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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Buddhist Story About Gratitude

I read story that told of a woman named Sono, whose devotion and purity of heart were respected  far and wide. One day a Buddhist man asked: “What can I do to put my heart to rest?” Sono said, “Every morning and every evening, and when-ever anything happens to you, keep on saying, ‘Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever”. The man did so for one year, but his heart was still not at peace. He told Sono that his life had not changed, and that he was the same selfish person as before. Sono immediately said, “Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.”On hearing these words, the man was able to open his spiritual eye, and he returned home with a great joy.
Sometimes, restlessness is a condition that can take our peace of mind and soul. It is important to remember that observing yourself and outside conditions can help us take action to do better things about it. Also, it is important to remember that we are not alone in this journey called life. Let’s be grateful for the life we have today and be aware of those who desire to be a support to us, accepting us just as we are.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stigma is something we can do something about!

Below, I share with you a stark definition of stigma.  Consumers and those who love them must make a decisive stand to push back against all forms of social inequality in the form of stigma. We can make a difference!
It’s easy to label someone else and overlook what’s really inside. When mental illnesses are used as labels – depressed, schizophrenic, manic or hyperactive – these labels hurt. Using negative labels leads to branding and shame – what is called stigma. Stigma leads to discrimination. Everyone knows why it is wrong to discriminate against people because of their race, religion, culture or appearance. They are less aware of how people with mental illnesses are discriminated against. Although discrimination may not always be obvious, it exists – and it hurts. Stigma is not just the use of the wrong word or action. Stigma is about disrespect. It is the use of negative labels to identify a person living with mental illness. Stigma is a barrier and discourages individuals and their families from getting the help they need due to the fear of discrimination. An estimated 50 million Americans experience as mental disorder in any given year and only one-fourth of them actually receive mental health and other services.          bp magazine Winter 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

Entering the Silence as a Path to Wellness

For the past eight years, I have lived a life that is satisfying and fulfilling in many ways.  After years of working to find my way through what seemed like a maze, it was like a gift from above to find myself in the land of blue skies. I give credit to the medical professionals, mental health professionals, and medications and natural health remedies.  However, my biggest appreciation goes to the practice of meditation and contemplation.  Yes, these two are different things.  I include both in my spiritual practices that make up my spiritual life.  In the practice of contemplation, I read inspirational materials and quietly think about the things I read. Without a doubt, it is the time I spend in the stillness and silence of meditation that give me the biggest rewards in my whole person – body, mind, heart and spirit.  I found this article in the bp magazine.  Here I offer another consumer’s words about the many benefits to meditation.
“The keen sound of silence”
I had expected that medication alone could treat my bipolar disorder, but it did not and cannot. This is because medication can’t make me build a life, change a behavior, or modify a relationship. This is a column about silence. To me silence is about “quieting the mind”. Silence isn’t about remaining in a soundless environment, but making a trip toward it. Silence is a connector – to myself, to God, to community, to love. It has a therapeutic value. Both within and following silence, I can slow down my responses, resist temptation, navigate around triggering events, and choose new thoughts and behaviors. Silence also has spiritual value – I use it as a form of prayer. I ask the universe to consider me and that I might hear wisdom. Silence is also free, non-prescription, multipurpose, in abundance, and available 24 hours a day. There’s enough for all of us.                                                    Lizzie Simon – writer, producer, and guest lecturer                               

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Useful information for consumers suffering with bipolar disorder

Talk therapy: 7 ways to help your partner help you

By Judy Eron, LCSW

 Bipolar disorder is such a tricky illness: a person can be so well, and then suddenly so "not well." As a therapist, I assist people with bipolar in making a plan of action—and enlisting a spouse, trusted friend, or relative in co-creating such a plan—for managing things when the going gets tough. 

Here are seven ways you can help your trusted person know how to be a partner with you in your illness.

1. Make a written agreement

Sit down with your chosen person and a pen and paper. Explain that you need a partner to help you manage your bipolar, and that this will require the two of you to work out details together.  Make certain that your person trusts you and your judgment when you are well, and is willing to take this on with you.

2. List your unique early symptoms  

Both mania and depression can be managed more easily if they are recognized before they intensify.  Make a list of the personal ways in which your illness manifests itself in its early stage. For example, you might both realize that when you are starting to get depressed, you play certain music.  Or, that when you are becoming manic you feel the need for more air and wish to keep the window open when you sleep. Tell your partner what you would like him/her to do when you show any signs that you are edging toward depression or mania.

3. Get on the same page about medication

Make certain that you and your partner have an understanding about medication and its role in your well-being. You know that the temptation is strong to discontinue medication when you are doing well, and that this can lead to trouble. Your partner needs written permission from you to contact your therapist or doctor if you stop taking medication without your doctor's knowledge. 

4. Include your partner in your therapy

Since you have chosen a special person to trust with these agreements, it is important that your treatment people have some familiarity with him or her. Decide together how often your partner will be included in your meetings with your therapist and your prescribing doctor. This might range from every meeting to far fewer times, but should be no less than twice a year.        

5. Specify when your partner may reach out

Agree which behaviors besides medication non-compliance give your partner de facto permission to contact your therapist or psychiatrist outside of regularly scheduled meetings. Be precise about these behaviors, such as not sleeping at night, uncharacteristic aggressiveness or belligerence, or major loss of interest in your usual pursuits.

6. Make a video

Record yourself on video reading the written agreements you and your partner have made together.  State in your own words that you know if your illness flares up, you will not want to follow through with these agreements, but that you give your person permission to follow through on what the two of you have written.    

7. Urge your partner to become informed

There is an abundance of information available. Strongly request that your partner attend local support groups and family education courses available through mental health associations. Your trusted person needs a mixture of education, support, and direction, and you need him/her to be as informed as possible.

While you are well, remind yourself that bipolar is "an illness that tells you that you don't have an illness." Being realistic about the tricky nature of bipolar and staying vigilant with a plan, combined with medication and therapy, can make a big difference in the control you have over bipolar and in enjoying life fully.