DBSA Omaha New Hope

Family Divorce and Your Mental Health – 1/12 meeting

At tonight’s presentation, Steve shared with us some of his early life journey. Steve began by sharing that his parents were divorced way back in 1970, and he was only ten years old at the time. He and his family were living in Kansas at the time. He remembered a few late nights when his Mom would drag he and his Sister’s out of bed and catch a late night bus back to Council Bluffs to stay with his Grandmother. His parents had been fighting again. Those bus trips would become more familiar, as after the divorce his Dad moved the family back to Omaha, with his Mom remaining in Kansas. After some difficult years in junior high and high school, Steve truly had no idea on how to process his Parents’ divorce. So, how does one process a divorce in the family, when sometimes this particular situation is out of your control?

Steve shared one way of moving on from a crisis in your life such as divorce,

would be through forgiveness.  The act of forgiveness will improve relationships, and might even enable you to get along better with the one you have forgiven. 

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. Even though we can’t control the memories that stay with us, we can control the attention we give those memories. Try learning to acknowledge these memories, and then refocus your attention elsewhere. 

Abandonment issues can also be related to trauma, loss, and yes divorce.

Some of the symptoms of abandonment are:

-you attach quickly to others

-you may tend to stay in relationships, no matter how unhealthy they are 

-you may find it hard to trust people 

-you may have feelings of anxiety and depression 

-you tend to overthink things and look for hidden meanings

One way to fight off these feelings of abandonment, would be to build a feeling of belonging in your life. It’s important to have a close network of friends to rely on, should you need support in your life. It’s also important to surround yourself with others who share your interests. Maybe even discover and learn a new hobby. Having a hobby is a great way to build a support network.

Some things to remember when going through a difficult time:

1) recognize it’s okay to have different feelings.  Realize sometimes it’s okay to feel sad, angry, or frustrated and confused. Learn to accept that these feelings will lessen over time.

2) give yourself a break…try and give yourself permission to function at less than you are used to for a short time. Even though you may not be quite as productive as normal, it’s okay to feel this way. Give yourself permission and the time to heal, and regroup and re-energize.

3) don’t go it alone. Sharing your feelings with family and friends will make a difference. Consider attending a support group. It will help to talk with others in similar situations. 

4) take care of yourself emotionally and physically. Try to take time and exercise, eat well and learn to relax. It’s important to keep to your routine as much as possible! 

CIT Program – 12/8 Meeting

At our meeting tonight, we had the privilege of having Becky from Lutheran Family Services come and speak to our group. She spoke with us about the Crisis Intervention Training program, or CIT. CIT training is training provided to first responders, to give them more information about handling situations involving a mental health crisis.

Becky is a retired police officer. She was a school resource teacher, and handled student issues daily. One day, she had a “perfect” student come to see her – good grades, school clubs, etc – she was pregnant, by her “bad boy” boyfriend, and wanted help telling her parents. Seemed straightforward, but the situation turned out to be the tip of the iceberg, with family chaos erupting at the disclosure. Becky felt she had been overconfident and underprepared to handle the situation and that she would have handled the situation better if she’d had resources and services available to help the student and her family. So her boss sent her to CIT training, which provided an overview of mental health situations with adults and children, deescalation skills, communication skills, and knowledge of resources available to help people in these situations.

Becky became involved in CIT training, first at the local, then at that national level, lobbying for support and training money to train more first responders. Recognition that the law has criminalized having mental health issues, often ending up with people with minor offenses ending up in jail without mental health care. Questioning why people in a mental health crisis are often transported in handcuffs, leading people to believe that they have been arrested, rather than being taken to where they can receive care. An unfortunate situation involved an elderly man that was self-harming, being treated roughly by responders, then shot and killed, by responders not trained to handle the situation in a better way.

Education, for both first responders, and the community, about the resources available can help. One of the changes that has happened is establishment of the “988” mental health crises phone number. Like “911” for other types of emergencies, this line is staffed by people ready to help people experiencing a mental health crises. There is the possibility that a unit of responders including a therapist and peer support specialist could be formed, and could respond to those calls without involving police officers, but there are hurdles to that happening.

What we can do now – If a call to 911 is needed, telling the dispatcher that a CIT officer is needed, can lead to those trained officers, either alone or with other first responders, being sent to handle the issue. What happens is, the dispatcher will put out a call for an officer with CIT training to respond to the issue. Currently, 988 cannot directly contact 911 emergency services to engage resources, so that is why we’d ask for that when we called 911. Once it is determined what resources are needed, the officer will call for the mobile crisis unit. Mobile crisis response is available 24×7 here in Omaha, and the behavioral health unit is available on weekdays.

One of our members has experienced younger officers being more open to training for these situations. Since discussion of mental health has become more open in our communities, hopefully more officers will become trained to handle these situations as well as possible.

We appreciate Becky coming out to share this information with us!

Beating Isolation – 1/5 meeting

Last Thursday Don shared with us his  most recent presentation, entitled 

“ Beating Isolation “ 

At tonight’s presentation, Don reminded us that the month of January makes us want to stay in bed. Everywhere you look the world is isolating. However we all know that isolation is our enemy. And isolation as a lifestyle is unhealthy. Anxiety and depression sometimes come along with isolation. 

Anxiety lies to us. 

What helps bring us back to reality? When we interact with friends, with humans, that helps to bring us back. Depression can cause isolation, and can make us feel fatigued. Loss of interest is a sign of depression. Feelings of shame and of guilt for being a burden are sometimes reasons for isolation. 

Sometimes we don’t want to expose our imperfect self, and believe being alone may feel better. 

How do we stop isolation? 

1) Acknowledge there is a problem.  

2) Identify why you are isolating. Make a list of what you want done today.

You may begin to get a sense of achievement and momentum. If necessary, ask for help and reach out to friends and family. Be honest with yourself.

It is essential to surround yourself with others. Don shared that at one time after he had months of isolation, he joined several groups. This kept him busy and gave him the momentum he needed. Try to join a class or a club. Even check your local library for information. 

3)  Try volunteering for a cause. Working with those who have less can increase your sense of gratitude. 

4) Keep busy, schedule times for new activities when you’re more likely to do it.

5) Do the things you used to love doing . Maybe it’ll work again.

6) Participate…try attending our Friendship Project gatherings. This is a part of our DBSA group where we schedule afternoon game nights, go on a picnic, or maybe attending a local ball game. These are different activities that are scheduled outside of group time. It’s a great way to get to know the others in our group better. 

Remember when you are depressed, sometimes the door can be our enemy.

So try and make an effort to get out more, and participate in the world! 

If you are lonely and depressed, making a new friend can make all the difference. 

525,600 minutes – 12/29 meeting

So how do you measure a year?

We start by asking ourselves questions.

While we can’t change the past, we can learn from it.

  1. When you think back on this past year, what are you proud of yourself for?
  2. What surprised you from this past year?
  3. What worked well the past year that you are grateful for?
  4. What was challenging or disappointing?
  5. What were your most meaningful moments?
  6. Where did you fail? 
  7. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
  8. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder? 
  9. What do you wish you’d done more of?
  10. What do you wish you’d done less of?
  11. What kept you sane?
  12. What valuable life lesson did you learn this year?
  13. What was your biggest triumph?
  14. What was the smartest decision you made?
  15. How have you seen yourself grow this year?
  16. What was the biggest risk you took in 2022?
  17. What is your biggest piece of unfinished business?
  18. What would you like to do next year that you didn’t do this year?

And of course the really big question tonight…

Regardless of how 2022 went for you, how are you going to make 2023 better?

But rather than talk about it, or make yet another new year’s resolution, Don encouraged us to simply do it.  

To Take action.  

We can talk about the future all we want, but what is important is what we actually do.  

Not what we say we are going to do, what we do.

Do you repeat the same mistakes of 2022?

Do you let everything stay as it is because it is easier than making actual changes?

As we all know, those changes can be scary. 

Don challenged us to break out of our cages and move toward a happier life.

To do whatever it takes, because doing, rather than talking about it is the only way to make your life actually better.

To do what you know down deep in your heart, you need to do.

Do what it takes to find true freedom, true happiness.

Break out of the self imposed, sometimes comfortable cages that hold you back.

Overcome 2022 regret.

Overcome 2023 fear.

Just do.

I challenge you to make 23 better than 22, no matter how good or bad last year was for you.

I challenge you to make bold changes with courage.  

To reimagine yourself.

Because you are the only one that can do it.

And why would you wait even a second to do something that would be good for you.

There truly is no day like today.

Real change does not happen in the loud public moments of life.  Not with the ball drop, the fireworks, and everything else that goes along with new years.

Real change happens quietly. 

This year, instead of loud public resolutions, choose quiet change and have your best 2023.

Coping with Change – 12/15 meeting

Last Thursday Haley shared with us her most recent presentation, entitled 

“ Coping with Change” 

At tonight’s presentation, Haley began by reminding us that life is full of changes, some good and some bad. Haley shared that a couple of years ago she had met someone special, and she had started to share her life with them. They eventually decided to move in together, and started sharing their life together. Even though she felt very happy, Haley one day started to notice things were feeling a little off. It was at that time Haley’s boyfriend shared that he was never planning on getting married or having children. Of course, this was not what Haley had in mind for her future. I would say that this was a major change for Haley’s life. 

So, how can we adapt when we have major change like this that comes into our lives?

Ways to cope with change;

1) Plan ahead….starting a new job? If you have landed a new job, you could try job shadowing for that job you are thinking of starting. And make sure you have a back up plan. If for some reason that new job prospect falls through, have your back-up plan written down. 

It’s important to remember: You don’t have to be on top of everything! 

2) Re-frame your thinking….remember don’t let your negative thinking get in your way. Write down the Pro’s and Con’s of a decision you are dealing with. 

Take your time and reflect, and be mindful and present in the moment.

If necessary, vent to someone if you don’t like a particular situation.

Strive to make and keep a routine in your life, such as;

– make a list of your priorities 

-create comfort in your life. This will help you create a routine. 

– make a list ( maybe even add it to your phone) of all the things in your life you are grateful for. 

And remember to try and clearly evaluate the change, as changes can happen fast. But you can be resilient and handle these changes! 

The Fire – 12/1 meeting

Last Thursday was Don’s most recent presentation entitled “ The Fire” 

At tonight’s presentation, Don began by turning out the lights in the room, and lighting a small candle in the middle of the room.

The fire…always burning. Many of us have a fire. It might be booze, pills, or maybe even a person or a place.  ( it doesn’t have to be a real place) This fire is always with us. 

Don shared that many of us have escaped the fire once, or maybe several times. And usually at the worst time, the fire tries to take control. We know our fire is always there calling us.  Our fires can end us.

How do we fight this fire? The stronger you build your boundaries, the more resilient you will be. To find this strength we need comes with time and practice. And remember, we don’t need to face the fire to build inner strength.

Don went on explaining that we do not need the strength to defeat our fires, just enough strength to summon help at that very dark moment, the moment where the seductive voice of the fire is calling to us.

So, how do we summon the strength needed to face the fire?

By trying different mental exercises.  The exercises help us develop mental focus, the type we need to see through the flames and to call out for help.

For example:

1) pick a day to be positive, no matter what you face that day 

2) take a day off from the internet 

3) have a day of complete mindfulness 

4) for a day, question your actions. Are they what’s best for you?

5) for a whole day, delay your responses

Think about the others in your life. List them out and the reasons why they are so important in your life.  Envision what their lives would be like without you in it.

Start training your brain to fight the fire. 

The most important take away from the meeting is to have a someone. A someone to turn to, to call out to, that understands what is at stake at that moment. A someone to help summon professionals, and to sit with you until they arrive.

Don stressed that if you do not have a someone, open up to a friend or a family member, knowing that the consequences of opening up could be nothing compared to the consequences of not opening up.

Don then led a special second hour session where members could discuss their experiences with their fires. 

Toxic Shame Cycle – 11/10 meeting

Last Thursday November 10th, we were treated to Abigail’s most recent presentation “ Toxic Shame Cycle “

At tonight’s presentation, Abigail wanted to share with us a topic that affected the path of her mental health journey a lot. Her topic tonight was shame. She started out by identifying what shame is, and how it affects those of us with mental health challenges. A word that’s usually associated with shame is Guilt.  She shared that guilt is usually based around an action, and feeling remorse for something you did wrong. Shame can also be a feeling that you are bad or inadequate. 

Abigail shared that shame is really common among people that struggle with mental health challenges.  Shame can also be prevalent in trauma survivors and also in children who have experienced abuse and neglect. She advised children start to feel shame at about 18 months old. And the reason children who experience abuse and neglect are so prone to shame is is that children’s brains are egocentric. This meaning that from the time people are babies to around 7 years old, young children only see everything as it relates to their experience. 

Abigail did share with us that she really wanted to cover this topic, as it is the biggest thing that prevented or slowed her mental health recovery when she was in her teens and early 20’s. 

So, how do we heal from toxic shame? 

1) acknowledge our thoughts…if we want to heal from it, we have to acknowledge it. It’s important that we do this in a non-judgmental way. 

2) recognize your triggers…..more than likely certain people or places cause you to feel shame. So, you need to do the work of recognizing your triggers, and learn to either avoid these triggers or build coping strategies to handle them.

3) challenge and reframe your thoughts…shame can feel pretty intense, and may cause you to react. Try questioning your thoughts before they get too extreme. Ever heard the phrase “ feelings aren’t facts “ ?  If you’re feeling shameful or inadequate, try to acknowledge that you are feeling inadequate and try to determine the reason why.

4) practice compassion…practicing compassion involves loving yourself. And accepting love and kindness from others. The more we practice this, the more likely it will be that we heal from toxic shaming. Try by writing a list of your best qualities, and make sure and practice self-care that makes sense to you.

5) reach out…connection is a vital part of shame resilience. It helps us to feel valued and accepted. Shame usually thrives when we are feeling most alone. When separation from others is removed or lessened, that feeling of shame loses it’s power over us. 

Make sure and reach out to others. You can practice this by joining us at our weekly DBSA meetings! 

Gratitude – 11/3 meeting

One of the great traditions that many families have at Thanksgiving is going around the table and each person tells what they are thankful for.

That is exactly the discussion Don led us through last night.

First we talked about how expressing gratitude helps us both physically and mentally. 

We started talking about the “Big Picture” and what major things in life we are grateful for.  We opened up the room and everyone contributed.  Some of the topics that were brought up were:

  1. Your family
  2. Close friends
  3. Good health
  4. Your home
  5. Your job
  6. Healthy food
  7. Your education
  8. Your pets
  9. A good night’s sleep
  10. 10.Having enough money
  11. Weekends
  12. 12.Art
  13. 13.Teachers
  14. 14.Modern healthcare
  15. 15.Music

That was big picture, but we also talked about  small things that are part of our everyday life.  Some of the topics included were:

  1. Indoor plumbing
  2. Food delivery services
  3. Wifi
  4. Netflix
  5. Fuzzy Socks
  6. Deodorant
  7. The ability to Google any question
  8. Toilet Paper
  9. Duct Tape
  10. 10.Good hair days
  11. Bacon
  12. 12.Fortune cookies with perfectly timed fortunes
  13. 13.Cat videos
  14. 14.GPS
  15. 15.Auto save
  16. 16.Spellcheck
  17. 17.Chapstick

That was followed by a discussion of what about Thanksgiving itself we are grateful for?

  1. Holidays with family (or friends)
  2. A good meal
  3. A comfy couch or chair
  4. Your favorite Thanksgiving side dish
  5. Uncontrollable laughter
  6. Pie
  7. Seeing old friends
  8. Grandparents
  9. Not being the turkey

We finished with talking about our group.  One person after another contributed what our group has meant to their lives.  It was an inspiring and heartfelt end to a great meeting!

The Masks We Wear – 10/27 meeting

Last Thursday October 27th, we were treated to Don’s latest presentation, with a Halloween appropriate title “ The Masks we Wear”

Don began by sharing that Halloween’s origin began as an ancient Celtic holiday , with the wearing of masks. He also reflected that as recently as a year ago, we were all wearing masks due to the pandemic, which gave us a place to hide. Now things are much different.

     But many of us do wear masks every day, both intentionally and unintentionally. Lately Don has felt like he has been putting his armor on, and wearing a mask more often. 

     So what is a mask? A traditional definition is ; a covering used to protect ourselves. Masks can be emotional.  They may be a false front, as sometimes we build false fronts and hide behind them to get through the day. These emotional masks can protect us from the cruelty of the world. 

Types of Masks…

1) Identity mask…this mask is used to hide who we are from others. This mask can also be a better one to use for conflict avoidance, or for survival. When wearing this mask, you may find that the real you will try to come out.

2) Emotional mask….this mask will usually hide what you are feeling. This may be a mask that you started wearing, if you grew up in a family that would hide their feelings. Don related that his wife Miriam grew up in a very talkative family, whereas Don’s family was the very opposite. The emotional mask can help you get through difficult situations. If you happen to be going through something difficult, sometimes you need to let the emotions flow. It is possible to overuse an emotional mask. Sometimes we need to process our emotions to get to inner peace. 

3) Situational mask…..different situations may require a different mask. Such as giving a presentation at our Thursday night group. Or when you are meeting a new person for the first time. It’s important to assess the situation you’re in so you are wearing the appropriate mask. 

What are some things that all masks have in common?

– all of these masks serve a function 

– they help protect you from ill-intentioned people 

– wearing a mask is one way of setting boundaries. Sometimes it can be healthy to keep new people you meet at an arm’s length until you get to know them. 

There are also some reasons to shed your mask;

1) shedding your mask will help you to live up to your potential 

2) we often mask special parts of us that we should share with others 

3) relief..it can be exhausting to wear a mask all the time. You may not be living an authentic life if you’re always wearing a mask 

4) healing…when wearing a mask, we carve a piece of ourselves out. And we can’t be healed in life unless we feel all the feels and never hold back.

How do we remove our masks?  If we remove our masks, you may get to know yourself better. We need to be willing to take risks and live our lives fully. And don’t pull your mask partially off and let the world scare you. 

Remember being maskless requires courage, but will ultimately reveal the person we truly are. 

Boundries – 10/13 meeting

Last Thursday October 13th, we were treated to Miriam’s recent presentation entitled “ Boundaries “ 

Miriam began by sharing how she has recently had to set some new boundaries with her Son. Her Son lives in a different state, and has gone back and forth about possibly moving back to to be close to her, as well as being indecisive about his work life. She shared that she feels renewed after setting boundaries with her Son. Sometimes in life you even have to set some boundaries with family members. 

She also shared that there are usually three different areas where you should set boundaries. Those three are work, at home, and with yourself. 

     Sometimes when setting boundaries, you will learn to separate your “stuff” from other “stuff “.  When you start to set some boundaries in your life, there will be some signs that your boundaries may be too rigid. Some symptoms of boundaries that are too rigid may be that you don’t have any close relationships or you may be isolating and staying home too much. 

In a relationship, ( this includes any relationship with others) you will want to set healthy boundaries, which may mean you may spend time doing things you don’t necessarily want to do. This would be part of a healthy relationship.

     There are also three different types of boundaries, which are emotional, mental and physical. Emotional boundaries are about your feelings and your ability to express those emotions. Mental boundaries are your thoughts or beliefs, and are about sharing your emotions with others. And physical boundaries are the limits you set regarding your body. 

Your boundaries are also based on how you are feeling at the time. And boundaries can also be about saying no and yes. Once your boundaries are set, you will need to communicate your boundaries! 

     Ways to set your boundaries:

– Setting your boundaries have a lot to do with self-esteem. We need to evaluate what we value.

– You need to be able to state your boundaries 

– Decide due to your core values, where your boundaries are set.

When setting your boundaries, accept you can’t change others, only yourself.

Setting boundaries are all about honoring your own needs. Once you’ve decided your boundaries, you need to let your behavior speak for your boundaries. The most important part of setting your boundaries is learning to communicate your boundaries. You need to be comfortable and state what your boundaries are. Just remember you matter, and your opinions matter. Setting boundaries is not easy, but it can be very rewarding.