Friday, August 19, 2016

Michigan Author That Survived Suicide Attempt Joins Out of the Darkness Walk in Milford, Michigan


As you may or may not know, I am a suicide attempt survivor so this means a lot to me. This is a 5K walk, which due to my back issues, is longer than I have walked in probably 3 years. However, I am doing this walk for everyone like me that thought they had no way out. For everyone that has left us because they couldn't take the pain, and for everyone that has been left behind, scared and confused.

On Sunday October 9th The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is holding a community walk. I’ve created a Facebook event for anyone that would like to participate or donate.

Our team name is "Memory Makers". I am inviting anyone I know from Michigan. Please just ignore if you are not interested, and accept my apologies. No explanation is needed. If you are in fact interested, that's awesome!! Please join this event. I will keep you updated on everything.

Once you have registered, they will give you info on how to collect donations.
REMEMBER - the team is called Memory Makers

Our team has a $500 goal but we can always raise more!
So, do your best to get the word out. If you need any help at all with promotion or social media, drop me a line.

In addition, I have created team shirts, but they don't have to only be for the team. They're very cute and a great souvenir from the event. We need to sell 11 by September 3rd, or we won't get any of them, so check it out! They come in various sizes and styles.

My husband, Joe and I are your team captains, so reach out to us if you need to.
THANK YOU!!!



Here is the link to our team page so that you can donate if you can't participate:
http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.team&teamID=115878

Here is the link to the Facebook event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1723251131224893/

Here is the link to the souvenir T-shirt:
https://www.bonfirefunds.com/out-of-the-darkness-walk-1


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Guest Post - The Hot Mess Really A Mess? By The Bipolar Hot Mess Christina Huff

Today I am proud to feature a fantastic writer, blogger, and advocate for mental health on my blog. We recently interview her for our podcast Voices for Change. The show will air at 11:00am EST this Saturday August 13th. For listening options, you can visit our website: www.voices-for-change.net  Thank you, Christina for taking the time to speak with us, and for guest posting on my blog! 

The Hot Mess Really A Mess?
"I'm a mess!"
When I first began talking to CJ, I warned him. I told him that I was a mess, a walking disaster, and if it wasn't for bad luck, I would have no luck at all.
He didn't believe me.
I picked him up from the airport for the first time. Between baggage claim at O'Hare and my car in the parking garage ready to head off, I think "we" (meaning me) lost the parking ticket twice, my phone at least 3 times, and my car keys at least once. I turned to him and said "See. I'm a mess"
He just chuckled.
The rest of that weekend, I "lost" the pizza place (I swear it had been at that location at LEAST a year ago, my dad claims it moved at least 5 years ago), broke a brand new huge 60ml bottle of Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue on the ceramic tile bathroom floor in the hotel room (good thing we were packing up to check out because it REEKED!), and probably lost my keys and phone a few more times.  At the airport dropping him off for his return flight, I warned him again. I said, "I told you! I'm a mess"
He laughed again and said, "No, you are not."
About a month later, I arrive in San Diego. "We" (again meaning me) had a fall asleep on the couch while eating ice cream because the Seroquel kicked in faster than I thought and half a pint of melted ice cream on the couch event. I woke up covered in ice cream frantically trying to clean up the mess in the dark so I wouldn't wake him up, covered it up with a blanket and hoped he wouldn't see it before he left for work and I could finish cleaning while he was at work. He didn't notice but when he called to check on me mid day, I was in tears because the clean up was not going so well and I was so embarrassed. I confessed and he just laughed and said it was ok. I know there were a few more incidents during that trip, but I can't remember them. (He might though lol) I embarrassingly reminded him again, "I told you! I'm a disaster!"
That is when he turned to me and said, "You are not a disaster. You are not a complete mess like you say you are. In fact, you are far more put together than you give yourself credit for. There are A LOT of people who are COMPLETE AND TOTAL messes and disasters. You have had a lot of rough patches, and you may be a little clumsy, but you are more put together than a lot of other women I know."
I was stunned. I couldn't believe that
  1. I hadn't scared him completely off yet with my craziness and debacles
  2. While I thought my breakdown, my career loss, my back and chronic pain issues, and being on disability equaled complete and utter mess and failure, there were people who were a bigger, crazier mess than what I considered being a mess; and
  3. The things I thought were ways and reasons that I was a complete disaster and a mess were really not as big of a deal as I always made them out to be in my head and to him were the quirky things he liked about me.
While I was still in disbelief for a while that he didn't think I was the "mess" I kept telling myself that I was, I had learned that sometimes (ok, maybe really often) I was way too hard on myself and far to critical because of my "perfectionist" issue. Yes, I know my friends and family have, and still do, told me that I need to be a little easier on myself, and I really try to let that sink in, but hearing it from the man that I love was something that I wasn't used to. I had become very used to being the "crazy" girl, or the "mess," in relationships.
Several months later, CJ was at work and I was cleaning the apartment. The previous night he had just filled up his weekly pill container with all of his vitamins, and I had filled up mine with my meds. His has 4 compartments for each day (am, afternoon, evening, and pm) and I have two that are just one compartment per day (one is for my bipolar meds, the other for my back meds). CJ had left his freshly filled vitamin container on the counter and somehow, I had knocked it off the counter and when it hit the floor, almost all the little compartments opened and there was a rainbow of vitamins all over the floor.  I just froze and looked at all of them and then burst into tears. I could just imagine how upset CJ was going to be when he saw THIS. When he arrived home a few hours later, I very quietly, with my head down, approached him with a bowl of all the collected vitamins and his vitamin holder and whispered, all in one breath as fast as I could, "Ummmmm, so this kinda happened today I'm so so so sorry I was cleaning the kitchen and wiping the counter and then boom it was on the floor and I would have put them all back but I don't know what is what and.."
He shook his head, laughed, and said "Hot Mess Moment!"
I know he cringed a lot inside because it had taken a long time to put them all in there, but he knew how bad I felt and so he just laughed.
Because of him, and moments like those, I have been learning that not everything is a huge disaster. Just because things like that might have caused different reactions by people in my past, it doesn't mean that EVERYONE will react that way. My "Hot Mess Moments" do not always mean negative or disaster or time to freak out.
I decided to surprise him one night and make dinner. (He usually cooks and I do the cleaning) I was so proud that everything was turning out so well. I was just taking part of it out of the microwave and SPLAT! I cried out "Shiiiiiiittttt" and  sat down on the floor next to the dinner. CJ comes into the kitchen, sees me and dinner on the floor. I looked up at him with tears in my eyes and he just laughed. He said "Hot Mess Moment!" Then he kissed me on the top of my head, said "I love that you tried, thank you, I'll go out and get us some dinner and be right back" while shaking his head and laughing as he walked out the door.
We call them "Hot Mess Moments." They aren't disasters. They aren't earth shattering. They don't mean that I'm a complete mess and this enormous liability that I had led myself to believe. They are just quirky me. If not for those moments, I think life would be pretty boring. But, thanks to an amazing man, with an incredible sense of humor and extreme patience, I am coming to terms with my quirks.
Sometimes it takes an outsider to help you put things in a different perspective. Here I was, defeating myself at every little thing, and looking at every little thing gone wrong as this huge, giant bright red flag screaming "she's a disaster, do NOT come any closer" and then comes along someone, who despite your warnings, rips down that red flag and let's you know that the red flag didn't need to be there. The red flag was self imposed and wasn't scary to them, so it shouldn't be scary to you.
We can be our own worst enemy at times. I'm so grateful that I have an amazing man, an incredible family, and equally awesome friends to help me snap back into reality. So, if you ever need a reality check, I'm sure you have some friends and family who would do the same for you too! If not, I'm here! You all provide so much support for me and I'm so blessed and grateful to have all of you as part of the Bipolar Hot Mess family, so know that I will be here for you all too!

Previously featured at: http://bipolarhotmess.com/is-the-hot-mess-really-a-mess/

Christina Huff, aka The Bipolar Hot Mess, has been blogging about bipolar disorder and other mental health issues for several years now on her websites, Ask A Bipolar and Musings of a Bipolar Hot Mess. While just starting her career as a paralegal, she was diagnosed with bipolar in 2007 and maintained her job as a paralegal until 2012, while also running her websites. She has blogged for International Bipolar Foundation and was a Psych Central Mental Health Hero 2013, as well as nominated several times for WEGO awards. She continues to blog on www.bipolarhotmess.com and tries to keep her 17,000+ Facebook followers inspired and supported and not feeling alone in their own journey with mental illness. She also is owner of www.AskaBipolar.com and tries her best to keep those submitted questions answered with her team of authors at her side. Christina also is part of the social media/marketing team for Yale Productions upcoming film discussing mental health issues called "Michigan". She currently spends her time going between Chicago and San Diego. For more info, you can find her at bipolarhotmess.com, on Twitter @BipolarHotMess, and also at AskaBipolar.com.



Monday, August 8, 2016

I've Been Nominated for 4 WEGO Health Activist Awards!



WEGO

I have been nominated for two WEGO Health Activist Awards! 

WEGO Health is a different kind of social network, built for the community leaders, bloggers and tweeters who are actively involved in health online. WEGO Health is a platform for committed Health Activists to foster new relationships, gain access to helpful resources, and grow their communities. Our goal is to equip our network with opportunities designed for the active contributor, relevant content, powerful educational resources and shareable interactive media.  

A Health Activist is someone who uses online resources to raise awareness of health issues. A Health Activist advocates for others through blogging, being members of online health communities, and contributing to those communities with their knowledge, insight and story.  *Source: WEGO Health*

I've been nominated for:
Best Kept Secret
Best in Show on Twitter
Rookie of the Year
Best in Show Blog

Here is the link: https://awards.wegohealth.com/

Right now, they are only accepting nominations. If you have a free moment and can nominate me, I would be grateful. (I also feel as if I could win in the blog category as well!)

The actual voting begins on September 12th, and I'm up against some stiff competition, so I'll need all the help I can get!

Here is some info you'll need:
My email: Paradoks1@aol.com
Blog - www.judgmentfreezone2013.blogspot.com
Twitter - www.twitter.com/bekalombardo
Facebook- www.facebook.com/notyourjourney
Website - www.rebeccalombardo.com

This is my actual profile on the site:
https://awards.wegohealth.com/nominees/12361


Thank you!

#HAAwards



Thursday, August 4, 2016

Guest Post - The Question I Dread Answering About My Bipolar Disorder by Madelyn Heslet

When getting to know someone, you ask a series of questions:
What do you do?
Where are you from?
What are your hobbies?
As a person with bipolar disorder, I get asked the same questions. But when someone gets to know me well enough, they ask me a different set of questions:
Why?
Why do you feel that way?
Why did you do that?
Why did you say that to me?
The answer is complicated, which is the reason that “Why?” is my least favorite question. It’s difficult to explain my bipolar disorder to someone who isn’t also diagnosed, but usually, I find a way. The part of my illness that is the most difficult to explain is how I have very little control of myself, my emotions and my actions during a bipolar episode.
People assume since I’m on medication, I must be able to fully control my bipolar disorder, but that’s not true. My medication helps me manage my illness, not control it — at least that’s how I feel. Despite regularly taking my medication, I feel out of control more often than not.
People, even those closest to me, can’t comprehend what it means to have no control over your life. They don’t know how it feels to be controlled by this alien that is bipolar disorder. They don’t understand when they ask me why, I can’t say anything but, “I don’t know.”
I really don’t know. I know my illness controls my thoughts, feelings and actions, but I don’t know why I can’t gain control. Maybe it has something to do with my strength. Maybe I’m not strong enough to take back control of my life. Again, I don’t know. All I know is most of the time, I feel completely powerless, like I have no choice about how I want to feel.
It’s hard to explain how out of control I feel. It seems like no matter how I try to word my explanation, nobody understands anyway. I feel like I don’t even understand it myself, like I’m the one who needs the explanation. If I don’t understand this part of my illness, how can anyone else understand? I realize I need to find the answer, consult my doctor or therapist and finally take back power over my life.
I have no explanation, but I have come to the realization is is possible to regain control over my bipolar disorder. I’ve realized I am the one who needs the explanation, and that’s why this is the part of my bipolar disorder that is the most difficult to explain.
About the Author:
Madelyn Daphney is a 24 year old single mother, writer, mental health advocate and cat lover. She spends her time chasing her toddler and writing about her mental health journey to do her part in ending the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
Social media:


Friday, July 29, 2016

Coping Skills


We hear a lot about learning coping skills when we’re dealing with mental illness. There has always been sort of an “industry standard” list that many doctors and therapists will give you to help get you through panic attacks, social anxiety, and depression. It has been my opinion for quite some time that you can’t expect something that would work for person A to work for person B.  Not to mention, you may have a go to coping skill that regularly works for you, but a day may come when it just isn’t working.

I think it’s important for all of us to keep a list nearby of what usually works for us, with a few back-ups included. I’m going to talk about a few of the things that work for me. Just in case I use something you’ve never tried. By no means am I trying to tell you what to do, but keep an open mind. You never know!

Writing
This one is pretty obvious. I’m an author and a blogger so of course writing is one of my coping skills. I wouldn’t be able to do it if it didn’t help me in some way. Keep in mind that your writing doesn’t have to be perfect. Right now, all you’re doing is attempting to get your thoughts together. Even if you just jot down a list of words that describe how you’re feeling or random sentences, it may help.

Music
Music can be a double-edged sword when used as a coping skill, so tread lightly. The right music may put you in a better mood, but the wrong music can make you feel ten times worse. Be sure you’re using the best choice for you at the moment.

Coloring
This is something relatively new for me. I re-discovered it earlier this year, and I can’t say enough about it. When you’re putting all of your energy into making the picture in front of you beautiful, it’s hard to think about anything negative. And when you’re done, the feeling of accomplishment sets in, so you’re feeling better on two levels. I use both coloring books and colored pencils and an app on my iPad. They’re both a lot of fun and help when I’m anxious.
 
Photography
I love taking pictures. If I was better at it, I might’ve made a go of it professionally. I have a good eye for detail, and I’m pretty creative, so even pictures I take with my phone are important to me. Nothing is better than a good camera and being able to put all of your focus into getting the perfect shot. Not to mention, when the weather is nice, it feels fantastic to get out of the house out into the fresh air to get some great shots.

Cleaning
I know this sounds a little strange to use as a coping skill, but I do have my reasons. My panic or anxiety attacks are often the result of feeling a loss of control. However, when I clean, I am in control. I can put all of my effort into making a room clean, and it gets my mind off the negative thoughts. Not to mention, this skill also lends itself to a feeling of accomplishment. When you struggle with the guilt of not accomplishing enough on any given day, this can be exactly what you need.

Pets
Cats have always been a huge part of my life. We had them the entire time I was growing up, and I got one as soon as I moved out on my own. We have five and they are a constant source of entertainment. Our oldest cat, Hayley seems to have a sense of when I’m feeling down and barely leaves my side. There have been many a lonely day that our cats were the only thing keeping me going.

Movies
Movies are a lot like music in that you need to be selective about what you watch when you’re feeling down. When I’m feeling sad, I have a few go to films.  I often find myself craving historical films like Memoirs of a Geisha. I also love 80’s movies like The Breakfast Club or action like The Avengers. I stay away from anything that will most likely make me cry. However, from time to time I will just turn on the Lifetime network and immerse myself in all of its cheesy and ridiculous splendor.

Punching bag
This is also new to me, and I haven’t been able to get as much use out of it as I would like. I’ve pictured many a face on that bag while I punch and kick it! It’s a workout and a half, but it is also a lot of fun.

On a side note, certain scents can also be helpful during sad times. I have a variety of wax warmers and scents that I find comforting. This usually goes hand in hand with the other tasks.

So, that’s my list currently. Did anything surprise you or give you an idea of your own? I hope so. I think it’s incredibly important for us to take time for ourselves, especially when we’re struggling. You may even learn something about yourself or develop a new skill.

I get it, these types of things can often seem annoying when you’re feeling bad. I know for me, there are times when I don’t want to do any of them. I want to stay in bed and hide under the covers, and that’s OK too! I’m just saying, think about it. Just try one out and see if it gives you any relief. If not, come back to your list another time and try something else. Isn’t it worth it to get you feeling better?


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Guest Post - PTSD - The Silent War of Non-Combat by Agyei Ekundayo

I'm thrilled to have a fantastic guest post from Agyei Ekundayo, a mental health advocate and very talented writer. Thank you, AJ for sharing your perspective on PTSD. I wish you all the luck in the world on your journey through mental illness. 

Write. That’s what the therapist told me to do—write. Journal. Get it all out. That when I’m all done with exposure therapy and I’ve practiced deep breathing for an infinite time, to leave a paper trail of how often I’ve been stricken. To count the episodes of when I’ve tearfully succumbed to flashbacks. To note the emotional abuse of a bipolar Caribbean mother. This is one black woman’s plight with trauma; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

                PTSD is one of those illnesses with an unfair reputation. It’s written off as “combat fatigue” to emphasize the battle-hardened scars of military personnel. It makes one sympathetic to the needs of those shell-shocked by events incomprehensible to the average psyche. It draws an outpouring of support to veteran sufferers who cannot fend for themselves. It also invalidates the stinging pain felt by people who haven’t served one day in anybody’s uniform. To say that PTSD is worse for service men and women than those who don’t share the same experiences is like telling a victim of sexual violence that he or she was simply fondled; not penetrated.

                I was diagnosed at the age of 32 after years of symptoms had crippled my life. I exhibited all of the classic behaviors including exaggerated startled response, avoidance, and numbness when experiencing certain triggers. I continue to stutter to this day at 38; I still sleep with the lights on. My family relationship is strained, to say the least. Mom and I don’t speak very often, no matter how relatives say we should. I haven’t seen her since 1998 and pictures of my hometown triggers crying spells. There have been times when I cut myself to numb the pain or sat in a restaurant with my back facing a wall. I don’t like anyone standing behind me because I feel unsafe.

                PTSD is a beast to deal with and medications do very little. Most medications for PTSD are prescribed to relax you. They may do the trick for the anxiety piece of it all, but often leaves you feeling like a zombie. Various forms of therapy are the only sure “cure”. Talking about traumatic experiences help to understand the scope of its effects. Gradual exposure to noise or other less paralyzing triggers in short duration is believed to re-acclimate a person to society without substantial fear. Creative outlets such as art therapy have been proven to be a safe method to recall flashbacks without significant emotional distress.

                I’ve tried a combination of therapies without much success. I recently wrote my memoir and suffered multiple months-long procrastination spells while writing, due to flashbacks. The rape I survived my sophomore year of undergrad makes me hate men some days; despise them on others. I can’t shake the migraines from getting hit by a car junior year has caused me, or the short term memory loss brought on by epileptic head trauma. My therapist told me to do deep breathing. I did that. She said switching medications would help. It didn’t.  I’ve been institutionalized 5 times and prescribed 13 medications by 10 doctors. My former therapist warned me about visiting family members without having panic attacks under control. Truer words have never been spoken. What am I getting at?

                Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is just that—traumatic. It affects every area of your life including interpersonal relationships and employment. It’s the reason why I am divorced. It’s the reason why I haven’t worked in five years; why I am also diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s the reason why I am writing this article. The next time someone tells you that they suffer from PTSD, don’t ask them “What branch did you serve in?” Say instead, “Do you feel comfortable with sharing how you feel? I’m here to listen.”                                                               

Agyei Ekundayo is a mental health advocate and author. 
Follow her @AJWriteMental.  
Youtube--AJ Writer