DBSA e-Update April 2016

Quick Links to Articles Below

2015 DBSA Service Award Winners
Parent Connection: Exercise
Ask the Doc: How do I cope with being detached from my emotions?
bp Magazine: Bipolar and Hypersexuality
Training Opportunities: Peer Leadership Center
Mental Health and Election Season
Hill Day 2016
News from Our Advocacy Blog: Patient-Centered Care
We Are Powerful!
Finding Wellness:  Mindfulness
Iain Middleton’s Walk
Saluting Our DBSA Volunteers
Note from Allen
Wellness Tips: Happiness, Honesty, Helping Others
Save the Date

Congratulations to our 2015 DBSA Chapter Service Award Winners!

Each year, DBSA recognizes exemplary service by DBSA chapters, state organizations, and their leaders with the Chapter Service Awards. The incredible recipients of these awards provide life-saving support and information to benefit individuals living with mood disorders, their loved ones, and their communities. And they do it all with devotion, energy, creativity, and heart.

Our 2015 Chapter Service Award winners will be honored in November at the Chapter Leadership Forum in Akron, Ohio. They will each receive a cash prize and bulk subscriptions for bp and esperanza magazine for their constituents. Congratulations to all!

Visit our chapter spotlight page to learn more about these amazing chapters and leaders!

2015 DBSA Chapter Service Awardees

State Organizations
DBSA Oklahoma’s focus in 2015 was on creating public awareness and funding their organization. Thanks to regular presentations in hospitals, the state capitol, plus peer specialist certification courses, they have become a sought-after resource for the peer voice. DBSA Oklahoma also hosted their first annual gala dinner which was a great success and featured as speakers the deputy commissioner from the Oklahoma Department of Health and Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Marya Hornbacher.

DBSA Tennessee dedicated last year to leadership development, educational initiatives, and advocacy, as well as expanding general visibility. They helped 11 chapter leaders attend the DBSA national conference and impacted the training of healthcare professionals by hosting educational sessions with leadership at nursing, medical, and social work training institutions. A DBSA Grassroots Organization was also founded which will focus on legislative issues in Tennessee, particularly access to mental health care for the uninsured.

Large Chapter
DBSA Overland Park (Kansas) experienced tremendous growth in 2015, both in weekly support group attendance and their community outreach efforts. Through a new website, media coverage, and partnerships with organizations, their groups have grown 50 percent since 2013. Participants benefit from a welcoming support group, leadership opportunities, and a variety of special events including game nights, holiday parties, guest speakers on wellness topics, and a private Facebook group. Community outreach efforts have resulted in partnerships with a variety of health organizations, helping to ensure that individuals find the appropriate services to meet their needs.

Small Chapter
DBSA Arlington Heights (Illinois) celebrated their tenth anniversary last year by creating a strategic plan and empowering participants to join in making their vision a reality. The chapter operates four support groups, including special offerings for teens, young adults, parents, and people with dual diagnosis. Their phenomenal outreach efforts in 2015 included speaking on advocacy at a symposium, sharing their experiences on a panel for the International Society of Bipolar Disorders, and training to become facilitators of DBSA’s Living Successfully with a Mood Disorder course. They are the driving advocacy force in the DBSA Illinois Grassroots Organization, rallying at the state capitol to share their stories with legislators and educating them on the needs of peers.

Rookie Chapter
DBSA Solon (Ohio) had a very successful rookie year, firmly establishing itself as a welcoming community of support, hope, and education. Their support group expanded to 15 participants, on average, and a fundraising campaign raised over $400 to cover the costs of affiliation, refreshments, and literature. The chapter’s first public outreach event featured Dr. Joseph Calabrese of University Hospitals of Cleveland Mood Disorders Program who is a member of DBSA’s Scientific Advisory Board. The event drew 40 people. Other outreach efforts included local advertisements, social media, and a presence at events like the Tolerance Fair to let people know that they are not alone and that DBSA Solon is available to help and support them.

Outstanding Leadership
Nancy Bollinger is executive director of the DBSA Self Help Center (Missouri), a certified peer specialist and supervisor, QPR suicide intervention instructor, wellness coach, and much more. She is passionate about education and sharing her personal experience. In 2015, she spoke at conferences statewide as well as the DBSA I to We Tour weekend on such topics as trauma, non-profit finances, and wellness. She is a valued resource for fellow chapters and freely shares her time and experience to support her peers.

Cheryl Molyneaux founded DBSA Central Florida in 2015. She is a tireless advocate for the chapter and has forged many collaborations in the community, becoming the go-to source for available resources. In the past year she expanded support groups into three counties, continually training new facilitators, and delivered the Living Successfully with a Mood Disorder course in the local jail. She has also empowered volunteers to deliver the program at other facilities. Thanks to Cheryl’s hard work and dedication, DBSA Central Florida has blossomed.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
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 Helpline and other family-focused programming.

Parent Connection: Exercise as a Personal Wellness Strategy

Regular exercise can be a fun, exciting, and important part of your child and family’s personal wellness strategy. It’s a way to combat symptoms of a mood disorder and potential side effects from medication and can also help burn up extra energy, assist with sleep, and build self-confidence.

Participants in our Balanced Mind Parent Network have shared with us their thoughts on exercise as well as some fun activities that have worked for their families. Personalization is key to success. Consider your child’s personality and any goals you may have. Do you want an activity that is high energy or more soothing? Your child may be more inclined to participate in a social activity while others might prefer something more individualized.

Results for exercise may be seen immediately in some children, but not all, so it may be helpful to track your child’s progress. DBSA’s Wellness Tracker helps you do just that. In addition to tracking mood related items, you can also track exercise, sleep, and more. To see any resulting patterns, you can pull a report at the end of the month which you may want to share with medical professionals.

Exercise can be difficult if your child is not feeling well or is not interested. Consider a fun activity to help motivate and encourage participation. Starting small and celebrating success may also help with ensuring regular exercise. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • kite flying
  • frisbee golf
  • scavenger hunt
  • tennis
  • sit scooters
  • roller racers
  • gym work outs
  • going to a playground
  • taking a walk or hiking
  • riding a bike
  • swimming
  • cheerleading
  • working with a personal trainer
  • making a movie outside
  • gardening
  • indoor/outdoor hockey
  • roller racers
  • zumba
  • exploring and collecting things outdoors
  • skateboarding
  • rock climbing

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Dr. Ursula Whiteside, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, CEO of NowMattersNow.org, and Clinical Faculty at the University of Washington. As a researcher, she has been awarded grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the American Foundation for suicide prevention and also treats high-risk suicidal clients in her private practice using DBT and caring contacts. As a person with lived experience, she strives to decrease the gap between us and them and to ensure that the peer voice is included in all relevant conversations: nothing about us without us.

Ask the Doc

How do I cope with being detached from my emotions? I used to be very suicidal, so this seems to be self-protective. Is it ok?

Protecting ourselves through managing our emotions is important, especially if we've been suicidal. Acknowledge it: "I'm looking out for myself. Go me!"

There are three types of self-protection: 
A) Protection that works in the short term, but not the long term
B) Protection that is hard to do in the short-term, but improves life overall in the long-term (and becomes easier over time)
C) Protection that works in the short and long term, but not that well overall

Type A protection includes suicidal thoughts, self-injury, binge-eating and drinking, shoplifting, acting on anger, and unsafe sex. Each of these can create short-term relief (protection) from strong negative feelings, but also physical, emotional, legal, and relationship problems. If these behaviors didn’t cause problems, doctors would write very different prescriptions—something like "Drink 4 beers in less than 2 hours, or more as needed."

Type B protection involves doing things now that are hard so it will be easier to avoid Type A short-term solutions later. Doing things like managing sleep, acknowledging but avoiding suicidal thoughts, drinking less than 1-2 drinks or not drinking at all, and recognizing and feeling emotions takes a lot of work. These things are easier to do with the support of people you trust and if you have specific skills for acting opposite to your urges. Our brains pick up on anything that creates relief. Our brains also remember. This is why using Type B protection is especially difficult—it involves rewiring our brains and creating new pathways to relief.

Type C protection is what you ask about in your question: numbing or ignoring emotions. This can feel very safe and can even be helpful if you don't yet know how to feel negative emotions without acting on them (Type A). Ignoring emotions or numbing can also be helpful in meetings where screaming out of frustration would get you fired. But they are not the end game. In order to have a full life—some would say a life worth living—we must be aware of and feel our emotions at least some of the time. They allow us to connect to those we love or will love. They make us more in tune with ourselves and our behavior, making it more likely we will choose what to do next rather than letting our emotions choose for us. 

Would you like to live in the realm of Type B protection, which is hard now but works over the longer term? If the answer is yes, or maybe, it might make sense to start by creating greater awareness of your emotions, your thoughts, and your behaviors. No one gets to Type B on a rocket ship from Type A or C. If it were easy, you'd already be there. But, you can begin your travel to B through mindfulness, which we often call the middle path. Mindfully choosing to practice acknowledging and labeling your emotions ("I feel sad.") is a first step to re-attaching to them. If suicidal thoughts come back up, you acknowledge them and then direct your entire attention to sleep or rest or an engaging activity, even a game on your phone. Detaching or ignoring emotions, or acting on the urge to think about suicide and plan for suicide, prevents you from getting to B. Over time, doing more of Type B protection and less of A or C helps rewire your brain for long-term relief.

In this issue: Finding Wellness: Mindfulness

For more wellness resources, go to the Wellness Toolbox and FacingUs.org

See all Ask the Doc articles or submit a question.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

bp Magazine: Suzy Favor Hamilton on Bipolar and Hypersexuality

Olympic runner Suzy Favor Hamilton wants her story of hypersexuality, scandal, bipolar diagnosis, and recovery to inspire others to go the distance. Read article

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

From the DBSA Peer Leadership Center 

April 21 at 1 p.m. CST
Discussion: Peer Inspiration
Open to Certified Peer Specialist Members and Peer Supporters

This live, one-hour, members-only discussion will include several topics: how peer specialists and peer supporters can inspire and spark hope when working with peers who have given up; how to find hope and inspiration in one’s own life; and how using personal, lived experience in recovery can inspire peers to continue in their own recovery journey.

April 28 at 1:30 p.m. CST
Webinar: Dealing with Difficult Participants While Facilitating a Support Group
Open to Certified Peer Specialist Members and Peer Supporters
Registration required (free)
Peer supporters and peer specialists, do you need new facilitation strategies for working with difficult support group members? DBSA’s own Ingrid Deetz will lead this interactive informative webinar.

Join forces with the leading community of peer support! The Peer Leadership Center is dedicated to advancing the field of peer support and the peer provider workforce. Memberships are available for both individuals and organizations. Sign up now for a free membership and take advantage of resources, networking, education, and employment.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Mental Health and Election Season

Today, it is almost impossible to escape the chatter around the upcoming presidential election. Who will each of the major political parties choose as their candidate? Better yet, “Why should I care?” Both are good questions.

What many people don’t realize is that the executive branch of government, presided over by the president, has vast authority over how individuals access and receive mental health care in their hometowns. Unfortunately, there is little discussion among the presidential candidates on mental health and it can be difficult to get your concerns heard, let alone addressed by them. The good news is that our forefathers thought long and hard about this reality and created a system of checks and balances that supports the voice of the individual.

One way you can be heard is to tell your national representative and senators how important access to adequate mental health care is to you. Ask them to consider the ramifications of policies that restrict access. Ask them to think about these policies when they are at their party’s convention this summer. Demand that mental health care be a key topic during the presidential campaign season and an important cornerstone of their party’s policy platform. Use your voice this campaign season—you really can make a difference!

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Hill Day 2016

Because DBSA believes in providing programs that empower our constituents, we will once again partner with the National Council for Behavioral Health for Hill Day 2016. (Only a few weeks ago we participated in Hill Day of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.) Due to the fact that this is an election year, the upcoming event will be held June 6 to 7, well before your elected officials attend their conventions and create the policy platform their candidate will take into the general presidential election. 

It’s easy to participate in Hill Day 2016. Go to the website and register for this free event. On Monday, June 6, you will participate in training about the issues and on Tuesday, June 7, you meet with other advocates from your state who will guide you as you attend meetings on Capitol Hill. By the end of the day you will no longer feel like a novice and can help the next DBSA newbie. But the best reason of all to participate in this program is the sense of empowerment it will bring to you!

News from Our Advocacy Blog: Patient-Centered Care

What if our mental health care system was designed to achieve your own vision of wellness? That vision is what patient-centered care aims to accomplish. Learn how we get there.  Read more

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

We Are Powerful!

DBSA launched in January a year-long campaign, We Are Powerful, exploring the tremendous person power we each have but may have forgotten or not yet discovered. Peers, parents, and families are encouraged to embrace or reclaim this personal strength in their own lives, the lives of others, and the world. 

As part of the campaign, we are looking at a different aspect of personal power each month; April’s theme is I Am Courageous. This month, take a step outside your comfort zone and see what happens.

How has courage made a difference in your personal story? Tell us on Power Points Friday, April 29, on our Facebook page.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Finding Wellness: Mindfulness

We talk a lot about wellness at DBSA. It’s one of the key elements of our mission. So, as a new feature in eUpdate, we’ll periodically turn an eye toward what we can do to promote our own wellness using non-medical means—techniques that have proven track records.  
This month we’re looking at mindfulness. Research shows that the practice of mindfulness helps us deal better with stress, creates calm, and increases our ability to focus.

What exactly is mindfulness? Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a noted teacher of mindfulness meditation, calls it paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.

Left to its own devices, the mind wanders far beyond what we are doing in any given moment. While we are starting the car, for example, thoughts of anger, self-denigration, and revenge may fly by in such a torrent that we almost forget where we are. And the more we allow ourselves to drift or space out with negative thoughts for company, the more we are reinforcing the idea that negativity is just a part of our day-to-day lives. By deliberately and purposefully focusing on the present moment only, we crowd out these negative thoughts and create for ourselves a space of freedom and calm.

Mindfulness also asks us to let go of judgement. As we experiment with mindfulness, we’ll be more successful at some times than at others—it can be challenging to resist the pull of old thoughts. That’s fine. Just remember to resist the temptation to label your experience (or yourself!) good or bad. 

Interestingly, most of our random thoughts concern the past and future, even though the past is gone and the future has yet to unfold. The only moment we actually can experience and live in is the present one. We can best help ourselves toward wellness by placing our focus there.
Hear a podcast about mindfulness at FacingUs.org

Read more about mindfulness.

In this issue:  Ask the Doc talks mindfulness and self-protection.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Iain Middleton

Iain Middleton’s Walk

Not long ago we encountered a generous spirit with a wonderful story. It’s about a journey—literally!—that will push personal boundaries and support DBSA at the same time. Here is Iain Middleton’s story.

Roughly 28 million people in the US suffer from depression or bipolar disorder. Make that 28 million and me. My name is Iain Middleton, or Euan Morton (depending on where we met).

In 2012, at the age of 35, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. For years I had been living a life that swung wildly through mountainous highs and deep canyons of despair. The swings between mania and misery sometimes came within only hours of each other. For a long time I had no idea of what was happening to me—I thought I was literally going mad.

As Euan Morton (my stage name), I am a Tony Award—nominated Broadway actor and singer, lucky enough to have worked with some of America’s finest theatrical actors. As Iain Middleton, I am lucky enough to have had good friends and much love in my life. However, in both cases, bipolar disorder made things so bad that something had to change or I wasn't going to survive.

Help came in the form of a wonderful doctor. With his diagnosis and prescription, I began to take control of my situation. Help also came from wonderful DBSA. Believe me, DBSA is a lifeline to those of us who find that many of the other resources out there are prohibitively expensive. DBSA literally saves lives, mine included. 

Before I met DBSA, I had been running. Running from situations I’d messed up, running from people I’d hurt, and running from my personal demons. DBSA taught me that it was time to slow down and get to know myself—to find that combination of Euan and Iain that would make me whole.

So, I decided to slow down from a run to a walk—a very long walk; in fact, a 2,500 mile journey across the US from New York City to Los Angeles. I'll walk and walk and maybe, along the way, I'll find some inner peace. And maybe, with some help, I'll reach my goal of raising $12,500 for DBSA. I’ve chosen to do this as a thank you for their love and support, not just for me but to the thousands of people who utilize their services every year. 

If you’d like to help me reach my goal, visit my Crowdrise page.  95% of your donation will go directly to DBSA with the remaining 5% to the typical credit card processing fees and Crowdrise. I'll take care of my own expenses by performing fundraising concerts and traveling very simply with a backpack and tent. Just think, $12,500 is a mere 50 cents a mile! I know we can do that. Empty out those change jars and I bet you’ll find a few good miles in there. Oh, and as a donor, you will be the first to know the minute I depart! Precise time and date TBA, but my goal is to be on the road at the end of July. 

So that’s it. Story told. Project launched. Mental health issues can haunt lives forever and your understanding and munificence will go a long way toward helping DBSA exorcise those ghosts.

DBSA is very grateful to Iain for his support of DBSA and we look forward to his dispatches from the road. Bon voyage!

Read more inspiring stories here.

If you would like to participate in our Life Unlimited feature by sharing your story, please submit your contact information.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

DBSA Salutes Our Volunteers!

National Volunteer Week April 10-16
In 1983, several determined volunteers founded the very first of DBSA’s support groups. Now, 30 years later, DBSA’s programs include more than 700 groups, 256 chapters, 11 state organizations, and seven grassroots advocacy organizations. None of this would have been possible without the energy and commitment of hundreds of dedicated DBSA volunteers over the years.

Each and every day, our chapter leaders, advocates, Balanced Mind Parent Network volunteers, Young Adult Council members, and board members collectively invest countless hours in bringing a message of hope and help to their communities. They work toward affecting the change that brings us ever closer to more equitable treatment for mental health conditions.  These committed individuals are just invaluable; they have helped make DBSA what it is today and we are profoundly grateful and proud of them.

Volunteers touch virtually every aspect of DBSA. Our chapters work very hard in their communities to ensure that inspiration and support is available to all who need it. The members of the Balanced Mind Parents Network embrace people who support our youngest peers. Our Young Adult Council members fight stigma and spread awareness on university campuses and elsewhere. Our GOs (grassroots organizations), work tirelessly toward bringing government attention at all levels to important issues surrounding mental health, and our board members help secure the very foundation of DBSA.

Each of these dedicated volunteers inspires us with their passion, their desire to make lives better, and their generosity of spirit. Our deepest appreciation to you all—we are honored to work alongside you.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Patty Duke

Note from Allen

I write with my whole heart in celebration of the brilliant and warm Patty Duke, whose creativity, compassion, and caring were a light in the world, extinguished much too soon. All of us among the DBSA family treasured Ms. Duke—Anna, as she preferred to be called—for she was a trailblazer, an inspiration, and an incredibly generous force for good.

In her achievements as an artist, author, and advocate, Anna embodied the concept of a “life unlimited” upon which DBSA is based. We were thrilled to have her as a frequent keynote and presenter at numerous events over the years, and to have her serve as the inaugural member of DBSA’s Honorary Advisory Board was fitting, for she was one of the very first high-profile individuals to acknowledge openly her experience with a mood disorder.

Indeed, Anna was consistently a hero within our community—and she was our peer. Even with all of her beauty and awards and fame, she made you feel her humanness as a fellow traveler. Her openness, her demonstration that a full life is possible for an individual with a mood disorder, her wit and humor, and her fierce advocacy on behalf of people who all too often had no voice were truly gifts.

DBSA is so very grateful for the courageous, giving life of Patty Duke.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Wellness Tips from Peers

Recovery Focus
One great tool that helps keep me on track is a Happiness Checklist, developed by the Happiness Institute. When I use it with a day planner, I’m reminded how important it is to be busy, happy, and focused. Just a few wins on a daily or weekly basis keeps me energized for tomorrow.

Avoid the silent treatment
Never use the silent treatment on anyone—ever! If you need a break, let the other person know and then go back later and tell them what’s on your mind.

Helping Others
Bipolar Disorder
I’ve always gotten a great deal of satisfaction from volunteering. Whether it’s working at a food pantry, building a playground or donating clothes, the fact that I am helping others makes me feel better about myself.

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

DBSA Core Peer Specialist Training Course
September 19–23
Chicago, Illinois

DBSA Veteran Peer Specialist Training Course
October 24–29
Los Angeles, CA