March 26, 2017

Hi, Folks. Hope everyone reading had a good week.

I thought I would start off with how my week has been.  Well, I felt fairly good last Sunday 03-19-17,  for finally writing on my blog. It was actually a release of holding in those months that I wasn’t writing.  I believe me writing again was provoked by the interviews I go through weekly with the interns that work here at Alternatives, Inc.  As well my therapist at Richard Hall and my anxiety group are known as Peace & Progress at Richard Hall.  It’s a culmination of all these people which help me in so many ways.  One person, in particular, helps me so very much.  My case worker Fae C.  She advises me on so many levels.  She leads the Women’s Group which is every other week through Alternatives, Inc.

Several topics are discussed amongst ourselves.  Each one of the women is going through a challenge that we try to help each other with.  An open forum, if you will.  I can only speak for myself, but I leave there feeling empowerment.  I hate to admit this, but it’s those couple of hours spent talking that I feel not so alone with how I feel and/or think.

We may fight and argue with ourselves about the reality and validity of our pain – our right to feel it and do something about if.  It’s this group where we learn coping skills.   Each one of us has been diagnosed with the mental illness of some form. Whether it be severe depression, bipolar 1 or 2, anxiety, panic disorder, etc…

My personal coping skills are the following techniques: Breathing Techniques.  Breathe in through your inhale through your nose, hold for the count of three, and exhale through the mouth.  A couple sessions of this assist with calming yourself.   Meditation is another source of calming.  I found several apps on my phone, that assist in this calming. Or, select a time every day where it’s quiet.  Close your eyes and appreciate the sound of silence.  Think of positive affirmations in that tranquil moment.  I also enjoy Adult Coloring Books.  I choose the music I want to listen to and focus on the coloring.  It almost takes me outside of my immediate problems and keeps my grounded as well as keeping me in the moment, which is key.  Another way I cope is being creative through crocheting.  Since the age of eleven, I’ve always crocheted.  Naturally, it was usually for gifts or for my use.  However, it was my way of getting outside of myself.  It’s considered a soothing exercise.

Of course, there are other ways of using coping skills… Here are a couple of other ways to cope with anxiety and/or panic attacks.

DISTRACTION:  Conversations, listen to talk radio, read, do puzzles, watch TV, computer games. (My favorites are Words With Friends & Yahtzee)., Solve problems by making list for yourself and tackle the list one by one.  You don’t have to complete the list all at once, but the ones you tackle..give yourself a pat on the back.  You at least resolved something of importance. Try to learn something new., cleaning & tidying, garden, or arts & crafts.

The Pros to this type of coping gives your heart & mind a break.  It’s great for short term relief, and great to get through a crisis. The Con’s are that you can’t do all of the above for long term because it doesn’t resolve the underlying issues. Plus, medication can alter your concentration and frustrate you more.

SELF-LOVE: Massage your hands with a fragrant scent.  Take in the scent and close your eyes, and use the breathing techniques.  Take a nice bubble bath or take a nice long shower.  Clean your living space, or just plain make your bed.   Take time to make a healthy meal for yourself.   The Pros to this, you become your own best friend & support system.  It helps with any underlying guilt or shame you might be going through.  You deserve to treat your mind & body.  It refreshes the way you think of yourself.  The Con’s, sometimes it can be really hard to do this for yourself, or feel superficial (but it’s not).

There are several other coping skills, but I will touch base on them next week.

I would love to hear what helps you, my readers on how you cope with your mental illness.  Naturally, I can only speak for myself being a woman with severe depression, bipolar 2, anxiety & panic disorder, insomnia, PTSD, and OCD.

I want to touch on the Depression part of my illness a bit.  What are the signs and symptoms of depression:

Feeling sad or “empty” inside.

Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or overwhelming guilt.

Loss of interest in everything.

Feeling exhausted, and disconnected from family, friends, work, and life in general.

Not being able to concentrate or remember details.

Not being able to sleep, or sleep too much.

Overeating, or not being interested in eating at all.

Aches & pains, headaches.

Thoughts of suicide, and/or suicide attempts.

I was so far gone with my depression, I was self-medicating.  Drinking heavily & popping as many as 30 Tylenol PM’s to just fall asleep.  I just never wanted to wake up, but I always did.  It was a vicious cycle.  I was hurting everyone around me, and the guilt was overwhelming.

What causes depression?  There are several factors that cause depression.  Depression runs in families.  Those wonderful genes being handed off through the family members that came before you.  Experiences such as trauma or abuse during childhood, or early adulthood plus the stress may cause resilience.  However, depression may affect one person in the family and not another.  In my case, depression skipped from one family member, and not the other.  My grandmother was affected with the same symptoms as me.  Whereas my mother and siblings were not affected the same way.  Depression varies within my family circle.  I was told that I was a ditto of my grandmother on my mom’s side. I just wished I knew this earlier in adulthood.  I could have at least seek help back then in order to prevent where I am as an adult in my 50’s now. But..that’s neither here or there now.

Depression forms in subtle changes in the brain systems, involving mood swings, lack of energy, and ways of thinking.  How the brain responds to stress can be different between family members too.

Depression can also stem from hormone levels.  Research has proven stress, and depression is stronger felt in women than men.  I sort of disagree.  I have met several men with severe depression and anxiety.

Again..  I want to know your stories.  Men & Women who have some form of mental health issues.  This is a safe place to share what works for you, and/or what hasn’t worked.

On that note, I want to share a few organizations, as well as resources in order to assist in mental health, and addiction services.

NJ Addiction Services Hotline for assistance to treatment Call Toll-Free at 1-844-276-2777 open 24 hours/7days a week.

Call the Toll-Free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889).

For more information on conditions that affect mental health, resources, and research, go to MentalHealth.gov at http://www.mentalhealth.gov or contact the National Institute of Mental Health, Phone; (301) 443-4513 or 1-866-615-NIMH (6464) TOLL-FREE.  EMAIL ADDRESS: nimhinfo@nih.gov.  Website: http://www.nimh.nih.gov

Okay, folks, I hope you have a good week ahead.  Remember that you are not alone.  Your views and opinions are validated here.

Take care,

Beckie

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