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Monday, May 30, 2016

Don't Judge Me

I thank for this thought-provoking article. Those of us living with depression know that these views are out there about out health challenge. It is time that we push back against this type of stigma. I like this article's message!

Don't Judge Me for My Depression

Is it stigma if bipolar depression is called a "personal and spiritual crisis"? In my opinion, YES. I treat my depression the way I would if it were a physical illness—because that's exactly what it is.

By Julie A. Fast

It's difficult to live with depression when a large segment of society doesn't even consider it an illness. I can't count the number of times people have asked me why I don't accept where I am in life and be happy. Some have suggested that I explore depression as a spiritual quest to find out why I was "chosen" for this particular illness. I can tell that others feel I have something wrong inside and if I would just fix it, the depression would go away.

I once read a book by a well-known spiritual teacher. It made me so upset I slammed it shut and threw it in the recycle bin! His focus was on the soul. He talked of how depression is a "reaction to the problems of the world" as well as "unhealthy personal choices." He pontificated that the focus on physical treatment ignores the real problem, which is that people with depression are spiritually bereft.


I have a medical illness. It's called depression. I'm not in spiritual crisis. When someone implies that depression is my fault and that through "inner exploration" I can find peace, it makes me more ill. It puts the burden, and the blame, on me for not being able to manage depression on my own.

I've never heard a spiritual guru say that diabetes is a dearth of spirituality in a person with that illness. Imagine a book saying that a lack of insulin output is a result of an inappropriate reaction to the world. How about children with cancer—are they spiritually bereft? Why are people with bipolar disorder singled out as responsible for our depression when other physical illnesses are treated with such compassion?

As I write this, I feel my anger rising. That's okay, though, because anger is healthy when it's justified—as it is when the origin of my depression is being questioned by people who don't understand how devastating that can be for someone whose diagnosis presents enough challenges to contend with already.

Is this viewpoint stigma? Stigma means that we are judged negatively for having an illness that affects our behavior. Is it stigma if depression is called a "personal and spiritual crisis"? In my opinion, yes. We are no longer in the Middle Ages, when this was a common misconception. Are we back to literally "beating the Devil out" of people who have illnesses we don't understand? I expect more from those writing and speaking on physical and mental health today.

If my symptoms were due to a spiritual or emotional crisis, they would be constant. They aren't; I don't have these symptoms when I'm feeling well. My depression is my brain's reaction to triggers. I have an illness with very well-documented symptomsthat all people with the illness share. I can't let someone tell me that I just need to change myself inside in order to get well—I tried that for too many years with little success. The only thing that has worked for me is treating my depression the way I would if it were a physical illness—because that's exactly what it is. Then if I have the desire to explore the spiritual world, that's fine; I can do so with a clear mind.

I have a medical illness. It's called depression. I'm not in spiritual crisis.

When used as a healing tool, spirituality is a positive force. But I resent being told that my spirituality, or lack thereof, is the reason I'm depressed. I will continue to move forward in my own healing and remind myself that suicidal thoughts during a crisis, or paranoid thoughts when I'm in a new relationship, is about brain chemicals, not some kind of character flaw on my part.

We all have a path. It may be that you do agree that depression is a spiritual issue, and I completely respect your opinion. And authors have the right to state any views they want, any way they want. But I have to request, with all due respect, that anyone who writes and speaks publicly on this topic try to find more compassion for those of us undergoing medical treatment for depression. We could use the support!

Printed as "Fast Talk: Don't Judge Me For My Depression", Summer 2013

Page 2 of 2
Julie A. Fast is the bestselling author of Loving Someone with Bipolar, Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and Get it Done When You're Depressed. She is an award winning columnist for bp Magazine ("Fast Talk") and has one of the top bipolar disorder blogs on the internet. Julie is the bipolar disorder management specialist on the Oprah and Dr. Oz website She was the original consultant for Claire Danes on Homeland. Julie is not only a leading expert on helping those affected by bipolar disorder and depression, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1995 and successfully (as best she can!) manages the illness with medications and the strategies in her books. Julie knows firsthand about living with and loving someone with bipolar disorder within her own life and helps family members, partners and health care professionals understand and support those with the illness. Julie is a highly in demand family and partner coach, speaker and educator who is passionate about changing the way the world views and manages mood disorders.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Take a hike! for your brain's sake

"TAKE A HIKE! for your brain's sake"

I, for one, do not get out into nature enough to benefit from it. However, this article got my attention. Just the other day I spent the afternoon at the zoo. Those two hours of walking and experiencing those beautiful animals seemed to clear my head. So, I know there is something to the information presented here:

What Hiking Does To The Brain Is Pretty Amazing
April 11, '16. Michael W. Porrine
The great outdoors might just be greater than you think. There are plenty of us who love to spend as many hours of the day outdoors as we can, and hiking is obviously quite healthy for the body, but few of us ever give a lot of thought to how hiking could benefit our mental health as well. It turns out that hiking might just be your ticket to a brand-new brain, whether you're passionate about the outdoors, or just force yourself to take a stroll around your local park.
Recent studies about the effects of hiking and nature have been directed at understanding just how this recreational activity affects both the physiological and mental aspects of our brains. One of the main reasons for this glut of research is because we're spending so much less time outdoors, overall. The average American child now spends half as much time outside as compared to only 20 years ago. HALF. Only 6% of children will play outside on their own in a typical week. Conversely, kids are now spending almost 8 hours per day watching television, playing video games, or using a computer, tablet, or phone for recreational purposes. That number actually jumps up to 10 hours if you count doing two things at once! Overall, Americans now spend 93% of their time inside a building or vehicle.
So, what does this mean for human beings? Well, unless we get a little more proactive about embracing fresh air and dirt under our feet, the prognosis is pretty grim. The bright side is, as with all great medicine, when it comes to the outdoors, a little goes a long way.
Nature really does clear your head.
According to a study published last July in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a 90-minute walk through a natural environment had a huge positive impact on participants. In a survey taken afterwards, those people who took the natural walk showed far lower levels of brooding, or obsessive worry. The control group who spent that 90 minutes walking through a city reported no such difference. Not only that, but the scientists went a step further and did brain scans of the subjects. They found that there was decreased blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex. What in the world does that mean? Well, increased blood flow to this region of the brain is associated with bad moods. Everything from feeling sad about something, to worrying, to major depression seem to be tied to this brain region. Hiking deactivates it.
Unplugging makes you more creative.
Psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found in their 2012 study that after a four-day-long hike in the wilderness, with no access to technology, participants scored a whopping 50% higher on a test known as RAT, or Remote Associates Test. It's a simple way of measuring the creative potential in people. A series of three words are given, for instance, "same, tennis, and head." The test-taker has to find a fourth word that connects the first three. In this case, the answer is "match." A 50% increase is a huge leap up in performance by research standards. Problem-solving skills like this are thought to originate in the same area of the brain that we also use for selective attention and threat detection, meaning our ability to think creatively is being overwhelmed by the constant stimulus of digital, indoor living.
Hiking boosts your focus.
We mentioned selective attention in the previous section but this is bigger than that. Anyone who has ADHD or has raised a child who has been diagnosed with the disorder can tell you, it's a daily struggle to maintain grades, work performance, even relationships with friends and family. Medication can help alleviate the symptoms, but often ADHD persists into adulthood and that daily habit of popping stimulants can take its toll on your health and your wallet. Well, what about a good hike? A 2004 study came to the pretty obvious conclusion that getting outdoors and doing something active can reduce the symptoms of ADHD. More than that, it can do so for anyone, regardless of age, health, or other characteristics that can change the effect of medication.
Charge your mind's batteries with a hike.
Hiking is a pretty solid aerobic exercise that burns around 400-700 calories per hour. This is great on its own, but aerobic exercise also has a really positive effect on your brain: it improves your memory. It's even being studied as a way to help seniors fight off dementia, because it doesn't just increase your ability to store information, it also reduces memory loss. Outdoor activity has also been shown to improve grades, so it's a pretty solid choice all around for juicing your grey matter.
Feel better about yourself, from your sweaty head down to your muddy boots.
According to a 2010 report in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, even getting out into nature for five minutes at a stretch is enough to give your self-esteem a substantial upgrade. Spending the entire day outdoors results in a second jump upwards! Walking near water seemed to have the biggest effect, so when planning your next hike, be sure to seek out a location with some great streams, rivers, or lakes.
Is hiking the solution to all of life's woes? Probably not. But what science is showing is that it's actually a pretty solid candidate for making everyone's lives a lot better, with very little input. If you already hike, good for you! If you'd like to start, find yourself a sturdy, comfortable pair of shoes or boots and head to a website like EveryTrail, which can help you find your way to the nearest nature.
Be sure to SHARE this story with your friends and family!
H/T: Collective Evolution

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Can We Count on You?


3 Steps to be StigmaFree for Mental Health Month

3 Steps to be stigmafree for   mental health month
Can we count on you?
Thank you for your support of this growing mental health movement. By taking the NAMI pledge to be #StigmaFree you've joined more than ten thousand Americans who are changing the world for the better.                                                                                                         
For May's #MentalHealthMonth, we encourage you to join us in helping to raise awareness with any of these easy actions:


Act on it
1 in 5 Americans experience a mental health condition each year and yet half do not get any mental health care! Now is the time to take action on mental health issues that affect nearly 60 million people in the U.S. TellCongress to VOTE YES for mental health care reform, S 2680 (Senate Bill 2680).


Share it
Spread the word to your social networks and share the mental health month messages and images, follow us on social media and track the #StigmaFree hashtag to engage in the community conversation.
Live it
Break down harmful stereotypes by educating yourself and others with the latest news and information. Consider giving a gift that will allow us to continue making a difference.
We appreciate your support in helping us build a movement and your participation helps make it possible. For even more ways to get involved this month, visit
see what else you can do for   mental health month

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Numbing the pain steals the joy

 If you ever got a pebble inside your shoe you know that the pain will not end until you do something about it. And you know that a small pebble can feel like something much larger than its actual size. In life I dealt with my share of "pebbles". They not only caused me pain but distraction from happy moments. I write about these life experiences while growing up in rural America. 

Let's not let the small pains rob us of our happiness. Remove quickly any pebbles you get inside your shoe!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Anxiety is REAL

Believe me, YOU are more!

Yes, you are much more than any diagnosis of a mental health challenge. Internalized stigma tells us that we are not worthy of respect, love, success, etc. Make a conscious decision to eliminate all self judgement today!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Change in Location

If you are looking for a support group for mood disorders, we are here in Jackson.  There has been some discrepancy online regarding our location.  We officially moved to:

Life Church
780 Bolivar Hwy. (Hwy 18)
Jackson, TN 38301

We still meet every Monday night from 6:30pm-8:00pm at the church. 
We also offer a Friends and Family meeting twice a month on the 1st and 3rd Monday nights.
Feel free to contact us at (731)215-7200 or if you need any further assistance. 

With Compassion,