DBSA e-Update August 2014

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DBSA Live Web-Stream Event: Better is Not Well

Join DBSA Thursday, September 25, 4:30–6:00 PM CT, for Better is Not Well—an interactive panel discussion between peers and clinicians, on raising expectations for the treatment of mood disorders—live from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Better is Not Well 2014

“Every person deserves the opportunity to not just survive, but to lead as full a life as possible. To do that, we need to ensure true wellness is the end-goal for mental health treatment. It is key that we work together as peers and clinicians to move beyond measurable improvement—to move from surviving—to thriving.” DBSA President Allen Doederlein

Thriving can seem elusive at times; even impossible. But we can’t get there if it’s not even part of the conversation about mental health treatment. Better Is Not Well is a dynamic forum for individuals and their families alongside clinicians, to address one of the chief barriers to wellness among people who live with mood disordersraising expectations for treatment from crisis management and reduction of symptoms to wellness.

Too often, when a person is out of immediate risk and able to function in most day-to-day activities, the assumption is made by both clinician and patient that they have achieved treatment success, and as such further steps aren't taken to facilitate complete well-being. While the person's condition may have improved greatly, they are still living with residual symptoms of their condition and/or not living to their full potential. The expectation and reality of wellness is not realized.

Individuals may not know they should expect more and their clinicians too often don't realize they can do more for their patients. DBSA believes that the problem of diminished expectations of wellness and lack of next step conversations and actions is best addressed jointly, and in equal partnership, between people who live with these conditions and those who treat them.

Learn more about the event and our distinguished presenters at www.DBSAlliance.org/BINW.

Join DBSA in our Summer of Learning. View upcoming DBSA Webinars.

Demi Lovato

Peer Support Continuing Education Opportunities—Atlanta, GA

Diagnosis, Treatment, and the Role of Peer Support
Peer supporters may not be clinicians, but they can play a key role in supporting others in choosing and getting the most out of treatment. Immediately following the International Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS) Conference in Atlanta, DBSA is offering a three hour institute, We Do Talk About That:  Diagnosis, Treatment, and the Role of Peer Support, on the role of peer supporters as it relates to diagnosis and treatment. DBSA trainers will offer information about a range of mental health treatments, guide peers in examining their support role in the context of their own experiences with diagnosis and treatment, and share key tools for peer supporters to appropriately assist others in this important arena.

This course is appropriate for support group facilitators and peer specialists. Certificates will be issued for use in continuing education. Pre-registration is required.

October 15, 2014
Sheraton Gateway Hotel - Atlanta, GA
Register now

Next Steps
Next Steps is continuing education for peer specialists developed under the SAMHSA-supported national Recovery to Practice initiative. Certificates for 32 hours of peer specialist continuing education will be awarded to participants completing the full 4-day course (additional hours for facilitator trainees for 5 days).

Next Steps Peer Specialist CE Course
Decatur, GA
October 15–18, 19*
Application due September 30

*October 19: optional one-day Train the Trainer course extension available to all who successfully complete the course and wish to be certified to teach Next Steps.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Support Mental Health and Vote DBSA!

DBSA was selected as 1 of 3 finalists in the running to win a $350,000 Humana Communities Benefit Grant.

You can help improve DBSA’s chances of winning by voting for us EVERY day, August 11–22, at www.DBSAlliance.org/Humana.

DBSA submitted a proposal to create a DBSA Peer Leadership Center that will be a centralized online resource and training center, offering resources, continuing education, training, and information to potential and current Peer Specialists. These individuals use their recovery experiences to inform and promote the recovery of others and assist their peers in gaining information and support from the community to make their wellness goals a reality. By educating and training individuals to deliver these life-saving services within the changing healthcare landscape, the Center will ensure that quality peer support becomes more widely available and create a community of peer supporters in northeastern Illinois that transcends service delivery silos and geographic barriers. Creation of this Center will both foster healthy behaviors and relationships within the lives of the people utilizing the center and positively impact the overall health of the thousands of community members they serve.

Take action and make your vote count by visiting www.DBSAlliance.org/Humana.

  1. Cast your vote for DBSA today
  2. Share your vote on Facebook
  3. Invite your friends and colleagues to vote too by forwarding them this email.
  4. Vote once a day, EVERY day, August 11–22

Your vote counts for 20% in the final judging process and can help give DBSA a critical leading edge. Together we can make a difference in the lives of those affected by mood disorders.

The  Parent Connection appears each month in the DBSA eUpdate. Here, parents and guardians can expect to find up-to-date information and resources about parenting children and adolescents with depression and bipolar disorder. We also feature news about Balanced Mind Parent Network online support communities, the Family Helpline and other family-focused programming.

Parent Connection: Back to School with Depression and Bipolar Disorder

As the summer winds down and a new school year looms, it’s not uncommon for children and teens with depression and bipolar disorder to experience anxiety about returning to the classroom. And it’s not uncommon for their parents to experience stress about wanting to ease their children’s worries. We turned to parents who have been in the trenches, our Balanced Mind Parent Network volunteers, for their tried-and-true tips for paving the way for a smooth back-to-school launch. Here’s what they had to recommend:

1) Turn the unknown into the known. If the school is new to your child, take your child for a visit so she can check out her new surroundings. If you can go inside, find key places like her classroom, his locker (practice that combination!), the water fountain, and the restroom. Although teachers and school administrators are busy with meetings the week before school starts, try to schedule a meeting with your child’s new teachers. The more familiar your child becomes with the way things will unfold at school, the less anxious she will be.

2) Help your child make one new friend. Reach out to a teacher or a school administrator for the name of a classmate you might contact. Ask your neighbors if they know children of the same age at your child’s school. Kids often congregate in playgrounds or parks near the school; spend time there with your child, and be alert to opportunities to meet other children in his class.

Sometimes a “structured playdate”—an organized activity where both kids can have a good time, even if their interactions are limited— may be easier for a child with social challenges. If your child is a teen, a few extra therapy sessions or a meeting with the guidance counselor ahead of time to process the social demands of school may be helpful.

3) Avoid “sensory overload” shopping. Some children become excited about going back to school if they’re allowed to go shopping for new school supplies or a special first-day-of-school outfit. Others become unglued by the sensory overload of stores and too many choices. If your child falls into the latter category, it may make sense to go over the school supply list with your child, ask if he has any preferences, and do the shopping yourself. Or you might want to consider some online shopping with your child instead.

4) Get back on track with healthy habits. If bedtime has gone by the wayside during the summer, get back on schedule a couple of weeks before school begins by starting lights out 10 to 15 minutes earlier each day until you’re back to normal. By the time the big day arrives, your child will be more rested and more ready to conquer her school day. It goes without saying, but following a healthy diet—particularly, eating a protein-rich breakfast—is important for brain function, mood, and the ability to pay attention in school.

5) Highlight strengths and challenges. Although your child’s school team will have your child’s IEP or 504 plan on file, it doesn’t hurt to write your child’s teacher a friendly “getting to know you” email or letter in which you describe your child’s academic and social strengths and challenges. It also helps to include your contact information and a recent photograph so the teacher will put your child's face to your words. This type of communication can begin to build the type of collaborative relationship you hope to have with your child’s teacher throughout the school year. Learn more about helping your child in school in our Education Corner.

6) Build in downtime. See if you can get your child’s schedule ahead of time to make sure it allows for both easy transitions and switches between academic and non-academic tasks to increase motivation and attention. If your child’s IEP or 504 plan doesn’t already provide it, you may want to add in a provision for a “flash pass,” which allows your child to go to a safe place in the school to decompress if he becomes overwhelmed. It’s also helpful to remember that your child will likely need downtime after the school day; for many of our kids, “holding it together” all day at school can be hard work.

JOIN US: We’ll be hosting a Facebook discussion this Friday, August 22, at 11 am CT so you can share what works for your child as he or she makes the transition back to school. Join the conversation here: https://www.facebook.com/DBSAlliance

Are you the parent or caregiver of a teen with a mood disorder? DBSA wants to hear from you. Take the parent/caregiver survey.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Greg Simon, MD, MPH

Ask the Doc

What advice would you give to a dually diagnosed person about stopping drinking at the cost of increasing symptoms of depression or bipolar disorder? I stopped drinking 10 years ago, and 6 months later a living hell of bipolar disorder was exposed.

Alcohol is probably the world's oldest treatment for mood disorders. And like other ancient treatments (leeches, arsenic, boring holes in the skull), it usually does more harm than good. Alcohol remains a popular "treatment" because the immediate effects—like reducing anxiety and calming agitation—can seem helpful. But those immediate effects are deceiving. Regular use leads to tolerance and dependence, and that makes anxiety, agitation, and depression worse. Once that tolerance or dependence develops, stopping is difficult and sometimes even dangerous. Dependence literally means that stopping drinking can temporarily increase anxiety, agitation, or depression. That withdrawal period can make it seem like alcohol was really helping—when it was really making things worse.

The best advice I can give about self-medicating with alcohol is to not start down that path. But that advice isn't very helpful to someone who has been using alcohol heavily and may have already developed tolerance or dependence. If you're in that situation, the best advice I can give is:

  • Don't hide it. Being honest with people in your life (including your health care providers) about your use of alcohol means that they can support you in making changes. If you feel ashamed or embarrassed, you’re certainly not alone. But, telling people is the way out of that shame or embarrassment.
  • Build a sober support network. If your daily routines or social life are built around using alcohol, you’ll need to build a support network that doesn’t involve drinking. That network might include organized meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous. It will usually include social activities that don’t involve alcohol. Think about the people, places, times, and situations connected with your drinking and ask yourself, “What are healthier alternatives for me?”
  • Look for treatments that work for you. Specific kinds of counseling or therapy are proven to help people reduce or quit drinking. Some medications can reduce craving for alcohol and make it easier to quit.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Most people who successfully stop or cut down on drinking will have slips or relapses along the way. If that happens, try to understand where things went off-track and how you might react differently next time.  Feeling guilty or blaming yourself often doesn’t help with that understanding. If guilt or shame cured alcohol problems, nearly everyone with alcohol problems would have been cured long ago!

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.

Got a nagging question you want to ask a doc? Submit your questions online for a chance to get the answer. Check the next DBSA eUpdate to see if your question was chosen.

In the meantime, take a look through our Ask the Doc feature page, a comprehensive archive of past Ask the Doc features which may already be home to the answers you seek.

Advocacy Leadership Training: Collaborating for Change

“I am so excited to collaborate with friends and proponents, to find out I have a voice, and to be heard.” –DBSA Advocate Leader

With the backdrop of our nation’s Capitol Building to serve as inspiration, participants in DBSA’s Advocacy Leadership Training could be heard expressing those sentiments over the two-and-a-half day training held the first weekend in August. Fourteen participants from the states of CA, FL, MI, OH and TX arrived as individuals but left as state delegations committed to forming DBSA grassroots organizations in their states. Armed with knowledge on how to be active participants in our citizen government and meet advocacy leaders from their own states, attendees expressed enthusiasm for the task at hand. Getting organized, recruiting additional DBSA advocates and selecting winnable state issues is their first order of business.

In addition to these new seed delegations, DBSA grassroots organizations have already formed in New Jersey and Illinois. New Jersey held a statewide advocacy workshop this past June. Illinois’ workshop is scheduled for October. Each of the seed delegations will be holding advocacy workshops within the next six months. To learn how you can become involved, contact Phyllis Foxworth, Director of Advocacy at pfoxworth@dbsalliance.org

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

6th Annual Patrick B. Mackey Memorial Golf Outing

Raising Awareness, Helping Others; Remembering Patrick

On August 2, 2014, Maureen and John Mackey commemorated the memory of their son, Patrick, at the 6th Annual Patrick B. Mackey Memorial Golf Outing at Palos Country Club. The Mackey’s goals for holding this annual event were simple; share memories of Patrick, bring good friends and family together, and raise awareness of bipolar disorder, so that no other family has to feel the loss that they have.

Mrs. Mackey shared, “While there is a great gaping hole in our hearts at the loss of Patrick, we take some comfort in knowing that through the kindness of so many wonderful people, his memory shines bright in the help that he posthumously brings to others.”

The Mackeys have raised $52,938 in the past six years for bipolar awareness through this event, and graciously donated these funds to support the work of DBSA.  DBSA is honored to have the Mackeys in our community of mental health advocates and humbled by their mission to help others in the wake of their own loss. To learn more about Patrick, visit the Patrick B. Mackey memorial page.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

In Remembrance: Celebrating Robin, Our Peers, and Ourselves

Please take out your phone.

Please create a new contact: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

And now, whether it’s your phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, or some combination thereof, please enter the following into your favorites list: www.DBSAlliance.org/FindSupport.

I don’t normally start my notes with such requests, but these two items seem so vital as I consider—and as all of us reel from—the sudden, sad loss of Robin Williams. I have taken to heart his wife, Susan Schneider’s, request that we focus not, “on Robin's death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”

Robin Williams was a gifted actor and a hilarious, energetic fixture in interviews—a true “force of nature” with a unique voice and spirit. Beyond these well-known aspects of his public persona, he also seemed, as one of our chapter leader’s friends observed, a member of our family. He was the genie in Aladdin; he was Mrs. Doubtfire; he was Mork from Ork. He seemed to embody joy, and he certainly had great success, with awards, financial resources, loving family members—he had everything, it seemed.

Yet we who live with depression know that there’s not an award, an amount of money, or any outstanding achievement that exempts us from depression’s pain or its debilitation. We also know that depression doesn’t always show itself as the sad person in the purple bathrobe looking wistfully out the window—depression often hides paradoxically behind a smile, a great performance, a winning list of achievements. Depression, and all of the painful aspects of mood disorder diagnoses, can hit while we may seem to “have it all.”

Those of us who may not have all the awards, the money, the fame, may think, “If a person with every resource can die by suicide, what hope is there for me, with all of the struggles I face?” This was one of several themes that emerged over the past week. And I honor and empathize with that question, I really do. I have also heard—from peers, from advocates, from family members, from clinicians—the refrain that, “I wish he’d been part of my support group,” or “I wish there had been someone he turned to in that moment of such pain,” and of course this is what we wish when we lose someone who’s been a part of our lives. We want to have helped, to have had a way to avoid such a tragedy.

What I know I can do, and what I hope all of you will do, to celebrate someone so joyous as Robin Williams is to celebrate your own life and the lives of your peers. Here’s what I will do—tell me what you’re doing, if you like.

  • When I am in pain, I will reach out. (For me, it’s often the last thing I want to do—the hardest thing to do. But when I am in pain, I will reach out—to the National Suicide Lifeline, to a peer support group, to my doctors, to the people in my life.)
  • I will take to heart the message of DBSA’s Better is Not Well webinar on September 25, 2014, and keep striving for wellness that will make me less vulnerable to relapse, co-occurring conditions, and suicide.
  • I will watch a Robin Williams movie. I haven’t decided which one yet.  :)

Please celebrate with me.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Life Unlimited: Ellen Forney

Drawn to Recovery
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder shortly before my 30th birthday. Acutely manic, powerfully overconfident, and terrified that medication or even stability would kill my creativity, I refused to take meds.

When I fell into a crushing depression a few months later, I realized that no matter what happened to my art (my passion, my livelihood, my identity), my survival depended on stability. Desperate, I succumbed, and set out into the dark, tangled forest of meds, blood draws, side effects, and big learning curves. Read More

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Positive Six: Nurturing Interests

Each month—May through October, 2014—we're featuring a new +6 challenge aimed at enhancing your well-being. In June and July’s challenges, we shared tips and tools designed to help you nurture high spirits and enhance  cool and calm.  This month, we’re working together on getting better sleep. Good sleep habits make for better nights, and days! Try these tips and tools designed to help you get your ZZZs. Visit our Facebook community for additional ideas and support.

September Sneak Peek
Don’t forget to join us Septemer 1-10 on Facebook for the kick off of the September ‘Nurturing Interests’ Challenge.  We will be giving away Positive Six merchandise, bp Magazine subscriptions, books on bipolar disorder, and more!

Care for Your Mind: August Highlights

Have you been affected by Social Anxiety Disorder?  
What Parents Can Do

Bipolar & Irritability

When you’re crankier than usual, it’s time for short-term coping tools—and strategies to prevent a mood shift. Read "All the Rage"

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

Keeping Appointments

I have trouble keeping appointments. To help with this, I have put a calendar in the bathroom across from the toilet where I will see it several times a day. I have my appointments written on it in permanent marker.

A mantra to help you fall to sleep
Lay down and relax, dim the lights, or cut them off and recite this mantra out loud or in your mind.

“I am calm and still.”
“The world is sleeping and all is well.”
“I welcome sleep into myself.”
“I am breathing deeply and calmly, becoming more and more relaxed with each breath.”

Visit the Facing Us Clubhouse to get more tips, create your own tips, track your wellness, and connect with peers. Joining the Facing Us Clubhouse is easy and free.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Save the Date

*October 19: optional one-day Train the Trainer course extension, available to all who successfully complete the course and wish to be certified to teach Next Steps.