Behavioral Health Response:
314-469-6644 or 1-800-811-4760
Life Crisis Services:
Anywhere in the country, call:
1-800-273-TALK (8255) National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
In the mental health field, there is much talk about the importance of advocacy: advocacy for self, the basis of all, and in the bigger picture, advocacy at the national, state, and local levels, advocacy about Important Issues—parity, disparity, and insularity.
But as primary and primal as these advocacies are, another advocacy must be discussed: advocacy one-on-one for a loved one, a voiceless one, someone with mental health issues who cannot speak for him/herself.
Coping with the Stress of Life
The last several months have been very stressful for me. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in December, and a week later my son, Mateo, was born stillborn. My wife had to transition jobs, and I started a new job a month ago. Dealing with stress can be difficult enough as it is, but especially when you live with a mental health condition such as bipolar disorder like I do. It’s not easy sometimes managing the natural stresses of life, let alone the chemical changes in your brain. I wanted to share some things that cause me stress and healthy coping techniques that I have found effective for dealing with stress.
A Holiday Wish
I have a holiday wish this year. Please, do this not for me, but for yourself and all others.
It’s free, needs no wrapping, and won’t break in the mail.
The wish is this: stop the abuse before you act. Get help before your pain destroys another.
Happy Mom, Happy Holidays
Ever heard the expression, "A mother is only as happy as her saddest child?”
There are some statements that resonate as incredible truth for me, then there are those that I feel are pure bull crap. I suspect the person who coined this phrase didn't have a child with chronic depression.
Imagine someone saying, "A mother is only as healthy as her sickest child." Parents raising children dealing with mental illness are met with so many challenges. We certainly don't need people placing our ability to be happy in question. It’s like saying that a Mom who can navigate through life with peace and joy despite her circumstances is somehow insensitive or a lesser Mom.
Parents who navigate the rocky waters of depression should be applauded if they can raise children, hold down a job, run a household, enjoy marriage and a social life, all while lovingly raising a child with mental illness. What a burden my child would have felt if he thought each time he had a depressive episode that he not only had to work on his own well-being, but be responsible for mine, as well.
Slow Down Your Hurry Sickness
This concept of wellness seems to be following me wherever I go.
Most recently, I was the beneficiary of the inspiring Rev. Wes Mullins of the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis. Even though I am a member of Central Reform Congregation, I also attend services at MCCGSL and invariably walk away with more wisdom than I entered with. Too much faith can’t be a bad thing.
Rev. Wes gave a compelling sermon on the Five Signs of Hurry Sickness.
Are You Smarter Than Your 5th-Grader?
There's a popular TV show Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader? If you've ever watched it and are like me, it's amazingly disheartening how shockingly dumb it makes adults look. All these cute little kids, 5th graders, rattling off answers that we adults have long forgotten, or truth be told, never knew.
It was about 5th grade when I could no longer help my children with their math homework. Not because I didn't know the answer, but because they had to show how they arrived at the answer, and I arrived at the answers differently. I still remember the look of disbelief on my children's faces as they patiently explained how they had been taught. And so it began, at that moment I bet my kids thought, "My Mom's not smarter than her 5th graders." Fortunately, life is not math homework or a game show. We, as parents, have life experiences, we have WISDOM and that makes us SMARTER than any 5th grader.
Building A Life Worth Living
This summer I turned 21. It was an age I never thought I’d reach. But here I am, after a decade spent in the cloud of mental illness, just now beginning to emerge on the other side.
I was a pre-teen when things began to change. Anger arrived, along with anxiety and depression. I felt so alone, betrayed by my friends who embraced puberty’s changes. By age 15 I was suicidal, self-harming, and restricting what I ate. I used these behaviors to cope with overwhelmingly strong emotions. I felt like a terrible person for every little thing I did and thought punishment was only fitting. Feeling sad? Restrict. Feeling angry or ashamed? Self-harm. I was also dealing with acute social anxiety that prevented me from speaking with strangers and acquaintances. My mind was constantly obsessing over every little thing. I was sure people were laughing at me constantly. It was at this age that I saw my first therapist and started my first medication, which greatly helped my anxiety. However my depression continued to worsen.
BRIDGES to Summer
Summer is a frame of mind.—Roy Clarke
Summer: the season of sauna and sassafras tea; time for fans and flights to faraway spots, for A/C and I.C (Air Conditioning and Ice Cream); time to drink in the yellow nectar that pours forth from the giant yellow star that saves the hurtling planet on which we live from being another bleak rock.
In summer, the sun is all too hot, all too real. It is a truth we cannot blink away. Summer makes us honest.
May You Be Blessed By Your Mess
Let me introduce myself: I'm a daughter, wife, mother and grandmother (call me GiGi, please). I'm a City girl who grew up in a stable, loving two parent home. I’m college educated, and married my high school sweetheart. I enjoyed a great career in sales and marketing before becoming a full-time Mom to two great children, girl and boy, respectively. Early in our careers, we moved around quite a bit, on the average, every 18 months. We were climbing the proverbial corporate ladder, but as the children got older, we settled in our hometown and soon church, social, school and family activities were all-consuming. Kids’ ballgames and family get-togethers were one right after the other. It was great, babysitters ON CALL! Charmed Life.
We have a gift for you. It doesn’t need batteries, but it may energize you.
We have a gift for you. It won’t purr, but it may be comforting.
We have a gift for you. It has no calories, but it may enrich you.
The gift is BRIDGES - Building Recovery of Individual Dreams and Goals through Education and Support, a program of classes and support groups exclusively conducted by and for individuals with mental health diagnoses.
MHA of Eastern MO is the exclusive provider of BRIDGES in Missouri.
BRIDGES Crossings Classes - ten weeks, one class weekly, two hours each - explore diagnoses, treatments, medications, self-advocacy, communication, strengths, hope and success with people living with a mental illness.
BRIDGES Footsteps Classes - five weeks, one class weekly, one hour each - explore diagnoses, treatments, medications, self-advocacy, communication, strenghts, hope and success with people receiving mental health services at residential/lock-down facilities.
BRIDGES Support Groups - one year, one session weekly, up to two hours each - explore strengths, coping, treatments, medications, self-advocacy, communication, hope and success with people who have a mental illness diagnoses, whether receiving treatment or not.