Saturday, October 12, 2013

Roanoke

Today was a good day, even though it rained off and on.

We started off the day at Roanoke College - my youngest is in high school and we like to stop by colleges when we come upon them to give her a flavor for what is out there. The last time we were passing through the area, we stopped by Virginia Tech and James Madison Universities.

Roanoke College, actually located in Salem, Virginia just outside of Roanoke, is a liberal arts college that was founded in 1842. The college is small in comparison to Tech and JMU, but the campus is very pretty. 

Next we headed to downtown Roanoke. We strolled around the Center in the Square taking in the sights. There are a lot of cool restaurants and shops around the square, as well as the nation's oldest outdoor farmers market. In addition to produce, the farmers market also features local artisans selling jewelry, pottery, soaps, etc. My daughters and I made a bee line for a jewelry stand while my husband checked out Thelma's Chicken and Waffles restaurant.





This City of Roanoke has a long history as a railroad town. Unfortunately, passenger service to the city ended in 1979. Currently, however, the town is a hub for the Norfolk Southern freight rail system. 



Our day ended at the Roanoke Star atop Mill Mountain. The star, symbol of the city, is the largest, freestanding illuminated star in the world.  



I couldn't get my daughters' buy-in on a photo to share with you on this blog, but here is a picture of me and the husband - on Mill Mountain, the city below.




All in all, today was a great day to be alive! I was happy to have shed yesterday's fears about depression and dive into life feet first!

Rain Clouds

Headed out of town in the pouring rain yesterday for a holiday / birthday weekend getaway with my family. On the way down, I was reading Noonday Demon: an Atlas of Depression, by Andrew Solomon, and of course it got me thinking again about my own depression.

Now that I am doing well, I worry that I could have another relapse. I remember the first time suicide popped into my mind. It seemed a real solution and it brought me peace of mind...then just as quickly as the thought came, I became terrified when I realized how close I was to death. 

I am terrified now that I will ever go back to that place; and I am afraid that the next time, I will not be able or want to stop myself from acting on the thoughts.  

Alright, on a positive note, we are heading into Roanoke today to do some sightseeing. I'll be sure to post some pics!

Have a great day yourself, dear reader!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Depression


Today is National Depression Screening Day. If you or someone you love are experiencing any symptoms of depression (e.g., feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and / or emptiness; crying with little provocation; feeling lethargic; changes in the amount of sleep  you get and / or appetite), take this test:

http://www.helpyourselfhelpothers.org/


According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):


Major depression affects about five to eight percent of the United States' adult population in any 12-month period; which means that, based on the last census, approximately 15 million Americans will have an episode of major depression this year. Depression occurs twice as frequently in women as in men, for reasons that are not fully understood. More than half of those who experience a single episode of depression will continue to have episodes that occur as frequently as once or even twice a year. Without treatment, the frequency as well as the severity of symptoms of depressive illness tend to increase over time.


Once again, if you or someone you care about are suffering from depression, know that there is help available. Just reach out. If you can't do it for yourself, have someone do it for you. Depression is a potentially fatal disease; and thus early detection and proper treatment are imperative.

For more information about depression and treatment, check out the following resources:

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): www.nami.org and http://www.nami.org/factsheets/depression_factsheet.pdf

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
(Suicide hotline:  1.800.273.8255


For Pink Hi-Top Adventures' posts on depression, see:

Notes from the Vortex (2/11/13)
Life (3/7/13)
Lifeline (3/8/13)
Grey veil...again?! (3/16/13)
Overcoming...inertia! (3/19/13)
Can't sleep (4/23/13)
Do the next right thing - part II (4/25/13)
The daily struggle (6/6/13)
Taking down the wall (6/7/13)
Contained emotions (6/13/13)










Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Today is...

...my birthday! I am 47 years old, and for the first time in a very long time I am really excited about a birthday! Too often we shrink down and wince at birthdays as we get older, and lie about our age. I say, to hell with that! I am 47.  I made it this far, and by God I'm gonna celebrate!

I remember my last birthday. I was still in partial hospitalization. Only a month before, I wanted to die and was beginning to plot how to make it happen. Now, for the first time in years, I am really happy and grateful to be alive; and that is something to celebrate!



Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The 7 Habits: Paradigms and Principles

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the late Stephen R. Covey says that, rather than concern ourselves with becoming more productive with our time, we should concern ourselves with being more effective as people; and in order to be more effective, there are seven basic habits we must practice. These seven habits were a culmination of his graduate research. He studied the most successful people in history, and came to see a pattern emerge in how they lived their lives - seven basic habits that they all practiced. 

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will present here, The 7 Habits - an overview for those recovering from mental illness. Keep in mind I will only scratch the surface, and I highly recommend you read the book! 

May I present the first post in the series: The 7 Habits: Paradigms and Principles

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There are three constants in life...change, choice, and principles.

                                                                                      - Stephen R. Covey


Before we even begin to discuss Covey's 7 Habits, and how it can be applied to those who are dealing with mental illness, we need to understand two concepts: paradigms and principles.

Paradigms

Paradigms are the mental lens through which we view ourselves and our world. They are formed by  our upbringing, personal experiences, and personality. When the lens is correct, it gives an accurate lay of the land; but when it is off, it can be like looking into the fun house mirror at a carnival - what we see is distorted.

In his book, Covey shares a personal story to illustrate. I paraphrase here:

Once on a trip to New York, Covey was riding the subway. At one stop, a man and his children boarded the car. The man slumped down in a chair apathetically while his children proceeded to run up and down the car disrupting the passengers. After a few minutes of watching this and getting more and more upset, he finally said something to the man, "Do you think you can control your kids? They're disrupting everyone on the train!"

The man looked up at him and said, "Oh yeah, sorry. I guess they don't know how to handle it. We just left the hospital where their mother died an hour ago."

Covey immediately saw the situation in a different light and proceeded to console the man for the remainder of the ride.

That shift in Covey, and in us as we read the story, is an example of a paradigm shift - a change in the lens through which we analyze a situation or perceive the world.

Okay, so how do we know if our paradigms are correct or if they need shifting? We continually strive to improve and learn from our experience. We study the wisdom literature and thinking of the great leaders / thinkers throughout history and from our own spiritual path / religion and align our paradigms with the principles that emerge.

Principles

Keep in mind, principles are not the same as values. Values may be things we cherish like health, money, and close relationships. Principles, on the other hand, are deeper and universal. They are changeless laws of character that exist whether we choose to acknowledge them or not. To illustrate this point, here is an excerpt from the 7 Habits in which Covey shares a story by Frank Koch, originally published in the Naval Institute's Proceedings magazine:

Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities.

Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing of the bridge reported, “Light, bearing on the starboard bow.”

“Is it steady or moving astern?”, the captain called out.

Lookout replied, “Steady, captain,” which meant we were on a dangerous collision course with that ship.

The captain then called to the signalman, “Signal that ship: We are on a collision course, advise you change course 20 degrees.”

Back came a signal, “Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees.”

The captain said, “Send, I’m a captain. Change course 20 degrees.”

“I’m a seaman second class,” came the reply. “You had better change course 20 degrees.”

By that time, the captain was furious. He spat out, “Send, “I’m a battleship. Change course 20 degrees!”

Back came the flashing light, “I’m a lighthouse.”

We changed course.

According to Covey, “principles are like lighthouses." They are natural laws that are permanent and steady. We cannot break them, "we can only break ourselves against them."  

You see, we can do whatever we damn well please, but we cannot control the outcome which is ultimately determined by principles.  If we work with principles, we find that we become happier, more effective people. If we work against them, eventually things fall apart.

Okay, so now you have two basic concepts: paradigms and principles. In the next post in this series, I will discuss Habit 1: Be Proactive and see how we can apply this habit, even if we are dealing with mental illness.








Monday, October 7, 2013

Mental Illness Awareness Week


I just learned that it is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). Check out the the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at www.nami.org for more information.

According to NAMI, "MIAW coincides with the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding (Oct. 8) and National Depression Screening Day (Oct. 10)." I find this ironic because sandwiched in between is Oct. 9 - my birthday!

One of the reasons I started this blog was to help shed light in dark places - to help contribute to the destigmatization of mental illness. 

In honor of the week, I will post everyday - beginning tonight (after my internship ;) ). I will begin the "7 Habits of Mental Health" series as well as post a few other essays to shine the light even further. So stay tuned!