Veterans Day and Mental Health

Veterans Day Mental Health

Read Mark C. Russell’s November 9th editorial published in The Seattle Times entitled, On this Veterans Day, where is the outrage over mental-health crisis?

Russell concludes with this call to action:

Honor our veterans this holiday by demanding the president and congressional representatives to urgently do the following:

  • Conduct independent investigations into the cause of the military mental-health-care crisis.
  • Establish a unified “Behavioral Health Corps” within the Department of Defense.
  • End hiring restrictions of licensed marriage/family therapists, mental-health counselors and clinical psychologists to address chronic staffing shortages.
  • Establish a “Joint Services Behavioral Health Lessons Learned Center.”
  • Compel the VA/military to ensure every veteran has access to all evidence-based therapies per the VA/DoD PTSD guidelines.

Mark C. Russell

Resources:

NAMI | Support for Veterans & Active Duty

Nearly 1 in 4 active duty members showed signs of a mental health condition, according to a 2014 study in JAMA Psychiatry. On this page we focus on questions that military personnel often ask, concerning treatment resources, disclosure and staying healthy during the transition to civilian life. If you are having thoughts of suicide, the Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7 by dialing 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1.

Veterans Crisis Line

#BeThere for Veterans and Servicemembers - Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255

The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.

Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy Mind Body Connection KittOMalley.com

Last Friday, I drove my son down to La Jolla (across the street from UC San Diego!) to see pediatric hypnotherapist and pulmonologist, Dr. Ran D. Anbar, MD, FAAP of Center Point Medicine. My son struggles with migraines (greatly improved with recent medication regime), depression, anxiety, eczema, and frequent school absences due to illnesses.

According to Dr. Anbar’s brochure:

Children who use hypnosis:

  • Become empowered to help themselves when they feel poorly, and are proud of themselves for being able to do so.
  • Feel better about themselves and their medical condition because they can help take control of how they feel.
  • Become aware of their inner strength that allows them to cope more effectively with all aspects of their lives.

My mother used hypnotherapy to help her battle non-Hodgkins lymphoma (along with chemotherapy and monoclonal antibody therapy). Hypnotherapy enabled her to feel more in control, and lessened her pain and anxiety. My father quit smoking using hypnotherapy. I’ve used self-hypnosis (all hypnosis is self-hypnosis) to perform well on exams (I studied, too).

Hoping that self-hypnosis will give my son a tool, an effective coping mechanism, not just for somatic illnesses that respond well to hypnosis, but for life. Somatic illnesses are not “just” in the mind. The mind and the body are connected.

Prayer, meditation and self-hypnosis all help body, mind, and soul.

Worn Out

Tired Collage
Photos taken & poem written October 2015. It’s that season again…

Exhausted

Overwhelmed
Not thinking clearly
Not able to complete sentences
Not able to answer direct questions

Fumbling with language
With spoken language
With what I hear
With what I read

So sleepy
Feared falling asleep
Driving to doctor’s office

Door locked
Looked at calendar
Over an hour early

Went back to parked car
Overlooking hill of eucalyptus
Enjoyed view

Tolerated gardeners
Noisy leaf blowers
Those things should be illegal

Wish I had slept
That extra hour
Though not sure
It would have helped

Seems there’s no refilling
This empty tank
No overcoming
This fatigue right now

Seasonal and situational
Wait it out?
Perhaps
Not sure

I Don’t Want to Write About #Suicide for #WorldSuicidePreventionDay

Do Not Want to Write About Suicide. Background image is chainlink fence with people playing basketball behind it

I don’t want to write about suicide
I don’t want the image of her
Clinging onto a chain link fence
Chef’s knife in hand
Chef’s knife inside of her
Looking through the chain link
At kids playing in the park
She mourned the loss of her son
She could not contain her grief
She could not hold on
She had other children
They no longer had a mother
My father no longer had a cousin
I no longer had a cousin once removed

When I was 18
I, too, wanted to kill myself
I thought the world
Better off without me
My family
Better off without me
The emotional pain
Unbearable
A living hell
But I didn’t kill myself
I sought help
I got help
But I was not a mother
Grieving the loss of her son


International Association for Suicide Prevention - September 10, 2017 - World Suicide Prevention Day - Take a minute, change a life.

World Suicide Prevention Day 2017

I do not whisper. I ROAR.

I do not whisper. I ROAR.

Motherhood transformed me. My identity changed. Now it changes again. I have constantly reinvented myself over my lifetime.

As a pre-med biochemistry major at UCLA, I was miserable and suicidal. Then I studied part-time at a community college, biding time to find my direction. Finding a niche as a legal studies major at UC Berkeley, I tried to reconcile my inner turmoil with very high professional aspirations.

First I worked as a legal assistant, then went to graduate school, earned a master’s in psychology and became a psychotherapist, only to crash and burn. Recovering from that breakdown, I re-entered the workforce as a temporary file clerk in the commercial real estate industry where I had ten years of success.

Trying to balance work with motherhood, I failed miserably, and ended up hospitalized in a psychiatric unit with rapid cycling and mixed symptoms of bipolar disorder. After months of partial hospitalization, I became a reluctant stay-at-home mother on disability.

What does an overeducated and reluctant stay-at-home mother with a recurring sense of calling (or a manic and delusional symptom of bipolar disorder, depending on one’s perspective) do with her mind? Why attend seminary, of course, which I did on two separate occasions and on two separate occasions had to quit due to symptoms.

Here I am writing my story again. To what end? To reinvent myself once again – not as someone who is ill, but as someone who fights and loves and writes and has hope that new chapters of her life lie ahead.

I have a voice that must be heard. I have a message to share and share it I do. I am not just my son’s mother. I am not my diagnosis. I am able. I am able to affect change. I wield power. I am a mover and a shaker. I do not whisper. I ROAR.