DBSA Omaha New Hope

Herding Cats – 6/16 meeting

On Thursday June 16th, Miriam gave us a presentation entitled; “ Herding Cats” 

I have to begin by saying, I love the title of Miriam’s presentation. It puts a smile on my face. That aside, Miriam described Herding Cats as, the difficulty of getting people to agree on anything. The harder you try, the more frustrating and impossible it may become.  For example when ordering a pizza or two to be delivered, it can be difficult to get everyone to agree on the same toppings.  Miriam also described a recent situation when her family had gathered together for her Father’s memorial service, where she could not get several Aunt’s and Uncle’s to agree together on the same restaurant for dinner.  In fact once they decided where to meet, some of her relatives couldn’t find the restaurant.  Miriam said she learned from that particular situation that it’s impossible to control the uncontrollable.  Things sometimes will just collapse on their own and transcend into a new level. 

     If this should happen to you in a given situation, it’s possibly a good time to fall back into your own safety net.  Your initial assessment of the situation can determine your own reaction.  If necessary, you may even want to step outside, get some fresh air, and gain some new perspective. 

Miriam offered these steps to proceed:

1) determine your #1 priority 

2) assess what needs to be done 

3) prioritize

4) take inventory of your external and internal resources 

    – Internal resources can be your own life experiences, or just having the self-confidence to know you’ll come up with a solution to the problem. 

   – external resources may come from others in your group, who may be able to assist you in resolving the problem on hand. 

In handling situations, we need to accept the imperfections in our lives, and realize there will be different approaches to handling problems.

It’s important in these situations to:

1) prioritize by urgency, or the size of the problem 

2) determine what matters to you the most 

3) realize every approach has risks/ consequences 

4) control what you can control 

So, how do we prepare for chaos in our own life?

1) be ready, try to stay relaxed and be resilient 

2) learn to say no to people. After you’ve said no, ask others to help instead.  Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

3) make time for hobbies and exercise 

4) take time to “ wash out your brain and reframe your thoughts “

A challenge to take on; 

Try writing down three things you’re grateful for every day, for an entire month. No repeats allowed.  Sounds like a great exercise to me!  I plan on trying this one. 

A thought; try to remember that chaos causes us to adapt and change. 

If you start to realize that you can’t predict the future, or control everything in your life, that can be very freeing!  It’s important to adapt, and encourage yourself to stay resilient! 

PTSD – 6/9 meeting

On Thursday June 9th, Kirk gave us a presentation entitled; “ PTSD “

Kirk began his topic of discussion by sharing a little bit of history on PTSD ( post traumatic stress disorder) 

He advised some of the most common PTSD symptoms are fatigue, tremors, being easily startled, also insomnia or nightmares, irritability, and severe anxiety. During the beginning of World War I around 1914, soldiers began to experience shell shock, which was an earlier term used for PTSD.  Shell Shock was diagnosed when soldiers were unable to perform their required duties. 

This shell shock became even more prevalent during the Vietnam War, and was eventually diagnosed in 1980 by the DSM3 ( diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders ) as PTSD. They defined as an anxiety disorder that reacts to severe mental distress. 

Kirk went on to give us a little bit of history on the beginnings of his own PTSD. It was during junior high that Kirk began to experience some of his symptoms. He grew up with his family living in a small town, and was relatively happy. It was during this time that his family experienced a home invasion. During this frightening incident he and his family were holed up in a bedroom with the doors locked, listening to the intruders. Finally his Father became so frustrated that he bolted out of the bedroom and chased the intruders out of their home. Up to this point, Kirk had always felt safe at home and well protected. As a result of this incident, Kirk began to experience the symptoms of PTSD.  After realizing that his family life at home had turned into a high stress household, Kirk began to contemplate moving out of the state to escape all of the bad memories he had as a result of the incident. It was at this point that he moved away to Texas to attend college. 

Once he had graduated college, he realized he needed some help with his ongoing anxiety and depression. Eventually he ended up moving back to Omaha on 09/11. With the significance of this date about to be a part of our country’s permanent history, he also had a life changing experience happen to him. Kirk had just moved into a new apartment, and noticed a new neighbor moving in next to him, a friendly young man. Shortly after his new neighbor moved in, it was during this time Kirk started noticing a strange smell in the apartment building, and finally reported this several times to the landlord.  The owners of the building brushed off the situation as meaningless and unimportant, and that maybe it was a result of someone’s cooking. After this situation went on for entirely too long, Kirk eventually found out from his landlord that his neighbor had indeed taken his own life. The landlord’s had discovered the situation, and the apartment where this gentleman lived had actually been completely gutted by this man. At the time of this incident, naturally Kirk became very bothered by what had happened in his own building, which didn’t help with his symptoms.  During this time he went to visit his family in Florida, to try and get some much needed relaxation.  Even when he was visiting his family, his Parents’ neighborhood seemed to be filled with the sound of constant sirens, which became very triggering to Kirk.  

During this time of his life, Kirk realized he needed help to handle his PTSD. Eventually he began attending helpful support groups such as DBSA. 

Kirk advised that there are several signs of PTSD, that are usually triggered by a life-threatening event.  Such as;

– you may have internal reminders, such as night terrors

– if possible you may want to try and avoid external reminders, such as sirens 

– watching the news can be another trigger 

– changes in your mood or thinking 

– fainting spells 

– high anxiety 

– trouble with simple tasks

Kirk also discussed several different tips for handling PTSD;

– EMDR ( eye movement desensitization and processing) 

– trying grounding techniques , such as the 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique for anxiety 

– hypnosis 

– and of course therapy groups 

Kirk’s presentation tonight showed true signs of bravery, as sharing your life story with others is not always easy.  I admire him for having the courage to share his journey with us, which helps all of us learn from his life experience. 

Bravo Kirk!!!

Letting Go and Forgiving, part II – 6/2 meeting

On Thursday June 2nd, Steve gave us a presentation entitled; “ Letting go and Forgiving, part II. 

Steve’s topic of discussion this past Thursday was a return visit to the topic of forgiveness, with a little more focus on self-forgiveness this time around. With a reminder at the beginning of a general definition of forgiveness; forgiveness means different things to everyone. In general “ forgiveness is basically a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge”.  

Steve advised that forgiveness does not mean forgetting. However we must realize we can’t control the memories that stay with us, but we can control the attention we might give to these memories. If we learn to be mindful and acknowledge these memories, that’s okay. But once the memories are acknowledged, then refocus your attention elsewhere and move on.  Try hard not to ruminate over these memories, and learn to set healthy mental boundaries. 

Steve also explained that forgiveness and anger don’t mix. If you find yourself feeling angry towards someone who has hurt you, pause and acknowledge that anger. Then ask yourself, will continuing to focus on what happened do me any good? Try to remember just because your anger feels right, doesn’t mean it’s helpful. Validate your anger, but don’t ruminate over it.

There was also a little more focus this time around on self-forgiveness. 

Steve spoke about the Four R’s of self-forgiveness;

Responsibility….accept responsibility for what you’ve done. Try showing a little compassion towards yourself this time! Facing how you may have hurt someone is the first step of self-forgiveness. If you try and take responsibility for the hurt you may have caused, it may help you avoid the guilt. 

Remorse…after you take responsibility for the hurt you have caused, you might start having feelings of guilt. Having these feelings of remorse may signal a start of more positive behavior for you. Feel guilty without dwelling on it.

Repair the damage…making amends can be important, whether you’re forgiving another person or yourself. If it’s someone else you have hurt, apologize if you feel it’s necessary, and look for ways to make it up to them. If you fix what you’ve done, you’ll never wonder if you could have done more.

Renewal…Forgiving yourself might mean finding a way to learn from the experience, and maybe grow to be a better person. Even though you may have made a mistake, you should try to look at it as a learning experience. 

Forgiveness does also offer health benefits, such as ;

– it may help lower blood pressure 

– reduce anxiety 

– help you sleep better 

-may help improve your self-esteem 

Steve also had mentioned you should try to look at forgiveness as more of an attitude, or even a habit, rather than just a decision.

Maybe try and look at forgiveness as more of a commitment, rather than a feeling. We need to learn to embrace how unique our own road to forgiveness truly is. 

Steve also had some advice for for moving on after forgiveness;

1) focus on everything good you have in your life 

2) forgiveness may teach you more about compassion 

3) try and work on your own happiness, you may want someone to regret hurting you, but that other person may not think they hurt you, or even care. 

4) be kind to yourself

5) Remember to practice self-care

6) and be with others who make you feel good! 

And most importantly, allow peace to enter your life once you have forgiven someone.

How Did I Get Here – 4/26 meeting

On Thursday May 26th, Carolyn gave us a presentation entitled; “ How did I Get Here? “ 

Carolyn’s topic of discussion this past Thursday reminded me of some situations I had encountered myself in the past. Feelings of uncertainty, lack of trust for others, and just genuinely not feeling our best.  Carolyn was brave enough to share her personal story with us, which is not always easy to do. Carolyn advised years ago when her husband wasn’t working, and during some career changes he was undergoing, she had decided to start her own cleaning business.  She said having this new career helped her mental health to stabilize more and gave her some much needed independence. Even though her husband wasn’t working at the time, Carolyn was determined to work so they would always have a house to live in, and so they would not have to worry about any debt. 

     After being out of work for awhile, eventually Carolyn’s husband did start his own business, which entailed building jacks for airplanes. At the same time, Carolyn started creating Art, which is a true passion of hers to this day. 

     It was also around this time that Carolyn started to have feelings of paranoia,  and was always concerned that others were going to harm her or maybe even that most everyone was out to get her. At one point, she started following white cars, and found herself thinking that these white cars somehow were angels, and that these angels were leading her somewhere she needed to be. She did end up at a stranger’s house, finding herself pulling into the garage belonging to someone she didn’t even know. The lady living in this home finally convinced Carolyn to call her Son who came to meet her and take her home.  It was at this point Carolyn ended up in the hospital for awhile for some care. 

Eventually Carolyn’s paranoia became so bad, that she didn’t want to spend any time at home, and she started spending a lot of time staying at a friends house. 

     On one particular day, Carolyn found herself driving all the way to Colorado, with the intention of seeing her Son. Carolyn’s journey to Colorado started early that particular day, leaving Omaha at 9am that morning. When she had almost made it to her destination, she suddenly decided to turn around and head back to Omaha, with the intention of stopping at a motel to spend the night. She ended up driving all the way back home, arriving home at around 2am. It was at this point when she feels that her Bi-Polar may have started and had begun to take over her life. After this long driving trip episode with no sleep, she did end up seeking care and was admitted to the hospital again for some much needed care.  

     After ending up in the hospital for various stays, eventually during one of her stays she finally learned of support groups such as NAMI and DBSA.  

Carolyn soon learned what amazing support these groups can be for our mental health journey. She did share with us that her four trips to the hospital were very positive experiences. Carolyn has become such an important part of our DBSA family. Lucky for us that Carolyn has found our DBSA group.

What a Joy it is to have her in our lives! 

Fear – 4/19 meeting

Amber talked about fear, what are its origins, what are the symptoms and how do we move it out of our bodies.

She started with the song, Love is a Liar
Then she read some passages about fear from the book, It Didn’t Start with Me by Mark Wolynn and My Friend fear by Meera Lee Patel. They talked about fear that comes from ancestry and is born from our childhood experiences.

Meera Lee Patel in her book analyzed her fear – she looked at how it feels, it looks, it sounds like and then arrived at her conclusion that her fear was about potential rejection from society because of her appearance.

So the group talked about their fears, did some analysis of what it looked like, and felt like and where it lived in their bodies. Then entered into a very lively conversation with a partner about it.

Amber walked the group through some breathing techniques and a hugging exercise to dissipate fear by reconnecting with the Inner Child.

Several people were introspectively connecting with themselves on a deeper level and were very happy to learn this new tool. 

Voting now open for DBSA Board

Update: Voting for 2022 Board is now closed

There you will see information on each candidate and you will have the opportunity to vote for up to nine candidates. Voting will remain open until the end of the month at which point, the candidates with the top nine vote totals will be elected to serve on our board for the next 12 months.

A quick note on the election:

  1. You may not know Todd and Deb. They are our long running Secretary and Treasurer and really represent a lot of institutional knowledge about the group. Even though you may not be familiar with them, I highly recommend that they get your vote. The group runs smoothly because of them!
  2. A couple of names you might have expected to be on the ballot are not. Becki has decided to step down from the board to give more time to her very effective roles as our outreach coordinator, facilitator, and presenter. Don has decided to step down from the board to give more time to his roles as our webmaster, presentation coordinator, facilitator, and presenter.

Processing Loss – 5/12 meeting

On Thursday May 12th, Don gave us a presentation entitled; “ Processing Loss “ 

Don’s topic of discussion this past Thursday most likely hit home with a lot of those in attendance. 

For those of us that struggle with mental health issues, and even those of us who don’t, dealing with loss is never easy. 

Don began by quoting that old saying “ nothing is ever certain but death or taxes “.  But he corrected this statement by saying there is only one thing certain in life. Loss. There are all different kinds of loss. You may experience the loss of :

-time

-normalcy; due to Covid 

– friends

– a family member 

– your independence 

– confidence 

– animals

– money

The moment that the loss happens, it takes your breath away and you may shut down. But you must move on, adjust, and feel the feels. Returning to normal can take time, or it may go quickly. 

When it comes to grief, there are five phases of grief.

1) Denial …this denies the overwhelming and emotional pain of loss, and finds you wondering how to move forward. If you have broken up with someone, you may be convincing yourself that your partner will come back to you. Or if you have lost a job, you might be convinced you’ll get a call from your old employer asking you to come back. Denial is a natural reaction that helps you process your grief in your own time.

2) Anger….This anger serves a purpose. You may find yourself thinking why me, what did I do to deserve this? You may find yourself angry at life itself. You may start feeling guilty about your anger, which may make you even angrier.

3) Bargaining…this will help you hold onto hope during intense pain. You may find yourself thinking, what if I had done something differently to prevent the loss? Guilt may become part of your bargaining, as you may think if only things had played out differently.

4) Depression…..during the processing of grief, eventually things will start to slow down and we start to process the grief more fully. During this time you may tend to pull inward.

5) Acceptance…reaching acceptance isn’t about being okay with what happened. It’s more about accepting, not struggling, and acknowledging what has happened. 

When you are processing grief, you may start questioning yourself, and worrying what you’re doing is not enough, or that you are doing it wrong. 

There is no correct way of dealing with grief, no set list of steps. We all unique and process grief differently.

You may ask yourself, how should I be feeling? Your mind and body will be telling you what to do to process the grief. There is no specific or linear order of grief. There are no deadlines or timeline to your processing of grief.

If you find yourself depressed when dealing with your grief, just remember that dealing with depression during your grief isn’t equivalent to clinical depression. People that do not have clinical depression will come out of grief depression. Eventually the good memories you have of the person you lost will squeeze out the pain. 

Most of grief is short term.  Just remember to be gentle with yourself. 

Not every day will be better than the one before.  After all of this, no matter how deep the valley, you will be okay! 

Adding Tools to Your Toolbox – 5/5 meeting

On Thursday May 5th, Miriam gave us a presentation entitled; “ Adding Tools to your Toolbox” 

Miriam’s topic of discussion this past Thursday gave us a lot to think about. 

For those of us that struggle with mental health issues, those coping tools that we have in our tool box are very important to us. If we are having a bad day, or maybe even a bad week, very often we rely on our coping skills to get us through.

Miriam tells us If you are having a day when you are feeling lonely or sad, then think about calling a friend or try doing something you enjoy. Anything to keep your mind off your troubles. 

Or if you have a day when you are too depressed to get out of bed, then while you are laying there in bed, make a list of things you need to do and check each one off as your day progresses. It can even be as simple as;

1) get out of bed 

2) brush your teeth 

3) take a shower 

4) wash a load of laundry 

Then you can consider giving yourself a reward for completing one of the items on that list. Maybe a piece of chocolate?

Or, if you are having trouble getting motivated to clean, say the bathroom or kitchen, Miriam suggested setting a timer for ten minutes. Once you have completed cleaning for 10 minutes, set the timer again for another 10 minutes of cleaning.  You may be surprised at how much cleaning you get done.

     Miriam also touched on what you can do when dealing with difficult people.

If you are in an argument with someone, and you are dealing with someone in a difficult situation, or it’s someone you deal with on a daily basis, you can;

1) physically walk away from the situation. 

2) actively listen to them 

3) cut them out of your life 

4) or excuse yourself and go to the restroom, and never come back! ( this one is my favorite)

     Or maybe you are in a bad situation at work. If something like this happens at work, carefully evaluate the situation, and try not to blow up at work. If needed, physically remove yourself from the situation and go outside and take a walk. Or talk to another co-worker to gain some perspective. 

     Miriam went on to share a new tool in her toolbox that she has discovered.

This is a tool to use during a confrontation with someone.  If you are with someone and they are verbally attacking you, try to just sit there and let them vent, and don’t say a word. Let all of their unkindness just flow around you, without any response. And when they are finished, acknowledge their feelings, and maybe even apologize for what they think you have done, and then move on from the situation. This is definitely a new tool that we could all use and add to our own toolbox. 

     If you’re in a difficult situation such as this, who knows, maybe a new skill could come from out of the blue when you least expect it. One final quote from Miriam for us to ponder;  

           “ just because someone says it, doesn’t mean it’s true “ 

Letting Go and Forgiving – 4/21 meeting

On Thursday April 21st, Steve gave us his presentation entitled “ Letting go and Forgiving “

Steve began by giving us a definition of what forgiveness means; forgiveness means different things to everyone. In general, it’s basically a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. Whatever it was that hurt or offended you may always be with you, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you, and allow you to let go and move on.

Sometimes forgiveness can be challenging, and might be confused with accepting something wrong that someone has done to us. It’s important to remember that forgiveness will allow you to let go of that connection you have with the person that hurt you, and to move on with or without them. 

“ Its good to remember that forgiveness benefits the forgiver more than the one who’s forgiven “.

There are seven steps to true forgiveness;

1) Acknowledge…learn to acknowledge the hurt, try to understand the person who hurt you and why did they do it?

2) Consider…..think about the pros and cons of forgiving and letting go, maybe consider how the hurt and pain has affected you. How has the pain changed who you are?

3) Accept..that you have a choice in forgiveness, and accept that you cannot change the past. Maybe it’s time to admit that your anger towards that person who hurt you won’t change anything.

4) Determine…whether or not you will forgive this person, and try and empathize with the one who hurt you. This decision may determine the future relationship you may have with the one who hurt you.

5) Repair..maybe it’s time to repair the relationship you once had with the person who hurt you. Before forgiveness can happen, try and rebuild the relationship you once had. Remember to focus on the present, and not the past.

6) Learn..what forgiveness means to you. Try and feel compassion towards the one you need to forgive. Once you’ve given yourself time to forget the past with the one who hurt you, forgiveness will be a way for you to find closure.

7) Forgive…decide to forgive the person who hurt you. Sometimes this may be a silent forgiveness, maybe something you will only acknowledge in your heart.

Steve also talked about forgiving yourself. Sometimes you may find it hard to forgive, if you blame yourself for what has happened. This is where some self-compassion and self-forgiveness may need to happen before you can forgive another. Just try to remember if someone decides to hurt you, it’s never your fault.

Once you’ve forgiven someone in your life, it’s also important to move on. If you practice forgiveness it will help you;

1) Focus on everything good you have in your life 

2) It May teach you more about the importance of compassion, and having empathy towards others.

Some more tips for letting go;

1) Try creating a positive mantra, to help you reframe your thoughts and to move on.

2) Practice mindfulness, if we try harder to bring our focus to the present, our past will have less of an influence on us.

3) Be kind to yourself 

4) Remember to practice self-care

5) Be with others who make you feel good!

Most importantly. allow peace to enter your life once you have forgiven someone.

How You Can Help

Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to elect our new board of directors!

You may have a few questions such as:

What does a board member do? Board members collectively manage our group. They set policy and make decisions regarding all aspects of our group. Basically, the board is the engine that makes our group work!

What is the time commitment? The board meets monthly, usually on a Saturday morning, ideally the second Saturday of the month at 10am. Meetings are usually 60-90 minutes with a separate meeting of facilitators and presenters that follows for about another hour. You do not have to be a facilitator or presenter to be on the board and you do not have to be on the board to be a facilitator or presenter. More on that below.

What are the qualifications for being a board member? Simply a willingness to help. Whether you are new to the group last week or have been a member for many years, it does not matter. Enthusiasm is all that is required! New people and new ideas are always more than welcome.

What are the benefits to me of being on the board? Being on this board is a super positive experience. Like our group in general, we have fun at our meetings. We talk things through and are not divisive. We reach a consensus rather than have an argument over issues. And most importantly, we become friends. Friends working toward a common goal, to make this group the best it can be.

What are the opportunities for me to serve the group? Each member of the board brings different strengths and experiences to the meeting. We try to use the talents of each member while remembering why we are all here. Taking on responsibilities is always optional. No matter if it is a board office like president, or a more informal position like webmaster or blog writer, it is up to you to decide how much you do.

What if I want to help the group, but being a board member is just not who I am right now? We get that and there are other ways you can help without being a board member.

  1. You can be a presenter! One of the strengths of our group is the number and diversity of experiences of our first hour topic presenters. If you are interested and have a topic you would like to present, tell one of the board members. Our presenters attend the second hour of the monthly board meeting where we build our topic schedule, do training sessions, and talk about what works and what doesn’t when presenting to our group.
  2. You can be a facilitator! Facilitators lead our second hour small groups each Thursday night. Again, we ask that our facilitators also attend the second hour of the monthly board meeting where we hold training sessions to help you deal with the issues that come up during second hour.
  3. You can help with special projects! Less of a time commitment but we do need help organizing special nights and special events for our Friendship project events among other things.

Great! How do I get started?

  1. I want to join the board. By the end of April, send us a 3 to 5 sentence (short!) summary of who you are and why you want to be on our board. These summaries will be posted on the online ballot for member voting during the month of May. If you are successful, you will join the board starting with the June meeting on June 11th. Send your summary to the group email address, newhope.dbsa@gmail.com
  2. I want to be a presenter. Talk to Don, he is in charge of that sort of stuff. Or email him at miriamdon@aol.com. Plan on attending the second hour (11am), of the June 11th board meeting and come with ideas for topics you would like to present.
  3. I want to be a facilitator. Again, talk to Don or email him at miriamdon@aol.com. Plan on attending the second hour (11am) of the May 14th board meeting. We will start getting you up to speed on the dos and do nots of leading a second hour group session.
  4. I want to help with special projects. Contact Miriam, our current President at newhope.dbsa@gmail.com. Tell her what you would like to help with!