DBSA e-Update January 2012

Quick Links to Articles Below

Peer Specialist Shares Inspirational Story of Recovery Accentuate the Positive
Win a Book Collection Follow your Dream: Become a Peer Specialist in 2012
Free Webinar Tomorrow, January 19th: Stand Up For Mental Health Training Opportunity in Advancing Culturally Appropriate Practices
Ask the Doctor Q & A Wellness Tips from Peers
A Note from Allen Save the Date


Peer Specialist Shares Inspirational Story of Recovery

In the below excerpt of My Recovery Story by Peer Specialist Dana Parker-Mathis, we learn how her inspirational journey of recovery was shaped by a positive experience with mental health research.

“For over twenty years I have struggled with symptoms of mental illness. When I was only twelve, my father passed away from a brain aneurysm in front of me. I was so devastated by the loss, I felt myself slipping into a place I didn't quite understand, but at my young age I didn't know how to share my feelings with someone so they could throw me a life-line. Life continued throughout high school.

My symptoms intensified and I began having thoughts. I was created for a special purpose. I was convinced my home and car were bugged. I believed the government spies were trying to take my son away from me. I spent hours driving on expressways and interstates chasing trucks and buses, reading them for clues and signs about what I was to do next. Colors symbolized both people and things, so every time I glanced at something green, it was telling me to grow-up, purple represented my mother, and yellow, my sister. Every color and every sight I saw meant something to me. My symptoms included severe mood swings, hallucinations and paranoid delusions. It was both exhilarating and exhausting.

I returned to my home state of Michigan with the hope of benefiting from participation in a mental health research study called STEP, Services for the Treatment of Early Psychosis at Wayne State University. Participating in this research study offered me hope while I endured the symptoms of Schizophrenia. The staff of the (STEP) Program worked diligently to create a well-rounded, all-inclusive treatment program for persons experiencing psychotic symptoms. The STEP program offered a three piece program: psycho-education, social skills and medication management. This opportunity was the single most contributing factor to my recovery. I am a fervent believer mental health research was what led me to a stable and a fulfilling life. Research was the key to correct diagnosis and finally finding a treatment program that worked for me…” Read her full story.

To learn more about mental health research and research opportunities available, visit the University of Michigan Depression Center website at www.depressioncenter.org. Stay tuned for more information in our upcoming DBSA eUpdates on the partnership between DBSA and the University of Michigan Depression Center, which is bringing both researchers and mental health consumers together as partners to advance research


Win a Book Collection

Visit our Facebook page tomorrow, January 19, for a chance to win a FREE package of educational and empowering books! The collection of 8 books provides helpful and engaging information for family and friends who have loved ones with a mood disorder.

Each of the books are featured in our online bookstore. Some of the titles include Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder by Julie Fast and John Preston, Psy.D., What to do When Someone You Love is Depressed by Mitch Golant, Ph.D. and Susan Golant, and A Balanced Life by Tom Smith.

Here is how you can enter:
- Visit the official DBSA Facebook page tomorrow, January 19, 2012.
- “Like” us if you are not already our Facebook fan.
- You will see a special message on how you can be entered into the book giveaway…follow the instructions and you might be the winner!

Stay tuned for a mental health combo pack book giveaway in our February eUpdate!

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Free Webinar Tomorrow, January 19th: Stand Up For Mental Health

Join comedian, counselor, author and mental health advocate David Granirer for a webinar to learn how Stand Up For Mental Health uses comedy to empower people living with mental illness. In this webinar, David will talk about his stand-up comedy teaching program for individuals with mental illness and the impact it has on building confidence and fighting public stigma, prejudice, and discrimination.

Thursday, January 19, 2012
11:00 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. Pacific
2:00 p.m.- 3:30 p.m. Eastern

To receive an invitation to register for this event, send an e-mail to:
rsvppeerlink@gmail.comwith ‘Stand Up For Mental Health’ in the subject line.

View the webinar flyer for more information.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Dr. Greg Simon
Greg Simon, MD, MPH, is a psychiatrist and researcher at Group Health Cooperative at the Center for Health Studies in Seattle. His research focuses on improving the quality and availability of mental health services for people living with mood disorders, and he has a specific interest in activating consumers to expect and demand more effective mental health care.

Ask the Doctor Q & A

My husband has chronic joint pain and is clinically depressed. To help him with his discomfort he became licensed to use medical marijuana. Can the use of pot intensify depression? I feel uncomfortable with his use of marijuana, especially since we have a teenager with bipolar disorder in the house. - Harriet

You are right to be concerned about how marijuana affects people who live with depression and bipolar disorder—especially younger people.

Using marijuana can certainly contribute to or worsen depression. Low motivation, fatigue, and withdrawal from positive activities are central features of depression and marijuana can worsen each of those problems. Some people do say that marijuana dulls anxiety or negative feelings. But it also dulls energy and motivation. And we know that activation and engagement are key parts of recovery from depression.

Marijuana can be even more troublesome for people—especially younger people—who live with bipolar disorder. In addition to worsening depression, marijuana can increase the likelihood of experiencing symptoms of psychosis—like hallucinations or paranoid ideas. In younger people who are at higher risk for bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, using marijuana increases the chances of developing a severe or disabling mental illness.

You’ll want to express your concerns to your husband in a way that feels caring rather than confrontational. If you talk to him about negative effects of marijuana use, the old advice about “I statements” definitely applies. You can say things like: “I notice that you seem less active and more withdrawn when you use marijuana” or “I’m concerned that using marijuana keeps you from doing positive things that would help you to feel better.”

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

A Note from Allen: Beginning 2012 with Thanks

Happy New Year!

As we enter 2012, we want to take a moment to thank the many individuals who contribute to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance’s efforts to inform, empower, support, and inspire people who live with depression or bipolar disorder. Chief among the leaders contributing to positive change and important work in communities across the country are DBSA’s chapters, who ensure ongoing, free peer support and education. DBSA chapters and support groups rely on thousands of volunteer hours from people who recognize the importance of our lived experience with a mood disorder, and these allies deserve our recognition, appreciation, and celebration. Thank you.

Volunteers also help to lead and guide DBSA at a national level, so we offer warm thanks to our Board of Directors, Honorary Advisory Board, and Scientific Advisory Board. We are grateful to outgoing Board chair Christy Beckmann, whose wise counsel was critical to the organization during a complicated time of transition, and to Greg Simon, chair of the Scientific Advisory Board, who has helped to frame the dialogue between people who live with mood disorders and the clinical and research fields. We are also thrilled to welcome new Board chair Lucinda Jewell to her new role, and we are already energized by her ideas and commitment.

Hundreds of people responded to our call to raise $100,000 by December 31, 2011—and WE DID IT! Thanks to contributions totaling $118,623.76, we were able to secure $100,000 in matching funds from an anonymous group of donors. Our profound thanks to all who support DBSA with their time, talent, and treasure.

And thanks to the team at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, not only for their ongoing, vital work, but also for their efforts to generate a new working definition of recovery: “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” SAMHSA’s framework is well-conceived (by working groups that included extensive consumer leadership), well-vetted (thanks to robust dialogue on the SAMHSA blog), and well-constructed (in its inclusion of whole-health, trauma-informed care, and peer-support principles). We at DBSA applaud SAMHSA for this framework and agree that wellness is indeed a process. Next month, we will share a video introduction to DBSA’s 2012 programming that shows just how we will fit into, and enhance, that process.

Finally, I thank all of our constituents—those hundreds of thousands of people who call us, visit us online, or attend our events each year—for the inspiration they provide to us and to their communities.


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Accentuate the Positive

DBSA is pleased to partner with bp Magazine/esperanza to bring you empowering and informative articles featured in the quarterly bp and esperanza magazines. The below article, by Elizabeth Forbes, is from the winter issue of bp magazine.

In the decade since she was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder, musician Sara L. has developed some ideas about what might be called the upside of the illness.

“This is just my own kind of pet theory,” explains Sara, 39, “that it confers personality characteristics … drive, ambition, energy, enthusiasm and self-confidence. And when you’re well, those things come across in a positive, pro-social way.”

Of course, Sara knows all about the “life-trashing” side of bipolar disorder.  As a punk rocker with dark moods, she spent her 20s overindulging in alcohol and marijuana. When she rebounded from a deep depression into extreme mania after a romantic breakup, symptoms like religious delusions, incoherent speech and agitation landed her in the hospital.

With medication to smooth out her mood swings and talk therapy to defuse the distorted thinking of depression, she’s able to see some pluses to having bipolar disorder…

Read the full article.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Follow your Dream: Become a Peer Specialist in 2012

We’re pleased to announce that the next DBSA Peer Specialist training course will take place April 23-27, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. DBSA Peer Specialist training prepares people like you to use their recovery experience to assist others as peer specialists. Facilitated by nationally-recognized trainers, this comprehensive course delivers a foundation in recovery principles, intervention techniques, and ethical practice. Training takes place Monday-Friday, followed by certification testing.

DBSA actively seeks a diverse group of applicants for this unique training experience.
Applications for the course are available on the DBSA website (www.DBSAlliance.org/Training).

Note: Each individual state or service delivery system sets its own peer specialist training and certification standards. Please check local requirements with your state certification body, office of consumer affairs, or service delivery system before making the decision to participate in this training course. DBSA can provide information on training curriculum content on request.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Training Opportunity in Advancing Culturally Appropriate Practices

SAMHSA’s National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health is sponsoring NNEDLearn 2012, a 3-day March 2012 training opportunity aimed at building skills in evidence-supported and culturally appropriate clinical, consumer, and organizational practices. Six training tracks are available:

  • Committing to Authentic Peer Support Services in Your Organization (facilitated by DBSA’s Lisa Goodale and Texas peer specialist Olga Wuerz)
  • Culturally Adapted Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Hispanics
  • Empowering our Spirits Tribal Suicide Prevention Program
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Strengthening Families
  • The Four Cs of Collaboration

SAMHSA will cover the costs of training, travel, and lodging for organizational participants selected to participate in NNEDLearn 2012. Deadline for applications is Friday, January 27. Visit their site for more information or to apply.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

In the Facing Us Clubhouse, consumers who have found small ways to make a big difference in their recovery can share wellness tips like those listed here. Visit the Clubhouse to be inspired by your peers…and to pass on some of your own inspiration.

To access the Wellness Tracker visit the Facing Us Clubhouse. Joining the Facing Us Clubhouse is easy and free!

Taking on Fear
If you find yourself afraid of something, try to view the situation from how you imagine an outsider might perceive it. Then ask yourself if the fear is truly justified or if the fear has overtaken logic. Never let unjustified fears rule your actions; plow forward through them to find fulfillment waiting on the other side of those self-imposed barriers. Life awaits!

Make a "Busy Box"
Make yourself a “Busy Box”, and include safe activities such as coloring books and crayons, word search books, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, stress balls, Silly Putty, short silly books, special pictures that make you happy, crafts, playdough, etc. Make it something special just for you. Personalize it, make it pretty. Use the Busy Box when you are mixed, anxious, manic, depressed, whatever, and need to calm down or re-focus.

Stick to the Plan
Try not to break promises, especially to yourself. Try to stick to your recovery plan. It will seem hard or even impossible at some times, but just remember that happiness is the end result.

A Note about FacingUs.org
When you visit the Facing Us Clubhouse, you'll notice that several "rooms," including the room that houses wellness tips, require you to log in or create an account. Why is this necessary? Because in these sections, you are creating personal journals, books or a plan that is uniquely yours. So, we need a way to pull your unique information—like pulling your file out of a filing cabinet.

Joining the Facing Us Clubhouse is easy and FREE! We only need two things to create an account just for you—your e-mail and a password. Please be assured that we will not distribute or sell your information to anyone outside of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. The media room and creativity center on the site does not require registration. The only reason we require registration for other parts of the site is so that you can create your own personal wellness tools.

Save the Date

April 23-27, 2012
DBSA Peer Specialist Training
in Chicago, Illinois

Sept. 5-8, 2012
NAPS conference in Philadelphia, PA

October 10, 2012
DBSA Chapter Leadership Forum
Portland, OR

June 14, 2013
DBSA Chapter Leadership Forum
Miami, FL

June 15, 2013 June 17, 2013
DBSA 2103 National Conference
Miami, FL