Gratitude is important in healing from depression and other mental illness. World expert on gratitude Deborah Hawkins offers two books the Best of No Small Thing: Mindful Meditations and Practice Gratitude: Transform Your Life. Intentional Gratitude is more than keeping a gratitude list or journal. It’s about noticing the little things that make you happy in life. These two books helped me to remind myself what is truly important. Her first book, a book of short essays, is poignant and at times wry, full of observations that you can relate to your own life. These are not just books for people with mental illness; they are for everybody.
1. Why did you write this book? What are your hopes for the book?
I started writing the book as journal entries to keep track of my life, my experiences and what I’d been through. It was purely therapeutic and not originally meant for anyone but me to read, so I could learn more about myself and track my moods. Over the years I realized I’d written so much I had a book on my hands! I polished it up, wrote more to tie everything together, and ended up with a memoir.
My goal for the book is to inspire hope for people who are struggling and feel alone. By sharing my story, I want to help those who are trying to make sense of a new bipolar diagnosis so they can understand how this illness feels to those of us who’ve experienced a manic or depressive episode. I also want it to serve as a sort of cautionary tale, to instill the message that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. For anyone who’s lived with the emptiness and abandonment that often accompanies the loss of a loved one, I want to show them that life will go on, and it’s even possible to reconcile with someone you never got to say goodbye to. Finally, I also hope to help anyone who deals with daddy issues (needing approval from men in order to feel whole, and choosing the wrong romantic partners because of it) and show that I was able to heal and recover, and they can too.
2. What was your writing process when writing this?
I collected journal entries I’d written over the years and turned them into real stories, staying true to my own voice while still formalizing them enough to work as a memoir. I wrote more to tie everything together into one cohesive story about my life, and of course edited the heck out of it with the help of a professional editor.
3. Why did you choose the narrative arc you chose?
I started with a dramatic moment that was the culmination of my trauma, and then went backwards from there. I invite the reader into a very personal moment, show how things got that bad, and then share my recovery journey. The book ends on a positive note of healing and absolution, which was important to me. I want readers to walk away with a feeling of hope for the future.
I interviewed Carrie Cantwell a few years ago for this blog and she guest blogged as well. I announced her recent publication on Amazon of Daddy Issues a memoir a few weeks ago. Here is my review.
I give it 5 Stars!!!!! I’d give it 10 Stars if there was such a thing.
In this beautifully written book, Carrie traces from childhood to present the discovery of her own bipolar disorder eloquently juxtaposing it with that of her emotionally absent father’s own bipolar illness. Carrie’s father died by suicide when she was 24-years-old.
Carrie coined the term hyperspaz to describe her hypomanic episodes from childhood to college to young adulthood. Diagnosed bipolar in her twenties, it isn’t until after a suicide attempt that she learns to embrace health and sees the truth about her dad. From a marriage in college to an unhealthy, abusive marriage as an adult which culminated in a suicide attempt of her own, Carrie learns to embrace her illness, and to ultimately understand her father.
Her use of symbols, imagery and dialogue is amazing as she admits to her memory being spotty due to her illness. Her mother is a psychotherapist and was tremendous support during her illness and recovery journey knowing the right resources.
This book is a tour de force of how bipolar affects the whole family both genetically and emotionally.
After Rapper Iran Jr. Brugueras aka Splash died in a car accident in 2016, the Brugueras family turned pain into purpose creating SPLASH to raise funds for mental health non-profits. They started a fund with the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving with the over $25,000 they fundraised through a softball and a bowling fundraiser to celebrate the life of their son.
“My step-son Iran struggled with mental health issues. He received therapy and medication but no one showed him the holistic way of yoga, meditation, nutrition,” said Nora his stepmother.
Iran aka Splash used his talent for rap music to produce a song and music video about his struggle with mental illness titled “Pill Boy.” You can see the video here.
Helping Splash with his music became a family endeavor. His family decided to start SPLASH—Special People Looking and Aiming for Success and Health—to help them grieve with purpose.
So far, SPLASH’s gift to the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has funded $5,000 to Advocacy Unlimited’s Toivo Center, a place for people with mental health issues and their friends and families to learn about and experience holistic culture such as drumming circles, support groups, meditation, and yoga.
SPLASH is hoping to raise even more with more events when the pandemic subsides in order to give to more non-profits doing good work for mental health.
“Change starts with us, a family initiative, said Nora. “At times, it is a lot to take on. But if you start the conversation eventually change happens.”
SPLASH hopes in the future to bring together mental health and holistic practitioners in a mental health fair to show people that they too can have a comprehensive treatment plan.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
While unemployed, find a small job you can do to pay some of the bills, while you look for work in your specialty.
Don’t touch your 401K. Let it work for your future self by not withdrawing early.
Have an emergency savings account for the unexpected.
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.
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.
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.
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?