In Tribute … ;

 

 

This is such a difficult post, yet, even if no one ever reads it, here I write, out into the cyber-verse … in tribute… ;

A truly profound and soul-crushing event happened very recently.

In the huge news of the world, it received little mention or notice. Nonetheless, some folks are really struggling with it …

The inspirational founder of Project Semi-colon, Amy Bleuel, a young woman who bravely shared her struggles and encouraged those living with mental illness to continue to choose to keep going…… sadly ended her own battle.

There are many,  living our mental health journey, who have struggled with similar illness and/or thoughts of suicide over the years. Amy was a brave voice of empowerment, saying to us, in essence, “choose to keep going”.

There are many others, who say, how can someone be so selfish as to take their own life?

The truth is, and it’s nearly impossible to understand if life has not beaten you into that place;  that at that moment in time, when you are in that place emotionally and physically,  and you are so beyond pain and exhaustion that your entire being is ready to be done, it is the hardest, most overwhelming, most painful option available; to choose to keep going; to realize there is still a choice to keep going.  To make that choice is to physically and emotionally overtake a somehow primal need to make it all … stop.

Amy encouraged that positive choice; empowered that choice, gave voice in the struggle for that choice, for many, many people. We will forever be thankful for her life.

We are stunned by her loss, pained by her pain, and grieve with those who loved her.

There remains a sense, though, in some of us, as strange as it may seem to give voice to – that we somehow understand.  It is not her “fault” that she could not, this one time, overcome the overwhelming need to leave. No one can know how many times she DID overcome that; how many times she did choose to keep going; or how many others she inspired, and yes, continues to inspire to keep going.

Living with mental illness can be, at times, massively overwhelming. A person’s strength to fight truly seems to leave their being from time to time. The gnawing feeling that the world would be better off without us, gets plowed into by that feeling of ultimate failure, loss, grief (whatever “it” is that spikes this latest battle). It has been the encouragers, the un-intentional leaders, those who survive and find their way along the journey of wellness, who then give that message forward to the rest of us, despite their own ongoing struggles; those are the people who have moved mountains in mental health awareness, education, advocacy and yes, hope.

Amy wanted to be known for having lived. Her ending should not erase her message; her ending, pardon the expression, serves to punctuate her message, though in a way we all wish had not been. We remain emboldened by her bravery in living, and the message she gave to the world during her short life; choose to keep going.

In Support of Peer Support…

An invited article on the meaning of peer support to the peer support professional in mental health and wellness:

While I haven’t yet been “working” in our field, I have been working hard (as a volunteer) since earning New York Certified Peer Specialist (NYCPS) certification in May 2016. My purpose in obtaining certification and my focus since, has been around development of programming in mental health awareness, education and advocacy.

I didn’t know there was such an entity as a peer specialist when I was diagnosed or in the early years of my recovery.  There was a time, I thought I’d never be well enough to be of use to anyone in an actual job again, and before my illness, I had worked since I was 12 years old! I worked long and hard for many years, in many roles. I learned a lot. Then my illness took over and I learned even more.

It was several years in to my recovery journey when I found the NYCPS coursework and application online, I thought, here is a way to somehow contribute in the world again. Since certification, I’ve worked with organizations in the early development stages of peer support programming; I’ve developed an awareness/education/advocacy website in support of those who seek resources and information as a peer or family member. It includes lots of resources, basic support information and blog articles written to encourage peers and families in self-advocacy and wellness. I’ve guest blogged for Academy of Peer Services. I’ve guest-edited a recent online newsletter for international Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS). I’ve also been working on a presentation for Western NY Girl Scouts, to help them earn the Mental Health Awareness patch, available through the International Bipolar Foundation.

I share all of this, not to toot my horn, but to sort of explain that I am not doing peer support work “in the field”, i.e., in someone’s home, or traveling around a specific region for one organization’s peer programming. Not that I don’t want to. But, I do recognize my own level of recovery. I recognize what I am capable of. I recognize what I am not yet capable of. That’s important in peer work. I believe, if we have the passion to use our lemons to batch up some lemonade, then we should do so, even if we don’t yet, or ever, fit everyone’s specific mold. I believe that has to be okay. There’s more than enough work to be done in this effort. We need all of us.

In sharing these thoughts though, I’m making the point of this article. You never know in what way you will be of support to a peer, or a fellow peer supporter. You may not recognize that you are being that voice an individual needs at a certain time. You may find, after talking with a peer, that you are thinking more clearly on a certain topic, or that some small part of a conversation the two of you had, has put a light on a missing piece to resolve your current puzzlement. Each interaction is an opportunity.

As Peer Specialists, we maintain that fine line between peer and support; the clients we serve are not intended as personal relationships, but recovery relationships in support of the clients’ goals. Yet, still in recovery ourselves, we may often find ourselves very much in need of our own outlet to vent to, or pose a hypothetical to, or doubt ourselves in front of, or question the process with, or insert your topic of the moment here: _______________.

You get my point. The value in peer support is not only in what we offer for our clients, but what we informally offer each other. By continued, open discussion, forum dialog, conference attendance for those able to do so; webinar participation, group projects, and so forth. We are all recovering, every day. No matter how much good we want to put out into this world, we are wise to recognize where we are in our own recovery, be understanding of the timing in the recovery journey of others, and be respectful and mutually supportive of everyone’s contribution. The fact that we are able to support one another, while we work to support others toward self-advocacy and recovery, makes us stronger in our work. We inherently find ourselves exemplars of the peer support model, both as supported and supporter; talking the talk while walking the walk.

“Nothing about me, without me!”

I’m still here.

The call to action, “nothing about us, with out us!” was coined decades ago, by a group of mental health consumer/survivors who, through sheer determination, formalized the mental health peer movement and truly enabled the meaningful voice it has today.

No longer is the science behind mental illness denied. No longer are we at the mercy of what experimental treatments might be the latest en vogue. No longer do people deny that mental health and physical health are all part of one person, one wellness.

Well, most people don’t deny it; especially, understanding that 1 in 5 people, across cultures, across regions, across continents – will live with a mental health condition during their lifetime. (Currently, 58 million people in the United States!)

Everyone knows someone affected by mental illness. The peer movement, and now the peer support movement, are here to stay; and still here, to say that there is recovery, there is help, there is hope. We are better selves when we help ourselves, and when we help each other.

Also true, however, as with any journey, that any recovery can experience setbacks; no different than recovery from any physical ailment might. Its true for everyone. It’s also often the case that physical ailment can contribute to fluctuations in emotional wellbeing. Or perhaps, some sort of unexpected life detour puts up a roadblock. Let’s be honest. Any number of things can result in an emotional setback, whether you live with a mental health condition or not. Enough to sort of end up feeling in limbo, almost unable to take a next step, even if we know what the step needs to be.

Having experienced a similar crisis of confidence very recently myself; doubting my ability, doubting what help I’m actually being; I found it was the informal support of another peer supporter, that helped me recognize, out loud, what was behind my feeling of, well, “stuck”. More importantly, it brought me to realize that I am still contributing to the greater good, even during setbacks, because that’s what my goal is. That’s who I really am and what I feel called to do. It’s taken me decades to get to know me. I’m not going to lose sight of myself again, even though setbacks will come.  The journey is here for everybody. I’m no less a part of it by my condition, by my setbacks, or by my sometimes less than stellar confidence level. I am still here. I am on my journey, with all of its ebbs and flows and failures and successes, just like everyone else.

I will continue to make my voice heard, to promote mental health awareness, education and advocacy. I will stand up. Life isn’t about me, but I won’t have it happening without me, either. Because I’m still here.

Fog-clearing attempt…

imageAs we advocate for such a diverse population here at WisdomWithin, we endeavor to remain apolitical.

That clear:

During recent peer discussion about fears and concerns raised by reported pronouncements and legislative upheavals here in America, questions arose that we are not qualified to answer.

So, legal friends, for the benefit of those of us who are willing to ask questions but are not necessarily sure where to go after a certain point, I offer the following query, as I have emailed to my elected officials (with resources):

Are we to understand from the following, that everything the new president has signed thus far, are executive actions, not executive orders? Therefore, basically, wishful thinking?

All help appreciated.

Resources:
PBS.org (Listing all to date)

AND:

uspolitics.about.com:

Executive Actions Versus Executive Orders

Executive actions are any informal proposals or moves by the president. The term executive action itself is vague and can be used to describe almost anything the president calls on Congress or his administration to do. But many executive actions carry no legal weight. Those that do actually set policy can be invalidated by the courts or undone by legislation passed by Congress.

The terms executive action and executive order are not interchangeable. Executive orders are legally binding and published in the Federal Register, though they also can be reversed by the courts and Congress.
When Executive Actions Are Used Instead of Executive Orders

Presidents favor the use of nonbinding executive actions when the issue is controversial or sensitive. For example, Obama carefully weighed his use of executive actions on gun violence and decided against issuing legal mandates via executive orders, which would have gone against the legislative intent of Congress and risked enraging lawmakers of both parties.
Executive Actions Versus Executive Memoranda

Executive actions are also different from executive memoranda. Executive memoranda are similar to executive orders in that they carry legal weight allowing the president to direct government officials and agencies. But executive memoranda are typically not published in the Federal Register unless the president determines the rules have “general applicability and legal effect.”
Use of Executive Actions by Other Presidents

Obama was the first modern president to use executive actions in lieu of executive orders or executive memoranda.
Criticism of Executive Actions

Critics described Obama’s use of executive actions as an overreach of his presidential powers and an unconstitutional attempt to bypass the legislative branch of government, even though the most substantial of the executive actions carried no legal weight.

Some conservatives described Obama as a “dictator” or “tyrant” and said he was acting “imperial.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida who is considered a potential presidential candidate in the 2016 election, said Obama was “abusing his power by imposing his policies via executive fiat instead of allowing them to be debated in Congress.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called Obama’s use of executive actions as an “executive power grab.” Said Priebus: “He paid lip service to our fundamental constitutional rights, but took actions that disregard the 2nd Amendment and the legislative process. Representative government is meant to give voice to the people; President Obama’s unilateral executive action ignores this principle.”

But even the Obama White House acknowledged that most of the executive actions carried no legal weight. Here’s what the administration said at the time the 23 executive actions were proposed: “While President Obama will sign 23 Executive Actions today that will help keep our kids safe, he was clear that he cannot and should not act alone: The most important changes depend on Congressional action.” (Uspolitics.about.com)

Rumblings for thought…

imageWith the caveat that WisomWithin appreciates and respects everyone’s political views, rights AND responsibilities, this post is not about liberal or conservative, or anything in between.

But, here I am to say, that there it was recently. Someone spoke it aloud in public. You may very likely have heard rumblings; the assertion that the new president is mentally ill. The most vocal was Dan Rather, I’ll come back to that.

As someone who, by sheer nature of my work, ethically obligates to share my own journey of wellness and recovery in living with mental health diagnoses, I can certainly empathize with, and understand,  the … disquiet … such suggestion might raise in … well … anyone.

I am not a doctor. I walk my walk, and talk with folks who are living with mental health conditions, those who think they may have such a condition, and anyone who cares about these fine folks. And pretty much, everybody knows somebody, so I talk with everybody.

Ok, that said, and back to anyone proposing that someone else is mentally ill.

Lets just consider the idea for a moment, that this person, specifically, is not a president. Let’s say, this is a fellow human, who may or may not be living with a mental health condition. Our our goal here is simply to provide information to help folks living with such possibilities.

What are the signs or symptoms, or the behaviors involved? What behavior has been visible?

  • Insecurity possibly? As an analogy, I short-version this individual to the man hiding behind the curtain in the Wizard if Oz, projecting the huge head on the screen, bellowing insistence that the audience believe everything he says, despite obvious evidence to the contrary. Even when the curtain reveals him.
  • Obsessive tendencies? Outwardly, significant focus on … size … of … things (trying  to keep a sense of humor where possible here). Seriously though, his intense focus on his numbers, his rationalizations for his numbers, his readiness to investigate his rationalizations for numbers… and so on.
  • Obvious compulsions? How do I say this? Tweeting. To the point of international diplomacy (or lack thereof) in the Twitterverse. Name the social media venue of individual addictive behavior.
  • Self-obsessed? “My crowd, my businesses, my TV show, my way…”. Everything about him is better than anything, ever. Needing to be the center of focus at all times. Needing to have the last word.
  • Lying, a LOT? Truly, to the point of believing everything he says and getting angry and spiteful with anyone who calls him on it?
  • Lack of empathy or conscience? No obvious remorse for anything he says or does that might be horribly painful or insulting or judgmental or publicly vilifying about, to … well … any one person … or any entire group of people?

I don’t know this human personally. I have, however, lived with humans exactly like him. They were diagnosed with severe mental health conditions. I have loved them and advocated for them and fought for them for many years. The nature of such illness is treatable, but, only when the person recognizes and takes responsibility for their condition.

My own diagnoses were nothing like what’s described. Nonetheless, I live with major depression, PTSD and anxiety disorder. What is the same, however, is the necessity to recognize and take responsibility for my condition. Every day.

I will leave you with this thought for the moment:

The intense nature of my job at the time of my diagnoses, and the combined severity of my symptoms, required that my doctor take me out of work immediately. I was not fit to serve in the office I’d been hired to.

It was devastating, and frightening and humiliating and awful and absolutely necessary. For my own recovery, and for everyone I worked with and worked for.

 

 

 

 

On perceived threat…

imageIt’s gotten to be a scary world out there. Hard enough without group violence, or group hatespeech in the streets and twitter-verse of America. We are one nation!

I, myself … I don’t get using violence, or hatespeech, to protest or stand up for anything.

But, I get the reason for peaceful protest and the marches today. There are things and people that need standing up for.

My friends that are married, want to stay married. We all deserve protection of our rights. If we cannot keep our children safe in a certain school, we find one that can, or find ways to promote change, or homeschool, etc.; yet, I believe in our teachers. My last two contacts to the police (in 7yrs), were personally more harmful than helpful, I feel, not handled professionally, yet I believe in our police and first responders. It’s not an easy world to navigate for some of us. But we keep going.

People say, believing this “will all be ok”, might apply only to the privileged. Those not affected by the potential for damage ahead.

On the other hand, I am privileged. I am privileged that I have love and good humans in my life. I am privileged to own my home – that I worked my ass off for. I am privileged to be a voting, tax paying, noncriminal, nongunowning (but I can shoot), white female, partially college-educated, worked since I was twelve to support my family, great-granddaughter of immigrants, mother of grown sons, who has lived with a partially disabling condition for the last several years. I am privileged to have worked hard in my lifetime and paid into disability, so that I receive a small monthly allowance.

Make no mistake, I seek no sympathy/charity, rather, simply state as fact, that I am not able to afford all my medication, and co pays, and therapies my husband’s insurer deems not covered – because an insurance company knows better than all of my doctors combined; yet we still pay $500/mo in premiums, so I can keep my doctors. He works a blue collar job, coming up on thirty years. First time he ever voted, was for Obama. I’ve voted all my life.

My point: I still encourage folks, “it will be ok”. No matter which side of the election you were on.

Those who are happy with the new administration, deserve respect, yet need to have as much patience as they’d ask from the rest of us; we are all responsible for “it” to be ok.

Those who feel marginalized, or threatened, it will be ok by getting involved, encouraging folks to get involved, learn the facts – from legitimate sources, and be the constant voice of the constituency, by calling and writing /emailing your elected officials, on the regular. With today’s technology, it is faster and easier than ever. And they listen.

Complacency should never be the norm again. That is partially how we had the election we did. Not just the outcome, but the whole big picture.

Complacency is over. That is what I believe these marches put forth anew today. Mr. Trump is president. That’s what is. Rest assured, the protests are not to change that, but to change and ensure the future. We are still one nation. Our collective voices in our elected officials lives are what will make U.S. stronger, safer, better; I hope. So that “it will be ok”.

I really get everyone’s side. Except the side with the violence and hate speech, which supports no one and nothing. {{{hugs}}}

It’s going to be okay…

imageInauguration Day. No matter which side you were on during this election, I hope we are able to be compassionate. We never know the road another human has walked, or what might trigger emotional response in people.

Today is going to be extremely difficult for some folks. Not necessarily for political views – but for highly personal, emotional reasons.

There were moments during the year,  when tone of voice, condescension, belittling, verbal abuse, narcissism, prejudice, etc., triggered emotions in fellow citizens victimized by such things in the past or present.  I’m one of you.

Those not living with certain mental health conditions mIght have a hard time understanding such deep reaction to election rhetoric. If, however, you have lived with such abuses and triggers, you may not be at all able to help having those rising feelings of fear, panic, and isolation. Worse still, reactions can become physical; shaking, rapid respiration, anxiety, panic, chest pain, nausea, headache… if you’ve lived it, you know what I’m talking about.

But, it’s going to be ok.

We know we have choices in life. Life is good, and it goes on.

We can leave the news off. We know how to check up on the world from reliable sources. We can then focus on what’s meaningful for us. Whether it’s advocacy, community service, more regular involvement in contacting elected officials throughout the year, not just during election season. Or realizing perhaps, we may not be at that point, but that we can still take care of ourselves, be kind to ourselves; utilize those items in our wellness toolkits; utilize our supports. Care for one another, and be understanding of those who view things differently.

I have reached a point of peace with it. This is how our system works. It may not be perfect, but we are a free people. If we want candidates we feel better about in the future, we can ensure the voice of the constituency speaks well and often in the interim.

For now, be well; breathe in, breathe out, repeat. Everything’s going to be okay.

Call In Day, Tues., 1/17

Call-in Day, 1/17! Protect mental health care!

Click here for more info: It’s Your Call!
Include your voice into the conversation to protect mental health. Call Congress Tuesday. Make your voice heard.

Call your members of Congress, and ask them to protect Medicaid and insurance safeguards that help millions of Americans get mental health care.

Call (202) 224-3121, Press #2 And Enter Your Zip Code.

Not sure how to word it? Basics, Sample, Simple & to the point:

“As a constituent, I would like the Representative to protect people with mental illness who can’t afford to lose health coverage. Please preserve Medicaid and insurance safeguards that help people get mental health care. Thank you.”

Want to do more? Call your Senators with the same message.

Call (202) 224-3121, Press #1 And Enter Your Zip Code.

Mental Health Care for All? It’s Your Call
NAMI.ORG