In the wake of the massacre in Texas, this pertinent article looks into how President Trump’s characterization of the shooting as resulting from a “mental health problem” is part of a broader tendency to demonize mental illness in the wake of tragedies. The article lays out why such an approach is both misleading and unhelpful, while also providing some helpful advice for combatting stigmatization. Read it here.
One of the most important steps in overcoming the stigma surrounding mental illness lies in concretely defining terms that can serve as the basis for an honest discussion. Ross Szabo, CEO of the Human Power Project, helps clear up some common misconceptions shrouding mental well being in his blog that coincides with the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Month. Read his blog here.
Ashleigh-Rae Thomas blogs, “Depression, anxiety, PTSD, borderline, these are all diseases and disorders. You haven’t done anything wrong! It’s taken me a long time to realize too that I haven’t done anything wrong.When I was going through it, and if I’m being honest, I still am, I felt utterly alone. The symptoms of depression sometimes present themselves as flaws. I kept thinking if I adjusted my attitude or if I weren’t such a bad person then I would feel better.” Read the rest of her blog.
It seems like the sweet sun’s been high in a blue sky for months.
It’s steamy outside. But that’s just fine with me. My feet aren’t cold, dark clouds don’t threaten snow, and everyone’s outside watering yards and going for walks at night.
Author Natalie Babbitt captures some of summer’s magic when she writes:
“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noon’s, and sunsets smeared with too much color.”
I’ve been upbeat and productive these past few months. I wake with the light thrown through cracks in my bedroom curtains. I charge up on coffee, create a killer to-do-list, and fly out the door with a sort of crazy, off-kilter optimism. Looking out at the sun-baked, south of France Monet-like landscape, all is good.
I am out of the blue of depression. And haven’t been in that god forsaken place since a murky week-long stretch last spring. I am sure the stinky weather had something to do with it. Months of accumulated winter darkness had tipped me into a dark well. Happily, it didn’t last too long.
And for this, I am grateful.
One of the things I do to stay healthy is to take time to reaffirm the goodness in my life when things are on-kilter and going well. It’s like building up a reservoir of fresh water that I can tap into when my streams run dry. I do this by taking the time to be grateful for the good people and things in my life. It warms my soul. And may even put a smile on my face.
Yes, it can be very hard to feel grateful when depressed. When in a bog of waist deep misery, it’s not only unlikely that we’ll give thanks, it might be impossible. We just can’t conjure up the goodness at such times. Everything feels like a mess. We’re fragmented, lonely, and depressed. There isn’t much to hope for. We sort of trudge through our days existing, but not really living.
The devil of depression seems to squeeze out all the goodness out of life. We’re left high and dry. When this happens, we need loved ones and a therapist to help us reap the goodness both past and present. We can’t do it alone. But when we’re feeling well, man is it a great practice.
“To know and to serve God, of course, is why we’re here, a clear truth, that, like the nose on your face, is near at hand and easily discernible but can make you dizzy if you try to focus on it hard. But a little faith will see you through. What else will do except faith in such a cynical, corrupt time? When the country goes temporarily to the dogs, cats must learn to be circumspect, walk on fences, sleep in trees, and have faith that all this woofing is not the last word. What is the last word, then? Gentleness is everywhere in daily life, a sign that faith rules through ordinary things: through cooking and small talk, through storytelling, making love, fishing, tending animals and sweet corn and flowers, through sports, music and books, raising kids — all the places where the gravy soaks in and grace shines through. Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people.”
The goodness of others is grace. It’s the universe’s way of reminding us not to fret too much, that things will work out, that our important jobs are, well, just a part of life, and that uplifting fortune cookie messages sometimes do come true. If I could, I would stick this quote by author Anne Lamott on one of those skinny wrappers:
“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it greets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”
Think of the kind people you’ve had in your life from your past and today; the everyday saints who were dropped into your life for no other reason than to remind you that life can be good, that you are special and that life is worth living.
These people always leave us feeling better than when they found us.
Take the time today to reflect and take in the goodness in your life. Depression may be part of your life. But it isn’t the whole enchilada.
There is always the other side of the coin.
And it’s sweet when we think about it.
By Daniel T. Lukasik
The Neuroscience of Why Gratitude Make us Healthier by Ocean Robbins in the Huffington Post.
How Gratitude Combats Depression by Dr. Deb Serani in Psychology Today.
9 Ways to Promote Gratitude in Your Life by Therese Borchard at Everyday Health.
The Huffington Post reports, “For those who don’t struggle with mental health issues, it can be hard to fully comprehend what a panic attack feels like. One woman’s powerful Facebook post gets brutally honest about the reality. Last week, British merchandiser Amber Smith posted two photos and an accompanying caption on Facebook about living with anxiety and depression.” Read the News
The Huffington Post reports that after being diagnosed with depression, photographer Christian Hopkins decided to process her experience from behind a camera lens. The result is a stunning photo series that captures the misunderstood nuances of mental illness. Read the News
From The Huffington Post, an interview with Gayathri Ramprasad, author of “Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within”. Read the News.