Tag: Mental Health

I “Feel” Like Being Suicidal

To Whom It May Concern:

I’m suicidal. And no, it’s not what you think. I am safe. I am not harming myself. I do not have a plan, and I do not plan on doing anything. But I’m suicidal. And I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t.

People think of things like suicide in such black or white terms. But much like everything else we are so quick to place into categories, being suicidal falls into a gray area for me. Sometimes, I wonder if it does for anybody else. See I can be in a really great mood, right? I could be having the best day of my life. Still, suicidal thoughts will linger. I don’t have to be in a bad mood to be suicidal. I will still have those thoughts if I’m surrounded by the people I love, or if I’m doing something I’m passionate about.

I wake up most mornings thinking I’d be better off dead. But I’m quickly distracted by my husband and son, who are sound asleep next to me. I still feel it, but I try not to give power to it. Throughout the day I am faced with challenges that directly affect my subconscious. Either the suicidal thoughts get louder, or they remain just a feeling.

I should explain better; sometimes being suicidal is different than suicidal thoughts. It’s an actual feeling. The feeling that you have an itch you can’t scratch, that a dark cloud is shrouding you. It’s anxiety and depression, it’s mixed state. You’re drowning, there’s no air, and coming down from that feeling takes so long you think it’s impossible. You have blinders on and you don’t know what’s going to happen next. You just have to push through. And while this feeling is happening, you go through your day, as normal as you can, without feeding the feeling.

Some days are harder than others, and today happens to be one of those days. I know I’m not feeling good, and I’ve taken that into account. But I woke up thinking my family is better off without me. Then I started thinking about finances and my heart sunk a little more. I started thinking about my parents and my depression got worse. And I started thinking about everything my husband does so I can test a career in writing, and God, he can do better than me. It’s not fair to him. If I can’t impress the people surrounding me now, can I face how my son will inevitably feel about me? And I just start crying, because it’s all too much, and I’m just a joke. I feel like I’m drowning, over and over and over again. It would be so much easier to end things, and my family could finally get away from how terrible I am.

The way I feel isn’t a reflection of reality though. I know I have things to live for, I know things will get better. I know my family loves me, and the people who don’t like me don’t matter. In fact, they probably don’t give a shit. I know this feeling will pass. I just wish my mind and my body would work towards getting better.

I’m not bad yet. I haven’t made any attempts in almost two years, and I’m really proud of that. Every attempt I’ve made to take my own life ends the same way; I fade into a sleep, and I do regret my actions. I think I used to romanticize my own death back when I had nothing to lose. Now everything is on the line, and I’m terrified of the day my thoughts will become louder than my voice. But I know realistically it may not always be this way, and I may need to admit myself to the hospital again someday.

I have great plans for my future and for my family. So please don’t worry. I don’t intend to end my life and I’m not self-harming. And if I was, I’d go to the hospital. I wanted to write this so people better understood feeling suicidal. It’s so much more than just one day someone decided to end it. It goes deeper than that. It’s years of torment, even on good days. It mostly doesn’t happen randomly — it’s a build up. I don’t want to die; my subconscious and my illness may disagree, but today my voice is louder, and I will not succumb to the evils of my mind.

People with mental illness live in dark places and gray areas. It’s not something that shuts off and on — it comes in waves, it peaks and it fades. But these feelings are never gone. And I wish more than anything in this world they would disappear. I am a warrior of my own mind, and I will continue defending my inner peace. Every day may be hard; but it makes me stronger every day.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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*Originally published on The Mighty.

April Is National Autism Awareness Month!

Join the Autism Society in getting involved with the autism community this April. April is National Autism Awareness Month (NAAM).

How is it celebrated?

What can I do?

Sample Materials

Put on the Puzzle! The Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon is the most recognized symbol of the autism community in the world. Autism prevalence is now one in every 68 children in America. Show your support for people with autism by wearing the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon – as a pin on your shirt, a magnet on your car, a badge on your blog, or even your Facebook profile picture – and educate folks on the potential of people with autism! To learn more about the Autism Awareness Ribbon, click here. To purchase the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon for your shirt, car, locker or refrigerator, click here.

Make a difference. Contact your representatives at the state and federal levels and ask them to “Vote 4 Autism.” For more information about this legislation and to take action to support it, visit http://www.autism-society.org/get-involved/vote-4-autism/.

Connect with your neighborhood. Many Autism Society local affiliates hold special events in their communities throughout the month of April. But if you can’t find an event that suits you just right, create your own!

Watch a movie. Did you know that something that seems as simple as going to the movies is not an option for many families affected by autism? The Autism Society is working with AMC Theatres to bring special-needs families Sensory Friendly Films every month.

For more information on resources available for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, their families, and caregivers, see:

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Feelin’ Down?! How To Fight Depression During Christmas

 Christmas sadness

A lot of people tend to get depressed around this time of year. Winter has just begun and people are spending more time with family & friends during this Christmas season. For those of us without close friends or who aren’t near our family it’s easy to feel down. Here are some tips on how to fight the sadness during the holiday season:

 

  • Don’t worry about being alone – Being alone during Christmas isn’t the end of the world. Even though it is a very “special” holiday, it is just one day out of 365 and there will be many other times to celebrate with family or friends.
  • Consider people who aren’t as fortunate as you are – If you have to spend the holidays alone (whether by choice or not) consider spending time with others who are less fortunate than you are. You have a roof over your head, clothes on your back, food to eat and even a computer at your fingertips! Volunteer at a shelter, feed the homeless or donate clothing to the needy.
  • Celebrate with extended family – Just because you’re not related to someone doesn’t mean they can’t be considered family. You can spend this holiday season celebrating with friends, colleagues or even perfect strangers! (You never know where you might get an unexpected blessing!)
  • Try to stay as positive as you can – “Turn that frown upside down!” Even if you can’t help but to feel sad, it doesn’t hurt to try and stay upbeat & positive. Your attitude says a lot about who you are and you never know who may be looking up to you. Negative energy can not only bring you down but it can rub off on others around you. Put a smile on your face & be grateful for all you have.
  • Make someone else’s day – Writing this blog makes me happy so if there is something that you can do to make someone else’s day, do it! This is the season for giving not receiving. Go out of your way to do some good for another person.
  • Give “gifts” to yourself – Why wait for Christmas Day to open give gifts? Treat yourself to something special this holiday season. Whether it’s something as simple as sleeping in or as expensive as a vacation, just know that you deserve it. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others throughout the year.
  • Focus on good memories – Everybody has some good memories from their past. Even if things aren’t going perfectly in your life right now, try to recollect some positivity from the past. When I think about certain things from my past (fun days from college, a trip with my girlfriends, a great day at work, etc….) it can put a big smile on my face. Reflect on the “good old days”!
  • Imagine what you can do next year to make Christmas even better than this year – It’s never too early to plan for next year. What would you like to do differently? Who do you want to spend the holiday season with? Where do you see yourself at the end of next year? Look forward to the possibilities of 2015.
  • Be grateful for whatever it is you have – Surely, there is someone who has less than you and it just doesn’t help to focus on what you don’t have. As the saying goes, “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” The opposite of “grateful” is desperation and neediness. So accept where you are and what you have, even if it’s the worst possible situation or next to nothing.
  • Think of all the people around the world that are going through something – No one’s life is perfect, as we are all going thru something. Know that you are not alone and if someone else can get through it, so can you. Be grateful for where you are in life & what you have while looking forward to doing & having more.
  • Look forward to next year – Expect bigger & better things for yourself next year. I believe that 2015 will be a great year for me & I hope it is for you too!!

Depressed

 

November Is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month!!

NATIONAL ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AWARENESS MONTH, 2014

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Across our Nation, as many as 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease — currently an irreversible, incurable, and fatal disease. Together with their loved ones, these individuals experience the tragic realities of a disease that gradually erases cherished memories, affects behavior, and destroys the ability to live independently and carry out the simplest daily tasks. This month, we recognize all those whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer’s, and we renew our commitment to making progress in the war against it.

The Federal Government is the world’s leading funder of Alzheimer’s research, and we are dedicated to finding ways to prevent and effectively treat this devastating disease by 2025. Guided by the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, my Administration is working to enhance care for Alzheimer’s patients, expand support for all people with dementia, and strengthen public-private partnerships to support the Alzheimer’s community. We have funded major new clinical trials, helped train health care providers to diagnosis and manage dementia, and launched a new website that serves as a one-stop resource on Alzheimer’s issues. And this year, as part of our Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, we announced new investments to support the research that could unlock the answers to this disease. To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease — including risk factors and early signs and symptoms — and to access resources for patients and caregivers, Americans can visit www.Alzheimers.gov.

During National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, we join with researchers, health care providers, and patient advocates across our country to lift up all those who are battling this disease every day. As we come together to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s, we honor the individuals who lost their lives to it, as well as the devotion and selflessness of the millions of caregivers who endure the financial and emotional strains of this disease. In their spirit, let us continue our work to end this debilitating ailment and its devastating effects.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2014 as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. I call upon the people of the United States to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and support the individuals living with this disease and their caregivers.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

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Mental Health In The African American Community

 “He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured.” – Ethiopian Proverb

African American communities across the United States are more culturally diverse now that any other time in history with increasing numbers of immigrants from African nations, the Caribbean, Central America and other countries. To ensure African American communities have access to adequate and affordable care, a better understanding of the complex role that cultural backgrounds and diverse experiences play in mental disorders in these communities is vital.

Access to Care
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, these and other diverse communities are underserved by the nation’s mental health system. For example, one out of three African Americans who need mental health care receives it. Compared to the general population, African Americans are more likely to stop treatment early and are less likely to receive follow-up care.

Despite recent efforts to improve mental health services for African Americans and other culturally diverse groups, barriers remain in access to and quality of care from, insurance coverage to culturally competent services. For those with insurance, coverage for mental health services and substance use disorders is substantially lower than coverage for other medical illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes.

Historically, mental health research has been based on Caucasian and European based populations, and did not incorporate understanding of racial and ethnic groups and their beliefs, traditions and value systems. Culturally competent care is crucial to improving utilization of services and effectiveness of treatment for these communities.

Cultural Issues
Culture, which is understood to be a combination of common heritage beliefs, values and rituals are an important aspect of racial and ethnic communities. African Americans are a resilient people who have withstood enslavement and discrimination to lead productive lives and build vibrant communities. Throughout U.S. history, the African American community has faced inequities in accessing education, employment, and health care. However, strong social, religious, and family connections have helped many African Americans overcome adversity and maintain optimal mental health.

Many Americans, including African Americans, underestimate the impact of mental disorders. Many believe symptoms of mental health, such as depression, are “just the blues.” Issues of distrust in the health care system and mental health stigma frequently lead African Americans to initially seek mental health support from non-medical sources.

Often, African Americans turn to family, church and community to cope. The level of religious commitment among African Americans is high. In one study, approximately 85 percent of African Americans respondents described themselves as “fairly religious” or “religious” and prayer was among the most common way of coping with stress.

Because African Americans often turn to community – family, friends, neighbors, community groups and religious leaders – for help, the opportunity exists for community health services to collaborate with local churches and community groups to provide mental health care and education to families and individuals. Studies have shown that family participation in a support group or a church group can improve the family’s ability to care for family members with mental disorders and cope with the emotional distress of being a caregiver.

Rates of Mental Disorders

Rates of mental health in African American communities are similar to those of the general population. Most individuals are able to maintain good mental health. However, many are in desperate need of mental health treatment. Culturally diverse groups often bare a disproportionately high burden of disability resulting from mental disorders. This disparity does not stem from a greater prevalence rate or severity of illness in African Americans, but from a lack of culturally competent care, and receiving less or poor quality care.

For some disorders, such as schizophrenia and mood disorders, there is a high probability of misdiagnosis because of differences in how African Americans express symptoms of emotional distress. And while the rate of substance use among African American is lower than other ethnicities, alcohol and drugs are responsible for more deaths in the African American community than any other chronic disease in the U.S.

Conclusion
Cultural identity encompasses distinct patterns of belief and practices that have implications for one’s willingness to seek treatment from and to be adequately served by mental health care providers. More research must be done to better understand mental health disparities and to develop culturally competent interventions for African Americans. With proper diagnosis and treatment, African Americans – like other populations – can increasingly better manage their mental health and lead healthy, productive lives.

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RESOURCES

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers an array of support and education programs that help build better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

Find the support you need:

NAMI HelpLine

The Information HelpLine is an information and referral service which can be reached by calling 1 (800) 950-NAMI (6264), Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., EST or by email at info@nami.org

Education, Training and Peer Support Center

NAMI State Organizations and local NAMI Affiliates offer an array of free education and support programs for individuals, family members, providers and the general public. These include Family-to-Family, Peer-to-Peer, NAMI Support Group, In Our Own Voice and more.

State and Local NAMIs

NAMI is the foundation for hundreds of NAMI State Organizations, NAMI Affiliates and volunteer leaders who work in local communities across the country to raise awareness and provide essential and free education, advocacy and support group programs.

Discussion Groups

Browse through hundreds of NAMI’s interactive group forums. With topics ranging from illness management, to job-hunting, to relationships, it’s never been easier to connect with others who’ve shared your lived experience.

Social Networks

Connect with NAMI through Social Media Channels on Facebook and Twitter or NAMI’s network for young adults, Strength of Us.

NAMI on Campus

NAMI on Campus provides information and resources to support students living with mental health conditions and to empower them to take action on their campuses.

Veterans & Military Resource Center

NAMI is proud to provide the following resources for veterans and active duty military members, as well as their families, friends, and advocates.

Multicultural Action Center

The Multicultural Action Center focuses on eliminating disparities in mental health care for diverse communities and offers help and hope to individuals of diverse backgrounds.

NAMI FaithNet

NAMI FaithNet is a network of NAMI members and friends dedicated to promoting caring faith communities and promoting the role of faith in recovery for individuals and families affected by mental illness.

Missing Persons Support

Resources and support for locating missing persons with mental illness.

NAMI Legal Support

The NAMI Legal Center provides lawyer referrals as a service to our members and the general public.

EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS

Mental Health America (MHA) has developed unique materials for African Americans.

Brochures

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“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”

*For more information on Blogging for Mental Health, please visit Canvas of the Mind.

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