Posted in mental illness

Mental Health Week – Anita Brougher

Today’s blog post was submitted by Anita Brougher who I connected with on Facebook through the Anne Rice fan page (we apparently share a passion for Gothic horror and spirituality.).  I have also witnessed in Anita her advocacy for those struggling with mental illness and I admire her willingnness to share.  Anita courageously shares her own experience with mental illness, including the challenge of finding an accurate diagnosis so that the illness could be treated properly.  I am especially grateful for Anita’s story because it illuminates what can happen when you are mis-diagnosed and how medications that are supposed to help can actually make things worse when the diagnosis is incorrect. Thank you Anita for sharing your story:

I am Anita Brougher a 37 year old mother and wife, and have been dealing with mental illness most of my life. At age 7 after the death of my brother, I suffered a psychotic break. After years of therapy, I did okay for awhile. In 1985 I had a bout with depression. In 1992 I experienced my first major depressive episode with suicidal thoughts. I coped by digging deep into my creativity; drawing, painting, ceramics, and other endeavors. I was stuck by another depression with intense anger in 1995 and was again in therapy and prescribed Zoloft. By ’97 Iknew it wasn’t working because I was angrier more often. In 2000 I tried Prozac but I became either very happy (manic) or intensely angry. In 2008 I was diagnosed with bipolar type 2 which explained why I had so much trouble on standard antidepressants. I know now that diet, excercise, spiritual grounding, and a creative outlet help me immensely to deal with my illness. Anyone who wants more information can find it on the web and facebook by typing “mental illness” or something more specific into the browser. One in 6 adults, 1 in 10 children suffer from a mental illness; chances are good you already know someone who could use your understanding and support.

Posted in mental illness

Mental Health Week(s)…..Let’s Get Started!

Welcome to Mental Health Week(s) at Authentic Freedom Ministries and Your Spiritual Truth.  During the coming days, we will have an opportunity to read contributions by those who have suffered with mental illness, those who have survived and from practitioners who help to provide support for those experiencing mental illness.   The goal of these coming days is first and foremost to support and secondly, to educate and inform.  A BIG thank you for those who have been willing to come forward with their own stories and for those in the helping fields who have provided information and support.  Let’s get started, shall we?

What is Mental Illness?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); mental illness is:   a medical condition that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Mental Illness covers a broad spectrum of diagnoses including:

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that 25 percent of adults and 20% of children and adolescents are experiencing mental illness of some kind.  Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. What is important to know is that mental illnesses are treatable and that most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.  According to NAMI, an effective treatment plan can include:  medication, psychosocial treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, peer support groups and the use of other community services.  Diet, exercise, adequate sleep, intimate friendships and meaningful paid or volunteer activities can also contribute to the overall success of any recovery plan.

Obstacles to Diagnosis and Recovery

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to effective diagnosis and treatement is the negative stigma associated with mental illness.  It is important for us to know and to share with others that mental illnesses are serious medical conditions. Contrary to some schools of thought, mental illness cannot be overcome through “will power” and is not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence.  Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, gender, race, religion, income level or  intelligence.  Stigma erodes our ability to recognize that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions and often halts our search for diagnosis and treatment.  This is a tragedy because the best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective.  NAMI estimates that between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have a significant reduction of symptoms and an improved quality of life with a combination of prescription medications and psychosocial treatments and a variety of other supports.

Symptoms of Possible Mental Illness

The symptoms of possible mental illness vary on the type and severity of the condition.  WebMD cites the following as general symptoms that may suggest a mental illness is present:

In adults

  • Confused thinking
  • Long-lasting sadness or irritability
  • Extremely high and low moods
  • Excessive fear, worry, or anxiety
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Delusions or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not really there)
  • Increasing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Denial of obvious problems
  • Many unexplained physical problems
  • Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol

In older children and pre-teens

  • Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Changes in school performance, falling grades
  • Inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Excessive complaints of physical problems
  • Defying authority, skipping school, stealing, or damaging property
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Long-lasting negative mood, often along with poor appetite and thoughts of death
  • Frequent outbursts of anger

In younger children

  • Changes in school performance
  • Poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Excessive worry or anxiety
  • Hyperactivity
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience and/or aggressive behavior
  • Frequent temper tantrums

Where to Go for Support

If you believe that you or someone you care about may be experiencing symptoms of a possible mental illness, early identification and treatment is of vital importance.  Early access to the treatment and recovery supports that are proven effective can accelerate recovery and reduce the potential of further harm related to the course of untreated illness.  For treatment and support, the NAMI website is a great place to start.  Or, talk to your doctor, ask for a referral from friends or relatives (chances are, they are either suffering themselves or know someone who is), talk to your Pastor, seek the help of a professional Counselor.  Whatever you do, get help and seek out support. Current treatments are effective, recovery is possible (especially in cases where the symptoms are largely situational) and you deserve to experience your best life possible.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in mental illness

Support for Mental Illness

In the past several months, I have been witness to several individuals, about whom I care deeply, suffer what Western medicine would identify as a psychotic break.  To say that the effects of these experiences were devastating would be an understatement.  In fact, it initially felt as if the Universe had pulled the very ground from beneath my feet.  I have been quiet about these experiences until I could grasp the higher purpose.  I’m still uncovering what that purpose might be, but it felt like it was time to come out of the closet in support of practitioners, patients and family members who might be facing mental illness – either in themselves or in someone they care about.

There are several lessons that I have learned so far as a result of these experiences:

1)      There is a fine line between mysticism and psychosis and many are ill-equipped at identifying when that line has been crossed.

2)     The powerful role of denial and bargaining in those exhibiting symptoms of psychosis and in those who have already been diagnosed.

3)     The powerful role of denial and bargaining in those who have been diagnosed and even in those who have been effectively treated in the past.

4)     The lack of education and support (other than pharmaceuticals) for those who have been diagnosed.

5)     The COMPLETE lack of education and support for family members of those who are suffering psychosis or any other forms of mental illness.

6)     The potential danger alternative healing practices (especially those that can facilitate deeply meditative or other states of higher consciousness) can cause those who might be suffering with psychosis.

7)     The role alternative healing practices can play in enabling the denial, bargaining and delusions of those suffering with untreated psychosis and other forms of mental illness.

As a Spiritual Director and Reiki Practitioner, I do not have the tools, nor do I have the training to diagnosis or treat serious mental illness.  But, I know people who do.  As such, I am dubbing May 13 – May 19 Mental Health Week at Authentic Freedom Ministries.  I have invited the contribution of experts in the field, along with those who have either suffered with Mental Illness themselves or have witnessed the suffering of people they care about.

And….I am inviting your participation!  If you are an expert in the field of mental health, have experienced mental illness yourself or have accompanied someone who has, I am asking for your help.  Write an essay of less than 1000 words and submit it to lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com.  I want to hear what you have to say, and so do those who are in need of help and support.  And I will extend Mental Health Week as long as we need to in order to get the help and support out there that is needed.  And if you are a professional or provide a website or blog in support of those who are suffering or their families, please include your bio, website address and photo if you so desire.

Now, I wish I could say that these individuals that I have witnessed are receiving the help they need and are on the road to recovery….unfortunately, they are not.  Instead, they are still trapped within the prison of denial and they along with their families are suffering because of it.  It is for them and for others like them that I offer this week of education and support.  And I thank you for your participation in it.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom
Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com

PS:  Helpful links:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml

http://www.nami.org/