May is mental health month

I've written extensively about mental health and my mission to erase its stigma in blog posts and essays for my own and other websites. I'm also written about my son's mental illness that ended in his suicide in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide. Today I'd like to leave you with a list of some agencies that provide mental health and suicide prevention services. I've also pulled a passage out of my memoir to share with you - a scene with our son at a restaurant in New York City where my husband and I observed his clearly irrational behavior. We were so distressed at what we saw we plotted to get him into the hospital to be diagnosed and treated for the first (of many) times. I urge anyone who has a similar experience to get help as fast as possible. Some Helpful Agencies American Foundation for Suicide Prevention bringchange2mind Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services … [Read more...]

Yes! Dogs can help improve our health

Not being a pet owner myself, I was very intrigued to learn about the ability of dogs to help improve our physical and mental health. Thank you, Brandon Butler, for introducing me to these special qualities. Please go to Brandon's website to find out more. How Dogs Improve Our Health by Brandon Butler Photo credit by Pexels Dog owners have told us for years that their pets are more than just companions. Who hasn’t heard the story of a dog that has saved someone emotionally? But is it true? It turns out that even science supports the theory that dogs can improve your mental, physical, and social health. The Physical Health Benefits of Dogs We don’t commonly think of dogs as being beneficial to our physical bodies, but they can be. Here are a few ways how: Dogs require daily walking and exercise and that means you need to walk with them. You’ll be building muscle as you learn to control your dog and getting exercise along your walk. That daily walk can frequently … [Read more...]

May is mental health month

With mental health care on the chopping block, it is important to keep in mind organizations that can help. Here's a list of groups I've compiled, which also include suicide prevention sites. Helpful Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Organizations American Foundation for Suicide Prevention bringchange2mind Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services Healthline NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Stop A Suicide Today Survivors of Suicide Bereavement Support Association, Inc. The Compassionate Friends The Jed Foundation My son Paul was diagnosed with bipolar disorder soon after he turned twenty-one. And after struggling with it for almost seven years, he took is life at age twenty-seven. Suicide is a huge risk for those suffering with mental illness. We must continue to work hard for health care parity, i.e., that treats physical illness and mental illness equally. It didn't exist when Paul was suf … [Read more...]

Photos from the Women’s March, January 21, Los Angeles

The march was wonderful. What a loving and  inspiring crowd of people. They estimate 750,000 people walked in Los Angeles, causing huge waits to get anywhere. We stood huddled together for long periods of time, and still we smiled, cheered, chanted, sang, and danced. Here are some photos of some of my favorite signs that people carried with them throughout the day. We walked with our local SB Cares group - 140 of us went on buses from the South Bay. (The first two photos and of my friend and day-long march buddy, Debra and myself.) I'm wearing the Spirited Women's Namaste scarf. Will I ever do another march? The answer if a resounding "yes!" Everyone I hear from feels the same way. We loved it! And in the meantime, SB Cares is still working. We've developed several task forces to do what we can to keep moving forward, not backwards to where our new president wants us to be. I'm a co-chair of the Women's Rights task force and a member of the one on mental health. Come join us. … [Read more...]

Three ways to overcome addiction

  Since I’ve become an advocate of erasing the stigma of mental illness and suicide prevention I like to host writers who have healing ideas that could help people at risk. Jennifer McGregor has been my guest before – you can read her previous article here. I’m delighted to have her back. Her words make a lot of sense to me. Please join me in welcoming Jennifer to my website, Choices.  Three Mood-Boosting Activities for Those Overcoming Addictions by Jennifer McGregor Many people with mental illness find themselves self-medicating. Acquiring mental health care is very difficult for a number of people thanks to the ongoing stigma against mental illness. Whether a person goes undiagnosed or simply cannot afford care, self-medication is a rampant problem among those with mental illnesses. Self-medication, unfortunately, often leads to addiction, worsened symptoms of mental illness, and suicide. Preventing suicide is a crucial component to addiction recovery. So, … [Read more...]

Let’s celebrate with Linda Appleman Shapiro

Linda Appleman Shapiro's memoir, She's Not Herself is celebrating its second anniversary. And it has a lot to celebrate. Just take a look at these wonderful reviews: “An honest and compelling story by a brave and gifted writer.” ~ Wally Lamb – NY Times best-selling author of She’s Come Undone, I Know This Much Is True, and many other novels. Winner of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill’s Kenneth Johnson Award for the anti-stigmatization of mental illness. “A story that applies to us all – truthful, carefully crafted, and created with a clear-eyed affection.” ~ Watts, M.D., poet, writer, musician, NPR commentator “We identify with the author’s sense of alienation from the first chapter and agonize with her longing for a normal life. She's Not Herself is a revelatory account of someone who grew up with a mentally ill parent and grew up to become an effective, loving mother and a successful professional healer.” ~US Review of Books … [Read more...]

Why eating healthy matters

Francie Healey, my WOW! Women on Writing guest today, has recently published Eat to Beat Alzheimer's, a guide for people concerned with memory loss and the effects of dementia. Her topic is of special interest to me. I have for most of my life eaten healthy, and I continue to reap its benefits. At age seventy-six, I am still trim and fit, and feel as strong mentally as I did twenty years ago. I thank my father for introducing me to a healthful lifestyle. Even in the 1940s he shopped at health food stores and followed the advice of  Gayelord Hauser, a nutritionist and self-help author. I am pleased to welcome Francie Healey and her thoughts on why eating healthy matters. Why Eating Healthy Matters to Me  by Francie Healey Nurturance has always been something I’ve looked for. I think I have traveled along a path that many would be familiar with. I looked for nurturance in other people to give me the love and kindness I craved. I looked for nurturance in fad diets to get the … [Read more...]

I did it. Seventeen miles in eight hours and still here.

A few thoughts about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention AFSP San Francisco Out of the Darkness suicide awareness and prevention walk this past Saturday night: Last year in Boston we felt the pain walking in the cold and rain; this year we felt the pain trudging up hill after hill. Those were just small reminders of the pain our loved ones felt and had to release when they took their lives. It was fitting for us to feel that pain, but we will never know an nth of it. I also felt so blessed to walk with Team S.O.L.E.S. Everyone took such good care of each other, worrying where the laggers were and waiting so we could all be in the mile-marker photos. And once we were finished at 3:26 am we all held hands, walking along side the luminaria and under the I-did-it-arch. Thank you Keith Alan Hamilton, Deborah Lee Rose, Debi Hoyles-Girardi and your friend Jen, Joanne Marrazzo Fry, Aaron D. Schwartz, Christy Heitger-Ewing and your husband Eric. You all made my night w … [Read more...]