Guest Post: Mental Health Awareness Month- Interesting Information

mhamonthHappy May Day!!! It is officially the first day of May and that means it is mental heath awareness month. Unfortunately, many people are unaware that May is mental health awareness month.

It saddens me that the media (as whole) does not make it a major deal like they (the media) do in October when it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Don’t get me wrong we need education on Breast Cancer as well as other cancers however mental health deserves just as much attention as other health issues, such as cancer.

People like myself fight the stigma of mental illness on the daily basis. Discrimination is a major issue for those of who struggle with a mental illness and it is also something our loved ones have to deal with as well. No one and I mean no one deserves to be discriminated against because of an illness they struggle with or loved one struggles with.

Here are some facts I got from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website:

PREVALENCE OF MENTAL ILLNESS

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.7 million, or 18.6%—experiences mental illness in a given year.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—13.6 million, or 4.1%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.2
  • Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder in a given year. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.3
  • 1.1% of adults in the U.S. live with schizophrenia.4
  • 2.6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder.5
  • 6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.6
  • 18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.7
  • Among the 20.7 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 40.7%—8.4 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.8

SOCIAL STATS

  • An estimated 26% of homeless adults staying in shelters live with serious mental illness and an estimated 46% live with severe mental illness and/or substance use disorders.9
  • Approximately 20% of state prisoners and 21% of local jail prisoners have “a recent history” of a mental health condition.10
  • 70% of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition and at least 20% live with a serious mental illness.11
  • Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year. Among adults with a serious mental illness, 62.9% received mental health services in the past year.8
  • Just over half (50.6%) of children aged 8-15 received mental health services in the previous year.12
  • African Americans and Hispanic Americans used mental health services at about one-half the rate of Caucasian Americans in the past year and Asian Americans at about one-third the rate.13
  • Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three-quarters by age 24. Despite effective treatment, there are long delays—sometimes decades—between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help.14

CONSEQUENCES OF LACK OF TREATMENT

  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.15
  • Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.16
  • Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions.17 Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.18
  • Over one-third (37%) of students with a mental health condition age 14­–21 and older who are served by special education drop out—the highest dropout rate of any disability group.19
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.,20 the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10–2421 and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15–24.22
  • More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.23
  • Each day an estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide.

I hope that I will be able to continue to educate people on mental illness for the rest of May and beyond. I hope to share more of my personal story to give hope to those who a struggling with mental illness and show them that recovery is possible. Recovery is not easy but it is possible.

I also hope to discuss current laws in regards to mental health and pending bills that are being discussed in the House as well as the senate. One of which is Murphy’s Bill. All of what I hope to discuss is dependent on how busy life gets. Life being busy is partly why I haven’t  been able to blog the last month and half. I love blogging and sharing my recovery with others as well as educating others. I hope to blog again at some point this weekend with more educational material if not more of my personal recovery story.

Please do not forget to educate people on mental illness and make people aware that May is mental health awareness month. Peace Out!!

Contributor:  Gertie’s Journey

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It’s World Bipolar Day! Check out these Bipolar Disorder FB pages

There are several wonderful pages on Facebook that deal with bipolar disorder. They offer various information on the mental illness, share inspirational quotes, memes, and personal experiences with the owner’s  illness.

Raising awareness of bipolar disorder and eliminating stigma” is important.  That was why World Bipolar Day  was started.  Please help to raise awareness by sharing these bipolar disorder pages with your FB followers and friends.

bipolar bandit facebook pages

A Bipolar Mom and Her Daily Life
Bipolar Annie: A Fabulous Trainwreck
Bipolar Awareness & Support Power Page
Bipolar Bandit
Bipolar Being
Bipolar Blonde Butterfly
Bipolar Borderline
Bipolar Burble
Bipolar Coaster
Bipolar Cowgirl
Bipolar Disorder – New Life Outlook
Bipolar Disorder Support
Bipolar Express
Bipolar Groups United on FB
Bipolar Insights
Bipolar Me
Bipolar Parents Uncensored
Bipolar people are awesome
Bipolar prism – bpd and more
Bipolar R Us
Bipolar Resources and Information Page
Bipolar Roller Coaster: The ups and downs of life with Bipolar
Bipolar Rollers
Bipolar support page
Bipolar Twists
Bipolar UK
Bipolar zone
Bipolar- You’ve got it but I still love you
Bipolar, Schizoaffective and Caregivers Support Group
Bipolarandbeyond
BipolarChick
Bipolarna
Bipolars Supporting Bipolars
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) (national headquarters)
I love someone with bipolar disorder. Why Not?
International Bipolar Foundation
Me, Bipolar & I
Musings of a Bipolar Hot Mess
My bipolar life-speaking out and ending the stigma
My Bipolar Memoirs
Parents of Bipolar Children (& comorbid diagnoses)
Positive Bipolar Bear
The Bipolar Artist
The Bipolar Chronicles
The bipolar mama
Tracey Vinyard BPD/Bipolar
Two Bipolar Chicks
Understanding Bipolar
When Bipolar Meets Art.
World Bipolar Day


Note: If you have a bipolar disorder page and would like for it to be included, send me a message at Bipolar Bandit’s FB page.

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14 Things to remember when you feel hopeless

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Thinking positively sometimes is a hard thing to do, especially when you are depressed.  However, challenging these negative thoughts is important.  How do you do that? How to Challenge Negative Thinking  What can you gain from thinking positively?  Benefits of Positive Thinking

x43 for blogIf you don’t think that something is possible, then chances are it will never happen.  How do you reach for your dreams?  7 Steps to Achieve Your Dream

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If you are in a rut, it is hard to remember that things can get better.   Remember that this won’t last forever.  What can you do if things are not going the way you want them to go?  Things to Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

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Thinking that you are a victim can be an easy thing to do. However, it is important to remember that by doing this, you are going to just make things worse. Remember that you have overcome whatever you faced and you are stronger because of it. How to Break Out of a Victim Mentality

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Allow yourself to be happy. You deserve it! How do you allow yourself to feel joy? Ways to Experience Joy

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There is nothing you can do about the past.  You can only move forward.  Ways to Let Go and Feel Less Pain

x47 for blogHeraclitus, a Greek philosopher,  said,  ” The only thing that is constant is change”  Things are going to change.   Oftentimes, there is nothing we can do about it.  It is important to accept that.  Keys to Accepting What You Can’t Change   Picture credit 

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If you focus on the problem, it is hard to think of solutions.  A lot of times it is your perspective that traps you and prevents you from moving on.  You can accept things and learn from them or you can stay hung up on things and most likely make yourself miserable.  Problem vs. Solution Focused Thinking Picture credit

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You can’t always  change your circumstances. However, you can control how you deal with them.   Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go they merely determine where you start. ~Nido Quebin Ways to Change Your Attitude When You Can’t Change Anything Else

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Thomas Edison said, “I  have not failed. I have just found 10,000 things that do not work.”  There is a lot to be learned from this. It is important to not give up.   Powerful Lessons We Can Learn From Our Mistakes Picture credit

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If you look back a the times when you didn’t get what you wanted, oftentimes, things actually turned out for the best. If you keep thinking things will stay the same and there is no hope, chances are that is exactly what will happen.  Focus on the fact that things will get better.    9 Ways to Feel Better About Yourself When You Feel Like a Worthless Piece of Crap

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You will never get the chance to be in this moment again.  There can be something special about every moment and you should not let the moment pass you by. 10 Tips to Start Living in the Present    Picture credit

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It is important to remember to remember to “not compare yourself to others and only compare yourself to the person you were yesterday.” ~Unknown  Also, Steven Furtick says, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” A Helpful Guide to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

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Franklin D Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.  You can be a better person and accomplish great things  if you challenge yourself and face your fears.  Betty Bender said, ” Anything I’ve done that was ultimately worthwhile initially scared me to death.”  Can you Be Grateful for Fear? Here Are 7 Reasons Why I Am.  Picture credit

Note: The source of the pictures can be found on the picture or included under the picture.

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Guest Post: What it’s like to be Bipolar by Sherry

delsherryPlease don’t ever take your mental health for granted.  You have no idea what it is like to have every thought, behavior, and emotion questioned by those around you.  Sherry sure is laughing a lot — she might be manic.  Sherry seems a little down today — she might be depressed.  Sherry is angry at me — she must be sick again.  I can have NO legitimate feelings, because they are all questioned if they are the least bit different.  If I have an argument with a person, my anger is never viewed as legitimate.  Instead, “she’s getting sick again.”  I have a good productive day — “she’s getting manic.”

How wonderful it must be for “normal” people.  To not be second-guessed at every turn.  Can you imagine what it would be like to never be taken seriously?  Because it might be Sherry’s “illness talking.”  If I have a differing opinion — “Sherry’s not thinking straight.”

This can’t be my life.  What in the heck did I ever do to deserve this?  All I want is to be treated like everyone else.  If you have a problem with me, come to ME.  Don’t pull a family member or friend aside and say, ” I wish she hadn’t done that.”  If you are concerned about me, tell ME.  Yes, I am fragile, but  I DO take into consideration what others think.

How wonderful it must be to have a “legitimate” illness — like diabetes, or heart disease — where others don’t look at you and think, “Sherry just needs to get over it.”  “She could get well if she really wanted to.”  When you have a mental illness, it is viewed not as a medical problem, but as a personality flaw.  A character weakness.

The truth?  I AM more fragile than most people.  I DON’T bounce back from emotional pain as well as other people.  I feel hurt much more deeply than most.  It’s all part of my illness, and it stinks.

This  bipolar disorder has robbed me of friends, relationships, children, a career, and a decent self-image.  I hate myself — why shouldn’t everyone else?  I can’t even remember the last time I felt glad that I was even born.  Every time I get better, I am haunted by the thought of “how long will I be okay this time?”  Three years?  Three months?  Imagine the most horrible time in your life, and knowing that it will happen to you again and again and again.

Imagine being held responsible for things you said and did when you were sick that you had absolutely no control over.  Knowing that even though people say, “I know you didn’t mean it” — that they will ALWAYS remember.  And knowing that every time you get well again, you have to apologize to everyone you harmed while sick — EVEN though you weren’t in control.  It’s not my fault that I’m bipolar, but yet I am blamed for every hurtful thing I said and did when I was sick.

Do I sound bitter?  Absofreakinlutely.  I didn’t ask for this.  I don’t deserve this.  This can’t be what my life was supposed to be like.  But everyone has something, and this just happens to be MY cross to bear.  So I will cry into my pillow, begging God to either take this cross, or take my life.  Either way, it’s a win-win.  I have had wonderful happy times in my life, but the good times were NEVER as good as the bad times were bad.

I don’t want pity.  I want understanding.  I want compassion.  I don’t want my emotions, behaviors, or thoughts questioned every time they are somewhat different from the mainstream.  I have been very angry this week for personal reasons, and I had every right to be angry.  But instead of letting me be pissed off, because I have a RIGHT to my emotions, my anger is viewed as “irrational” or “unwarranted”.  I will ALWAYS have people questioning me.  I will ALWAYS have people that see me as “crazy”.  I will ALWAYS have people talk about me behind my back.  But I sure as hell don’t have to like it.  I want to live as normal a life as possible.  I want the RIGHT to FEEL and THINK and ACT, and be taken seriously.

Now you have a glimpse of what it’s like to be bipolar.  I wouldn’t wish one day of that hell on my worst enemy.

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What can trigger mania?

triggers of maniaBelow are triggers that can cause a manic episode.  It is important to be aware of your triggers.  Knowing what your triggers are could help reduce your chances of getting manic.

Stress                                 Not enough sleep

Alcohol                              Failed Relationships

Drugs                                 Change in Seasons

Pregnancy                         Lack of Schedule

Antidepressants              Deadlines                           Money Troubles             Traveling

Pregnancy                        Loss of a job                        Loss of loved one          Noise

Routine Disruption        Unhealthy diet                   Lack of exercise             Moving

Loss of Job                       Changes in medication    Schedule Change           Caffeine

Menstruation                  Major Events                      Surprises                         Arguing

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Is Tom Sullivan right? Is bipolar disorder a fad? Are there people on disability who shouldn’t be?

deldis3Tom Sullivan, a Fox news contributor, stated that he thinks that bipolar disorder ” is the latest fad” and that “we all have good days and we all have bad and I don’t consider that an illness. And I don’t consider it a disability.” Story

He added that bipolar disorder is “something made up by the mental health business just to be able to give people prescriptions and keep them coming in, and keeping you — paying them money.”

deldis2I agree that many of the people who are on disability shouldn’t be entitled to benefits. I also strongly believe that pharmaceutical companies are preying on people with mental illnesses and many people are over medicated.  Many doctors get kick backs by prescribing their medications.

I actually also believe that bipolar disorder has become somewhat of a fad and that people are being diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a catch all for people who are struggling in any way.  I also think that some celebrities announce they have a mental illness for publicity reasons.

By misdiagnosing people as having bipolar disorder when they are depressed occasionally or might have slight mood swings, hurts the people who truly do have bipolar disorder  and should be getting disability benefits.  It bothers me when someone tells me that they have bipolar disorder when they have never have had a manic episode and/ or been hospitalized. Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness yet so many people who say they have bipolar disorder are not seriously ill.

Although I think Tom Sullivan was wrong in clumping everyone with mental illnesses as scam artists and part of the latest fad, I do understand why he would come to this conclusion.  There are many people out there who are told by their doctors or have diagnosed themselves with bipolar disorder who simply do not have it.  They may struggle with depression or have slight mood swings, but they do not have bipolar disorder.

There are mild forms of bipolar disorder like Cyclothymia  and Bipolar II Disorder.  I don’t think that these should qualify people  to get on disability easily.

People with bipolar disorder do not get hospitalized for mania because they want to.  They don’t deal with the mistreatment of patients at psychiatric facilities to get on a disability.  They do not choose to have a mental illness that is so debilitating.  They don’t take medications that have serious side effects because they want to either.  I doubt anyone with a  serious mental illness would ever wish their illness on anyone.  I would think that most do not want to be on disability either.

Bipolar disorder has become the latest fad in many ways. However, Tom Sullivan needs to learn more about serious mental illnesses along with many people in the media. By doing so, they could help people rather than contributing to the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness. They could educate people where to get help and let them know it is okay to seek help.

To learn more about bipolar disorder go the National Institute of Mental Health

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Tom Sullivan: Does Fox discriminate against people with mental illnesses?

tom sullivanI am starting to wonder if Fox does not like people with mental illnesses. The recent story of  Fox news host, Tom Sullivan, telling a caller that her illness is made up  is not the first time that Fox has added to the stigma of mental illness. It is not the first time they have discriminated against people with mental illness. They allow the people who work there to do and say things against people with mental illnesses with no punishment.

Sullivan said that he thought people with mental illnesses are just saying they have a mental illness for attention. I have to wonder if Fox News is allowing such behavior by their staff for attention to help their ratings.  He also thinks they are lazy and just saying they have a mental illness to get disability.  I think that Fox News is lazy not to research about mental illnesses and does not do anything when people who represent their network say discriminatory things.

Like I said, this is not the first time that Fox has made things harder for people with mental illnesses.

There was the incident with Shepard Smith where he called Robin Williams a coward for committing suicide. My reaction: Robin Williams a Coward? Apology NOT accepted!

Then there was the incident with Bill O’Reilly where he talked about how another violent episode because of mental illness was making America look bad.  My Reaction to Bill O’Reilly’s Opinion Regarding Mental Illness

I have heard people who work for Fox use  words like schizo  instead of crazy.  They have used mental illness as synonymous for crazy too.  (“The real mental illness is coming out of the White House.”)  Using terms like these so loosely are wrong and contributes to the stigma.

When is Fox going to stop adding to the stigma? Do they not know that by not doing anything to punish their staff when they say such things could potentially prevent  people from getting help?  Do they not know that these people who don’t get help because of the stigma could potentially commit suicide or possibly hurt someone else?

They are so quick to mention that someone who has committed a crime has a mental illness. What they don’t say is that less than 1% of those with mental illnesses are violent. They also don’t’ use the opportunity to educate people and let them know where to get help.

I think what Fox has allowed when it comes to mental illness is appalling.  If someone there had said something negative about someone who was black or was a homosexual, would things be different?  Fox News would never be able to get away with calling someone from those groups lazy or downplay  the things they face in any way.

I wonder if there will ever come a time when people from the media who say negative things about people with mental illnesses will  suffer consequences.   1 in 4 people in America have a mental illness. I find it very hard to believe that there isn’t anyone who works for Fox doesn’t know someone with a mental illness.  When will they speak up about what the person they know endures? When will they let the network know the harm they cause for those who struggle with mental illnesses?

The media does not help when it comes to the stigma of mental illness. I would now have to say that Fox is the worst!

Let them know how you feel:

Twitter: @FoxTV @sullivanradio

Facebook: Fox News  and/or Tom Sullivan 

Email: tomsullivanradio@foxnews.com

delstigma

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Guest Post: Interview with Author Michelle May Krack

delmichelleMichelle May Krack is the author of “Michelle May Crack” 

She also has a Facebook page and Twitter account.

1. How long has it been since your diagnosis?
25 years ago, age 31, I was married 12 years and my children at the time were 11, 9, 7, 2.

2. What led you to advocate for mental health?
Because I want to help fight the amount of stigma involved with mental illnesses. My experiences as a mental health patient made me realize there needed to be more support for myself and others with mental illness.

3. How do you advocate for mental health awareness?
I am a peer recovery advocate at the PEACE Zone peer-run recovery center helping others in the community with mental illness. It’s a safe haven to offer support for hope and recovery.

4. What mental health organizations are you involved with that support advocacy?

NAMI, as a presenter for its Family to Family Program, and I was recently awarded the Mental Health America of Indiana 2014 Consumer Advocate Award.

5. Who do you advocate personally in day-to-day life?

I share my story of hope and recovery at local hospitals with the PEACE Zone outreach program. I have written a book, “Michelle May Crack”, a story that shares advocacy along with life struggles with mental illness and offers hope for recovery. 

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Public Hospital in Williamsburg, VA October 1773

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Note: All pictures taken at Public Hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia

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Writings from the Mother of Bipolar Bandit Part 8: A Mental Health Advocate Lives On

mom gazeboIt has been so hard to write this blog as it is just another way that it confirms  my mom, Sue Lande,  is only in my heart and mind from this point forward.  I will no longer be able to email her, call her, or see her when I need encouragement and advice.

My mom, one of the best advocates I know for mental illness died November 16th. It is still hard to say or think. It does not even seem like reality yet.

She  blogged in hopes that other parents could learn from her mistakes and be encouraged when their children are struggling with mental illness.

She was my mental health advocate for over 25 years after I was first diagnosed and also advocated for others afflicted by mental illness who she did not even know. When she saw injustice, she was ready to fight for the rights of those with bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses.

She also helped by giving input to local meetings that dealt with mental health and often voiced her opinions and even got upset enough to try and do something about some things. She encouraged and was proud of me when I wrote letters to the editor regarding mental illness and they got published.

She tried to help my friends and family understand my illness so they could help and accept me.

She helped  me organize an event called Embrace Life Day last year in honor of mental illness awareness week.  It was very successful and it could not have been done without her help.

It is a hard thing to say, but…Mom, I love you and will miss you always!  You are in my heart, but there is such a void that I don’t ever see being filled.

I know that all the work that you have done as a mental health advocate will not be done in vain. You tended to work behind the scenes when it came to helping others. You were humble and wanted no recognition. However, I want you to know that I recognized it and that is what really matters.

So many others have talked about your smile and how you have helped others by writing cards and jumping in when things needed to be done.  These are constant reminders of how great you are and will help to keep your legacy alive.

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