We are privileged to share blog postings from our Ambassador Jessie Close, Adrienne Gurman, Henry Boy Jenkins, and other guest bloggers.  Please visit regularly as our content will be updated often.

Lightning in a Bottle

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Physical illnesses are cruel. Witnessing the outward effects of a disabling injury, or the withering weakness from chemotherapy, we empathize. We don’t question what we see before us: our loved ones being ravaged by a lentivirus or malignant cellular growth. For a moment we consider our own mortality, but our brain immediately deletes that notion. Our going concerns become other-focused. We circle the wagons instinctually.

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Connection

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Connecting with other human beings can be very difficult for me and for many living with mental illness. In my private life I rarely make a point to connect with people I don’t know. I live in a tiny house with four dogs and am an hour away from two of my children and many friends.

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Shipwrecked

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My very first anxiety attack occurred when I was eight years old. We were on a family vacation at Disney World. The pictures from that trip—now faded and worn—reside behind a sheet of plastic in an overstuffed photo album. My younger sister and I donned Mickey Mouse ears while squinting from the sun in front of each ride.

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Being Worthy

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I’ve been thinking, on this blustery, wet day, what it is that makes us feel worthy. I have felt un-worthy for a good part of my life, the part that wrecked relationships and hurt my kids. I don’t wreck things anymore but feeling un-worthy still lingers. I think this feeling is attached to self-stigma and shame.

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Uncharted Territory

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The role that family plays in the treatment process is crucial, beginning with education about their loved one’s illness. Research shows that proactive involvement by family and friends increases the odds for a positive outcome, resulting in better symptom management and fewer psychotic breaks or trips to the hospital. Establishing a sense of family and a network of friends is essential to recovery.

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Vacation

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Does vacation conjure up all sorts of horrors for you? How about when you’re supposed to be having a great time but your mood didn’t get the message? A dear friend of mine, and fellow bipolar person, told me a story about having nine guests at her cottage for over a week. I shuddered.

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Stepping Outside Our Comfort Zone

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I consider myself to be somewhat of a veteran in the world of mental illness. For the past 10 years my family has been immersed in children’s mood disorders as first one and then another of my three daughters was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

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Statistically Speaking

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When I am unaware of my symptoms because I’m living within them, my therapist picks up on the subtleties and we tether. It’s her job to pay attention to the rhythms. I have learned to let pride evanesce. This simple action gives me the courage to speak when I am lost in my illness. My clumsiness and flatness become clues for us both. We work together because I am worth it.

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Medication

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I’m in a bit of a daze at the moment. I attribute this bewilderment to reading the journal I kept while in a psychiatric hospital. I had forgotten, over the past nine years, how sick I was and it has been quite disconcerting to re-visit it.

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Keeping Hope Alive

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I’m aware that trauma can be treated. I see and read about success stories every day and I’m inspired by the triumphs made by complete strangers and close friends. My desire to get better is potent enough to overcome this struggle. Thankfully I have a terrific support system in place and plenty of people who truly care for my wellbeing.

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