Listen, Hear, & Understand

Listen, Hear, & Understand

You are NOT alone.

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Problem with Oppression & Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness

Problem with Oppression & Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness

The problem is not simply the presence of a mental illness in an individual’s life; rather, it is how society responses to the individual’s different view of living and functioning in the world.

How ‘healthy’, ‘normal’, and ‘deficientcy’ is defined ,and perpetuated, in society greatly impacts an individual’s perception of themselves, their interactions with others, and how the societal structures assist or inhibit the person’s process of recovery.

Speak out about how Mental illness has impacted your life: Here’s How

How has mental illness impacted your family? Whether are you have the diagnosis personally or if you are a family member and friend of someone who does, you are still impacted, in some way, by mental illness. A wonderful friend of mine, brought these amazing resources to my attention. I would like to share them with you and provide you with the opportunity, as well, to become involved and share your story.

I highly encourage EVERYONE to participate in sharing their story regarding mental illness. Even if you have not been a diagnosis, just sharing your challenges with others can provide a feeling of camaraderie with those who share similar experiences. We can begin to understand the immense of strength that we own by hearing others’ stories & sharing our own.

The first opportunity is sharing your story on the radio:
If you would like to share your story with 89.3 KPCC, a radio station, please click on this link: http://www.scpr.org/network/questions/mi. After clicking on this link, there will be text boxes for you to share your story with the world. A KPCC radio journalist will respond to you by email.

The second opportunity is to participate in a campaign called “I Will Listen” (iwilllisten.org). The campaign is based in New York by NAMI, but has sent ripples throughout the country. By visiting this site, viewers will be able to watch hundreds of videos of ordinary people and celebrities share their stories of how mental illness has impacted their lives.

A link for the NY Times newspaper article about the “I Will Listen” campaign: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/02/business/media/a-campaign-urges-listening-to-those-torn-by-mental-illness.html

The way we get rid of the stigma is coming together and sharing our courageous stories about how we are impacted my mental illness. Mental illness is an issue that we are all experiencing on some level, every day of our lives. Luckily, you don’t have to experience it alone.

SHARE YOUR STORY

Was the suicide a nightmare or real life: a True Story

A few years ago, I woke up and was unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality. Since it is September and this month is recognized as Suicide Prevention Month, I thought this would be a wonderful time to share this story with you.

The story goes like this:

One night I went to bed after a long day during my undergraduate years. I woke up sleepily from my cell phone ringing.

“Hello?”, I said.

“Hi, Brittany. I am calling to say bye.” Someone I hold very close to my heart was on the other line.

“What are you talking about? What do you mean by ‘bye’? Where are you going?”, I said from disbelief.

The other person stated, “I am going to kill myself. I can’t live like this anymore. I am sorry I have let you down”.

Tears began to stream down my face uncontrollably.

“What? What are you saying? You promised me you wouldn’t. Wait… Please DON’T!”

“I have to.” The phone hung up. My mouth remained open in shock. My heart felt like it stopped beating and time stopped.

The next moment I remember is waking up drenched in sweat and hearing myself scream. What just happened? Did I cry myself back to sleep after that phone call or was that phone call only a dream? A nightmare? It had to be a nightmare!

To make sure what happened was truly a nightmare, I called the person’s cell phone. The next five seconds seemed like eternity. The phone was not being answered fast enough. It must have been…

“Hello, Brittany.”

Oh my God! I heard the person say my name!

“Hello! Is that you?”

“Yes, are you okay? Are you crying? What’s wrong?” I attempted to explain for the next ten minutes what just happened as my tears of happiness overcame me. I then heard, “That will never happen. I promised you that I wouldn’t do that. And I plan to follow through with that promise”.

I began to cry again. “You promise?”

“Yes, I promise”.

 

Luckily, that phone call I experienced was only a nightmare. Unfortunately, some people’s nightmares do really happen in real life. Talking about suicide or discussing one’s thoughts about suicide is nothing to be ashamed of. Discussing the signs and concerns about a loved one or a friend is what can be done to prevent suicide from happening in the first place. For support, for either you, a family member, or a friend, please call:

The National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK
The Youth America Hotline: Counseling for Teens by Teens at 1-877-YOUTHLINE
The Trevor Project: Crisis Intervention & Suicide Prevention for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth at 1-866-488-7386.

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September is Recovery Month

The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has supported September as Recovery Month. This year, 2013, is the 24th year of Recovery Month’s existence.

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If you have read my previous blog entries, you know that I believe in RECOVERY.

The term, RECOVERY, is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the process of combating a disorder (as alcoholism) or a real or perceived problem” & “the act of regaining or returning to a normal or healthy state”.  From these two definitions, gaining health after a physical ailment such as surgery or decreasing once’s addiction to liquor comes to mind. The definition can also be used when referring to mental health and mental illness.

RECOVERY, in so many ways, is the regaining or redevelopment of one’s ability to function fully in his or her environment through the use of therapy/counseling, the creation and establishment of positive interpersonal relationships, and the ownership of meaningful and important societal roles.

But how does one begin the process towards RECOVERY?
How and when does this RECOVERY process start?

The answers to these two questions are quite simple. First, a person begins the process towards RECOVERY when they decide to. RECOVERY is person-driven with a foundation in the strengths-based perspective. The strengths-based perspective is a building block of RECOVERY that enforces the belief that people are resilient and resourceful when they experience adversity, rather than the idea that people are deficient or inferior. Secondly, I believe that the RECOVERY process starts when the individual is ready and prepared to live their life optimally.

Below is an excerpt from SAMHSA’s Recovery Month webpage:

“Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for substance use and mental disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible. Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover”.

Whether you, a family member, or a friend has recently been diagnosed with a mental illness or has lived with one for years, know and believe that RECOVERY is possible.

Resources:

National Alliance on Mental Illness
http://www.nami.org

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.
http://www.ncadd.org/index.php/recovery-support/definition

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association: Recovery Month 2013
http://www.recoverymonth.gov/Recovery-Month-Kit.aspx

United Kingdom’s Mental Health Foundation
http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-a-z/R/recovery/