My thoughts about Mental Health, Virginia Pillars

Typical behavior for an adolescent or a reason for concern?


October 12, 2018

It’s Friday of Mental Illness Awareness Week. Several days, I posted reviews on books about mental illness, both nonfiction and fiction.  I find when I read books and talk with people affected by mental illness it broadens my knowledge. I also read online research and listen to webinars and videos. Each time I do, I realize how much I don’t know. I promise myself to keep my education on this important subject in a forward motion.

As I visit with groups, I’m asked often, “How can I tell if it’s typical teenage behavior or mental illness?”

Typcial behavior or something of convern_2 (1)In 2016, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation published a blog about this subject. In this article, they focused on Bipolar, which is a mood disorder.

The next few paragraphs came from their blog:

Advice on Caring for Children and Adolescents with Bipolar Disorder

Some typical teen behavior—such as unstable moods and risky behavior with drugs or sex—can also be expressions of bipolar disorder. How can a parent tell the difference?

This is one of the toughest problems for parents. The key is the clustering of unstable moods with other symptoms. Let’s use the example of a child who goes snowboarding, jumps off a cliff, and breaks his leg. Is that a manic symptom? Well, does he also have a decreased need for sleep? Is he saying grandiose things like, “I’m the best snowboarder in the world?” Is he staying up late at night and talking faster? Does his behavior stand out, even among his friends?

If parents suspect a problem, they should first talk to the child and say, “Here’s what I’m seeing. Do you think you need to talk to somebody?” The child will probably say no. Then you go a little further and say, “Why do you think you’re more irritable? It must be hard to get through the day with such little sleep.” If you suspect that he or she does have a mood disorder, get an evaluation with a psychiatrist or a psychologist—a diagnostic evaluation that includes a full medical history. Ask for recommendations on next steps— knowing that no one doctor has all the answers.

If there are questions about whether your son or daughter’s behavior is healthy or not, it may be best to just do “watchful waiting” for a while, before insisting on medications or therapy. If your child has expressed any suicidal ideation and depression, get rid of any weapons in the house and make sure alcohol or prescription medication are not easily available.

To learn about the difference in adults and youth, monitoring their moods, should they tell their friends, how to find the right doctor, among other topics, read the rest of the article.

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My thoughts about Mental Health, Virginia Pillars

I want to manage my stress.


I want to manage my stress

Yesterday, in honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, I listened to a video between Lloyd Sederer, M.D., the chief medical officer at New York State Office of Mental Health and Jeff Borenstein, M.D. the president and CEO of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. They discussed Stress Reduction.

We all live with stress at times, but chronic stress causes inflammation in our body, which in turn weakens our immune system. So, how can we reduce our stress for a healthier lifestyle and better mental health? These doctors hit these five points.

A.    Our diet – we are what we eat. Dr. Sederer recommends we reduce our intake of sugar and processed food. According to him, our bodies love vegetables and fish.

B.    Exercise – Dr. Sederer suggested 10,000 steps per day. The benefits include

1.  increased strength

2.  quiets our inflammatory responses of overactive minds and high heart rates.

3.  releases endorphin, a natural “feel good” hormone

C.    Sleep – our body rejuvenates and repairs itself as we sleep

D.    Relationships – Find others who experience similar things so you don’t feel alone. Support can help reduce stress

E.     Mind and body interaction – actions such as yoga, meditation, slow-breathing can help reduce stress.

Reduction of stress is one of my goals to a healthy and long life. Here’s what I plan to do:

A.    I have already reduced sugar and processed food. Yes, it takes more time to cook, but I feel well most of the time. Plus, I love my veggies and fish.

B.    I can’t get 10,000 steps a day right now, but I set a goal to increase each week until I can. I expect it to take a month or more to reach this level each day.

C.    I try to maintain a regular bedtime and morning routine. My morning begins with coffee and morning devotions.

D.    I have an intimate circle of friends/family I can call on when I need to chat/vent. I surround myself with positive people if I can. Sometimes, I can’t and this is when I talk with one of my trusted people.

E.     I need to incorporate this more. I hope to do more deep breathing during my devotion and prayer time each morning.

Think about what works for you to manage your stress. Your body will thank you for it.

Guest Blogs, My thoughts about Mental Health, Uncategorized, Virginia Pillars

Blog Review from Mary Potter Kenyon


Thank you, MaryPotterKenyon for your wonderful review of Broken Brain, Fortified Faith: Lessons of Hope Through a Child’s Mental Illness. Your words made my day. Our journey through schizophrenia was probably the hardest path I’ve ever had to take. But out of that period in my life came a resolve to reach out to other families who face a similar road. I like to bring hope that recovery is possible. Mental illness can be a life-long journey, but those affected can resume a lifestyle similar to others around them. It takes a tremendous amount of support, love, and dedication by the individual and those around them. I found help through NAMI, a wonderful organization providing support, education, and advocacy for mental illness.

I read with eagerness the latest news from Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, where money is distributed with grants to scientists who study the brain to unlock the mysteries of mental illness.

It’s also left my heart in a different state. I’ve become more compassionate, more mindful of the words I use, more deliberate in the actions I use on a daily basis. I practice the art of finding something each day to make me smile and try to bring the same facial exercise to those around me. Whether it be the person who checks me out at the store, a server at a restaurant, or any numerous places I encounter people, I try to bring joy.

Let’s work together to bring hope, healing, and faith to those around us. For I believe with all my heart, people who suffer from mental illness have a brain disorder – not a character flaw. They didn’t choose this for themselves. Science shows us again, and again the biological reasons for the illness. Let’s treat it as such.

 

My thoughts about Mental Health, Virginia Pillars

RAISE awareness about R.A.I.S.E.


July 2015

RAISE Awareness about R.A.I.S.E. What does that mean?

In April 2015, I watched a webinar conducted by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation that released the findings for a study called R.A.I.S.E. (Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode). The research project originated from NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health).

After watching it, I felt empowered. I felt validated. I felt humbled. As I listened, I heard the doctors and scientists discuss what I call the village approach geared for persons enduring a  first episode psychosis. (FEP) The goal: recovery.

First, R.A.I.S.E. involved a team that met on a regular basis. The team consisted of specialists who work with the patient on a personalized plan for treatment. The study called it Coordinated Specialty Care. (CSC). The specialists offered psychotherapy, medication management,  tailored to the patient, education and support for the family, case management, and work or education support for the individual. Shared decisions were made between the team, the individual and family members, when possible.        Another goal of the study was to work with the team as soon as possible after the psychotic symptoms appeared. SEE (Supported Employment/Education) was encouraged for the individual to work towards recovery.

Why my feelings of empowerment, validation, humility?

The study used a model that appeared somewhat similar to our approach with our daughter Amber after doctors diagnosed her with schizophrenia. She had exhibited many of the symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, distorted thinking, difficulty finishing a task, trouble focusing, and reduced speaking. This was not how our twenty-four-year-old daughter acted in the past. We sought help as we did the following:

  1. We had her in treatment almost immediately.
  2. We found the NAMI organization just in time to enroll in a class immediately and began our education.
  3. Although all those involved in helping her move into recovery didn’t meet as a team, our family kept the communication between the therapist and the doctor up-to-date. I kept a diary of Amber’s daily emotions and faxed it to them prior to her appointments, usually 24 hours in advance. At times I advised her therapist of changes in her medications.
  4. Amber became part of the process. She wanted to recover. We worked at home daily with games that exercised her brain. Word games, number games, card games – anything that I thought would engage her broken brain and encourage healing.
  5. We contacted our local Vocational Rehab office and Amber trained for a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and then later studied nursing. She found part-time employment when she felt able to handle the work.

As I watched the webinar presented by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation in 2015, I realized we had used many of the same components implemented by the R.A.I.S.E. study which began in 2009.

But why, the feelings?

Amber received her diagnosis in January 2005, four years before the study began. By 2009, after four years of working toward recovery, she had moved out of our home. In 2009, she had a job, she shared an apartment with friends and led an active social life. We still helped her manage her finances, but she had almost reached full independence.

Now, eleven years later she continues to live in recovery.  She continues to work full-time, manages all her own affairs/finances and leads a similar life to others her age. Her social calendar seems to burst at the seams. She also manages her medications and her appointments. She understands her illness and her need to take care of her health.

When I listened to the study, I felt validated, I felt empowered, I felt humbled. We had approached her schizophrenia in the correct manner. And I thank God that we did. I’m grateful I was given the graces I needed to guide her on her road to recovery.

I live in hope that one day all those affected with schizophrenia, or any of the mental illnesses,  will experience a similar outcome. Until then, let’s reach out to those hurting, and to their families, with all the compassion and understanding we can muster.

RAISE Study

NIMH

NAMI

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