We all probably recently heard that a politician indicated that veterans who come back home with PTSD are weak. Why would one suggest such a thing? Because sadly, this is the view that many hold.
The stigmas surrounding mental health challenges, including PTSD, depression, and suicide (among others) are alive and well. All that you have to do is search for hashtags #stopthestigma or #endstigma to see how many people experience stigma.
Stigma is a problem not only because it prevents people from reaching out for help but also because it results in isolation, poor self-esteem, and poor treatment outcomes. You can read more about the prevalence, causes, and effects of stigma here.
If you are a veteran reading this, please know this. You are STRONG. Whatever you experienced and whatever you continue to experience wasn't and isn't your fault. YOU ARE STRONG. THIS ISN'T YOUR FAULT. Help is available, and you are worth it.
Here is a directory of therapists. You can apply many filters, to narrow down who might be a good match for you.
You Are Not Alone. You Are Strong.
My friend Sunny recently posted about her experience with depression on Facebook. What she had to say was so real, so authentic, and so moving, that I asked her if I could post it here. So many of us deal with this. As Sunny says,
You are not alone!
Thank you, Sunny Jones, for your willingness to share your experience, strength, and hope with others.
"Those of you who know me closely and/or have lived with me know I struggle with depression. It's mostly cyclical and a part of me always "knows" that it's not real but in the moment it feels very, very real. Much of what I deal with is self-esteem/self-image issues. I'm too fat, I'm not good enough, I'm not enough period, etc. You know...the stories.I'm not sharing this to ask for pity or a hand. I'm sharing because I want to tell you its no joke. Its real. So many of us deal with it. I'm grateful that for me it mostly isn't full time and that I get some relief. I can't imagine what it would feel like if it was 24/7.
Self-care helps. Yet, I struggle with knowing when I need self-care or even what that self-care is. Meditation, eating right, exercising, reaching out to those that love you and don't judge you helps, medication can help (although this last round it didn't...it made it much, much worse), counseling can help.
If you are struggling with this and it feels like the end of the road please, please reach out! People love you! If you are person that someone reaches out to...don't try to rationalize them back into reality. Certainly do share the good things in their life with them. But, remember many of us get it but those "mental gremlins" as my girlfriend calls them cannot be rationalized. They are a black hole that don't want to listen.
I'm at the tail-end (hopefully) of one of the worst experiences I have had with this so I'm not sure my rambling above makes sense but I've felt compelled to share.
So many of us are struggling and feel shame or are afraid to tell those around us...afraid to be vulnerable in our greatest time of desperation...especially when it feels like life isn't worth living...and we know it's not true but it certainly feels that way.
Reach out if you need it. Reach out if you know someone else needs it. Sometimes it's as simple as a hug at lunch when you are feeling overwhelmed. And, sometimes it takes much, much more. That's okay too."
I recently came across this infographic on Pinterest, and thought I would share it. The pictures are of brain scans, showing the differences between people with a diagnosis vs. those without.
It is a good reminder that we need to take the stigma away from mental illness. So many of my clients share their stories about the shame of struggling with mental health challenges.
Sometimes, pictures like this help us to realize that what we are experiencing isn't something that is "made up," "annoying," or something one can just "get over" with the snap of a finger (wouldn't that be nice....).
The reality is that many of us struggle or have struggled with mental health challenges (including me!). 1 out of every 4 adults suffers from a diagnosable mental illness any given year. We are not alone. Help is available! There is hope.
Hope you all are having a great week!
Wow, 2015 already! Did you set any New Year's Resolutions? I don't really believe in those types of resolutions, because for me, they just haven't ever worked. If they work for you--that is fantastic, and keep on going on! If you have struggled with them, like me, perhaps it is because if we aren't ready to make a change that we need to make all year, why would we be ready just because the calendar has moved to January 1st? Making changes are hard. It is possible to make changes though, provided that we're are ready to make the changes and that we have the information and support needed to make the changes.
Maybe you want to stop smoking. You might think you are ready, but do you have the support needed, if you have other smokers in the house? Support could come in the form of family members, doctors, co-workers, etc.
Or, maybe you are ready to lose some weight. Again, it might work on your own; for some people it does. But, most likely, you are going to need the support of those around you in order for it to be successful.
The same goes for challenges with mental health. If we all could just have the mental health we desire all by ourselves, 1 in 5 people would not be struggling with a diagnosable mental illness. We need to be ready for change, yes. But we also need information, and we need support.
Getting assistance for mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. It means you are strong because you are taking care of yourself. So, talk with a loved one, a doctor, or a therapist. Seek out support groups if those would be helpful. Join a gym and workout with others. Think back to what in the past has improved your mental health, and try to incorporate some of these things back into your life now. You are worth it!
Wishing all of you strength, courage, and peace in the year to come. Happy New Year!
You read it right. 1 million people die of suicide each year. In the United States, the number is 30,000. Each year in the United States, 1 million people are treated for suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
In this post, I would like to tell you a little bit about suicide and how you or your loved one can get help if struggling with suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
There are different levels of suicidality ranging from passive thoughts to a lethal plan with intent. If you or someone you love has a plan to commit suicide and intend to carry it out, this is a psychiatric emergency. Please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you live in this area, the nearest emergency room that can assist you is at Salem Hospital.
If you have a loved one who is suicidal but doesn't want to or cannot get help on their own, you may call the police and ask for a welfare check. Tell the police as much detail as you can about your loved one's plan and intent. In order for the police to take your suicidal loved one to the hospital, they must believe your loved one to be in imminent danger (ie, will not survive the next 24 hours unless they intervene).
If you or your loved one is suicidal but without a lethal plan or intent, you may go to the Psychiatric Crisis Center in Salem for assistance.
If you have struggled with suicidal thoughts and behaviors, you know that these thoughts and behaviors come and go. If you are not currently dealing with a psychiatric emergency, you may find this app, called Safety Plan, helpful. The goal is to be able to do something you know might be helpful until the suicidal thoughts pass. Please check it out! They have different versions for iphone and android.
Finally, a word about people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Most people who have these thoughts and behaviors don't actually want to die. They simply want to end the pain they are in and see no other way to do so. Judging is not helpful. Offering options or being willing to talk about suicide is helpful. Sometimes people are afraid to bring up the topic of suicide, thinking they may give ideas to the one they fear to be suicidal. This is not the case. Talking about it is helpful and you are not going to put any ideas into your suicidal loved one's head that they haven't already had themselves.
If you would like additional information, please feel free to contact me, via my website, email (email@example.com), or phone (503-874-4374).
I was so devestated to hear the news about Robin Williams. He brought so much joy to so many people's lives. He will be dearly missed. In the wake of so many converstations going on since his death, I would like to share this article with you. It is indeed time to stop calling suicide victims selfish.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
One of my goals for 2014 is to read more.
I recently finished a book called I Thought It Was Just Me (But it isn’t): Making the Journey from ‘What will People Think’ to ‘I am Enough’ by Brene Brown, and wanted to share it with you.
It is a book about connection with others. And how shame can disconnect us from others. While the book is geared towards women and the most common categories of shame that we experience (appearance/body image, motherhood, family, parenting, money and work, mental and physical health, sex, aging, religion, being stereotyped/labeled, speaking out, and surviving trauma), the strategies Brown offers for working through shame can be applied by anyone.
Learning to recognize and understand our shame triggers is the first step. Next, we have to practice critical awareness, reach out to others, and then (perhaps the hardest step) “speak our shame.” Now none of these steps is easy by any means, but necessary. Necessary because they move us towards more connection, empathy, and compassion, with ourselves and others. After reading the material, I have another goal to add to my list for 2014—practicing these steps.
If you would like to read the book, or learn more, here are a few links (both to her book and to a couple of talks she has given).
Hoping your 2014 is off to a great start!
Amber is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. She offers counseling for individual adults and clinical supervision for social workers. For fun, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, researching genealogy, reading, and dragon boating.
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