Why is it that Olympians are so often asked about their physical health but rarely about their mental health? Many of them have admitted to various health issues theyâve overcome, but so few have opened up about living with a mental health condition. This is somewhat surprising due to the immense mental component of being an Olympic athlete. Many Olympians have commented that the mental aspect of the game far exceeds the physical. Therefore, coping with the symptoms of a mental health condition could potentially make competing more of a challengeâquite similar to how a physical injury would make competing more challenging. But even if it is more challenging, living with a mental health condition wouldnât prohibit someone from being able to compete or win.
Olympians who have told the world that they live with a mental health condition almost always do so after their career as an Olympian has ended. Of course, there are exceptions, such as gold-medalist swimmer Allison Schmitt who is currently competing in her third Olympics. Schmitt has bravely shared her personal story of living with depression. She had been struggling in silence for years, but after her cousin took her own life, Schmitt felt compelled to talk openly about her depression.
Statistically speaking, Schmitt is not the lone Olympian in this yearâs Rio games living with a mental health condition. There are 554 athletes competing in the 2016 Olympics on the USA team. Since 1 in 5 adults live with a mental health condition, approximately 110 of these athletes live with a mental health condition. Yet, only a handful have spoken out.
So why donât Olympians talk freely about mental illness, if they have it? Probably stigma. Athletes want to be viewed as strong and empowered, and rightly so. They donât want the public shaming them for any type of issue or condition, but especially one that is so heavily stigmatized in our society.
But the simple truth is: Being able to manage symptoms well enough to handle the highest pressure competition in the world, proves the fact that living with mental illness doesnât mean youâre weak. And that some of the strongest, most motivated individuals in the world have these struggles as well.
We need to encourage athletes to open up about their mental health. It could alter societyâs perception of what someone living with a mental health condition is capable of achieving. We need to break the stigma that is keeping these world class athletes silent. To join NAMIâs movement in ending the stigma on mental illness, go to www.nami.org/stigmafree and take the pledge to be stigmafree.
I believe laughter has a unique power to connect people, reveal truth and change perceptions of the world. It is perhaps the quickest way to open people up to learning and feeling deeply. However, I wasnât fully aware of the power of laughter until I started acting, and my acting journey was deeply affected by my relationship with Lee Eshleman, the funniest person Iâd ever met. Lee was my best friend and creative partner who struggled with bipolar disorder and depression. After he and another member of my congregation died from suicide, I became heavily involved in mental health advocacy. Many members did not know of their struggles with depression, but for me, it was the very personal loss of Lee that compelled me to speak out. And thus storytelling and humor became my avenue of healingâmy way to create an identity and find my place in the world. I love to make people laugh, but I especially love when they can learn at the same time. Learning, therefore, has always been an element of my comedy writing and acting, and a huge factor in creating a unique niche in faith-related theater. I have eight shows in rotation, which are mainly based on Biblical stories. I try to find the humor in each story and then allow the story to unfold and display its deeper meaning.
I used this model in a play I was asked to create revolving my experiences with suicide. The play, Laughter is Sacred Space, is a walk-through of my discovery of theater as a calling and my life with Lee. I illustrate through performance and multi-media the playwriting and comedy work we did together. I recount the events around Lee’s suicide and my spiraling depression as a survivor. The play is a tribute to my best friend and our work together, as well as an illustration of the power of community and art to heal one’s pain. After the show, I provide time and space for a talkback, asking questions and allowing others to share their experiences. The responses to Laughter is Sacred Space have been amazing. The play helps open dialogue about mental health issues. Laughter and vulnerability are valuable methods to open people up to new or difficult conversations. Many have used the show as a kickoff or a capstone to a series on mental health within a congregation.
On my upcoming tour, Iâm bringing a professional photographer to offer a portrait session for those who live with mental illness and their caregivers. The photographs and stories will be prepared for a website or book. My hope is that the faces and personal stories will open hearts and minds and change the narrative about mental illness.
Currently, weâre booking for two tours,one in September for Suicide Prevention Awareness month and one in May 2017 for Mental Health Awareness month. We look forward to working with many NAMI affiliates to create many sacred spaces in order to help raise awareness and funds for NAMI support, advocacy and education.
#mentalillness #mentalhealth #NAMI
According to Fast Minds: How to Thrive if You Have ADHD, adults can take the following steps to help manage symptoms:
1. Take medication. Medication can be important and helpful for someone with ADHD, but shouldnât stand alone in a treatment pain. Understanding the risks, uses and benefits of all medications for ADHD is essential.
2. Getting organized. Being organized can help someone with ADHD maintain a healthy routine and lifestyle. An organizational or life coach may be key in achieving this.
3. Learning to make decisions thoughtfully rather than impulsively. Before making an important decision, think through the positive and negative consequences of the choice. A therapist or support relationship can help to improve decision-making.
4. Finding emotional support. Many people living with ADHD have faced negative messages when their symptoms caused their actions to fall short of other peopleâs expectations. Emotional support is important step in counteracting harmful experiences.
5. Maintaining a wellness routine. Such routines include a healthy diet, regular exercise and plenty of sleep.
6. Have a solid calendar and reminder system. This can be essential when dealing with attention issues so as to not forget important occasions or deadlines.
Research has also pointed to Metacognitive therapy as a potential solution for people living with ADHD. Such therapy may help people to change how they think and understand their thinking style. A major part of this therapy is discussing how symptoms are caused and maintained and finding strategies for managing those symptoms.
According this study (http://www.ncbi.nim.nihgov/pubmed/20231319) that aimed to measure the success of metacognitive therapy, 42% of participants improved on organization and ability to complete tasks, compared to only 12% who completed supportive therapy.
It is estimated that only 10% of adults (http:/www.tarnowcenter.com/newsletter/256-the-side-effect-of-not-treating-adult-adhd-is-the-most-serious-effect-of-all-.html) who meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD are actually diagnosed. This mental health condition needs to viewed as a lifelong disorder and not something exclusive to youth and young adults alone.
Source: âNot Just a Childhood Disorder: How ADHD Affects Adultsâ by Laura Greenstein, 6/27/16
When you hear of people living with ADHA, is your first thought of a child struggling to sit still in a classroom? Probable. But while hyperactivity usually diminishes, inattentiveness and impulsiveness will likely persist into adulthood. Itâs a common misconception that ADHD is only a childhood condition and does not affect individuals after adolescence.
In fact, adults are sometimes misdiagnosed or undiagnosed because physicians are not properly trained to identify the disorder in adults, according to Medical Daily (hhtp://www.medicaidaily.com/treating-mothers-could-help-kids-who-have-adhd-researches-suggest-243173): âAbout 25% of the time, when a child has ADHD, thereâs a parent that has ADHD. We realized this is a weakness in our service delivery models, because often clinicians focus on just treating the child and ignore the fact that another family member has ADHD,â said Mark Stein, a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of Chicago-Illinois.
Studies suggest that about 4% of adults are significantly affected by the symptoms of ADHD, according to Karen Weintraub, co-author of Fast Minds: How to thrive if You Have ADHD. These individuals may have difficulty controlling what they pay attention to. For them to focus on anything uninteresting may take large amount of effort. Poor attention can also lead to reduced memory encoding and memory problems. Adult with ADHD may also have trouble staying organized and may make impulsive decisions.
According to Weitraub, research suggests that people living with ADHD are more likely to have sleep problems, to eat impulsively and to exercise routinely.
Having ADHD can lead to other issues, according to a 33 yea-year follow-up study conducted on ADHD (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10944664). The study was led by Rachel Klein, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. The abstract of the study states that, while the research doesnât tell the whole story, participants living with ADHD tended to complete less schooling, hold lower-ranking occupations and have poorer self-esteem and social skills.
It also important to recognize that many people function at a high level with ADHD. These individuals often master coping strategies and maximize their capacity. ADHD does confer risks as noted in these studies and developing coping tools and undergoing treatment is shown minimize these potential risks.
Source: Not Just a Childhood Disorder: How ADHD Affects Adults by Laura Greenstein, 7/26/16.
My lifelong dream was to be a cop, and I started on the job at age 21. Iâve been in law enforcement for 30 years and a supervisor for 17.
About eight years ago, I was going through tough times at work. I wasnât getting along with my immediate supervisor. We were both alpha males, but we had different styles of working and supervision. He was hard-headed and strict, and I tried to be approachable to my team. I felt he was disrespectful. We became argumentative, insulting each other. He told me I wasnât aggressive enough, that I had to be harder on my team. He gave me an evaluation of âbelow standards.â I felt worthless, like maybe he was right, maybe this job wasnât for me anymore. I felt like I couldnât do anything right.
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There are so many times in the last five years when Iâve felt like Sisyphus in the ancient myth, condemned to roll a giant boulder uphill over and over again. Anyone who has a loved one with mental illness knows how it feels. Our son goes on and off his medications and in and out of mania, psychosis and psychiatric hospitals and treatment centers. Every time we think weâve finally reached the summit, the boulder comes rolling back down the hill to crush us. We want so much to believe that if we just keep pushing that boulder up the hillâif we hire the best doctors, chase down the latest drugs and enroll in the right programsâeventually we will reach some glorious summit and all our hard work will be worth it. But what I am realizing after five years of trying to push this boulder uphill is that helping my son and healing our family doesnât have to become some endless Sisyphean task. It doesnât have to become a seemingly futile effort to reach the summit. Instead of fighting my son, the health care system and the disease itself, I can be like this clever tree. That tiny seed didnât try to push the boulder uphill. It simply settled on a small patch of dirt on top of the boulder and rooted itself. Slowly, day by day, its roots crept over and around the boulder in a gentle embrace until the boulder became the foundation upon which a mighty tree could grow. Some days it is enough to share a cup of coffee and a short conversation with my son. To simply be together as best we can. To find some moment of light and joy. To have just one good day. Maybe itâs taking him to the grocery store and rocking out to a song on the radio, going to a movie together or getting a short text message at the end of the day saying, âI love you, Mom.â Every moment, every glimpse of grace roots us here together. We may never get to the summit, but we can grow into a rich and beautiful family tree. We can embrace the boulder and make it part of our strength instead of something that crushes us. This is the gift of NAMI. To take an often difficult and painful struggle with mental illness and transform it into something beautiful. NAMI helps us to find hope, to see the beauty in our loved ones and to find meaning in this journey. Without NAMI, dealing with mental illness truly would become an endless and futile task. Please join us in donating to NAMI today and help keep this burden from crushing the 1 in 5 Americans and their families who live with mental illness. Marcella Allison is a writer and NAMI Family-to-Family participant in Cincinnati, Ohio. She finds strength and hope in writing about her familyâs journey with mental illness and addiction.
#NAMI #mentalillness #addiction #family
Spring is in full bloom, along with flowers and allergies and seeing again the Lordâs handy work with the beautiful display of spring colors. âThe heavens are telling of the Glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the works of His hands.â Psalm 19:1.
*We want to introduce Compassion Ministries new Board member â Steve Dow. Stephen W. Dow is the newest addition to Compassion Ministries Board of Directors and recently selected to be its new Board Chair. Steve (as he prefers to be called), recently celebrated the completion of his 14th year as pastor of the First Church of God in Albany, Oregon. He was ordained by the Churches of God in October 1981 while he was a youth pastor at the same congregation he now serves. Steve has a degree from Warner Pacific College in Portland, Oregon in pastoral ministries and it was while attending college there that he met Kathy Cleveland. They have been married for over 36 years and they have two grown children, Brittany and Jordan, and 4 grandchildren. Over the course of their ministry, Steve and Kathy have ministered in Surrey, British Columbia, Morden, Manitoba, Canada, Rainier, Oregon and their present pastorate in Albany. He also currently directs the Middle School Camp sponsored by the Churches of God in Oregon. Steve enjoys fly fishing, hunting, golf, yard work and gardening, meeting new people, and good food and coffee (He’s a big fan of Starbucks). He is an only child and admits he doesn’t quite understand sibling rivalry. However, he does have an affinity with individuals and families who struggle with emotional and mental illnesses and how to navigate those challenging relationships. He is excited about working with Compassion Ministries.
*Compassion Ministries 12th Annual Auction â October 1, 2016 with a
great dinner and over-the-top desserts again from Krista Ferguson. Again this year, Willamette Valley Christian Supply will be the co-sponsors. For our entertainment and education, we have a Comedy Troupe from Portland, OR back by popular demand, composed of adult consumers, sharing about their lives in their own special style. We have some new and exciting items in the Auction, along with some âhigh-rollingâ items from previous years, a couple of weekend beach vacations and Âź side of beef to name a few. Our evening will be starting out with Hors dâoeuvres and a silent auction at 5, followed by dinner, entertainment, and the oral auction. Nervous Breakdown will return as our music entertainment. We hope to see you at the 12th Compassion Ministries Auction. The evening will truly be a Harvest of Hope! If you have any items to donate for the Auction, please contact email@example.com, you will receive a TaxReceipt.
*Compassion Ministries is partnering with Marriage Works and Family Matters to present a workshop for families who have loved ones with a mental illness. No charge for this workshop.
Psychosis is a general term used to describe a mental health problem in which a person has lost some contact with reality, resulting in severe disturbances in thinking, emotion and behavior. Psychosis can severely disrupt a personâs relationships, work and usual activities. Self-care can be difficult to initiate or maintain.
There are numerous disorders in which a person can experience a psychosis, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychotic depression, schizoaffective disorder, drug-induced psychosis, and delirium.
For more information, please contact Linn County Alcohol and Drug or ask them about Mental Health First Aid Training by calling (541) 967-3810 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Andre Agassi holds many records as a tennis player. Yet he fought many fears, demons and misconceptions of himself. He was disabled in his mind as people with a mental illness are! It wasnât until his twilight years in his sport that Andre began to enjoy tennis. He didnât have the youth or raw talent he once had to coast to a win. Now, Agassi had to depend on his tenacious service return and court savvy to take his matches. Yet these latter years were his best when people shook their heads in amazement over his supposed disability of age.
Agassi didnât allow his age to define him as too old to play the game, but used his experience to overcome the impossible. You see his real barriers had been his fears, demons and accepting the real Andre Agassi. Today, he is not allowing a pity party to set in because he is no longer playing tennis, but is helping underprivileged kids to have an education and to discover they can do the possible, which in their minds was impossible.
Our son at an early age felt God had abandoned him because He had not answered his prayer to heal him of a mental illness called bipolar or manic depression. Years later through Godâs grace he realized particularly why he had not been healed. Our son realized that God wanted him to use his disability to encourage others with similar disability that the Lord could help them to have victory through their illness. Our son could do the possible through what he saw as impossible and bleak. He could see the sunlight and hope.
Source: âMental Illness Doesnât Define Peopleâ by Mike Rinkin, May 9, 2016
Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder may cause some people to feel worthless, hopeless and on edge. One way to deal with these feelings is to practice self-care through art, physical activity or relaxation. Self-care can play a large role in motoring mood changes and symptoms and progressing on the journey of recovery.
Art can help people to look back and see how they were feeling, understand what triggered these feelings and determined ways to better monitor these episodes. For instance, with the use of art someone can see that spending time with a certain individual may have spurred a manic episode. This exercise can be done through art journaling, which is documenting the feelings and events that accompany the piece of art.
Noah Hass-Cohan and Richard Carr hypothesize in Art Therapy and Clinical Neuroscience that the repeated methods of making art and communicating with others through art could have positive effects similar to cognitive behavioral therapy in changing brain functions. With this knowledge, individuals may be able to change their behavior leading up to these episodes. They may avoid certain people, activities and places that place them in a negative situation.
An important aspect of monitoring bipolar disorder, as pointed out by Caroline McNamee in Bilateral Art: A Creative Response to Advances in Neuroscience, is achieving stable mental states, which art can facilitate. Through artistic expression, one only achieves a therapeutic release but also an understanding of their mental state, particularly related to an episode of mania or depression, and is better able to monitor and manage behaviors.
Exerpts of the article âHow Art Can Help Monitor Bipolar Symptomsâ by Taylor Bourassa, April 19, 2016 from nami.org
âA Motherâs Climb Out of the Darknessâ by Jennifer Hentz Moyer. She tells of her story of her journey with postpartum psychosis. Following the birth of her son, she struggles with her symptoms of insomnia, irrational fears, distrust and delusion.
âThe Invisible Front: Love and Loss in an Era of Endless Warâ by Youhi Arazen. When Major General Mark Grahamâs two son both die within months of each other he and his wife Carol are quickly introduced into the complexity and stigma of mental illness in the military. Together they commit their lifeâs work to transforming the current standards of the military on mental illness.
âSometimes My Mommy Get Angryâ by Bebe Moore Campbell. With her grandmotherâs help, Annie learns to navigate the challenges of having a parent with mental health condition discover her own resilience.
On April 7, the Medicare Payment Advisory Council (MedPAC) will vote on a proposed change to Medicare Part D that could substantially impact low-income people with mental illnesses. MedPAC is an independent Congressional agency that advises Congress on requirements for brand medications. Many people with mental illness, particularly those with other chronic health conditions, need access to brand name medications to control symptoms, minimize side-effects and prevent drug interactions.
In addition, MedPACâs proposal would eliminate âprotected status:â for antidepressants, removing the requirement for Medicare plans to cover almost all drugs in this class. This would limit access to these medications. This plan targets only low-income beneficiaries who live at or below 135% of the federal poverty level, which is around $16,000 per year for a single adult. This proposal sets a dangerous example by targeting low-income individuals to achieve cost savings.
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) has written a letter dated March 24, 2016 found on their webpage NAMI.org to MedPAC expressing their concerns and listing organizations with similar concerns. You may want to check this out.
Source: NAMI article on their webpage NAMI.org entitled âPreserving Choice of Medications in Medicareâ