Special Free Offering on Gratitude from my friend Deb

Let me tell you now what a friend Deb Hawkins is offering. Her Intentional Gratitude webinar is one-of-a-kind. If you’ve ever been interested in beginning a gratitude practice in your life, she’ll show you how she creates more gratitude for herself, and how YOU can do it too.

Now, you are saying but I have a gratitude journal already. But do you use it daily? Deb will show you strategies to motivate you to find gratitude in the simple things.

Practicing Gratitude can help you to release Anger. It will show you the way to true Abundance. It can put in check negative thoughts and create positive pathways in the brain.

I’m asking you to support my friend, and promise you will feel better after taking her two week course. She will be offering it again in October for those that can’t make the September dates.

And, if money is an issue, she really wants you in this class. You will benefit from it greatly. So, she’s offering her September class free of charge. Just contact Deb at deb at nosmallthing dot net for the promo code.

Helium for Your Heart will be offered Sept. 14 and 21st at 7PM CT/8PM ET. Make your calendars and come along for the ride. It will make you feel better about yourself and the world.

And remember, one person’s gratitude can change/elevate the world. It all starts with you and your life force can change things for others.

Find out more at www.nosmallthing.net.

Amazon’s Hot List for Bipolar Memoirs is Carrie Cantwell’s Debut Memoir

I interviewed Carrie Cantwell a few years ago on this blog. Her new memoir Daddy Issues is out now on Amazon’s Hot List for #1 Bipolar Books. I will review her book in forthcoming weeks.

Carrie Cantwell grew up with an unstable father who suffered from manic depression. His emotional absence left her wounded and yearning for his affection. To make matters worse, she struggled with unexplainable mood swings of her own. As a child, she was hyperactive and attention-seeking. By her twenties she was engaging in reckless behavior to quiet her inner demons. When Carrie was 24, her father died by suicide, and she was hit with her first major depressive episode. When she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, her heart sank. It felt like a death sentence. At age 38 and in a failing, abusive marriage, she tried to end her own life. Once discharged from an inpatient institution, she promised herself she’d never go back. Carrie made the same mistake her father had, but she’d gotten a second chance at life. She vowed not to squander it. She began a long journey of recovery by finally coming to terms with her daddy issues and the severity of her own mental illness.

Carrie exposes a runaway roller coaster of emotions through brutally honest, raw recounting of soaring highs and crushing lows. Through powerful scenes of self-destruction and recovery, she invites readers into her turbulent and fragile inner world. Daddy Issues: A Memoir is a story of forgiveness and absolution, about how mental illness tore apart a father and daughter but was ultimately the very thing that brought them together.

To purchase it on Amazon, click https://amzn.to/2WUiF7J.

Lessons I’ve Learned from Being Bipolar

  1. Take your meds
  2. Use therapy as a tool and don’t bullshit or whine
  3. Support groups are nice but don’t get too caught up in others’ problems or they might become your own
  4. Stop alienating people with your public tantrums and vitriol
  5. Everyone is right. Let go of the fact of controlling other people. If they come around, they’ll come in their own time.
  6. Sometimes hospitalization is necessary but using it as a revolving door is not. You can build a bigger spiritual boat by creating a self-care toolkit you can pull out at any moment in life. 
  7. Drugs and alcohol don’t work.
  8. Stop trying to fill your love-shaped hole. Find your conception of G-d first and then you will find happiness.
  9. Moods come and go like waves. You will feel things bigger and deeper. This will help you think creatively. 
  10. Creativity is not found off your meds in some manic state. It’s by allowing your meds to work, hard work, and discipline that you truly find your creativity.
  11. Depression is hard, soul-sucking, and as my friend Glennon Doyle says “brutiful.” For it is with the valleys, that we can truly appreciate our peaks. 
  12. It is grand larceny to waste away the dull moments in life. Mania allows us to fill the dull spaces with everything. But true happiness is a balance of white, dark and grey spaces.
  13. Meditate daily.
  14. Work is over-rated. Find something you love to do and do it. They money will come. If you think about it, you only need to make enough money to live. The rest of it is bullshit.
  15. As my grandpa always taught me, “You are a millionaire already if you love what you do for a living.”
  16. Just be. FU*K Labels.
  17. Walking and running are the best exercise for mind and body. Though, a few strength training exercises can’t hurt either.
  18. Therapy is important. Exploring yourself is the greatest gift you can give yourself. 
  19. Read everything you can about mental illness—memoirs, scientific books, etc. Become an unofficial walking psychiatrist. 
  20. Friends come and go. Those who stick by you know the meaning of unconditional love.
  21. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll are all weapons of mass distraction.
  22. Everything is a drug.
  23. Limit social media. It is both a blessing and a curse. It is a trigger and a force of connection. It is a form of mind control.
  24. There is no black and white. Think in the grey. It might get uncomfortable but it is the only way to live.
  25. When trying to write a memoir about mania, focus on your stories not every detail.
  26. Change your whole attitude about money. You are already abundant if you have a roof over your head, clothes to wear, food on your table. Everything else is not important, even the car you drive. 
  27. You can make wonderful minute friendships while riding the bus. 
  28. You have everything you need already.
  29. Love is everything, especially loving yourself first.
  30. Dance to your own beat. Music goes with life. Find your soundtrack.
  31. Pay attention for signs, symbols and synchronicity.
  32. Sexuality is fluid. 
  33. Don’t be anybody else’s poetry. Make your own.
  34. Be grateful. Practice Gratitude.
  35. Limit sugar, caffeine and junk food. 
  36. Non-violence is where it’s at. 
  37. Drink water, especially if on lithium.
  38. To release anger, practice gratitude as my friend Timber Hawkeye says.
  39. Anger rarely gets us anything. Letting go does.
  40. Walking your talk is the best form of activism.
  41. Introspection = Inspiration.
  42. Life is an old beach rollercoaster.
  43. Half, maybe all of the world’s problems could be solved by listening to one another. Listen. You never know what you’ll hear. 
  44. Breathing alleviates anxiety.
  45. Don’t believe everything you think. 
  46. Question the Assumption.
  47. Desire is suffering. You are enough.
  48. Coolness is over-rated.
  49. There’s no such thing as normal.
  50. Practice Oneness. Doing one thing at a time. Being one thing. Loving one thing. Getting good at one thing.

Companies Should Offer Mental Health Days for Increased Productivity and Less Absenteeism

I wish employers would allow for non-sick mental health days. Workers would be far more productive if allowed to take a mental day off once in awhile.  Gymnast Simone Biles had to take a break from her Olympic Dreams because as her trainer said her body had the twisties, when your brain and your body don’t work together. The immense pressure of training for and being in the Olympics often makes athletes crack mentally. Perhaps, if Team USA, allowed athletes to take care of their mental health as well as their physical wellness there would be less injury.

Millions of people in the United States suffer from mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia to name a few. These illnesses cause lost production and money to employers due to employee absences and on the job negligence. If people were able to address their mental health before it got to crisis levels, more people would be on the job and productive.

Kickstand Communications is a company like many other companies offering employees better mental health benefits and a flexible work schedule and three hours per day to step away from the computer to recharge. But it would be radical if companies would offer mental health days unrelated to sick days to allow people to recharge, seek help, exercise or rest.

I understand the argument that mental health days cost money to companies but more money is lost in employees developing full-blown mental illnesses and not being able to show up for work or making critical mistakes on the job. According to the PsychiatryAdvisor site, 40 percent of people with depression alone miss work.

If there are companies out there who offer mental health days to employees, I would like to know. Please comment below or write me on my contact page.

Financial Wellness: An Important Step to Mental Health

money

I spoke with Jim Goldman, a Certified Financial Planner, who also volunteers with Jewish Family Services for 13 years as their Money Coach. Jim advises unemployed people in JFS’ JETS Schmoozers Job Networking Club how to manage their money, how to spend and save wisely, and how to achieve financial wellness—being able to do what you want when you want to. Here’s a bit of financial commonsense in a world that often doesn’t have time to explain it to you.

The “Until” Moment

 

Jim was concerned that most people he counsels wait until its too late. Some big life event happens like a kid in college or your refrigerator breaks and then wonder what to do. Ultimately, all his clients come to him saying “Everything was fine until….”

Steps to take to rid yourself of financial mistakes

 

  1. Consider paying cash for things you buy. But buy a big purchase like an appliance with a credit card. Only use credit cards if you are the type of person who pays off the balance each month. It becomes a toxic problem when someone carries a balance from month to month, which accrues debt.
  2. While unemployed, find a small job you can do to pay some of the bills, while you look for work in your specialty.
  3. Don’t touch your 401K. Let it work for your future self by not withdrawing early.
  4. Have an emergency savings account for the unexpected.
  5. On Debt. Goldman’s favorite strategy is to pay the smallest balance first. Then, pay the next smallest one. Do this until you see the end.
  6. The only insurance you really need are homeowners/renters, auto, and health. If you have dependents who need your income, you may want to invest in term life insurance.
  7. If you want to become financially literate, start small. Google your questions and follow the search.

To reach Jim for financial questions and to schedule an appointment with him, call JFS at (860)236-1927.

News in the World of Lithium

Science Update

Breaking News in the World of Lithium

In a PubMed published study on May 2020, Lithium has clear anti-viral activity at the preclinical level but remains to be established in clinical settings. This could have a direct effect on viruses in the Corona and SARS families. This is the great scientific research question. Could lithium potentially treat Covid-19? 

Guest Blogger: Julia Tannenbaum “My Books Helped Me “Choose Life””

It’s been over three months since the third and final novel in my trilogy The Changing Ways Series came out yet it often still feels surreal that it’s over; that this project I’ve poured myself into for the past four years of my life is behind me once and for all. 

Back in 2018—which seems forever ago now—I published my debut novel Changing Ways. It told the story of sixteen-year-old Grace Edwards who, overwhelmed by pressure and insecurity, turned to restriction to cope. This quickly spiraled into a full-blown eating disorder to the point where she needed to be hospitalized to save her life. In the hospital, Grace realized that the only way she’d get better and move past her disorder is if she committed to recovery. 

I started writing Changing Ways when I was seventeen, one year older than Grace and just two years removed from the same experiences with anorexia and depression she goes through in the book. In fact, much of Grace’s story throughout the series is heavily based on my personal struggles with mental illness, as well as my successes in recovery.

I give writing a lot of credit for helping me get through that dark and scary time in my life when I was completely entrenched in my eating disorder. Initially, writing gave me a voice when I had none, then it was an outlet for my repressed thoughts and emotions, and ultimately it became my motivator by providing me with hope for my future and an identity that wasn’t dependent upon my disorder.

Putting my experiences into a seventy-five-thousand-word novel wasn’t an easy feat; it was time-consuming, emotional, stressful, and exhausting. But it was also liberating, exciting, hopeful, and inspiring. I wanted so badly to get it right; to write a book that truly encapsulated what mental illness was about while also not being harmful to a potentially vulnerable audience. When I published Changing Ways, I felt scared, as I’m sure anyone putting themselves out there for the first time would feel. I didn’t know what the response would be and how it would impact my recovery.

The reaction, however, was incredible and completely exceeded my expectations. It’s wonderful to know that this hobby—this coping skill—that basically saved my life is now helping other people. Furthermore, Changing Ways helped me. The more positive feedback I received, the more fulfilled and motivated I felt. (Obviously, there was some negative feedback too, which stung initially but has ultimately made me stronger and more resilient.) I started seeking out opportunities to share my story of how I went from an insecure teenager in the clutches of anorexia to an independent published young adult proudly living her truth.

In July of 2019, I published the sequel Breaking Free, which is a continuation of Grace’s journey that focuses primarily on her learning how to navigate life outside of a treatment facility, just as I’ve been doing for the past five years. Breaking Free came out a month before I started college in Boston, where my own recovery was put to the test as I came dangerously close to relapsing. Fortunately, I was able to overcome that difficult situation thanks to my incredible treatment team, my support system at home, and, of course, writing.

This past November, I published my third novel Choosing Life, which wrapped up the series in the best way I knew how: realistically yet hopefully. At the end of the novel (without spoiling anything) Grace is in the best place she’s been at since the start of the series—and that’s very much true of myself too. I was technically in recovery when I wrote Changing Ways, yet there was still a large part of me that clung to anorexia and wasn’t ready to let go. Today, that part is almost entirely gone. I’m no longer stubbornly straddling that fine line between relapse and recovery. I’ve chosen a side. I’ve chosen life. 

Julia Tannenbaum is the author of the Changing Ways trilogy. She’s an advocate for mental health awareness and often incorporates her personal struggles into her fictional work. Tannenbaum is currently pursuing a Creative Writing and English B.A. at Southern New Hampshire University. She lives in West Hartford, Connecticut with her family.

Falling Off Its Axis. A Trip through Anxiety

Anxiety makes me scream inside my head. I have created an anxiety end zone in my home.

There are gem stones, journals, homemade signs with positive affirmations, books about healing and combatting anxiety, meditation books, yoga cards, buddha heads, and meditation beads.

Anxiety doesn’t make sense. Its antics are illusive and odd, the sort of stuff out of a time warp or a B movie. I was once on a bus in downtown Chicago coming back from a therapy session. I started to feel like the earth would lose its axis and the bus would roll over and keep rolling. It sent me into a panic attack where I almost couldn’t breathe. I tried a mindfulness exercise my therapist always talked about. The one where you breathe in and out slowly and ground yourself in the moment. At my stop, I walked off that bus calm.

What causes anxiety may as well be the solution to stopping it. The existential dread we all fear can be quelled by grounding ourselves back to existence. Author and activist Melody Moezzi quotes Rumi in her book the Rumi Prescription on anxiety and its cure, “Forget your plans and embrace uncertainty. Only then will you find stability.” Thus, if we live moment to moment in order to embrace uncertainty, we will be graced by stability. This pandemic has brought about plenty of uncertainty. Uncertain futures for the economy, for our jobs, for who gets the virus, death. Death, perhaps, is what we are all panicking toward. Once we accept death as a fact of life and stop evading it, some of the anxiety disappears. Then, there is GAD or generalized anxiety disorder. Or as I call it…anxiety over life.

When I got into the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, I believed all the other students were judging me. I didn’t know how to talk to them—social anxiety at its finest. I drank through social gatherings. And then, I panicked. I was a fraud, an imposter, I could never be a real journalist. On my way to a law and journalism class, I ducked into a busy office and started panicking in front of strangers. Manically, I told them my life story—stuff that you’d be embarrassed to tell strangers. Wildly, I called old contacts on my cell phone begging them for legitimacy. Word got out to the dean of school and I was called in. They asked me to leave. I never looked back. Gradually, I built up the confidence to work as a freelance journalist. And, I did it without their fancy education. I have a passion for mental health stemming from my lived experience so I built it into this blog.

In my twenties, I lived in an apartment called the Artist in Residence in Chicago’s north side. A friend once referred to my neighborhood as the “Land of the Walking Wounded.” Old people pushing carts on wheels, panhandlers, drug dealers, insolent teenagers inhabited its streets. My apartment was on the second floor. I developed the irrational-rational fear of getting shot through my window or walking down the street to the train. I’d constantly look behind me as if checking for a bullet sailing past. Anxiety pretends. Anxiety gives us situations to be anxious about. And sometimes, these situations just make us shiver. Anxiety is a chill down the spine, or better yet, chills surrounding the whole body. Its electric energy pushing itself to our surfaces. Some use it to push further; but some are destroyed by it. We let it destroy us by not using it or letting it go.

Sarah Wilson writes in her book First, We Make the Beast Beautiful about anxiety spirals. The concept of spiraling which is a building up of anxiety over a period of time, is something we all experience in our lives. The loss of a job, a break-up, parenting, the uncertainty of this pandemic are all things that build up over time. Anxiety is the million little ghosts we try to slaughter all at once.

Young teens feel the drama of making friends and fitting in with the cool crowd. Adults at a cocktail party or networking event shudder at trying to make that lasting connection for work, friendship or love. The rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous are full of people who feel “terminally unique” that their situation and feelings are only experienced by them alone. Mental health advocates banter a cliché around “You are not alone.” It’s sort of the counter to feelings of terminal uniqueness we all feel.

Chelsea Ursin writes in her podcast Dear Young Rocker about feeling steam inside as a young teen. She finds rock music to blow off her insides.  Her social anxiety increases through the years following her to her twenties. She uses hiking alone as a way to catch her thoughts. And, we all have ways of dealing. Some have drinks with friends, some pour the wine alone. Some meditate, some journal, some exercise, some use apps, some get addicted to technology.

One way of coping is a practice called mindfulness. Rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy and eastern philosophy and practices, mindfulness shows us how to tend to our thoughts and let them go. Thoughts are like waves of emotion rolling down our bodies and back out where they came. We are not our thoughts. Our thoughts do not have to control our actions.

Having both bipolar disorder and an anxiety disorder myself, I understand the challenge of controlling my moods and energies while trying to manage anxiety. Depression is no stranger to anxiety. They’re cousins. While I take medication for my bipolar, I maintain my most anxious moments without drugs. My worst manic episodes like the one at Medill are peppered with severe anxiety and self-doubt.

Do you have anxiety? What was your worst anxious moment you lived to tell about? Tell me your stories in the comments or send me your stories via the contact form.