DBSA e-Update June 2014

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Connect With Peers This August

Join Your Peers at the DBSA New Jersey Conference and the Chapter Leadership Forum This Summer!
With more than 21 million people in the United States living with depression or bipolar disorder, no one with these disorders has to feel alone. Yet, we often hear from DBSA peers that they feel isolated in their communities, and would like the opportunity to meet others who can to relate to their experiences, and who understand the many challenges of living with mood disorders. This summer brings two great opportunities to connect with peers, and learn new tips and techniques for thriving.

DBSA New Jersey Conference
Join DBSA New Jersey Saturday, August 16, 9 AM–4 PM, for their 8th annual conference, featuring keynote speakers Marya Hornbacher, award winning journalist and author of Madness, A Bipolar Life; and NJ State Senator Richard J. Codey, former governor and active advocate in the reform of New Jersey’s mental health care system. Meet and learn from peers, as you attend expert presentations on recovery, wellness, and illness management. There is no admission charge for attendees of DBSA support groups in New Jersey (including some nearby out-of-state chapters) and for those attending DBSA’s Chapter Leadership Forum on August 17. For more information, or to register, visit http://dbsanewjersey.org/conference/

Chapter Leadership Forum
Sunday, August 17, Kean University in Union, New Jersey
DBSA chapter leaders tell us frequently that they wish they knew more about meeting people at their level of recovery so that they can better serve all the people that come to their support groups. That's what this year's DBSA Chapter Leadership Forum is about!

Drawing from our nationally recognized Peer Specialist Training Curriculum, we'll be holding sessions on the Five Stages of Recovery, the dangers of each and what we, as chapter leaders, can do to help people move forward at their own pace. View the full schedule now!

We'll also have a special panel discussion with representatives from several chapters to learn what they're doing in their groups to keep focused on recovery.

Joining us in-person is the best way to gain insight and strength from your fellow chapter leaders and participants, but if you can't make the trip, never fear—we'll be web-streaming CLF live! You'll be able to join us from the comfort of your home or chapter meeting space. You may now also register for participating via webstream!

Mark your calendars and start making your travel arrangements today! DBSA has contracted a very special hotel rate, but rooms will go fast and when they're gone, they're gone. Reserve your room today and you can cancel any time before August 15, 2014 with no penalty. If you’re a DBSA chapter leader or support group participant there is no registration fee to attend CLF!

Register today!

NEW Survey: Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Teens

DBSA is committed to supporting peers with mood disorders across the lifespan. As we expand programming to offer teens and young adults the information, tools, and support needed to thrive, our growth will continue to be guided by feedback from peers and caregivers of all ages.

One month ago, we shared the results of our Young Adult Survey of youth ages 18-29, and their parents. This quarter, the focus is on teens living with mood disorders. We’d like to hear both from parents/caregivers, and from teens. We will use your answers to develop new programs and to advise researchers about what kind of research they should be doing. Your answers are completely confidential.

Parents/Caregivers, we’d like to know more about your experience finding help for your child/teen, and what you or your child/teen has found useful (or not useful) along the way. Take the parent/caregiver survey.

Teens, we want to know what matters to you in your recovery, and what things you find helpful or unhelpful. Take the teen survey.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, and help shape the future of mood disorder research. Your voice is being heard! We hope that you will become a regular participant in our surveys. If you have ideas for topics to address in the future, please e-mail Progams@DBSAlliance.org.

Parent Connection: Mother and Daughter Advocates Take on Capitol Hill

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.

Michele Rudolf and her 18-year-old daughter, Bri, have rarely shared with anyone, outside a small group of friends in their hometown of Louisville, KY, the mental health journey that brought Bri to three residential treatment facilities. But when they were invited by DBSA to participate in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Hill Day, they decided to travel to Washington, DC, to share their story with members of Congress in the hopes of making things better for other families struggling to access appropriate mental health treatment.

Along with DBSA staff, child and adolescent psychiatrists and fellows, Michele and Bri met with the offices of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), and Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) on May 9 to discuss the nationwide shortage of psychiatrists serving the pediatric population and pending legislation in Congress to support increased access to mental health treatment.

Parent Connection
Bri Rudolf, Michele Rudolf, Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY)

In the meetings, the Rudolfs told the congressional offices how difficult it had been to get Bri the treatment she needed to get well. Michele related, “For three years, I networked with anyone and everyone I could in my community to find Bri an appropriate mental health provider, but came up short in locating anyone who understood the depth of her issues.” Michele and her husband eventually found a helpful therapist, who told them that Bri needed to be in residential treatment. 

Speaking to representatives and their policy staffers, “We felt like rock stars,” said Michele, who co-moderates the Balanced Mind Parent Network online support community for parents considering, or who have a child in a residential treatment facility. “Everyone was interested in our story.”

Added Bri, “We felt like we were being heard, that we had the power to change things. It was very empowering.”

The mother-daughter team is now aiming their newfound advocacy skills homeward. They are in the process of talking with the DBSA Louisville chapter about starting an in-person support group for young adults. “Our experience in Washington made me realize that some good can come out of our very challenging situation,” Michele said.

Parent Connection
Michele and Bri Rudolf

To learn more about DBSA advocacy efforts and how you can get involved, please contact Phyllis Foxworth at pfoxworth@dbsalliance.org.

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: Do I Have Bipolar Disorder?

Q. Question: I have severe depression, but I've often wondered if I have bipolar. My mood constantly changes. One minute I'm fine, the next I'm crying my eyes out. I snap over things I shouldn't get mad over.

A. : Your question is a very important one, but it’s not an easy one to answer.

As you may know, surveys of people living with bipolar disorder find that many people experience severe symptoms for 10 years or more before receiving a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. In many cases, people receive years of treatment for depression before someone realizes that depression is really part of bipolar disorder.

The “textbook” picture of bipolar disorder includes clear manic episodes with euphoria or elevated mood. That kind of bipolar disorder is easier to recognize. But most people with bipolar disorder don’t experience that “textbook” picture. It’s more common to experience mixtures of symptoms (feeling depressed while also feeling increased energy, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep). Or people may experience more rapid mood shifts between feeling depressed and slowed down to feeling irritated and speeded up. Those more mixed or rapidly changing types of bipolar disorder are not as easy to recognize.

There are some things that should make us think more about bipolar disorder (instead of just unipolar depression): a family history of bipolar disorder, experiencing rapid mood shifts, and not seeing benefit from several different antidepressant medications. Information from family members or friends is often helpful. They may be able to see patterns over time: periods of increased energy, decreased sleep, or appearing speeded up.

DBSA has online tools that can be helpful. Our Wellness Tracker can help you to keep track of things that might indicate bipolar disorder: not needing to sleep, feeling irritable or speeded up, doing impulsive things (like over-spending or driving too aggressively). Using that tool—and bringing it with you when you visit your doctor or therapist—can really help you to make better decisions about next steps.

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.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Life Unlimited: Marya Hornbacher

The Problem Child

If you walk about half a block down my street, you’ll see it—the locked treatment center for kids where I lived in the late 1980s. It’s hardly changed: a brick square of a building, unassuming, a few steps up from the street, a glass door that looks like any old glass door.

Nowadays, I look like your average neighborhood dweller, and I walk past the building often on my way home or walking my weird little dog. Nowadays, I glance up at the window on the top floor where, some twenty-five years ago, my snub-nosed, freckled teenage face was staring down. I was there because, back then, I was what authorities called “a problem child.” The kids in there knew better. Read More

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

New! Next Steps Peer Specialist Continuing Education Courses 

DBSA’s Next Steps, a 32 hour continuing education course for experienced peer specialists, is now open to enrollment. Developed by the International Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS) in partnership with DBSA under the SAMHSA-supported national Recovery to Practice initiative, the course uses a collaborative learning approach, and includes 24 hours of face-to-face training plus 8 hours of pre-work. Training focuses on these key areas of peer specialist practice:

  • The transforming power of recovery
  • Peer support values and guidelines
  • Effects of trauma on recovery
  • Multicultural awareness
  • Dual diagnosis
  • Wellness
  • Strengthening workplace relationships
  • Supportive recovery relationships

Two Ways to Participate

Apply for our upcoming training course immediately following the iNAPS National Conference:
Decatur, GA
October 15–18, 2014: Next Steps Course
October 19, 2014: Optional Train the Trainer day for individuals who wish to qualify as Next Steps trainers
Important: You must satisfactorily complete the entire 4-day Next Steps course in order to move on to become an approved Next Steps course trainer.

Contact the DBSA Training Department for information on scheduling a Next Steps course for your group of 15–25 participants.

DBSA Peer Specialist Training Courses
DBSA is nationally known for quality peer specialist training, the first step toward joining the rapidly-growing peer workforce in an evolving healthcare delivery system. DBSA is proud to announce our upcoming peer training courses; apply today and please help spread the word to others in your community!

Core Peer Specialist Training
San Diego, CA          
July 28–Aug. 1, 2014
Online application due July 3

Coming Soon!

Veteran Peer Specialist Training
DBSA Veteran training meets VA requirements for peer support staff
Los Angeles, CA: September 15–20, 2014
Chicago, IL: December 2014        

DBSA Core Peer Specialist Training
Chicago, IL: September 29–October 3, 2014
Charleston, WV: November 2014

Visit www.DBSAlliance.org/Training for application information and the latest details.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

Note from Allen: Connectedness and Healing

While I am immensely proud and have been given true joy by my work as an advocate—and am also proud and joyous about my openness as a person with a mood disorder diagnosis—when I think of myself, I don’t think, “I am Allen, mental health advocate,” although that’s part of me. Instead, I think, “I am Allen, who loves and is loved; who has work that is deeply satisfying and meaningful; who is part of a vibrant community of colleagues, friends, and peers; who enjoys literature; who laughs and delights in laughter; who values connection and community.” My advocacy serves who I am, and not the other way around; I am an advocate so I can be me—all the way!—and I advocate because I believe everyone should have that same opportunity to be exactly who they want to be, mood disorder or no.

This spring, as I think of who I am and what I bring to my advocacy, I keep recalling and repeating the quote from E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End: “Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.” In May and June 2014, I have had wonderful opportunities to connect with you, my colleagues and friends and peers, and I feel any fragmentation—and, largely, any depression—has fallen away. And these words, I profoundly hope, will connect me with you, who may feel depressed or hopeless, who may feel fragmented, who may feel like connection is impossible or undesirable.

I get it! In April, the last thing I wanted to do was connect. I wanted to hide. Yet, thankfully, I have the support of my peers, and I have the opportunity to help people with my experience, and—even when I forget—the connection brings me back to who I am, all the way.

In upcoming months, DBSA offers peers many opportunities to connect as:

All of these connections for DBSA are fundamentally about our human connections, though, and the power we who have the lived experience of depression or bipolar disorder have to help one another. And there’s no better example of this, nor more important building block of DBSA’s vision and mission, than the DBSA support groups that occur—regularly, quietly, but immensely powerfully—on any given day, in cities and towns throughout the United States. My connections this spring remind me of the importance of these groups, these ports in a storm, for our work together as a DBSA community of peers. I thank, I honor, I am indebted to each of the people in these groups, whether occurring in a church in Baltimore, a hospital in Boston, a temple in Chicago, or a community center in Knoxville. You connected me with . . . me . . . and I’m inspired to help others do just the same.

Thank you for connecting with DBSA


DBSA Launch of Grassroots Advocacy Training Series a Resounding Success

"Finding out that with help from others, I can help influence change for improvement in the mental health field," summed up thoughts from one peer on the value of attending DBSA’s inaugural state-focused Grassroots Advocacy workshop. Over a dozen peers gathered in New Brunswick, NJ on June 7 to learn about legislative issues facing their state and advocacy tools at their disposal to assist them in ensuring New Jersey public policy supports access to quality mental health care.

Participants heard from NJ Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin as well as Ginny Plaza who both shared their knowledge on the inner workings of the state’s general assembly. An inspiring presentation from Brenda Luchetti on how she successfully worked with the Hoboken, NJ local government to declare Hoboken a “Mental Health Stigma-Free” zone—the first in the country—rounded out the guest presentations. 

Participants then broke into teams and developed a mini-campaign around a legislative issue facing New Jersey. Creativity flourished when the teams had the opportunity to share their plan with the entire group and seek valuable feedback. The end result from the workshop is the formation of an Advocacy Committee as part of the DBSA New Jersey State Organization.

DBSA Grassroots workshops are planned for Illinois and Missouri later this year. Contact Phyllis Foxworth at pfoxworth@dbsalliance.org to learn more.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Planting the Seeds of Good Cheer

2014 is the year of thriving here at DBSA. But what does it take to go beyond surviving, to thriving? DBSA Scientific Advisor Dr. Greg Simon shares, “Wellness is about finding the positive things you want in life—in health or work or recreation or relationships. A central idea of recovery is that positive changes are possible, even if negative things (like symptoms or illness) are not completely gone.” Self-care, wellness practices, and small life changes all contribute to healing. DBSA’s six month campaign, Positive Six (+6), is dedicated to the practices that will help you thrive. Each month—May through October, 2014—we're featuring a new +6 challenge aimed at strengthening connections to your health, relationships, and community.

Welcome to the second month of the DBSA Positive Six Campaign. June’s “Be of Good Cheer” is well underway. If you’re just joining us, get started now by downloading a free daily gratitude journal, and check out our Thoughtstarter tool for some great ideas on how to get started. Want to chat with others on a similar journey?

Join us Thursday, 8 PM CT, for our Facebook event, “Music to Lift Your Spirits. We’ll share positive energy and chat casually as we share our favorite uplifting songs.

July Sneak Peek
Don’t forget to join us July 1–10 on Facebook for the kick off of the July ‘Don’t Sweat It’ Challenge.  We will be giving away Positive Six merchandise, bp magazine subscriptions, copies of Bipolar For Dummies, and more!

Care for Your Mind: June Highlights

What is the right balance between families’ concerns and patients’ rights to privacy?  CFYM examines HIPAA regulations this month, offering three perspectives.

Anita H. Clayton, MD

Holly Swartz, MD


Free Restoring Intimacy Webinar

Wednesday, July 30
6:00 PM ET


Anita H. Clayton, MD
Interim Chair, Department of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Sciences
David C. Wilson Professor of Psychiatry
Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology
University of Virginia School of Medicine

Holly Swartz, MD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA

Depression and bipolar disorder pose a challenge not just to our health, but to our closest relationships as well. As partners struggle against the fallout of guilt, confusion, and anger, genuine affection and intimacy often become all but impossible to maintain. Please join us for a webinar that realistically looks at the challenges as well as practical ways to make intimate relationships work better under such conditions.


Spring Mania: Seasonal Mania & Bipolar Disorder

Spring is synonymous with renewal, romance . . . and, for some with bipolar disorder, relapse. Check out our 5 steps to getting seasonal mania under control. Read the article.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

Being angry is not wrong or bad—it just “is.” It’s what you do with that anger that counts.

Small things
Sometimes having someone just shoot you a text or phone call saying everything is ok can make you stop and realize that everything will be ok.

On Perspective
We must admit there will be music despite everything. —Jack Gilbert

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.