About….

 

Greetings from WisdomWithin!

Who the heck do I think I am, starting a little blog with such a potentially pretentious plaquard as “WisdomWithin”?

It’s been a long road, culminating this past year.

 

In 2016, I became a New York Certified Peer Specialist in Mental Health, with a goal toward encouraging mental health awareness, promoting self-advocacy and wellness; even more idealistically, reducing stigma and improving quality of life for our demographic.

Understand, that 20- 25% of the population will live with a mental health condition during their life time. That’s 1 in 4-5 people. Everyone knows someone living with a mental health condition. We are actually a very large group. Most of us are completely harmless, and … surprise… we are very much able to recover!

That NYCPS certification, is a fancy way to say I have lived mental health experience, lived mental health SYSTEM experience, follow a strict code of ethics, am willing to disclose and share my journey in an effort to be of help to others like me, and those who know and love us. This certification requires a level of ongoing education and work in the field, either directly with peers, or in contribution to the overall mental health awareness, advocacy and wellness community.

My work to date in this field has been voluntary, and in attempting to help organizations develop mental health awareness and peer support programs. “There come a time”, though, dear readers, when DOING it, has to take place of just talking about it. Hence, WisdomWithin. Self-taught techie, unfunded, but dedicated, studied and on a mission. Your interest, commentary and support are invited. This is intended as a safe space & a judgement free zone.

Welcome to Wisdom Within!

Too cool…

I’m sorry, Mr. President, I just emailed you earlier this afternoon to thank you and your family for your service, and for your support of the 21st Century Cares Act, bringing some real beginning steps to Mental Health Reform. (Not including that entire letter again here, lol.)

I cannot imagine you just sitting there, you know, chillin’, maybe catchin’ some games, kickin’ back with Uncle Joe… and all of a sudden, oh, another email from Kathy. What’s up girl?   Then, just tapping a quick message back…

Be that the case…. or not … I am honored, Sir, from the bottom of my heart.

Sincerely,
Kathleen Surline, NYCPS
Founder, WisdomWithin: Encouraging Mental Health Awareness, Wellness, Self-Advocacy and HOPE

Continue reading

A salute & a thank you…

Recieved via email 7.16.2016, in response to an online letter I had written to the President and First Lady, advocating for Mental Health Awareness, reform, education, reducing stigma, and more. I was beyond honored to receive a reply, and have written them again today, thanking him for his support of the 21st Century Cares Act, which does make some steps toward the diversity of work that needs to be done in mental health. I also wrote about this project. We’ve just started, and they are just changing chapters. With no political voice intended, and sincerely just as a fellow human and fellow citizen, In tribute to every positive thing accomplished and achieved during the work of the First Family these last eight years, I just share this, with respect…


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The White House, Washington
Dear Kathleen:

Thank you for sharing your story. I have heard from many Americans whose lives have been affected by mental health problems, and I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts.

As you may be aware, in any given year one in five adults experiences a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or post-traumatic stress, and many others are troubled by significant emotional and psychological distress—especially in times of hardship or difficulty. They are our family members, friends, and neighbors, and I believe there are things we must all do to help. As a Nation, we can strive to eliminate the barriers that still keep people from accessing life-changing treatments. We can also make sure every person struggling with psychological and emotional pain knows that asking for help is not a sign of weakness—taking action is a sign of strength.

My Administration has worked hard to help increase mental health services and improve access to care. We are working with community health centers to expand the availability of behavioral and mental health services across the country, including in rural areas. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, over 60 million Americans now have expanded mental health and substance use disorder benefits and parity protections. This law also prohibits insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions like a diagnosis of mental illness, and it requires most insurance plans to cover recommended preventive services without copays. Additionally, as part of the BRAIN initiative, we are supporting innovative research that aims to revolutionize our understanding of how the brain works and uncover new ways to address conditions like depression.

We continue to support our troops and veterans. I signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act on February 12, 2015, which authorized additional steps to address mental health and prevent suicide. The year before, I announced 19 Executive actions that make it easier for members of our Armed Forces and veterans to access the care they need, when they need it—including a new policy that will ensure the continuity of medication for mental health problems as service members transition to care at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA has also worked to increase mental health staffing, enhance community partnerships, and expand the capacity of the Veterans Crisis Line.

To learn more about mental health assistance and health care reform, please visit http://www.MentalHealth.gov or http://www.HealthCare.gov. Calling 1-800-662-HELP is also a free, confidential way to receive a treatment referral or further information.

Again, thank you for writing. Michelle and I—like so many Americans—have known people who have experienced mental health problems, and we understand the effects these illnesses have on their lives and on their families. We must continue to work toward better prevention and treatment, and as caring individuals, we must do what we can to ensure those with mental health issues get the care and support they need and deserve.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama
Visit WhiteHouse.gov

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First rule in a crisis situation…

First rule in a crisis situation?  Don’t panic.

I know; easier said than done. Nonetheless, its one of life’s simple truths.

Life, life, life, life, BOOM! Crisis….

Crisis + Panic = Possibly bigger crisis.

Example: You’ve been through some stuff and not well, and have tests and have met with specialists, and BOOM! Your illness, be it physical or mental, is causing your doctor to pull you out of work.

Crisis.  Personally, financially; the mind boggles.

Alright, let’s say we go with panic as our first response… hmmmmm… thinking….

Nope, can’t come up with a single positive outcome that will bring.

Not judging. I mean, I myself have gone with the panic response in a number of crisis situations. It’s a valid, and historically oft utilized option.I just haven’t found it productive in dealing with any particular crisis.

On the other hand, and maybe its just because I’m old now – do something the wrong way enough times, you eventually figure out you’re doing it wrong. The first thing, don’t panic, may involve counting to ten, some deep breathing, possible sitting down with a glass of water; just to regroup. But, I’ve taken a sort of new tack on the whole crisis response scenario. More like when my sons were young. There might be sounds of hollering and bumping around, echoing down the stairwell, then one of them screaming, “MOM!!!” Now of course, very early on, I was running to save them every dang time. I found this not only exhausting, but ineffective. It only increased the number of times this exact same scenario would play out.

Finally, Iimage learned to develop a much more straightforward and calm response, at least internally. If there isn’t blood involved, or damage to my home, they will have to work it out. Screaming my name because your younger brother has you pinned, does not constitute an emergency for ME.

But back to perhaps a slightly more complicated crisis, of being pulled out of work on disability. And it ends up being long-term.  Now, we have a monumental problem. Especially if our illness affects our ability to actually complete and submit our application for Social Security/Disability.  It is an extremely complex document, or set of documents, and at the time, I couldn’t read a sentence and understand it. But, no application, no approval, no monthly allowance, no food, no power, no water, no tax money (if you are a homeowner), etc.  And those applications take months for determination as well, so there goes whatever was in savings in the interim.

BUT, if the illness, as in my own experience, is mental health related, there is help! I hadn’t ever reached out for help before. Always paid my own way. Didn’t want to take from anyone else, you know?  Despite my despair and my fear, my own overwhelmedness left me with nowhere to turn.  I swallowed what little pride I thought I had left at the time, and called the Mental Health Association.

They were so understanding. Made me feel like they were absolutely there for me.  They had me come in to meet with one of their staff, who helped turn an insurmountable task into a completed and filed application. And, it was approved on the first submission! I found out later, it doesn’t always work that way.

I’ll be honest. When I went to see them, I was in a panic. But, as one of my symptoms, I get panic attacks, which were much worse back then. Before I left that first visit though, the panic was gone.  What a gift that was. I remain grateful for their presence, their acknowledgment of me as a person, and that they treated me with respect; not like the sad ball of jello I rolled in there as.

The Mental Health Association has been around a very long time, and, while they would likely be the first to admit they are not the best at marketing what they do, the variety of services and programs they offer, can be miraculous to someone totally out of their normal zone; whose reality has been changed so drastically. They are accepting of you as you are, and just about everyone who works there, came from something similar to what you are now going through.  They have a location nearly everywhere in the U.S., so go to MHA.org to find the folks nearest you!

Who’s writing this blog anyway?

Seems only fair, if I’m gonna talk the talk, I should share where it comes from.
Excerpt from one of my presentations:

Inspiration From Within, Part II: Walking the Walk
A Journey of Diagnosis & Recovery – to NY Certified Peer Specialist

I am a survivor.

I live with multiple mental health diagnoses of post traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder and general anxiety.

I am also a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a homeowner, a taxpayer, a volunteer, and an advocate. I worked amongst the gainfully employed to take care of my family from the time I was twelve, until I was diagnosed in 2010.

Now, six years into recovery, I am a NY Certified Peer Specialist in mental health. My message is one of encouragement, inclusion and a call to action. Regular folks out there in the big world don’t talk about mental illness very much. Because it’s taboo, or against their religion or, it’s just “too uncomfortable”. Truth is, most people don’t understand emotional wellness OR mental illness; it scares them. That’s the stigma attached to mental health. Stigma is based in fear and misunderstanding and builds barriers to wellness and community. Sharing positive information and lived experience have been shown to reduce fear and stigma, encourage recovery and break down barriers for those living with diagnoses, which is positive for them, for those who care for them, and for their greater community. But, I’ll come back to that.

For my own experience, I have lived abuse and trauma experience since early childhood, domestic violence at home throughout childhood and two prior marriages. I am also a survivor of rape, and chronic sexual abuse. I have survived armed robbery, arson, untimely deaths of family members, and the kidnapping of one of my children. I also experienced stalking and menacing subsequent to two divorces.

Despite seemingly insurmountable traumas, I am now happily married for over four years, to a very good man I’ve known for three decades, and between us, we have five grown sons, four of whom have known each other since nursery school. In spite of what both my husband and I come from, all of our sons have had opportunities and life experiences we could never have dreamt of for them, or as youths, for even ourselves. We have, somehow, seemingly reprogrammed the results of our own epigenetics.

Four of our sons are married or in long term relationships. One of our young men is an air traffic controller, one is a supervisor in commercial production and distribution, one is a director in media marketing production, another does band tour management for other musicians and is a professional musician himself. Well, actually, two are musicians, two are parents, one has traveled to all 48 states in the continental U.S., two have traveled to multiple foreign countries, two own homes so far, and one is a veteran of the U.S. Navy. They continue to be the greatest joy of our lives. They are, collectively, our own personal miracles, and we are so grateful for them.

When I first “destabilized”, it was 2010, and it was a long and difficult path. I suffered two nervous breakdowns within three years. They don’t call them that any more though. They are now referred to as major depressive episodes. Like somehow, that sounds so much better. Doesn’t matter what you call them. They suck. Such episodes are different for everyone. In my case, I initially believed I was having a heart attack, chest pains, short of breath. Had all the tests. Nothing. I’d rest, but then have racing thoughts in my head, couldn’t keep my thoughts straight, couldn’t read a sentence and understand it, I’d feel physically unwell again, and confused; uncontrolled shaking, long crying spells, just lost, and in such emotional pain, like I just shouldn’t be here, my heart literally felt broken. I. Felt. Broken.

When my mental health diagnoses came, I was scared. stunned. I thought my life was over. How would I tell my sons? What about my job? I had always worked. We couldn’t survive without that income. We were going to lose everything we had worked for and it was all my fault. Ugh. It was just beyond my comprehension. I was completely overwhelmed and as scared as I had ever been in my life.

Since then, I’ve been through trial and error to find the right interventions for myself. A year and a half to develop a med regimen that let me function, think straight and sleep without nightmares. Voluntary In patient hospitalization, day treatment, six months of dialectical behavioral therapy, private counseling, EMDR, support groups and workshops in trauma informed healing, workshops of all kinds – ACEs &Resilience, art therapy, music therapy, wellness programs in yoga, mindfulness, meditation. I have explored a lot of ground in working my recovery. The Mental Health Association was there for me, with someone who helped me file my complicated disability application, when I was too unwell to comprehend it. My husband was there for me through every struggle. My grown sons supported me and loved me, despite the fact that my illness brought such fear to them.

Recovery is possible. I am living proof. It turns out, recovery is normal. It’s what most of us do, just like we do with physical illness. Sure, there are extremes in any illness. Most of us are not the extremes. Not if we take responsibility for our own wellness, our own abilities, our own rights, and our own responsibilities. Now, I offer encouragement toward resilience, recovery and hope. I encourage people: if it’s not for yourself, then someone you know, find out what works for you and use those tools toward wellness. If you put your mind and your heart in it, there is nothing beyond your reach. There are good resources available, no matter your need.

I am also a firm believer in keeping your sense of humor. It can help you through absolutely anything. There has not been a day since my beloved husband and I got together, that we haven’t laughed. And he lived with me through those breakdowns, hospitalization, recovery, all of it! He also says he met all of my personalities before he married me and everyone gets along, so we are all good.

It’s a scientific fact though, that laughter releases naturally produced endorphins in your brain, which are known to reduce stress and anxiety. Along those lines, I have also, for the sheer fun of it, AND toward my own wellness, completed an 8-week comedy improvisational boot camp, TWICE, with the local Geva theatre’s impov group. It’s two months of weekly skill building and losing inhibition and then…. GRADUATION. Boot camp graduations consist of performing onstage at the theatre for a live audience of family, friends and community. I encourage you, no matter your circumstance, to find your funny. It is very liberating, and I highly recommend it.

I hope to utilize skills developed thru all of these explorations, to find ways to move forward and encourage others. If I had connected with someone like me early in my treatment, who had survived and thrived, I know it would not have taken me six years to get to the point I’ve reached now. If there were school age requirements in wellness instead of just physical education, I might never have gotten to the extreme level of illness I did.

There were also times, I have to admit, in the depths of my illness, I was sure the world would have been better off without me. Were it not for recognizing the need to take action and get help, were it not for the love and support of my husband and sons, were it not for my sheer curiosity as to how all this could possibly work out, I might not have found the strength to go on. Some people don’t have those kind of supports in their lives. They may have NO ONE.

Mental health systems in our country are reactive only, AND we have to pound on the door several times to get even that help. Mental health reform is slow and painful, but it is not the only piece of the puzzle.

WHATS MISSING? What are we not doing to be proactive in today’s world? We do not teach emotional wellness. Physical health and mental health are inextricably linked, yet we only teach physical education in school. With over 50% of diagnosed adults experiencing onset of mental illness prior to age 14, the two should not be treated as separate issues. Recovery is the norm for those who get treatment and support. Every illness has its extremes, but like any other health condition, most mental health diagnoses are treatable, manageable, and we can recover to become more than we were before treatment.

Those who live with mental illness are more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators, we are homeowners, coworkers, taxpayers, parents, teachers, volunteers, first responders, musicians, artists, authors, scientists; we are every where. We make up 20-25% of the global population, across cultures, genders, races, religions, including gun owners and non-gunowners alike… 70% of our prison population are estimated to have mental health conditions.. . And to repeat, 50% of all adults diagnosed, experience onset prior to age 14! Teaching and promoting and encouraging wellness, awareness, breaking stereo type and stigma, can go a very long way toward improving the lives of future generations.

If I had been involved with a peer support professional earlier in my diagnoses,, I might never have had suicidal thoughts. Well, I guess that’s not really true, because I had those thoughts in childhood. You see, what ever you live through, or come up through during your youngest years, that’s what normal looks like for you. If your existence is dysfunctional, you don’t necessarily realize it’s dysfunctional. To you, that’s normal, that’s how life is. Doesn’t everyone live this way? But at every stage of brain development, and there are seven stages, those early traumas impact emotional development going forward. And then to learn as you grow, that in fact, no one lives the way you do, you grew up with a sociopath, well, by then, you just get good at it. Trying to fake normal everywhere else, when you aren’t even sure what that looks like, or feels like. Of course, this was way before information became so widely available. Without all of today’s technology, the Internet,, or cell phones, things were just much easier kept hidden back then. It was a different world then. When I was 9 yrs old, our family of six moved from a cottage in Western NY to a single wide trailer in the backwoods of SW Florida. We walked a dirt road to our school bus everyday, through a nearly abandoned strip of dilapidated migrant shacks. Just a small scary, everyday thing then. It was a very strange childhood, but at the time, I thought everyone lived like we did. I do not remember much of my youth without fear as a daily component. But that is a whole separate conversation.

The world is a very different place near fifty years later. I want to help people understand that recovery is the norm, that recovery is different for everyone, that it does take time, but all of it is progress toward wellness; that there are tools to help in developing our resilience; That knowledge equals power. Power equals resilience. Resilience leads to recovery. That there IS hope. HOPE, is a great acronym – Hold On. Pain Ends.

And when it does, some of us want to give back. To make it better or easier for the next person in our shoes. This thought is not new amongst survivors. The peer support movement in mental health actually began over one hundred years ago. It gained more prominence with deinstitutionalization, and the end of involuntary treatments and medical experimentation. Now, peer support is a recognized piece of the recovery puzzle. New York State his behind the curve though, and we need to change that.

This is my mission now. To raise awareness, encourage emotional wellness and self-advocacy, dispel myth, reduce fear, share lived experience, encourage resilience, recovery and hope. If I am able to somehow just help one person come back from, or maybe avoid, some of those darkest places, I will have been successful in this mission.

I thank you for your time today. Be well.

Thursday Quick Q&A…

imageNew feature: Thursday Quick Q&A – taking questions rather broad in scope and providing answers in easy to read summary. For example, see below regarding the recently enacted mental health reform law. Join WW and play along! 

TODAY’S Q&A

What does the new Mental Health Reform law actually address with regard to mental health?
The 21st Century Cures Act strengthens mental health parity laws, requiring insurance companies to cover mental health treatments to the same extent, and in the same way, as medical (physical health) treatments. In addition, the Act includes grants to provide community mental health resources, suicide prevention and intervention programs, and de-escalation training for law enforcement. The bill also provides five-year grants for a demonstration program in which psychiatry residents and other mental health clinicians will practice in underserved areas.  Further benefits of the new law bring millions to research on brain disease and other vital work.

 

WW Premiere! Section Spotlight

Our “About” section:image

Greetings from WisdomWithin!

Who the heck do I think I am, starting a little blog with such a potentially pretentious plaquard?

In 2016, I became a New York Certified Peer Specialist in Mental Health, with a goal toward encouraging mental health awareness, promoting self-advocacy and wellness; even more idealistically, reducing stigma and improving quality of life for our demographic.

20- 25% of the population will live with a mental health condition during their life time. That’s 1 in 4-5 people. Everyone knows someone living with a mental health condition. We are actually a very large group. Most of us are completely harmless, and … surprise…  we are very much able to recover!

That NYCPS certification is a fancy way to say I have lived mental health experience, lived mental health SYSTEM experience, follow a strict code of ethics, am willing to disclose and share my journey in an effort to be of help to others like me, and those who love us. This certification requires a level of ongoing education and work in the field, either directly with peers, or in contribution to the overall mental health awareness, advocacy  and wellness community. I welcome your interest and support. This is intended as a safe space & a judgement free zone. Welcome to Wisdom Within!

Our “Numbers” Section:image

MENTAL HEALTH AND MENTAL ILLNESS… BY THE NUMBERS:

20 – 25% – Percentage of people in the United States who live with diagnosable mental health condition during a given year. It turns out, this percentage holds true globally and across the spectrum; regardless of race, gender, religion, location, political persuasion or socio-economic status – mental illness is the great equalizer. It is 100% immune to segregation. It is fully diverse and multi-cultural in its impact. In this, we all become the same.

59% – Percentage of U.S. adults with a mental health condition in the past year who did not seek treatment. Research shows negative stereotypes often prevent those with mental illness from seeking professional help.

One Third – The proportion of adults with mental illness who are likely to become victims of violence within a given six month period. Research published by the American Psychological Association. We are much less likely to be perpetrators of crime than we are victimized by it. Our illness can actually find us targeted by crime.

$16,306 – The estimated reduction in earnings for a person with a serious mental illness, according to a 2008 report published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

2.5 Trillion Dollars – The approximate global cost of mental illness in 2010, according to information presented by health economists at the World Economic Forum.  This means mental health issues were one of the largest economic costs when it came to health care – even more than diabetes, respiratory diseases and cancer combined, according to the the National Institutes for Mental Health (NIMH). The economists estimated that figure will rise to $6 Trillion Dollars by the year 2030!

75% – Estimated percentage of people with mental illness who feel like others are not caring or sympathetic when it comes to their condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Take away?  We must work together to do better. Because we ALL deserve a path to wellness, to be seen as a whole person, not as our illness,  & to live meaningfully – in a more compassionate society!

Our “Resource Links” Section:

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Resource Links

If you live with a mental health condition, you are considered a “Consumer” of mental health services, or a “consumer-survivor”. When we are first diagnosed, it’s difficult to know what resources to turn to for help with our rights, available services, protections, how to find effective therapies, navigating medication, navigating “the system” in living with mental health. This page will be a continually updated document of valuable and trustworthy resources for consumers like us.

Lifeline (NY Finger Lakes Region)  24/7 crisis/suicide intervention program and information and referral service serving six counties in New York State. (Check online to see if a similar program exists in your region!)

NY Offices for Consumer Affairs – Health and Wellness  (You are the consumer! This office is for you! Every imaginable resource as far as rights and inclusion in the greater community!)

International BiPolar Foundation  (Amongst other wonderful supports, IBPF provides a Mental Health Awareness ‘patch’program, earnable through scouting and other such organizations – I am happy to be facilitating our first such program for a local girl scout troop here in May 2017, Mental Health Awareness Month!)

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National Alliance on Mental Illness  (An outstanding organization, also with local chapters, doing great work for the community, within the community, and in advocacy across the country.)

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)  (Another wonderful national organization, offering support, good information and advocacy for families living with depression and bipolar conditions.)

Mental Health Association (Rochester, NY)  (There is a MHA branch near you! Look up MHA.org!) Some of their resources include: Creative wellness opportunities, family support, life skills, workshops, employment support, peer support, teen support groups, volunteer opportunities, self- and system advocacy, community connections and involvement.

Mental Health on TheMighty.com  (Real info and discussion – all about mental health!)

Our “Fact vs. Fiction” Section:

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Fact vs. Fiction

PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION…

There is stigma in the world against /surrounding mental illness, or those with mental health conditions. It’s difficult enough to hear diagnoses and have to address them, without having bad things just presumed by you or about you.  This page looks at dispelling some Mental Health myths and old wives tales (no offense to any old wives out there…).

Topics & “Myths”

1.  Health and Wellness:

Mental Health and Physical Health are part of the same thing. Part of each one of us. If you are physically unwell, not sleeping, not eating, etc., this can be symptomatic of something more than a physical problem. And continual loss of sleep and lack or appetite (amongst many other signs), can lead to worsening of any mental or physical health condition.  If you have a broken leg, you sort of have no option but to seek help and get it fixed. If you need a heart valve, you get surgery. If you have a mental illness, you don’t just do nothing. That helps no one and fixes nothing. You take responsibility. Every type of treatment is considered a therapy, so don’t think you’ll just be lying on a psychiatrist’s sofa somewhere. It is a combination of therapies, education, wellness habits and supports that truly help us recover. It is our responsibility to seek those out and find what works for us. The first step is always to see your primary physician to rule out or deal with any physical causes, and then psychiatry/psychology referral, should mental health pieces be suspected. More on therapy types, rights and responsibilities coming soon…

2. “I’ll never be the same again.”

I didn’t just start having mental health issues when I received my diagnoses. I was 46 years old at the time. I had apparently been unwell, although very high functioning, for many years. I held a job, owned a home, had a family. But, and I can be honest about it now, I knew I wasn’t “ok”, and that it had been that way for awhile. My point here, is that you will NOT ever be the same again. Diagnoses allows us a direction to work in, rather than just floundering through life. If we know what we are dealing with, we can learn how to do so. In essence, we end up much better than we were before. Cuz, who would want to go back to being so unwell anyway, right?  More on early considerations around diagnoses coming soon…

3.  “No one else I know has a mental illness.”

Logistically, that’s pretty much impossible. It is a fact that 20-25% of any given population, no matter gender, culture, ethnicity, religion, profession, political persuasion, financial health, poverty level, socioeconomic factor, etc., the percentage remains the same globally. Mental health conditions, are, for the most part, livable, survivable, and yes, even thrivable, providing we educate ourselves and consistently take responsibility for our wellness.  More on education, rights and responsibilities coming soon…

4. “Really successful people don’t have mental health issues.”

Let me just throw a few names at you. Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Audrey Hepburn, Carrie Fisher, Robin Williams, Ernest Hemingway, Abraham Lincoln, Harrison Ford, Michael Phelps, Macy Gray, Howie Mandel, Buzz Aldrin, Whoopi Goldberg, Cary Grant, Charles Darwin, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Dickens, Ben Stiller; the list goes on and on.  All lived through, lived with, survived and thrived, despite mental health issues in their lives. More on this coming soon…

5. “I will have to be medicated like a zombie for the rest of my life…”

The truth is, medication IS one part of the possible recovery equation. We will have a separate page just about medication issues, but obviously, all medication questions should be referred to your health care professional. The truth is, there are different classes of drugs, all of which are highly effective, in the right people. The difficulty is in determining what, if any medications will help you as an individual. Everyone reacts to medication differently. I have been on a medication regimen for multiple years now. I am not a zombie, I am a fully functioning, conscious, thinking individual, without any apparent zombie like tendencies. The other truth is, some folks find the side effects difficult to deal with and want to live without meds. (The only side effects I’ve experienced are weight gain – it’s a trade off. But I’m working on that…) The fact is, if you decide that you ultimately cannot be helped by medication, it is still your responsibility to find the therapies that allow you to live well despite your condition. That is possible. But we are responsible for our actions or inactions.  More on this coming soon…

6. Some people just don’t believe in mental illness.

This is, unfortunately, true. I have been told over the course of time, by assorted well meaning individuals, that I would be well if I just give it all to God, that I should not medicate, that its all a scam, that I would feel better if I just lost weight (or whatever the suggestion of the moment was…). Some religions do not allow for mental illness to exist. Some people just are in denial, or have bought in to all the stigma attached to mental illness over decades, and therefore are unable to face that a friend or family member has such a condition.  It is still our responsibility to work toward wellness and find the course that works for us as an individual. No one else’s approval is needed.  More on stigma and stereotyping coming soon…

We will add more on myths and untruths, and hope to clarify with researched truths. Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Life is all about change. Its a journey from one change through another, throughout our existence. So learn how to take care of yourself, and if you haven’t already, learn to adapt, adapt, adapt.

One more very useful quote to close this particular page for the moment, from Winston Churchill; “Never, never, never give up.”

Our “JoinWW!” Section:

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JoinWW!

Commentary? Suggestions? Questions? Specific topics you would like more detail about, or further educational resources for? We are here to support you. Most requests receive initial response within 24 hours, and when further research lengthens that timeframe, we will be upfront with that.

Join us to receive new posts and resources from WisdomWithin! We don’t share our list, either!

Our goal is to provide a dedicated, ‘living’ space, where folks can turn for legitimate information, and in which real work in awareness, wellness and recovery can be accomplished and supported.

BE SURE TO CLICK THROUGH OUR ADDITIONAL MENU ITEMS, FOR NEWS & ADVOCACY, OUR WELLNESS TOOLKIT, AND OUR TODAY’S LAUGH SECTIONS, TOO! WisdomWithin is free to join and seeks your input and commentary!  We look forward to your joining us to promote wellness, reduce stigma, and encourage self-advocacy and HOPE!

New Beginnings

Two years ago, I founded a very small, private online women’s support group called S.I.S.T.E.R.S. (Sisters in Survival: Transition, Emotion, Recovery, Support). Still small,  but now over 50 members, from twelve different states, all demographics in age, religion, profession & life experience. Our youngest member is 21, the oldest is presently 84, but we think she may outlive us all! SISTERS is about encouraging camaraderie & emotional support in a judgement free zone, finding the funny and just being available for each other. It is my hope to carry that forward here, not just for women, of course, but to anyone living with mental illness, or knowing someone who does. Not everyone in group lives with mental illness, but most know or love someone who does. Most days, we just have encouraging or funny posts. (Here at WisdomWithin, we also focus on education, self-advocacy, and wellness in recovery.) But when a member reaches out for help in the group, the responses are genuine, open, heartfelt and very prompt. The group is there for each other, knowing full well they don’t have to agree with everyone else; they are there to support each other experiencing life in chaos. Not only mental health chaos, but just life chaos. We have each others backs, and we know we have a safe place to speak. There has never been a post removed, there has never been a negative comment or report. We must be doing something right.

Out of, and since that humble beginning, I have become a NY Certified Peer Specialist (NYCPS – more about that later) in mental health, and have been working to bring peer support to the larger community. I live in western New York. (No, not the big apple city way downstate, where they drop the ball on New Year’s Eve every year.) Western New York state is where we have Niagara Falls and vineyards, farming and industry, technology, great universities, hospitals, museums and culture as diverse and able as NYC, just in a comparatively much more suburban existence. (NOTE: You do not need to live in NY for this site to be useful for you! Many states have even more online resources, but you’ll get some good starting points here!) This site provides real information for the newly diagnosed, for their families and friends.

Why Do We Need this Site?

Some folks with mental health conditions can become somewhat isolated, just by the very nature of their illness.  That’s very common.  Some may only be able to seek help online in the early stages. But, where to go? What’s legitimate? Where can I find some basic help and info all in one place, in a way that’s manageable and understandable and useful? Especially if a person is struggling. Having a go-to resource that affirms we are never in this alone, can make a huge difference for someone who truly believes there is no one else – who knows how they feel, or what they are going through.

While NY as a whole is a bit behind some other states in Mental Health care (and the new and upcoming field of Peer Support in mental health), the Big Apple is the ONLY region of NY  currently utilizing peer support as part of their overall mental health system. That means relatively few openings for the rest of us upstate, who have been trained to do peer support work. So, rather than just wait for more opportunity to grow in my home community, and to do the work I feel called to, I decided to develop WisdomWithin, as sort of an upspin of our wonderful (but private) SISTERS group; offering a safe space, real information, links to legitimate resources to the greater community (not only for women), and focused with support & educational purpose; a real starting point for those facing mental illness, and for those who love them.

As WisdomWithin premieres officially on January 11th, 2017, the two-year anniversary of our SISTERS group founding, I welcome this opportunity to thank all of those wonderful women, for their support, their participation, their willingness to be there in good times and bad, with their wisdom, experience, common sense, and occasionally raucous sense of humor. I am forever grateful, and this space is dedicated to each and every one of them. (The group isn’t going away either! SISTERS happily chugs along as a private entity.) WisdomWithin is formed to expand support to the greater community, even if only one little corner of it at a time. We look forward to your participation, your feedback, suggestions, articles, questions, etc. We look  to a New Year, with purpose, with enthusiasm, and with HOPE.  (H.O.P.E. – “Hold On. Pain Ends.)

So, welcome to WisdomWithin; jump in, look around our site! Click stuff! We aren’t bogged down with pop ups to slow your exploration. Let us know what you think! Lots of things to check out already, lots more in the works! We are here for you! We don’t have all the answers, but we know how to help you look for them! Wishing you all WELLNESS!

Kathleen (Kathy) Surline, NYCPS

Founder, WisdomWithin