Monday, June 6, 2016

Mental Health Series - Mental Illness a 365 Day Issue

Throughout the year we have various days or weeks, even a month set aside for a reminder to be aware of mental health, or other more significant issue. I'd like to make it known that manic episodes, depression, meltdowns, panic attacks, emotional upheaval, and suicide don't follow the calendar. January is Mental Wellness month, February uses a week for National Eating Disorders Awareness week, March has a National Sleep Awareness week, March is Self Harm Awareness month, April celebrates a World Health Day, April is Stress Awareness month, May celebrates a National Children's Mental Health Day, May also identifies a week for National Anxiety and Depression, May also celebrates a week for National Prevention Week by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations (SAMHSA), May is Mental Health month, June is PTSD Awareness month, as well as designating one day for National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness, July is National Minority Mental Health month, September sets aside a day for a World Suicide Prevention day and a National Psychotherapy day, then later in September we celebrate a whole week for National Suicide Prevention. September is full of more special days: Recovery Month SAMHSA, Self-Awareness Month, Self-Improvement Month, October has a National Depression Screening day and a World Mental Health day and even a Mental Illness Awareness week, November has an International Survivors of Suicide day and Mental Health Wellness week. Let's keep these awareness days and weeks going, but also remember, Mental Illness is not something you can cubbyhole into a day, week, or month. It's a 365 day issue and must be address as such. Please help those whose voices cannot be heard.

I've created a Brave Page to show my support and advocacy for more Mental Illness recognition. Every purchase sends $10.00 to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

If you would like to help with this cause, either by sharing this blog, the Brave Page link, or purchasing an item, that would be great. 

If you want to share your story, I'm always here to listen. There are so many untold stories out there. Yours may be one of them. There is no judgement here. There is no condensation. There is no pointing fingers or responses like, "just get over it" or "you don't look sick". Don't those responses make you just want to run away and hide? I know they do for me. Here is your opportunity to share your story, maybe for the first time, in an environment that is supportive and caring.

A dear friend sent me a prayer when I was having some really emotional episodes. It's not a long prayer, but it's very powerful. Read the words. Take then to heart. If you have a journal, copy this pray in it. I did. It's a wonderful reminder of the love and support of others.

"Lord, I thank You that You love and care about me enough to know me well.  You know all about me, and You still love me.  God, I pray I would sense Your amazing love especially when I don't feel known or loved by others.  Whenever I am in a place where I know no one, help me to sense Your love and connection to me in a deeper way than ever."

Have a blessed day.


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Mental Health Series - PTSD Awareness Month

It is June/2016. June is PTSD Awareness Month. I recently wrote a PTSD post about my recent triggers and how I coped. Mental Health Series - PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) It garnered a tremendous amount of blog views and comments.

How am I after the hospitalization and treatment? Still fragile. But, out of the hospital and home where I'd much rather be. The reason I ended up in the hospital was because I didn't listen to the warning signs my body and mind were sending as well as the "I can handle this" attitude.

I really couldn't.

After a week of hospitalization, I went to a therapist who treated me with EMDR. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing treatment. It took many sessions. I still have to have a "boost" every once in a while.

Most recently, I was in IKEA with my husband on a marathon shopping trip. We had brought some items back from a previous trip for credit. My husband handed me the credit slip and the receipts and told me to hang on to them until it's time to pay. So, what do I do? I put them in my back pocket. Where I kept my phone and my notes. I was constantly in and out of that pocket.

You know what happened next, right?

Right. I lost the credit slip. I burst into tears, sobbing uncontrollably, and told my husband what happened. Of course, he wasn't happy. I told him I'd retrace my steps and hopefully find it or an IKEA employee who could help me.

I searched everywhere, even under displays thinking it may have been kicked out of the main traffic areas. Finally, I found two IKEA employees, who thankfully understood what I was trying to tell them through tears and sobs. Their answer was that if no one had used it yet to pay for their purchases, we could go back to the Return section and show them our receipts, they'd find us in the computer and provide us with another credit slip.

I hurried back to my husband, told him what the IKEA employees told me, and he said after we finished our shopping, I would go to the check-out with the basket items and he'd go to Returns and hopefully get another credit slip.

It worked. He was able to get another credit slip. We paid for our purchases, then went into the warehouse section and found all the items we needed and then went through the checkout again to pay for those items.

All in all, it was an extremely emotional and physically exhausting day. We were in IKEA for OVER 4 hours. That's a long time.

But, BAM! PTSD Trigger, BIG TIME!

The PTSD trigger for me, was this: about 35 years ago, in my first marriage, my husband gave me a large sum of cash to hang onto while we went grocery shopping. The money was for our rent that month. Somehow, between the time I put the money in my back pocket and the time my husband asked for it back, it had disappeared. I was devastated. My first husband was furious! I endured his wrath heaped upon my head with harsh, mean, hateful words. I had no defense. I had lost our rent money.

Those memories flooded back from behind my mind's closed doors and the emotions washed over me again. Once again, it was my fault. I was careless. I was to blame.

This time, my husband was more cognizant of what I was going through. I was open with him that I was experiencing PTSD and why, by explaining to him what happened in the past with my first husband. He helped me talk through the pain, helped me see it was one of those things that just happen, and I really wasn't to blame. After we arrived home, he continued helping me every time another PTSD wave would engulf me, holding me and managing to keep my head above water.

I was also able to talk to my therapist about the situation and he too, used his tools to help me through the trauma.

As you can see, PTSD triggers can happen in a variety of ways. You never know if someone is going to say something, you see something on television, hear it on the radio, see it in the newspaper, or even a sound causes your mind to flash back to another time, another trauma, another emotion.

But, don't forget, PTSD triggers and reactions are real. They are real to you, to me, and to anyone else. Our support team and our loved ones should also learn to understand that those emotions and traumas are real, as well.

Here is a list of websites that can provide more information about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

If you know of others, please add them in the comments.

Wellness Recovery resources

US Dept of Veteran Affairs - PTSD

Anxiety and Depression Association of America PTSD

National Alliance on Mental Illness - PTSD

PsychCentral - PTSD

Mental Health America

PTSD Alliance

As for me, I'm going to take a little advice from one of my favorite animals: the frog

Have a blessed day.

Vicki M. Taylor