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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holiday Blues and such

Hello from the Other Side (as Adele says in her latest hit "Hello") ,

The"other side" meaning the other side of the commercial hoopla of hyped up, sugar crazed, "happy" faces...the reality is there are many of us who feel down right "unhappy."  This time of year can trigger anxiety, panic attacks, depression, manic episodes, agitation...just to name a few.  Large crowds of family/friends, loud noises, busy bodies, rushed traffic - ring a bell anyone?  Here are a few helpful tips from yours truly:

1)  Be kind to yourself 
     Yes, episodes of extreme emotions can and do happen.  They are part of having a mood disorder.  It is so terribly important that I try to remind myself I am a good person even in the midst of some mood shift.  If I am gentle towards myself, it seems like I can manage the symptoms a bit better.  Also, I find I am better at communicating with my loved ones.  Words of affirmation are a great way to speak kindly to yourself.  For example, "I am a kind and loving person", "I am doing the best I can at this particular moment in this particular situation", etc.  Once I have regained some sort of peacefulness in my heart and head, I can better assess my mood, environment, thoughts, and needs.   Being kind to yourself will also help with feelings of guilt or shame.  So, let's play nice ok?  :)

2) Be Gentle with your loved ones too
     Many people, with or without mental illnesses, often struggle this time of year.  Everyone has a heightened sense of stress.  For those of us with mental illnesses it may seem like our loved ones don't have time to listen/respond to our needs.  And yes, sometimes this is true.  Sometimes they are not able to take on our illnesses.  But, it doesn't mean they don't love us or care for or about us.   It simply means they are at a place where they need a mental break for their own health.  If we can give our loved ones the space and recovery they need, everyone will benefit.  Our loved ones require just as much support, relaxation, and love as we, let's try to give them patience and kindness during this hectic season.
**If you are suicidal, PLEASE TELL someone.  Many of us do suffer from suicidal thoughts, especially during the holiday season.  This is not the time to be silent...Please tell someone, call the E.R., or call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255...Your life matters.  Call and get help.**

3) Try to come up with a Holiday Battle Plan
     If you have a battle plan, even a small one, you have a necessary tool to utilize.  If loud noises bother you or set off agitation, then discuss with your loved one where you can find a quiet place to go.  Or bring your headphones and listen to music that calms you...even if that is Metallica!   If certain people are triggers, try to arrange yourself so you have the least amount of contact with them. These are just a couple of ideas I can think of...but,  having a Battle Plan can sometimes be the difference between enjoying the season and running on empty. 

I hope this little list finds you in a stable place during the Holiday Season.  My deepest desire is for you to know you are loved and have a purpose in this lifetime despite having a mental illness. 

With Much love and blessings

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Veterans Day!

Today is a very good day to tell our story and work to erase stigma. This day, Veterans Day, I call on my fellow veterans to Speak Up - please know, you are not alone!

After leaving the service, I was stricken by chronic depression. I sought out the healthcare providers and the support network I needed to get better. Today, I live a happy and fulfilled life. You, my brothers and sisters in uniform, can too! Please share some of your story in your comments to this post. There is no shame! In DBSA we are family.

Happy Veterans Day!

Special thanks to Demi Lavato!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Vanderbilt study reveals how inflammation contributes to depression

Study further links immune response, serotonin signaling

by  | Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, 8:43 AM

Vanderbilt University scientists are a step closer to understanding how inflammation in the body can affect mood and behavior.

Their latest discovery, reported this week in the journal Translational Psychiatry, provides further evidence that a signaling pathway involved in the body's immune response to infection and other stressors can regulate the brain's control of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Randy Blakely, Ph.D.

"The inflammatory pathway that we have identified is likely one by which serotonin signaling is regulated in general," said Randy Blakely, Ph.D., who led the research team. "By targeting this pathway, we might come up with better medications to treat disorders where manipulation of serotonin signaling has proved beneficial, as in depression."

For the better part of a decade, Blakely and his colleagues have investigated the p38alpha MAPK signaling pathway. MAPKs, or mitogen-activated protein kinases, are enzymes that regulate the body's response to infection and other stress stimuli, among other roles.

The latest findings add to an increasing body of evidence that the p38alpha MAPK pathway links the body's immune response to regulation of the brain serotonin transporter. The transporter, which eliminates serotonin from the synapse, or gap between nerve cells, is the target for a major class of anti-depressants.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs like Prozac increase the brain's supply of serotonin by blocking the transporter. But it can take weeks to achieve a therapeutic effect, and not everyone responds to them.

Using genetic mouse models they developed, Blakely and his colleagues showed that the MAPK pathway acts in serotonin neurons to communicate signs of infection in the periphery. That leads to an elevation in serotonin transporter activity and multiple serotonin-linked behaviors.

"The net consequence of p38alpha MAPK activation is … we get elevated transporter activity that can drain away the serotonin," said Blakely, the Allan D. Bass Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry.

The impact on behavior was profound. When an inflammatory response was produced by peripheral injection of a piece of bacteria in mice, their serotonin neurons showed rapid activation of the p38alpha MAPK pathway. The animals also exhibited depressive-like behaviors, including signs of heightened anxiety and despair.

But when, in the current study, the p38alpha MAPK pathway was genetically "knocked out," specifically in serotonin neurons, these behaviors were extinguished. The inflammatory agent had no effect. The animals were, as Blakely described them, "resilient."

This "is a response to an acute inflammatory agent," Blakely cautioned. It says nothing about what may occur in chronic inflammatory states. "That's something we're eager to pursue with the same kind of genetic approach," he said.

At the same time, "I doubt that (this MAPK pathway) has evolved only to respond to inflammation," he said.

Since the p38alpha MAPK pathway has the ability to turn up and turn down the activity of the serotonin transporter, "maybe if we targeted the way (it) regulates the transporter as opposed to blocking the transporter itself, we might have a better antidepressant," Blakely said.

Blakely is director of the Vanderbilt/NIMH Silvio O. Conte Center for Neuroscience Research, which is supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). First author of the study was Nicole Baganz, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Blakely lab.

The research was supported in part by NIH grants NS007491, MH094527 and MH096972, the Brain and Behavioral Research Foundation and the Institute for Psychiatric Neuroscience.

Media Inquiries: 
Bill Snyder, (615) 322-4747  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

. . . to love life . . .

"To love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again."
― Ellen Bass

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

NEW DBSA campaign . . . I'm here.

Hurting people are not asking for the world - just let them know you are there. Say, "I'm here."

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Visit from Dr. Vickery, mindfulness, and GLAD

We had the great pleasure of hosting Dr. David Vickery this past Monday.  What an honor and privilege it was to hear about the latest scientific research regarding neuroplasticity and neuron regeneration.  One of the biggest discussion topics was about how Mindfulness Meditation practices can help lessen the severity of depression symptoms.  Dr. Vickery talked about how the Benson's Relaxation Techniques have been scientifically shown to greatly benefit those who suffer from Depression.  He left us with a homework assignment to begin implementing GLAD into our daily lives.  Mindfulness can also work for those who have Bipolar disorder too. Dr. William R. Marchand, MD, has published the book "Mindfulness for Bipolar Disorder" which discusses in depth the techniques and benefits of mindfulness.

If you have been diagnosed with a mood disorder and are looking for a support group, we would love to have you.  You can contact us at (731) 215-7200.  We meet every Monday starting at 6:30pm hosted inside The Life Church located off of Hwy. 18 headed towards Boliver.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Neurons Controlling Anxiety Identified

Neurons Controlling Anxiety Identified

Researchers have identified a cell type in the brain, which controls anxiety, a complex behavioral state, and have elucidated the underlying mechanisms. These findings thus improve our understanding of the brain processes which are triggered in states of anxiety and which are dysfunctional in anxiety disorders.

The lifetime risk of suffering from an anxiety disorder is fairly high – around 20%. Unfortunately, however, while the number of patients is substantial, existing therapeutic options are often inadequate.

This is partly due to the fact that the brain processes giving rise to anxiety remain poorly understood. Interestingly for fear – a similar emotion – the brain regions involved are well known, and the interaction of the underlying neuronal circuits is increasingly well understood.

Fear vs. Anxiety

Though sometimes used interchangeably, the terms "anxiety" and "fear" need to be distinguished: fear is a response to an imminent, clearly defined threat, which takes the form of freezing, fight or flight. In contrast, anxiety is a complex emotional reaction to a diffuse, potential threat, with no immediate trigger; this makes it more difficult to study.

Andreas Lüthi and his team at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research have now identified neurons in the amygdala – the structure known as the brain's fear center – which can cause anxiety behavior. In addition, they demonstrated that the same cells are also involved in the fear response.

Lüthi explains:

"A subpopulation of central amygdala neurons plays a key role in the regulation of anxiety. These cells express a protein kinase called PKCδ, which makes them readily identifiable."

On their surface, the neurons have receptors for GABA, a neurotransmitter.

"PKCδ neurons are continuously inhibited via the GABA receptor," Lüthi adds. "GABA is, as it were, the natural tranquilizer for these cells."

In their study the neurobiologists showed that anxiety behavior is observed as soon as the tranquilizing effect is reduced – i.e. when the amount of GABA receptors is decreased.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

The scientists also found an association between fear and sustained anxiety. They showed that, as well as triggering a fear response, a traumatic experience can lead to reduced GABA receptor-mediated inhibition and hence to anxiety states.

This could help to explain how a complex anxiety disorder such as post-traumatic stress disorder can be triggered by a fear-inducing event.

Lüthi comments:

"It's absolutely fascinating to see how a single cell type in the amygdala can control something as complex as anxiety behavior. With our study, we've been the first to establish such a clear link. It's also interesting that the neuronal circuits controlling anxiety and fear overlap but can still give rise to clearly defined complex behaviors. These findings help us to gain a better understanding of how anxiety disorders arise – and suggest possible therapeutic approaches."

Paolo Botta, Lynda Demmou, Yu Kasugai, Milica Markovic, Chun Xu, Jonathan P Fadok, Tingjia Lu, Michael M Poe, Li Xu, James M Cook, Uwe Rudolph, Pankaj Sah, Francesco Ferraguti & Andreas Lüthi
Regulating anxiety with extrasynaptic inhibition
Nature Neuroscience (2015) doi:10.1038/nn.410

HAPPY SUNDAY!!!! A healthy spiritual life is important for our wellness.


Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) (also known as Mental Health Awareness Week) was established in 1990[1] by the U.S. Congress in recognition of efforts by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to educate and increase awareness about mental illness. It takes place every year during the first full week of October. During this week, mental health advocates and organizations across the U.S. join together to sponsor a variety of events to promote community outreach and public education concerning mental illnesses such as major depressive disorderbipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Examples of activities held during the week include art/music events, educational sessions provided by healthcare professionals, advertising campaigns, health fairs, movie nights, candlelight vigils, and benefit runs.
An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older - about one in four adults - suffer from a diagnosable mental illness in any given year.[2] However, stigma surrounding mental illness is a major barrier that prevents people from seeking the mental health treatment that they need.[3] Programs during Mental Illness Awareness Week are designed to create community awareness and discussion in an effort to put an end to stigma and advocate for treatment and recovery.
Mental Illness Awareness Week also coincides with similar organizational campaigns in early October such as World Mental Health Day[4] (World Federation for Mental Health), National Depression Screening Day[5] (Screening for Mental Health), and National Day Without Stigma[6] (Active Minds).
SOURCE: Wikipedia

Monday, September 21, 2015

DBSA Jackson TN's "A Better Tomorrow" support group

Hello everyone! 

We have had some exciting and fun times with our group!  Everyone brings something unique to our group that makes each meeting special.  For that my friends, we thank you!

If you are looking for a Support Group in the Jackson TN area, you don't need to look any further!
Our Meetings are held every Monday from 6:30-8:00pm at the Life Church campus off of Hwy. 18 headed toward Bolivar, TN.  The entrance to the church is off of Benson Rd on the left.

We would love to have you! 

"You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great."
~Zig Ziglar

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A little bit about us

As the new Facilitators for Jackson’s DBSA support group called “A Better Tomorrow”, we extend a warm welcome to join us on Monday evenings from 6:30-8:00 pm.  We are a husband/wife team who come to you with humble, compassionate, understanding hearts as we, too, deal with these illnesses first hand.  Even after 10 years of marriage, there is still so much to learn.  In order to lead a healthier life, it is important to build a strong support team.  This includes family and friends, so we encourage everyone who has a desire to come. 

We host the group out of The Life Church located at 780 Bolivar Hwy., Jackson, TN 38301.  The church is directly off of Hwy 18 as you drive towards Bolivar.  Turn left onto Benson Ln in order to access the entrance.
A few of our main goals are to provide:
·        a positive community for those diagnosed and family/friends who are interested in learning more
·        a safe, healthy, positive environment for wellness and growth
·        literature and useful information regarding depression and/or bipolar along with other associated symptoms
We are an adult, peer led support group who are not doctors.  Therefore, we do not diagnosis, treat, or counsel.  We encourage each other and share our experiences to create a positive, safe community.  Since, we are an adult group anyone under the age of 18 years is discouraged due to the content of topics.  If a parent is interested and would like to meet with us concerning a child, we would be willing to set up a private meeting. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

New Things

I have desperately needed to update our blog site.  Some incredible changes have been in the works and we are now at a place to inform the world!

First and foremost, I would like to say a huge thank you to Steve.  He built this community from the ground up.  With nothing but a desire to heal and to surround himself with others who understood his pain, he began the arduous process of starting a DBSA chapter here in Jackson.  His driving, passionate commitment over the past 13 years, including serving 2 years as the DBSA State President for Tennessee, has undoubtedly touched numerous lives of those afflicted with Depression and/or Bipolar disorders.  Today we stand on solid ground as DBSA’s “A Better Tomorrow” support group. 

Steve has decided to take a much needed sabbatical as president.  Don’t be fooled though, he is still very active with us and resides as a board member.  Steve’s gracious heart continues to aid us as we work through the big transition.  So, with the “extra” time he now has, his main focus is his family and finishing his second book “A Brand New Day: My Story of Success and Sanity.”  His first book “The Two Agreements: A Good News Story for Our Time” is available for purchase!

After months of discussion, my husband and I (with me dragging my feet) took the plunge to relieve Steve of his duties and honor him with much needed rest.  So, here we are, your new Co-facilitators.  Please hang in there with us as we are still learning the ropes.  

Group Meetings: are hosted inside The Life Church building off of Hwy. 18 
the meetings begin at 6:30pm and last until 8:00pm
You don't need to bring anything!  If you need any further assistance, call (731) 215-7200.  
(disclaimer: we are not affiliated with the church; they have been gracious enough for us to meet there)

Family and Friends: are welcome to come along with you or even by themselves.  These meetings are open to the public, but remain confidential.  The more educated everyone is, there is greater potential for healing and wellness.  We can speak from first hand experience, I promise!  Our greatest offering is to help provide information, support, and love as we all continue living with our illnesses.

DBSA:  stands for Depression Bipolar Support Alliance.  Our group focuses on Mood disorders as the primary diagnosis, but understand there are co-occurring illnesses that come attached.  For example, I am diagnosed with Bipolar II and ADD...our goal is to provide a safe place for you to come, to meet with people who understand, and hopefully, encourage you along your path.

Lastly,  it may take you months to get up the courage to come.  The unknown can be scary to face.  Fear of knowing someone, or not knowing anyone is intimidating.  I guarantee you aren't the only one.  I held out for 3 months!  So, when you are ready, we are here.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Beginnings ~ (the first post by a new blogger, Amber Wilsey. Best wishes, Amber!)

The Beginnings of a New You
You learn a great deal about yourself after a life changing event or series of events. Perhaps, I should change that to “you can learn” instead of “you learn”.  Knowledge and wisdom come with a price tag. We never know what the price costs us. Regardless the cost, it seems as though it depends on you to see beyond the pain to a place where you are stronger, wiser.  People who are burdened by mood disorders are affected differently than those who don’t suffer from such illnesses. Not only is the pain deeper, lasts longer, much more intense, it also takes us repeated tries to move forward, to see the light.
This can be especially true of the initial diagnosis.  There are those of us who feel a sense of relief when the diagnosis is delivered.  It is almost like the stars align into patterns that reveal constellations.  A life of seemingly random events, moods, lifestyle are now given a name; a world once lived in chaos is now an explained, real illness which can be managed and actively treated.  For some of us, it is the opposite.  The diagnosis is a brutal awakening to a life of chaos.  Despite the unquestionable, undeniable evidence that supports the illness, the label of the diagnosis is gut wrenching and painful.  The awakening process is just the beginning into a brand new world.