear of how people will respond. Once I finally worked up the courage to share, I still didn’t tell the whole lifegroup. I started by sharing with just two people that I trusted. I invited them over to my home, treated them to coffee, and then shared with both of them at the same time. Super efficient!

At first, I was deeply anxious about the prospect of sharing my struggles. But as I shared with these two friends of mine, something interesting happened. One of them confessed that she was dealing with the exact same thing. I wasn’t alone! It’s interesting that when we share our struggles, it somehow releases other people to share their struggles.

They say about 18.5% of the population struggles from some kind of mental illness. That means theoretically you’d only need to share with about five people before you found someone else who was also experiencing a mental illness. You are not alone, and building community, even if it’s small, can help immensely.

You don’t have to share with everyone, but do share with at least someone, because there are times we all need somebody outside of ourselves to help us process life’s difficulties. 

Tip #4: Know when it’s ok to distract yourself and when it’s necessary to address the pain.

I will say it again: working through the mental health recovery process is not for the faint hearted. There are so many days I’d rather just avoid the challenges of working through my emotional pain. I’d rather zone out on Netflix or stay in bed until 2pm or really do anything else except struggle toward healthier thinking patterns and sort through all of the memories, cycles, and triggers. That work sucks! Pardon my language, but I hate it! Especially on a bad day.

So… when do I veg out, and when do I wear my big-girl shoes and address things? When my symptoms rear their ugly head, it’s not always helpful to try dealing with the pain right away. Depending on the situation, that might just aggravate my symptoms even more. But that doesn’t mean I should just turn on Netflix and eat junk food. Here are some things I’ve chosen to do instead:

  • Go outside and take a walk. Get some fresh air, vitamin D, and exercise. Many times, once I’m done with the walk, my racing thoughts have calmed down enough that I can now address the triggers with a fresh perspective.
  • Clean, clean, clean! Well, sometimes cleaning feels like a chore and just drives me crazy, but other times, it’s exactly what I need to distract myself. And if I’m going to distract myself with something, why not choose a productive distraction? I’m also a huge believer in “clean house, clean mind.” Some minimalists believe that having a clean home helps calm your mind down. Each object in your home comes with thoughts attached to it. When there’s stuff everywhere, then everywhere you look, thoughts are crowding into your mind. For some people, myself included, that can be quite overwhelming. So when my home is clean, I feel much calmer and on top of things.
  • Snuggle with my dog. For all of you animal lovers, you know there is something incredibly calming about snuggling with your favorite pooch! Dogs love us unconditionally, and there’s just something reassuring about their consistent affection.
  • Play Sudoku. Yep, I too have given into the cultural phenomenon of Sudoku! But really any puzzle is great for helping my mind relax. I can fully engulf myself into the mental pursuit of arranging the numbers 1-9 into a bunch of tiny, little boxes. It moves my brain activity from the amygdala into the frontal lobe, which helps get me out of the fear center and back into the reasoning center.

But once I’m done calming down, it’s time to explore those areas of pain. Some people say we shouldn’t get too caught up in introspection, but I think there are also many benefits to self awareness. As I explore the places of wounding, I find myself growing as an individual, discovering healthier thinking habits, and growing more resilient.

Here are a few resources to help with processing the emotional pain:

Tip #5: Don’t give up.

Y’all, I’m so tired…. tired of feeling like crap, tired of the pain and discomfort. I’d rather just ignore it all, but to do so would be giving up. I’d be condemning myself to long nights of endless Netflix or Final Fantasy, little to no interaction with Jesus, and a zombie existence at work as I battle fatigue through five cups of coffee and then stay up even later the next night, distracting myself with other peoples’ stories until I fall asleep from shear exhaustion and thereby successfully avoid addressing the tumult of my own story.

It’s the endless black hole into oblivion, and to do so would wreck my life. I wouldn’t notice it at first, but the realization would slowly set in. Once I start to notice, I’d stuff it, trying to ignore the growing discontent, until it would bubble up and explode, leaving me lying on the floor in a crumpled mess of snot and tears. I can’t live that way.

But the other option is to open up to community, spend time with Jesus, and seek healing from those places of deep-seated pain…. It’s hard work and the prospect scares the crap out of me! Is it worth it?

That’s a question I need to answer for myself now, if I am to keep moving forward. Is it worth it?

I think that’s a question many of us need to ask ourselves. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In this world, you will have troubles….” So there it is: life’s not easy. But then Jesus also said, “…take heart, for I have overcome the world.” That verse always brings me great comfort!

So yeah, it takes courage to process those places of emotional pain. But I’ve noticed that the more I want to ignore the pain, chances are the more I need to bring that pain to Jesus. So I take a moment to calm my spirit (tip #4 above) and then I ask Jesus, “What is Your truth in the midst of this situation? And how do You want to release hope into my life right now?”

What helps you?

I’m still a work in progress. I’d love to learn from you as well. If you’ve found a particularly good coping method, please comment below! And let me know the ways you’ve learned to find courage in your recovery process.

All the best!

-Michelle Louise