News for October 2011

The Easy Road is Not Always the Best Road

Every day we need to make a lot of decisions. Most decisions we are required to make have little impact on our lives, but we need to make them. What we eat for dinner, what shirt we wear , etc are examples of these trivial decisions.

Then there are the decisions that do impact our lives in a significant way. Who we marry or do not marry, what job we take or turn down are a few examples of these larger decisions.

When we are faced with these larger decisions they can be very difficult and stressful. These larger decisions often have at least one choice that is difficult and one that is easy. Times like this tempt us to always take the easiest path available. After all, it is easy. No one wants to complicate their life and possibly add stress to it.

The only problem with always choosing the easy road is that we may miss out on some valuable opportunities to learn and grow. We may also miss out on some greater rewards by taking the easy road.

To quote Robert Frost’s “The Road not Taken“,

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Sometimes in life we need to take the road less traveled and not take the easiest path.

Edited: October 26th, 2011

Physical, Mental and Spiritual Health

In life we typically think of our physical, mental and spiritual health as three distinct types of health. The truth is that all three are part of the same thing, our health. When our body becomes physically sick it makes us more vulnerable to psychological and spiritual problems.  This is even more pronounced when you already face mental challenges.

Can you remember a time when you were sick AND happy? I know I cannot think of any.  For example, the last two weeks I have been fighting bronchitis and along with the feeling physically miserable, I have felt emotionally miserable as well. It has left me more prone stress, depression and anger problems.

The more run down your body and spirit are, the harder it is to find mental balance in your life. It is also true that the more out of balance you are mentally and emotionally, the more likely you are to have your physical or spiritual health suffer.

When you suffer from poor mental health, it becomes increasingly likely that you will start to lose interest in and neglect your physical and spiritual well-being.

For example, conditions like depression, bi-polar disorder and borderline personality disorder may leave you feeling like there is no point in eating or exercising right because you feel there is no hope in life or that no one else cares, so why try. When you neglect these things, like I do, it lowers your resistence to germs and increases your chance of getting sick. At the same time you may begin to neglect your spiritual well-being because you feel that even God has abandoned you or simply does not care.

The only way to truly be healthy is to address and pay attention to all parts of your health. It is why mental health professionals remind you to eat right and get enough sleep. Just like all the systems out the body (nervous, respritory, etc) are connected, so are the different components of our health.

Edited: October 21st, 2011

My Struggles (Part 3 – Self-Harm)

One thing I learned a few years ago when I took a class in how to be a peer support facilitator is that you cannot share or let others in the group share the specific details of their episodes. You especially do not share the details of things like self-harm or suicide attempts. Sharing the details can give others ‘ideas’ or trigger potentially dangerous reactions and thoughts. Instead of the details, you are supposed to talk about how you feel during these episodes or how you did feel at the time of your most recent one if you are talking about something that happened between group meetings.

With that said I will now talk about how I feel at the times I hurt myself.

During these times, I feel one of two things, either a white-hot rage (see Part 2 of this series) or depression, more accurately I feel a sense of failure, helplessness, hopelessness or worthlessness. I begin to feel that since I am so ‘terrible of a person’, so ‘stupid’, ‘such a screw up’, etc that maybe if I hurt myself it would provide some sense of atonement for my failures.

These feelings get so intense that I need a pressure valve to release some of it. Usually, I start feeling a desire to hurt myself and try to hold back, often times pacing back and forth, clenching and unclenching my fists to deal with the intensity.

Other times, the intensity overwhelms me. At times like this, I am not thinking about positive ways to release the pain and just react and do things to hurt myself. It is a horrible symptom and one of the ones I want to control first. In order to tame the beast completely, I need to gain control of the root cause. I have done it before; I can and will do it again.

Edited: October 5th, 2011

NAMI Walk – October 8, 2011 (Richmond, VA)

I am writing you today to tell you about an upcoming event that I am participating in that is both very important and very exciting to me. NAMIWalks, the signature walkathon event of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is being held in Richmond, VA at Innsbrook on October 8, 2011.

I am taking part in this walk for several reason. The first reason is the direct impact mental illnesses have had on my life. The second reason is that not only do I personally suffer from mental illnesses myself, but I have had family and friend diagnosed with mental illnesses. Last, but definitely not least helping overcome the stigma associated with mental illnesses and helping others, both those diagnosed with mental illnesses as well as those that love them, is one of things I am the most passionate about in life.

I would like to ask you to donate to support my participation in this great event. Visit my personal walker page ( http://www.nami.org/namiwalks11/VIR/punkoj)to donate directly to me online. Donating online is fast and secure, and I’ll get immediate notification via e-mail of your donation.

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the largest education, support and advocacy organization that serves the needs of all whose lives are touched by these illnesses. This includes persons with mental illness, their families, friends, employers, the law enforcement community and policy makers. The NAMI organization is composed of approximately 1100 local affiliates, 50 state offices and a national office.

The goals of the NAMIWalks program are: to fight the stigma that surrounds mental illness, to build awareness of the fact that the mental health system in this country needs to be improved and to raise funds for NAMI so that they can continue their mission.

NAMI is a 501(c)3 charity and any donation you make to support my participation in this event is tax deductible. NAMI has been rated by Worth magazine as among the top 100 charities “most likely to save the world” and has been given an “A+” rating by The American Institute of Philanthropy for efficient and effective use of charitable dollars. NAMI has also been given 4 out of 4 stars by The Charity Navigator for short-term spending practices and long-term sustainability.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Edited: October 2nd, 2011

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