On Thursday March 16th, our guest speaker David shared with us his presentation “ Mental Health Through the Lens of the Mass Media “
David, began by sharing with us a few definitions. Contrary to some beliefs, people with mental illness are more often to be victims of violence, rather than the perpetrators. He shared that mass media can be a powerful influence, and frequently gets things wrong.
So, what does affect our understanding of reality? Our upbringing, TV violence, schools, churches we attend, government, our own experiences, and yes mass media. Mass media tends to sensationalize to make things seem more dramatic. Mass media can also stigmatize us into believing a certain way.
David also shared with us some thoughts on self-stigma. Social stigma, or the beliefs or stereotypes that are reflected in society, may lead to self-stigma. Self-stigma may occur if someone internalizes public or social stigma that they may encounter. Self-stigma can also refer to the negative attitudes, including internal shame, that some with mental health challenges may have about their condition.
Often the mass media seems to have distorted images of people with mental illness. Men are over represented as having serious mental disorders.
Sometimes male psychiatrists are portrayed as lustful weird jesters, and female psychiatrists are often portrayed as persons with emotions all bottled up. Most of us know that these distorted images are not a true reality, as there are definitely some amazing therapists and doctors out there.
David did share with us some film clips of various movies that reflect their view of mental illness. One movie that he shared a clip of “ Patch Adams” , seems that maybe it had a more positive outlook towards mental health than some others.
Since there tend to be so many negative images out there when portraying mental illness, it’s best to use your own good judgment when viewing the mass media. I always try to use good self-care, and will make an added extra effort to avoid these negative images in my life.
I really did enjoy David’s presentation, and look forward to when we hear from him again!
This past Thursday, Carolyn shared with us her most recent presentation entitled “ Acknowledging your Accomplishments “
Carolyn began our first hour by sharing with us her beautiful rendition of the popular song “ You Needed Me” . She shared that she was hoping the group would be willing to share some of their personal stories, in particular things we are most proud of in our lives. Soon a lively discussion took place within the room, and people began to share. Carolyn shared with us that at one time a few years back, she used to teach roller skating at a local skating rink. Being an instructor gave her more confidence when helping others.
She also cleaned homes for twenty years, and began to have a really good clientele. This again helped her gain even more confidence. At one point in her life, she even drove a racing car around a local speedway!
Another member shared that most people in his family didn’t really believe in going to see doctor’s. He has a brother that was having some serious medical issues with his sight, and had refused to go see a doctor. This member offered to pay for his brother’s appointment if he would just go see a doctor. This is something he was very proud of doing for his brother!
Another member shared that she started attending our DBSA group about eleven or twelve years ago. That first night she was afraid to even come into the meeting, and had trouble making it in the building from the parking lot. Fast forward twelve years later and she still attends our group on a regular basis. This is something this member is very proud of!
And one more story of a different member who now does volunteering for a local non-profit. This organization helps people who are having trouble making ends meet. They may be having trouble paying their rent, utilities or maybe even can’t afford to buy food. He helps assist these clients with paying their bills from the monies that have been donated to this organization.
Something he is very proud of as well.
All of these stories that were shared tonight have one important thing in common. These are achievements they should all be very proud of!
This past Thursday, Jen from Region six shared her presentation with us on Region 6’s role on the community. Jen shared that Region six is responsible for planning, developing and funding of behavioral health services in Cass, Dodge, Douglas, Washington and Sarpy counties in Nebraska. Funding for Region six is received from both Federal and State dollars.
Jen shared that her number one priority is stigma reduction when it comes to mental health.
She also shared that one of her main focuses is getting to know others who have mental health challenges and to be a representative of the consumer voice. Jen shared that she is using her mental health challenges to help others, rather than it being a hindrance.
Region six provides peer support specialist training, as well as partnering with Methodist College. Jen also shared that Region six has a Military center through Bellevue University, which provides assistance with housing, and teaching independent living skills. Region six also provides webinars which include speakers from Nebraska that are in recovery and are currently going through their own mental health journey. She shared they are always looking for folks to share their stories on these webinars.
They also are involved in CIT ( crisis intervention training) for therapists and others to handle emergency mental health calls.
Region Six also works with you on your Wellness recovery, with action planning, and developing good coping skills. They assist you in giving you a voice in your own care. These wellness classes are given free of charge.
They also have a Living Well program, which is a virtual program that is designed to assist with chronic conditions, problem solving, and is dedicated to you finding your best self. This virtual program meets on the 2nd and 4th Friday’s of the month. Jen also shared that Region six has a consumer advisory board that helps plan these mental health services in the community.
When asked what she is most proud of? She shared her network of team members for their passion and dedication. I was so impressed with Jen and her knowledge of mental health services in the community. I am truly grateful for her and we are lucky to have her assistance when needed on our mental health journey.
Last Thursday Miriam shared with us her most recent presentation entitled “ Cognitive Dissonance “
Miriam began by asking the room what their definition was of cognitive dissonance. One member shared their definition as; “ when you say one thing, but you do another “. Cognitive dissonance can be defined as inconsistent thoughts and attitudes. Or as Miriam shared “ things that make my tummy cringe “. I like that definition. It can also be when you participate in something that goes against your beliefs or values. Doing this may cause anxiety, unease or stress in your life.
Miriam shared that there have been events in her past that she has questioned, and she cringes at the fact that she sometimes falls for peer pressure.
Some signs or symptoms of cognitive dissonance:
– it can lead to negative self-esteem
– feeling uncomfortable before making a decision
– feeling embarrassed or ashamed and afraid of reactions to what you have said.
– you may keep things to yourself to avoid strife
– you may have external expectations
-you may find yourself going along with things you don’t believe in
– you may also find yourself walking away from unnecessary conflict
This cognitive dissonance isn’t the same for everyone, and will depend on what you value.
Sometimes feeling this dissonance can lead to positive change and growth.
So, how can we reduce cognitive dissonance?
1) you can change your belief or value
2) change your actions and behavior
3) you can change how you perceive your actions. Perceiving how your actions went, is just as important as how it went.
Try to be more aware if you are feeling a certain way, and resolve the situation.
Miriam gave a great example related to the steps above, when it comes to enjoying donuts.
If you are troubled that you may be eating too many donuts, you could;
1) change your belief that you should not eat donuts
2) change your actions and don’t eat donuts
3) and change how you perceive the eating of the donuts
I loved this presentation and always enjoy hearing from Miriam. I look forward to her next presentation!
Thanks to Abigail, our Facebook page has been resurrected! It is a bit sparse right now, so go add to it! Have fun! Let’s talk sometime other than Thursday night!
Last Thursday Josh shared with us his most recent presentation entitled “ You and me Ain’t Nothing but Mammals “
Josh shared that there are certain similarities in behavior when comparing humans and the animal kingdom.
I learned that there are three parts to our brain;
1) Inner most part ( or reptilian) which is where we get our “ fight or flight “ response to certain situations.
2) the Familial part of the brain, which includes social behaviors, emotions or memory
3) the Neo-cortex, which contains higher functions, emotional regulation, and language.
Josh shared that we share similarities in a large portion of our brain when in comparison with some animals.
He also focused on Primates, which it seems have the most similarities with humans. He shared that Primates are fairly aggressive. All behaviors have a reason behind them, and will also tend to be passed along in your genes.
Primates also have a dominant hierarchy, which is similar to the type of pecking order that we humans experience in our work environments.
We humans tend to be very social animals, and animals like us are also social animals. For example, if someone has been mean to you and treated you badly, more than often that person will eventually apologize.
We probably like to think that we are cooperative in most situations, however sometimes we humans can be very selfish.
Josh also spoke of altruism, which is important and may help to get more cooperation in the animal kingdom and with humans.
He also shared that some negatives we may share with other animals are fear, anxiety and stress. As we often times have the ability to be anxious about things in our future, some animals might share this ability as well.
Some positives we share with some animals are reconciliation, and empathy.
Since humans are very social, we tend to do well in inter-group activities. Such as engaging in our DBSA group every Thursday evening. We will tend to be more trusting with others that we know better.
Sociality is a positive thing for us, even though sometimes we may struggle with this. When it comes to morality, both humans and animals share this trait.
There can also be cultural differences within groups of animals, as there are with humans.
Josh shared that one of the main differences between humans and animals is that we build on certain behaviors, whereas animals do not.
I learned quite a bit from Josh’s presentation, and I’m looking forward to hearing more from him!
Last Thursday Miriam shared with us her most recent presentation entitled “ Don’t do Stupid S*#t!
Miriam began by sharing the story of the 15 year old and his friends who were having a sleepover and decided to take the Tic-Toc Benadryl challenge. As one of these teens almost ended up in the ICU, this story really hit home with Miriam. As she has a Son of her own, this story made her stop and think. Maybe we all need to try and be that person that someone else can call when they’re in a similar situation? Learn to look for opportunities to be there for those you care about.
Miriam shared that she is not immune to doing stupid things. Nor is she immune to being a difficult person.
One question to consider, what if I am the difficult person? In any situation, there will always be someone who is the most difficult.
Miriam shared with us the importance of Emotional intelligence…which is the ability to manage your own emotions and to understand the emotions of the people around you. If we don’t try and learn this skill, we can be more difficult in social situations.
So, in what ways can we be less difficult?
– try to go with the flow. If plans change at the last minute, think it through. Pause for a moment and try to be aware of your negative thoughts. Be open to new ideas.
-try not to personalize everything .
– if someone else succeeds, it doesn’t mean that you have failed.
– remember, everything is not about you
– learn to manage your stress, maybe try meditation
– express your difficult emotions, and try learning to express them, rather than holding them in
– try to not be accusatory with someone you disagree with. Learn to find common ground with that person.
– be more proactive. When you communicate with others, be assertive but respectful at the same time. When you communicate, try and watch your body language.
– learn to bounce back from adversity. Try and make yourself more vulnerable, and maybe learn from your mistakes. We have to learn to be more honest about who we are.
Text messages..when texting and before you respond, take a breath. Try and think about what someone may have actually meant when they sent you that text you don’t like. Think next time before you hit the send button!
Don’t try to read other people’s mind. Assume others have great intentions, be kind, and try and de escalate the situation if needed.
If many people begin to think that you are difficult, maybe you really need to step back and take a look at yourself. What were you really trying to accomplish with what you said? Are you truly being the difficult one?
And above all…smile! A smile goes a long way!
Who here has seen the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day”?
In the movie, Bill Murray keeps reliving his day over and over….until he gets it right.
Each time Bill goes to bed he wakes up at 6am to the same alarm clock playing ” I Got You Babe”
Over and over again.
At first, this is a bummer to Bill. He gets mad, he gets depressed, after all, he is stuck in the same rut every day and nothing he does gets him out of it.
The next day still starts with Sonny and Cher again
Does this sound like any of you. Each day starts the same and you seem like you are on an infinite repeat cycle?
But eventually, Bill realizes that the way to his producer’s heart is actually to use this infinite loop he was living to help others and learn some stuff. He starts taking advantage of his never progressing calendar and becomes a better man, and yes, eventually, here’s the spoiler, gets the girl and the calendar finally moves forward to February 3rd, and we don’t have to hear Sonny and Cher any more.
How many of you are stuck in your own version of Groundhog Day?
For me at least, there are three steps: Put it in your past, Forgive, and Decide.
To get started we need to recognize that we change and that we are actually composed of three selves.
So lets start our work with our past selves.
One of the most effective ways to start that process is to write a letter to your past self. Start by picking a point in time that you did or didn’t do something and by doing or not doing something, the course of your life went in a negative direction.
Now, your homework is to go home and complete your letter. Let the letter absorb all those bad emotions that you have been walking around with. Make it a time of coming to terms with that moment in the past.
If you have more than one of these moments, and most of us do, write several letters.
Now the hard part. Do one of two things with your letters. Either rip them up destroying them, or put them away and do not revisit them. Both work. View it as a cleansing, a resolution.
This is one step in making the calendar flip to February 3rd. Here is another.
The next “self” we need to work on is our present or current self.
Forgive: Not others, ourselves. Some of us are stuck in our Groundhog day loop not because we can’t forget, but because we can’t forgive ourselves for something.
We all make choices every day. Most of the time we do not even think about it because things turn out well. But once in a while, a good choice can give a bad result. Our minds then go back and revise that routine good choice and try to convince ourselves it was a bad choice.
Is it possible that those good choices were only proven bad through the lens of time?
Simple example: We decide we need groceries. We take the action of going to the store. We all do this all the time. Good decision, good action. We eat!
But this one time, On the way to the store, a drunk driver smashes into our car. A random unpredictable occurrence. What do we do? Well, we start questioning ourselves like the outcome was our fault. Did we need those groceries? What if I had stopped for a coffee first? What if I had gone a different way?
We had a good decision, a good action, and a bad result. We question ourselves, trying to blame ourselves, as it somehow was our fault.
And we start to beat ourselves up over it.
We are not Nostradamus, we do not know the future. We are more like TV weather people. Based on our education and the data on hand today, we think we know what will happen tomorrow.
But we don’t.
Was our decision right? Yes we needed groceries. We were hungry.
Was our action right? Yes we got in the car to get groceries
Was the result good? No, but based on everything we knew at the time we could not have seen this result.
Everything we did, based on who we are and what we knew at the time, was right.
So lets go one step further…
From time to time in this group we talk about finding and being our authentic selves.
But what about that past self of ours that we will be writing our homework letters to?
Could that self of the past be a different authentic self to the one that is sitting here today, our present self?
My guess is, that for most of us, it is.
The bottom line is we all learn, we all grow, we all experience life, and over time, who we are, our authentic self, changes.
Are you the same person you were 10 years ago?
Our wants, our needs, our values, over time, they all change.
Now go back and think about that past self you started your letter to a few minutes ago.
Is it possible that that person’s authentic self was different from the one sitting here today?
Is it possible that the you, you are writing your letters to, based on their authentic self at that time, was actually making a decent choice based on who they were and what they knew at that time?
Could your past self actually have been making the right choice for you at that time?
Isn’t it possible that those choices were only proven bad through the lens of time. That our mind has rewritten the entire episode because of the result, not the initial decision?
Isn’t it possible, and not just possible, it is even the right thing to do, that if, your past self made the right choice, at that time, that maybe, our current self, should give our past self a break.
That maybe, our current self should quit beating up on our past selves and move on.
After all, the past is the past. We can’t change it. It happened. Learn from it and move on.
Leave the baggage by the curb and go forward, not back.
Flip that calendar to February 3rd.
Now, we take on the biggest challenge of them all, our future self.
It is time to decide.
Now we are flipping that calendar, what are we flipping it to?
What does February 3rd look like?
What do you really want out of life?
Is what you want different from what you currently have?
You made the commitment and flipped the calendar, now, how do you get to tomorrow, and what do you really want tomorrow to be?
Stepping out that door into tomorrow can be scary.
Do any of you remember coming here for the first time? Honest now, how many of you just stayed in your cars the first time you tried to come here?
There is no easy way to get to your future self, other than to realize you have done it before. You are here. Every one of You stepped out of your car, your February 2nd, and made a change in your life to come in this door, looking for help, looking for a better life. You can do that again in your life, because you have already done it, you are here. That is all the proof you need.
You have been brave. So be brave again.
Just like Bill, it make take a few February 2nds to reach your February 3rd. You can do it, but only you can do it. Do it by continuing to try to make actual change in yourself.
Overwhelm your overwhelm with thoughts of what your future life could be, if you just take one step forward.
And if that step doesn’t get you where you want to be on the first try, be like Bill, and take another, and another, until you get there.
As we get older, we realize that time is rather fickle and rather finite.
We realize, we have no control of how many tomorrows we have.
We realize that if we do not go for our dreams today, we might not have all the tomorrows that we need to get to where we want to be.
Take it from me, a guy that should have died at least 24 times if it weren’t for modern medicine.
My clock is ticking much faster these days and it only seems to speed up.
One chance and that is now.
Tell yourself, “Today is the day” Because today has to be the day.
Today I move forward toward what I want my life to be.
Today, I do what it takes, no matter what that is.
No more waiting to see if a large rodent sees his shadow.
No more February 2nd.
Today is my time and today is the day I move the calendar and my life forward.
Move toward your future self.
Be Brave, don’t waste even a minute being afraid, because there is no greater treasure than time and wasting it by staying stuck in your present self rather than trying to get to where you want to be is simply not acceptable. Not for any of us.
Only you can do it and no matter how afraid of that first step you are, you have to take that step.
No matter how you feel right now, the story of your life is much bigger than you know. If you let it be.
There are unexpected possibilities within each moment, and today could be the day that everything shifts for you.
But you have to take that step to experience that shift to your future self.
That shift that could change everything.
Make your life the best it can be.
Last Thursday Carolyn shared with us her most recent presentation entitled “ Which Path? “
Carolyn began by sharing her beautiful rendition of “ Lean on Me”, a moving song that most of us are familiar with from the early 70’s.
She began with the question, is there a right or wrong path?
If you keep following the same path day after day, nothing will change and the path may become muddy.
So, how many paths are there?
There are many different types of paths:
-career path, family path, relaxation, addiction, lonely, relationship, spiritual, nature, inspirational, musical, or it may be a path of fame.
In life, we all want to be interesting. We can begin to do this by participating in life. We can try different paths that will enable us to engage in conversation.
You may find some paths you take to be rocky, but they are learning paths for us.
We all feel pain at times in our lives. Carolyn shared that pain showed up for her at the time her kids went off to school. It was at this time she became so busy in her life she didn’t think about pain anymore. She had lived under strain for three years before she got the help she needed.
When it comes to choosing a new path, don’t be afraid if the path you choose doesn’t work out. You can always try a different path. You will know deep down if you are taking the right path for your life.
In life, so many choices may be hard. And every so often, so many don’t know where they are going. Sometimes you might be the person who is truly holding you back!
Just remember to give your feelings time, and you will learn which paths are the right ones for you to take. We always have options, and sometimes finishing a hard path may actually rejuvenate you!
And one thing to remember, sometimes important lessons are learned from going down the wrong path. Just stay the course, until you find the right paths for you.
Last Thursday Miriam shared with us her most recent presentation entitled “ Dealing with Difficult People “.
Miriam began by sharing that there are different kinds of difficult people. There are different personality types out there. Some people don’t pay attention to what you’re saying. Some are lacking empathy, and are full of criticism. With these types of people, no one will meet their expectations. They may insult you and leave you out of their conversations.
Most people will avoid difficult people. Many difficult people can be toxic, bossy and gossipy and may second guess everything they do. It’s important to be sure we don’t let these types of people affect our mental health. Sometimes if you’re already stressed out, these types of people may bother you. Try to remember that sometimes these may be a conflict within this person that doesn’t relate to you.
So, what do we to do deal with them?
—-stay calm, if you get mad they may use that against you. Take a deep breath and regroup.
—accept what we can and can’t control. We can control our reaction, but not their reaction.
There are ways to diffuse the situation:
—listen to them. Use kindness.
— Be compassionate. You don’t know what another is going through.
—find something in common
—-show people respect
—honor both of your needs, share your side of the story. Find a way to do this with respect.
—if someone is truly being difficult, make an excuse and tell them you need to go to the restroom.
—try not to interact with them alone. If you must meet a difficult person, meet somewhere out in public.
Miriam also shared with us the different types of difficult people:
1) Passive…doesn’t offer any ideas. They expect you to take care of the situation.
2) Griper…would rather complain than find a solution
3) No person..shoots down every idea, anytime you ask them for their input.
4) The know-it-all..no matter what you say, they have an answer that they feel is better than yours.
5) The dictator…these types are into controlling everything. These may be the most difficult people. These people can be bullies. Empathize and try and find a common ground with these types of people.
6) The yes person…this is someone who agrees and supports everything that is said without criticism.
Miriam left us with one final thought. Remember, don’t let conflict influence your situation!