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Thursday, April 28, 2016

DBSA Tennessee is a 2015 DBSA Service Award Winner!

Congratulations to our 2015 DBSA Chapter Service Award Winners!

Each year, DBSA recognizes exemplary service by DBSA chapters, state organizations, and their leaders with the Chapter Service Awards. The incredible recipients of these awards provide life-saving support and information to benefit individuals living with mood disorders, their loved ones, and their communities. And they do it all with devotion, energy, creativity, and heart. 

Visit our chapter spotlight page to learn more about these amazing chapters and leaders! 

2015 DBSA Chapter Service Awardees 

State Organizations
DBSA Oklahoma 
DBSA Tennessee 

Large Chapter 
DBSA Overland Park (Kansas) 

Small Chapter 
DBSA Arlington Heights (Illinois) 

Rookie Chapter 
DBSA Solon (Ohio) 

Outstanding Leadership 
Nancy Bollinger, DBSA Self Help Center (St. Louis, MO) 
Cheryl Molyneaux, DBSA Central Florida

Celebrate Mental Health Month!

May is Mental Health Month

When Mental Health Month was launched in 1949, there were lots of things people kept hushed up. Now there's little social shame attached to divorce, cancer, even alcohol dependence. The gay rights movement has gained huge strides. What about serious mental health conditions?

Conversations about the importance of mental health treatment and ending stigma are taking place at the highest levels. In the U.S., both President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama champion efforts to increase support for people living with mental disorders. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a personal understanding of the issues: His famous mother, Margaret Trudeau, famously has bipolar.

Down in the trenches, however, fears about discrimination—in the workplace, socially, even within our own families—remain very real. At the same time, one of the strongest weapons in the anti-stigma arsenal is showing that anyone could be living with a mental health challenge: the barista at your favorite coffee shop, the neighbor you wave to, your favorite cousin.

That's why Mental Health America, the organization behind Mental Health Month, has made "Life With a Mental Illness" the theme for 2016. MHA is asking individuals to share their experiences on social media, whether in words, pictures or video, and tag their posts with #mentalillnessfeelslike.

For one thing, this will help "de-mythify" what it's like to have bipolar or another psychiatric condition. For another, it will let people who are struggling in silence know they're not alone, and perhaps even help them understand what they're going through.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Help for Seeing Fewer Problems & More Possibilities


I recently came across this article at a time I was needing to see my problems in a better light. I believe we can all benefit from following these principles. Well, I know they changed my perspective and aided in solving my recent challenges.
Peacefulness to you and yours. . .

6 Empowering Principles for Seeing Fewer Problems & More Possibilities

Even when your life is impacted by bipolar disorder, you have the power to solve your own problems! Practicing these six principles can give you added strength for staying on the road to recovery.

By Stephen Propst

 Bipolar is a multifaceted condition that affects the whole person: physically, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. It impacts virtually every dimension of one's life. That said, how does a person impacted by a mood disorder go about solving his or her own problems? Well, fortunately, you have the power!

Let me spell out six powerful PERSON-based principles:

Perspective

Your reality, by which you live your life, is subjective and based on your mental outlook. If you envision a future of doom and gloom, that becomes your reality. Alternatively, if you believe in the possibility of recovery—however you define it—then your thinking helps head you in that direction. The single biggest determinant in redirecting my recovery was learning to see fewer problems and more possibilities. You can make major headway toward wellness by focusing on this principle alone.

Empowerment

For me, empowerment comes from my focus on three endeavors. First, I try to educate myself about how to best manage bipolar, by studying books and researching on the Internet. Second, I equip myself for recovery by, for example, partnering with a competent, caring psychiatrist and a thought-provoking, challenging therapist. Finally, I try to regularly energize my recovery by engaging in activities like volunteering. Doing something for others helps get me out of bed and out of my head, where self-absorption and negative self-talk can be a drain on my brain.

Reality

A pivotal step in my recovery was finally accepting the reality of having bipolar. Denying this basic truth delayed my getting better for many years. Initially, I was blind to symptoms, like erratic behavior and delusional thinking, that friends and family were observing. Even after beginning to sense something was wrong, I continued to delay fully taking my condition seriously. When I got real, I started getting better.

Self

When it comes to achieving recovery, taking personal accountability for improving the various aspects of one's self is key. For example, taking part in therapy (10 years, in my case) can help bolster self-esteem, to which bipolar can deal a heavy blow. Attending peer support groups and being surrounded by others who've been there can help positively transform thinking and improve self-confidence. Learning to avoid known triggers increases self-awareness and helps with mood management.

Opportunities

Battling bipolar is no easy task, but you can still take advantage of the choices life gives you. Don't let opportunities to learn something, try something, or meet someone pass you by. A new insight, a different strategy, or a fresh, friendly face may be just what you need. Be ready to respond when that "chance" email or phone call comes. I've found that so-called luck is really preparedness meeting opportunity.

Don't let opportunities to learn something, try something, or meet someone pass you by.

Needs

I recently heard about an 80-year-old lady who, after being involved in a car crash, said to her daughter, "I need you to help me." Although devastated about the accident, the daughter was grateful that her mother, for the first time ever, had acknowledged a need. We all have needs, including those of us living with a mood disorder. Among mine are depending on loved ones for support and on my doctor for professional advice and wisdom. Don't let pride keep you from recognizing your needs and asking for help when necessary.

Practicing these principles can give you added strength for staying on the road to recovery. When I'm facing an uphill battle, I recall the words of a Jeff and Sheri Easter song: I may not be over the mountain, but I can see the other side. Remember that you possess the power—more than you might realize—to keep forging ahead, even when times are tough. You can start picturing a better tomorrow … today!

Printed as "Mind over mood: The power of the person," Spring 2014

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Do you miss your mania, sometime?

Missing my mania by Laura Yeager

Source: bphope.com

missing my bipolar maniaEverybody thinks relief from severe mood swings is a wonderful thing. It is, but sometimes, remission does have its drawbacks.

People can be sick with bipolar disorderfor years. Spending three years in a manic, delusional state, I thought people knew who I was everywhere I went. It was tremendously hard to go to places (even Kmart) because in my mind, people were tracking my every movement.

I knew what Britney Spears feels like, and I've never made one record.

As you can guess, when I finally got my mania under control (thanks to daily medication and time), I was free to go places "anonymously." No one followed me any more. My life became that of a normal, middle-aged, Mid-western woman, who lived in the suburbs, and who could go to Kmart without thinking a thing of it. No one would know me there.

I was a nobody again.

This was marvelous for about two years. I relished my "normalcy." I baked cakes. I changed diapers. I bought boxes of Clementines for $6.99 at the grocery store. I had little parties—barbecues and family dinners at Thanksgiving. I made my husband his favorite foods and graded papers from my teaching job at a local college. God, was I normal.

But then, I started to notice the drawbacks of remission. They do exist. Here are a few of mine:

Folding clothes is enjoyable.
There's nothing wrong with folding your clothes, but should one really enjoy it? Gone are the days of hopping a plane to New York City to eat bread sticks with butter and drink beer in bars. Now, it's just me, the laundry, and my patio door window, looking out onto a world that I never anxiously venture into any more.

I feel unpopular…
Mania makes you feel like the "it" girl or boy. But in remission, you're just another pudgy neighbor on a quiet cul-de-sac.

Worse, since I'm not depressed anymore, every day I must put on shoes, makeup and clothes…

It was so much easier staying in my nightgown. Life was uncomplicated. You get used to the sound of your own breathing. You almost like the smell of your dirty body. You're in survival mode, no more, no less…how simple…

I can no longer crank out three magazine articles a day.
Mania brings energy! I can't stay up all night. I'm so sluggish when I'm in remission. It's the sluggishness of the average man and/or woman. I'm Average.

My psychiatrist is no longer a scintillating, love interest.
When I'm sick, my doctor becomes so cute. He knows my deepest darkest secrets, and he likes me still, for who I am. When I'm in remission, it's not as fun to go visit him. He's just a guy who prescribes my meds and who is paid to watch over me. Not very romantic, is it?

Sleep, sleep, sleep…8 hours a day is oh-so-predictable, and I miss the all-nighters when shut-eye was the last thing I wanted.
Now, my sleep is like clockwork. There are no extremes anymore. Life is perfectly ho hum…

The celebs on TV don't send me secret messages.
I especially miss Regis Philbin who told me his deepest, darkest secret. I was so proud of knowing that. But, Regis has stopped talking to me through the TV.

I'm out of excuses. I can't blame my mania.
Yes, you're well now. You must take care of business. Go out to lunch. Pay bills. Buy gas. Read the newspaper. It's called living responsibly.

When I take some time to think, I can only be so wistful about my mania; after all, it landed me in a psych ward.

Being sick with bipolar disorder is a great leveler. It strips most everything away, leaving only the most primitive elements—fear, grief, anger, lust, euphoria, thoughts of genius. There's something satisfying (in hindsight, maybe) about living life on the edge. We may romanticize at times, but ultimately we strive for health. Would you really will the extremes of your illness back into existence, even if you could?

In the end, wellness is "where it's at." It's peaceful and quenching and healing.

I'm in remission.

I pray you are, too.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A wife intervenes to save her hero husband and their family

DBSA released a video, Family Support: Coping with TBI, to highlight a military husband and wife. He returned from Iraq suffering depression, PTSD and TBI. His wife intervenes for her husband and family.

http://www.DBSATennessee.org/ive-been-there/t…

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Words of Wisdom from a veteran wife - thanks to BP magazine

Marriage & Bipolar: Words of Wisdom

Consider this heartfelt (and humorous) advice from a veteran wife who has worked through many of the special challenges associated with being married with bipolar disorder.

By Laura Yeager

I'm no psychiatrist, but maybe I should be. A little more than 10 years ago, I got married, a big step for anyone. But marriage was a bigger leap of faith for me than most of my friends because I have bipolar disorder.

My husband, Steve turned out to be a great partner, and I'm fairly certain he'd say the same about me. Everyone knows marriage teaches you a lot. But being married and bipolar means learning about yourself and your spouse in ways others can't always understand.

Sharing the challenges of living with bipolar can bring you closer together. It can be an avenue toward real intimacy that comes when a married couple shares their deepest feelings.

Consider this heartfelt advice from a veteran wife who has worked through many of those special challenges. For now, forget the professionals. Listen to words of wisdom that have worked for us.

Life as a comedy

Know any jokes? OK, even if you don't, remember humor can often defuse difficult situations. It's better than bitterness, defensiveness, paranoia, anger or sadness. Be aware of the comedy in your problematic scenarios. Too depressed to take a shower? Try joking with your spouse about how terrible you look; you might feel better and get in there.

And remember living with someone gives you a front row seat to what he or she thinks is funny. One time, I thought my husband was stealing my money.

"No, I wouldn't do that," he said when I asked him about it. "I'm stealing your credit cards."

Taking it easy

When I begin to feel ill, I take a day or two off from life. I go to work if I must (I teach at a local college), but I try to stay inside and slow down. This usually helps me reclaim my equilibrium. For me, being mentally ill is like being physically ill. In both cases, I limit my activities until I'm better. Your spouse might appreciate the intermission as well.

The 'new' and 'old' you

Spend time with friends you knew before you got sick. It's nice being with people familiar with "the old" as well as "the new" you. This way, your spouse sees you had a life before you became ill.

And don't tell everyone about your disorder. Sorry, for many people, the mental illness stigma still exists. Scope people out. Can they handle the information? Will they use it against you? Does your spouse want you to be more discrete or open than you would be? Respect the difference.

Perfection? Yeah, right

Accept each other's flaws. Obvious as it sounds, no one is perfect. Not you, or your spouse. Be tolerant of each other's foibles and eccentricities. Last year, my husband told me something really beautiful.

"Perfection isn't what it's cracked up to be," he said.

And don't be afraid to enjoy yourself. A diagnosis is not a death sentence. Treasure your marriage. You have so much to give. Your spouse is lucky to have you.

Keep an "attitude" journal. Record what gets to you, analyze problems and how you work through difficulties. Now that I'm in remission, I've gone back and read my "crazy" thoughts from years gone by. I feel for my younger self, how troubled I was. My journal reminds me how far I've come.

And don't be afraid to enjoy yourself. A diagnosis is not a death sentence. Treasure your marriage. You have so much to give. Your spouse is lucky to have you.

Talk, talk, talk

Use your spouse as a reality sounding board. Does he think Regis is really talking directly to you on the television? Trust your spouse's ability to observe your moods and suggest how you can keep your balance.

Hold a weekly family meeting to discuss your issues. Ours were called the "Eat My Shorts" sessions, in homage to Homer Simpson. We took minutes and covered everything from shampooing rugs to gifts for in-laws. These meetings actually got us talking. After holding them diligently for years, we've stopped; now we talk all the time. Success!

An expert at humanity

Here's something I say from my heart: I am a good wife. I keep my family together. I wash their clothes, feed them, drive them where they have to go. I earn money to support them. I play with them, hold them when they're crying. Most importantly, I nurture and love them.

Remember, you, too, can be a great partner. As a person with bipolar illness, you bring so much to the table. Think of what you know about being alive, about pain, about joy. You are irreplaceable. You are an expert at humanity.

And don't you forget it.