From Not Good Enough to Enough

How reframing my inner dialogue makes all the difference

I’m an over-thinker as most bipolar people are. My inner critic constantly berates me. I let him, who I call Arthur, live rent free in my head. As a result, I don’t feel good enough, like my writing is not good enough for publication. It’s an endless cycle. 

Since being diagnosed bipolar 1 over twenty years ago, it’s a struggle to accept compliments or believe in myself. I simply have had made too many mistakes, had disastrous manias, and despairing depression. It’s hard to love yourself and find your purpose when mania has made you a slut, an imposter, and a generalist with no follow through. 

I want to become someone who commits and completes projects not someone so embodied by imposter syndrome that she feels her voice is not needed in this world, that she does not deserve the good that will come from her hard efforts. 

I use affirmations in a journal daily, practice gratitude, and meditate emptying my shell of all negative thoughts about myself. But sometimes my inner critic can be so powerful. 

My therapist suggested a combination of dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). She said I have to reframe my inner dialogue and stop ruminating on the negative. She said I needed to make a list of the past events that trigger my thoughts and then write a conversation with each of them, a sort of saying good-bye but also learning the lesson they taught me. 

Since I am a writer, I thought having this conversation with my inner critic would be as easy as telling him to pack up and go. How wrong I was. I sat with my notebook blank for a long time in the coffeeshop. I was afraid of my own power, fearful of letting go of what would happen if my words became a self-fullfilling prophecy. After five minutes of twiddling my pen, I began to write in my perfect journal with my sketchy handwriting. 

I began telling my inner critic how he was hurting me and my career as a writer. He answered me back with snide comments and slurs I cannot write here. But somehow through writing a conversation with him I realized some truths about myself. 

I broke through my resistance by telling myself that I am enough. I just needed to cut through the bullshit and show up in this world giving it my all. I needed to work harder than the rest but not feel I had to be smarter than them. Giving my all was all I needed to do, to be. 

I had to stop comparing myself to others and caring more for what others were doing. I needed to put myself first. One of my favorite authors Dani Shapiro says one must write in the dark before they can truly understand and experience criticism or praise of their work. I had to put myself in this proverbial creative cave by not caring about what others thought of me or how their work was somehow better than mine, how their voice was somehow more relatable. 

Of course, writing in the dark in the days of social media and a constant barrage of news and features on others doing extraordinary things can be hard. The blue light of the pulsing tweets and posts made head spin with envy and self-doubt. My therapist suggested as a rule I only go on there once a week and spend only 15 minutes scrolling. She also suggested I stop checking other people’s web sites and blogs incessantly. I needed to put me first. 

I began to incorporate these ideas into my daily writing schedule and I found that my writing became deeper and insightful. I found that I could remember more of what really mattered. I found that telling myself that “I am enough” gave me the power to tune out the other voices, especially that of my inner critic. 

So, get yourself a notebook and a pen and begin to have this self-conversation today. Don’t wait! After all, you are enough. 

An Interesting Article on PTSD in Survivors of War in light of the war in Ukraine previously published on Medium and Psychology Today.com

Grant H Brenner

Grant H Brenner

Mar 14

How PTSD Becomes Self-Sustaining in Civilian Survivors of War

Research maps out how trauma takes on a life of its own

Photo Credit: Grant H Brenner

New research on Balkan war survivors sheds light on the persistence of PTSD.

As the war in Ukraine wages, and the world watches millions of refugees flee for their lives, we are reminded of countless prior wars. While media attention mobilizes our outrage and the outpouring of immediate help to affected civilian populations, what happens after the wars end?

We know that war takes a massive toll on the people, but our understanding of how the effects unfold for years after is still evolving. Do we forget to pay attention after the cameras stop rolling? What can we learn from past wars about post- traumatic stress?

PTSD Begets PTSD

Researchers Schlechter, Hellmann, McNally and Morina conducted a study of civilian survivors of 1990s Balkan wars, including those who had stayed in their countries of origin (including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia) and those who had settled in Germany, Italy and the UK. The results wee recently published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress (2022).

Study authors focused on PTSD among war survivors to understand how symptoms emerge and change over time, and specifically how earlier symptoms predict and maintain later symptoms. Common symptoms of PTSD, including avoidance of trauma and emotional numbing, get in the way of people getting treatment, as do systemic issues like stigma and lack of resources, including paucity of qualified clinicians and lack of screening in at-risk groups in primary care settings.

Up to 227 million adult war survivors are estimated to have PTSD. A systemic review of PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) (2021) in countries affected by war in the last three decades suggests that 316 million people suffer from war-related PTSD and/or MDD. Half of the people in that study had both PTSD and depression, with about a quarter of people having one or the other, but not both.

PTSD can take on a life of its own, especially if left unchecked. Once trauma sets the brain off on a dysregulated pathway, it can become a self-regenerating system. Brain network activity is altered by trauma; for example, we may miss what’s right in front of us-problems in a relationship, a health issue-because we are so busy guarding against the return of past threats. Intrusive memories of past trauma may trigger further hyperactivation, leading to a cascade of symptoms.

Avoidance, akin to procrastination, may reduce short-term distress at the expense of preventing long-term restoration because we cannot become desensitized to traumatic memories. Understanding the specific pathways by which PTSD is sustained is key for successful intervention.

Survivors of War

Schlechter and colleagues recruited several hundred civilian war survivors to arrive at a final group of 698 participants, who were assessed for symptoms eight years post-war and then again one year later. Participants completed the Life Stressor Checklist-Revised to appraise stressful (potentially traumatic) experiences before, during and after conflict. PTSD was assessed using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview and the Impact of Events Scale-Revised.

PTSD symptoms of re-experiencing/intrusion (memories, intrusive thoughts, nightmares), avoidance/emotional numbing, and hyperarousal ( fear/ panic, being easily startled, rage, etc.) were analyzed using network theory to determine first the correlations among symptoms at each time point and, second, the relationship between earlier and later symptoms, to show which symptoms in the present cause which future symptoms ( causation).

The Anatomy of PTSD

Eight- and Nine-Year Time Points

Overall, there were moderate to high levels of trauma, with average IES-R PTSD scores of 2.45 at 8 years and 1.98 at 9 years (with 4 being most severe). The most frequent traumatic experiences reported were lack of food, lack of shelter, shelling, siege, and finding out a loved one had died violently.

At each time point (cross-sectional analysis)-eight years and nine years post-war-findings were similar for PTSD . The symptoms most strongly connected to PTSD were trouble staying asleep, trouble falling asleep, feeling as if trauma weren’t real or hadn’t happened, feeling numb emotionally, trying not to think about trauma, and trying to remove trauma from one’s memory.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Essential Reads

There was a moderately strong correlation between thinking about trauma when one did not want to and avoiding getting upset if thinking about trauma (suppressing emotion).

Symptoms with the strongest impact (“expected influence centralities”) were having strong feelings about traumatic experiences, being jumpy and easily startled, and trying not to think about traumatic experiences. Network patterns were equivalent at eight and nine years post-war, but overall symptom severity decreased somewhat over time.

Which Symptoms Cause Future PTSD to Persist?

Looking at how earlier symptoms lead to later ones, network analysis (“cross-lagged panel network”) found five key relationships, in order of descending strength, as shown in the graph above by arrows connecting one symptom to the next. Thicker arrows indicate stronger causality:

  1. Difficulty concentrating led to trying to remove trauma from one’s memory.
  2. Difficulty concentrating led to trouble staying asleep.
  3. Trouble staying asleep led to pictures about trauma popping into one’s mind.
  4. Trying not to talk about trauma led to trying to remove trauma from memory.
  5. Reminders of trauma causing physical reactions led to difficulty concentrating.

The biggest predictors of future PTSD symptoms were:

  1. Getting physical reactions from traumatic reminders.
  2. Difficulty concentrating.
  3. Trouble staying asleep.

The symptoms most caused by prior symptoms were:

  1. Avoiding letting oneself get upset.
  2. Trying to remove trauma from memory.
  3. Acting like one was back at the time of the trauma.
  4. Dreaming about trauma.

Unpacking the Persistence of PTSD

Participants in this sample had a significant burden of post-traumatic symptoms, reflecting the findings from earlier studies on war trauma. Eight years later, they continued to report a high level of symptoms, which were lower the next year. It’s tempting to wonder whether participation in the study itself had a therapeutic benefit, by combating avoidance and raising awareness of problematic symptoms.

Only 38.4 percent of the participants had received mental health services, and yet almost 90 percent had seen a primary care practitioner, highlighting the critical importance of screening in primary care settings.

Addressing the identified pain points may be useful in hastening the resolution of PTSD, a subject that future research can clarify. Reducing avoidance-gently increasing engagement with trauma-is important for treatment to be effective and key to recovery for many PTSD sufferers. Improving concentration may help improve sleep quality, which in turn could reduce the frequency with which traumatic memories spontaneously arise. Reducing traumatic memories reduces reminders of trauma, which would then be expected to reduce physical symptoms interfering with concentration. Body work can address physical symptoms of trauma, which increase traumatic reactions, and so on.

I Am Not My PTSD

Traumatic dynamics can end up taking over how our brains process information, experience, and relationships. Trauma can overshadow regular day-to-day experience long after the threat has passed, creating an all-present context that may be significantly disconnected from what is actually happening and leading to frequent distorted perceptions, misunderstanding, functional disturbances, and maladaptive coping.

In the extreme, PTSD may be mistaken for one’s personality, especially with early or pervasive trauma, making it difficult for people to get in touch with their authentic sense of self and shaping life choices in regrettable ways. Recognizing PTSD and addressing key therapeutic levers is a potential game-changer: The often difficult work of recovery pays off with less future regret and greater self-regard, security, and life satisfaction. We have a clearer understanding of how war causes PTSD on a collective level, and left wondering how PTSD contributes to future outbreaks of war through triggering, avoidance and excessive aggressive reactions to perceived threat.

Graph Abbreviations

In1 = Any reminder brought back feelings about it; In2 = Other things kept making me think about it; In3 = I thought about it even when I didn’t mean to; In4 = Pictures about it popped into my mind; In5 = I found myself acting like I was back at that time; In6 = I had waves of strong feelings about it.

Av1 = Avoided letting myself get upset when I thought about; Av2 = I stayed away from reminders of it; Av3 = I tried not to think about it; Av4 = Lot of feelings about it; but didn’t deal with them; Av5 = I tried to remove it from my memory; Av6 = I tried not to talk about it.

Ha1 = I felt irritable and angry; Ha2 = I was jumpy and easily startled; Ha3 = I had trouble concentrating; Ha4 = Reminders of it caused me to have physical reactions; Ha5 = I felt watchful and on guard.

Nb1 = I felt as if it hadn’t happened or it wasn’t real; Nb2 = My feelings about it were kind of numb.

Sd1 = I had trouble staying asleep; Sd2 = I had trouble falling asleep; Sd3 = I had dreams about it

References

Hoppen TH, Priebe S, Vetter I, et al. Global burden of post- traumatic stress disorder and major depression in countries affected by war between 1989 and 2019: a systematic review and meta- analysis. BMJ Global Health 2021;6:e006303. doi:10.1136/ bmjgh-2021–006303

Schlechter, P., Hellmann, J. H., McNally, R. J., & Morina, N. (2022). The longitudinal course of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in war survivors: Insights from cross-lagged panel network analyses. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22795

Note: This Blog Post (“Our Blog Post”) is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. We will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on information obtained through Our Blog Post. Please seek the advice of professionals, as appropriate, regarding the evaluation of any specific information, opinion, advice, or other content. We are not responsible and will not be held liable for third party comments on Our Blog Post. Any user comment on Our Blog Post that in our sole discretion restricts or inhibits any other user from using or enjoying Our Blog Post is prohibited and may be reported to Medium. Grant H. Brenner. All rights reserved.

Originally published at https://www.psychologytoday.com.

My Mental Hospital Story

I had a conversation with the woman with PTSD. She checked herself in voluntarily while I was on a hold. She told me to never feel embarrassed about checking yourself in somewhere when you start to sense trouble. 

At the end of my freshman year of college, I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder. And, I didn’t want to believe it until midway into my sophomore year, I was strapped to a gurney on my way to Mclean Hospital in Belmont, MA. 

What started out as extreme suicidal agitation, turned into a florid mania in a few days that confused and frightened my Resident Advisor and other students—not to mention the dean of students. 

I was rollerblading around Boston at night, talking loud and fast in the dining hall and student union, having rendezvous with older men, and spending a lot of money on those credit cards they sell to students—I had six. 

As the ambulance door slammed in front of me, I realized I must be really sick. 

When I arrived at Mclean, a few days later, I received a call from the Dean of Students. She told me that many famous writers had been where I was and she already told the campus newspaper staff that I had gone home with the flu. 

I was extremely manic and anxious, and this revelation didn’t dissuade it. They were giving me powerful anti-psychotics and sedatives to bring me down. As scared as I was of discrimination back on campus, I was groggy and delusional. 

I got to know my fellow floormates. One girl was bulimic. Another had multiple personalities. Another had PTSD. Another older woman had schizoaffective disorder. They had all had multiple hospitalizations. I was on my second. 

When I’m manic, I don’t eat because I don’t feel I need food. My parents brought me Boston Market meal and the nurses left it in the dayroom refrigerator. I left it untouched. The bulimic girl ate it and later purged. 

I watched the girl with multiple personalities break into another person. They watched me singing and dancing, running around the ward full of energy, announcing my crazy delusions and grandiose plans.

I had a conversation with the woman with PTSD. She checked herself in voluntarily while I was on a hold. She told me to never feel embarrassed about checking yourself in somewhere when you start to sense trouble. 

I spent a day in four-point leather restraints for refusing medication. When I got a little bit clearer and less delusional, I was allowed walking privileges with the other patients on the sprawling grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. The cold walks in the middle of January shocked my senses and were the beginning of my use of the outdoors in my recovery. 

I was discharged 8 days later and went back to campus at the reservation of my doctors. I had an appointment with a therapist, Dr. R, a psychopharmacologist, Dr. D, and lots of scripts to fill at the campus CVS. My best friend worked there and I was a bit embarrassed about filling them there. But I only went there when she was off work. 

Rumors abounded campus. Some students on the newspaper staff where I was one of the editors alluded to where I had been. The days of campus advocacy had not begun in the late nineties. 

I tried to do my work and stay off-campus. What did I do? I got myself a bipolar boyfriend. 

Profile in Brave: Actress Victoria Maxwell talks on the intersection between spirituality and mental illness

Courtesy of Victoria Maxwell

“I went into a blissful state with powerful insights which led to a florid psychosis,” she said. “But the medical system pathologized the entire experience and didn’t give me space to tell them about the beginning part which was personally profound.”

Victoria Maxwell

Canadian actress Victoria Maxwell was quite the accomplished actress in the nineties acting and producing such films and television series as 21 Jump Street, the X-Files, MacGyver, Spin the Bottle, and acting alongside David Duchovney, John Travolta, and Johnny Depp. 

At 25, her life and career took another twist when she had a psychosis brought on by a meditation retreat, and was subsequently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. 

One time during a mania she ran naked through the streets, and now she’s sharing her story to help others feel they are not alone. She began writing and performing skits for a Canadian disability arts festival on her story. And now, created a career speaking and performing these short plays to audiences around the world. 

She calls herself the Bipolar Princess, which is coming full-circle to where she was twenty-five years ago cycling in and out of hospitals in denial of her illness. She turned her illness into her superpower using her skills as an actress to guide her. She doesn’t do television and film acting anymore due to the stress of rejection and financial instability of the career. 

Her short one-woman performances include Crazy for Life and Funny You don’t look crazy, a performance about working with mental illness. These are available for viewing on her web site for purchase but you can also find a trailer for Crazy for Life on Youtube

Her trip through insanity began at a meditation retreat. She had never done any yoga or meditation so her body and mind were quite unprepared for the insights she would receive. 

“I went into a blissful state with powerful insights which led to a florid psychosis,” she said. “But the medical system pathologized the entire experience and didn’t give me space to tell them about the beginning part which was personally profound.”

For this reason, she refused to accept her illness and cycled back through the hospital system frightened that this would be her life.

She finally found a psychiatrist who helped her see that she could have a spiritual experience and still have a mental illness. She was lucky to find this man. In Canada, due to universal healthcare, psychiatrist fees are covered but there is a waiting list oftentimes and not as much choice in who you see. 

“This was the first time I trusted a psychiatrist who said I didn’t have to let go of insights into meditation but could also take care of my mental health needs.”

Her psychiatrist happened to be a beatnik from the sixties. He told her it sounded like her experience was an altered state. He didn’t lump it in with being negative. 

“I was still experiencing a lot of depression and anxiety. He invited me to see if medication works and how it affects you and we’ll go from there. This was quite pivotal for me.”

Medication did work for her. Although, she’s had to play with the dosages over the years. Now at 55, menopause plays a role in her moods too. 

She describes her insights from meditation the way Maslov described peak experiences. There’s a separation from the ego and you feel one with the universe. She saw her own identity as I am not my thoughts, feelings and mind. 

She believes she had the psychosis because “I hadn’t created enough space in my psychic container. I hadn’t done any yoga or meditation before so it was impossible to hold these insights and sustain them.” 

Also, trauma from her childhood started to come up. Maxwell grew up an only child in a home where both parents had mental illness. Her father undiagnosed and her mother was diagnosed bipolar and got little help. 

Today, she meditates daily but she has to titrate her spirituality into small steps instead of great fireworks displays. Meditation for her is learning to be present in her body, watching her breath and scanning her body. 

“Sometimes when trauma and anxiety are triggered, meditation can make me more agitated. Sitting meditation is unhelpful then. Sometimes I need to be physical and not just sit on a cushion watching my breath stewing in anxiety.”

During these times, she’ll go for a run, dance in her kitchen, walk outside or in the forest, or pet her dog.

Other things she does to cope with her anxiety and depression besides meditation are exercise, chi gong like tai chi, talk therapy, Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), accepting her situation and knowing what her values are and taking the next right action. 

She values her work that allows her to be of service, friendship she makes sure to reach out to people, and making sure she has self-compassion, which is sometimes the hardest thing for her. She has to give herself a lot of kindness. 

“Sometimes my inner critic is mean to me,” she said. She sometimes feels she is doing something wrong to be feeling like this. Then, she remembers it is just an illness.

Her bipolar and trauma feed each other. “Trauma can affect my body chemistry and because I have a susceptibility to mood and energy shifts it can feed off each other if I have a trauma reaction.”

“It’s easy to dissociate then to be safe and present in my body,” she said. “It’s like peeling the onion. We learn so much about ourselves and then there is another layer.”

An apt metaphor for someone who fancies herself a lacoto-ovo vegetarian and is always trying to vegetarian recipes. 

“I feel the more I do, the more I remember who I am.”

Healing from trauma puts us in survival mode and we don’t have the luxury of hobbies. Maxwell gets to be introduced to what she likes and doesn’t every day. 

She’s becoming avid about sewing on her 1960s Singer sewing machine. Her next project is a pair of pajama pants.

In her job as a writer, speaker and performer, she understands her limitations and with self-care skills has figured out how to transcend them. She sticks to the things she’s good at and doesn’t try to be someone she’s not.

In early recovery, she worked a 9-5 office job. It was helpful for the stability and structure but she craved to be more creative. This is when she wrote a few scenes about her psychosis and read them to the disability arts festival. Over the years, she kept doing this and it blossomed into the career she has today.

She writes skits for CRESTBD, a Canadian research team, who studies the psychosocial and quality of life issues in bipolar disorder. They commissioned her to write her experiences with stigma and perform them to audiences. The research proved that narrative theatre reduces stigma and discrimination. I told her about the This is My Brave organization in America which uses theatrics and storytelling to do the same thing. 

She is also working with the Canadian health authority to tell the stories of people with dual diagnosis who have experienced the criminal justice system in three animated videos. This is a three-year project. She’ll be posting the videos on her web site soon.

Today she blogs for Psychology Today, BPHope.com and others, and writes plays and keynotes on her story with mental illness to inspire and educate others. She has won 14 awards including the Entertainment Industrial Council PRISM Award, SAMHSA Voice Award, best foreign stage play at Moondance Film festival, and she’s one of the top ten entertainers with disabilities. You can find her at www.victoriamaxwell.com.

My 8-Fold Path to Wellness in College: How I Thrived and So can You

I promised you my 8-Fold Path to Staying Stable and completing your degree. Not everything may work for you. It is up to you do tailor it and design your own road map. 

*Stigma: Combatting stigma or discrimination requires education of yourself first. Then, you must educate others. Give them pamphlets from NAMI or Active Minds or invite them to an Active Minds event on campus. Open the dialogue with your roommate and friends. First check their feelings out about the issue. Then, if comfortable with what they say, disclose yourself. Explain what it’s like for you and how they might help. You might even get a reaction like someone in their family has a mental illness. 

Disclosing to professors is tricky. You want to get the fair advantage and not seem like you want more from the professor than other students. At the same time, you want to make them aware of your disability and how it impacts your schoolwork. The Americans with Disabilities Act ADA will protect you and support you when talking with professors. The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law has put out a guidebook on the law for college students. You will want to be direct and not get into too much details of your illness. Just explain how your disability affects your schoolwork. If asking for an accommodation, be polite and be prepared to compromise.

  • Eat Well:         You will want to eat a variety of foods. What works for me is a low carb, low sugar diet high in greens and lean protein. Limit junk food. Find a balance of foods that fuel you and make that your daily routine. Drinking green juice is a good replacement for coffee. Coffee is a stimulant and will make you wired. Limit it to one cup a day, if any. Watch your sugar intake. Sugar is the poor man’s cocaine as a therapist once told me. Everything has sugar in it so this one is tricky. If you stick to a diet of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, nuts and seeds, you will be fine.
  • Abstinence from Alcohol and Drugs is Best: If you take psychotrophic medication, it is best to stay away from substances that alter your mind state. Alcohol, weed, opioids, cocaine, LSD etc…will alter your mind and make your symptoms worse.
  • Hitting the Books: If you are like me and focusing is a problem, study in a quiet place like a library that is well-lit. Highlight important passages, then summarize them in a notebook. Read slowly and summarize after each section break. Study best during the day after class when you are fresh. Try not to pull all-nighters. Having a planner and a daily schedule will allow you to carve out study time so you won’t have to cram. 
  • Dating: There is only one rule for dating: Disclose early on so you can gage their reaction. If he gives you the “good in bed” response, Run. Stick with people that lift you up. If you sense signs of danger in a relationship, don’t be afraid to call a Domestic Violence crisis line for help on how to get out of it. 
  • Exercise: It is important to find some form of movement you love doing and do it daily or a few times a week. Running, Rowing, Weight Lifting, Yoga, Dance, Swimming are just to name a few. Try and do cardio and strength training and remember to do your stretching first. 
  • Friendships: Like dating, stick around the people who lift you up. Listen hard and share the conversation. Remember a good friend is a good listener first. Write encouragement notes to them. Send care packages. Remember birthdays. 
  • Meditation:     Connecting to a higher purpose or the universe is good for the soul. Meditation is incredibly calming and a good tool in your wellness basket. If agitated, don’t do sitting meditation. It can make you worse sitting in your anxiety. Try walking meditation or call your therapist instead. 

Non-Profit Spotlight: Today I Matter on Addiction

At the age of 29, Timothy Lally died of a heroin overdose. He had struggled with depression, anxiety and panic attacks and tried traditional treatments that didn’t work. When he discovered opioid pills, it made him feel better. The opioids ran out and he turned to heroin. 

His father, John Lally, an APRN, wanted to turn his pain into purpose and make meaning out of his death. He started Today I Matter (TIM), the acronym is Tim’s name. Based in Ellington, CT, Today I Matter is a family non-profit that helps reduce the shame and stigma behind substance abuse and mental illness. Erasing the stigma and changing the conversation allows people to feel good about accepting treatment and getting well. 

As a psychiatric nurse, Lally Sr. is exceptionally qualified to do public speaking on these topics. As a founder of his non-profit, he makes presentations to the Department of Health, nurses associations, and schools. 

With the recent death of a 13-year-old student in Hartford due to a fentanyl overdose, he’s inundated with calls from schools to speak. Over 12 schools have made requests for presentations. 

He also gives trainings in administering Narcam and using QPR (Question Persuade and Refer)—which is a way to intervene when someone is suicidal. A lot of people don’t know what to say on the subject of addiction and mental illness and suicide. QPR teaches people how to reach out. Even if they don’t have the answer, they can show someone suicidal another way. 

Tim Lally was avid about the arts and music. Today I Matter offers scholarships for students studying art and music. 

The organization sponsors a Poster Project of 438 people who died of substance use disorder which is exhibited around New England. 

“It gives a face to the numbers. It’s quite moving,” said Lally.

On April 30, the Poster Project will be displayed on the National Mall in D.C. 

They offer a support group for adults who lost a sibling to substance use disorder. Their yearly fundraiser Out Run Addiction, a 5K road race, which they sponsor with two other groups.

“It’s easy to be judgmental if you think it can’t happen to you or your family and you are not aware of other’s struggles. But it can happen to everyone,” said Lally.

Addiction came on stronger during COVID because of the isolation, lack of structure and no support system for mental illness and addiction. People addicted or who have mental disorders don’t do well with isolation.

Lally has a blog on Today I Matter’s web site where he discusses topics in addiction and mental illness and stigma. There is a place for donations on their site too. 

It’s Just Talk. No Shame in Therapy

Cheslie Kryst

Cheslie Kryst shines the light on mental health in life and in death.

Cheslie Kryst, attorney and 2019 Miss USA winner, 30, jumped to her death in New York City’s Times Square. Her death shines the light again on suicide among the prominent and powerful, as well as on the mental health of communities of color. 

After winning Miss USA, in a now ironic statement to Inside Edition, saying that she took care of her mental health and went to therapy. 

According to the National Center of Health Statistics, there has been a slight uptick in suicides in communities of color in America. However, despite the grim statistics, there have seen more black people, especially black men, go to therapy. 

Kryst worked for a law firm in North Carolina and was passionate on criminal justice reform logging pro bono hours for those sentenced to excessive time for low-level drug offenses. She served on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters and Dress for Success, as well as being a correspondent for Extra on occasion. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with suicide or grief, it is important to seek help and surround yourself with information about mental health and suicide. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and you can find out about suicide prevention for suicide survivors at www.afsp.org. It’s no shame to see a therapist. It’s just talk.