Tag Archives: recovery

The Last Gold Leaf Releases EP Opaque

By Derrick Keith, Band Member, The Last Gold Leaf

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When I was sixteen my parents bought be my first guitar as an Easter present. I never thought of myself as a musician. I was the kind of kid that spent endless hours locked away in my room, pencil in hand, drawing feverishly, seeking desperately to express the fanciful worlds in my head into images on a page. In fact, even as I began writing songs I never imagined I would seek to make a career out of music.

Picking up that guitar unlocked an urgency in me. I found that others could identify with the loneliness and depression that informed my music. And that made us all a little less lonely, the days seem just a little bit brighter. I was hooked and there was no looking back. I set out to find that connection on a larger and larger scale.

If I were to try to sum up my goal as a songwriter in one word I think it would be “fearless.” I believe my role as an artist is to bring light to those dark places in our psyche that we become afraid to talk about. The unpretty things: addiction, poverty, hunger, betrayal. It seems as if our culture is almost engineered to isolate ourselves from one another. But it’s in recognizing our griefs, our failures, in forgiving that we can tear down the walls we built originally to protect us. The walls we found cut us off from our lifelines.

I have seen friends, family members, lovers, strangers in deep hurt. In need of help. Become helpless. But I believe in the power of music to heal. To foster community. To open up wounds to draw the infection out. I seek to bring to the surface the ugliness so we can accept one another.

That’s why I reached out to the Mental Health Association of Minnesota (MHAM). Music can raise the questions, but MHAM has the resources to help heal the wounds. None of us can do it alone. According to the National Institute on Mental Health’s website, In 2012 18.6 percent of adults ages 18 and above were diagnosed with mental illnesses. That’s almost 2 out of every 10 people. And that’s just the people seeking help.

If you or a loved one you know have questions, seek help.

The Mental Health Association of Minnesota is proud to support the band The Last Gold Leaf in their upcoming EP release party for their new album Opaque. Through this release party for the EP Opaque, The Last Gold Leaf hopes to generate awareness of mental health and point people in the right direction to find treatment and services for mental illnesses.  Staff from MHAM will be at the party to share information about mental health and our services. A portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit the Mental Health Association of Minnesota.

Guests include: Parachute Empire, The Lost Wheels, and Kara Doten

Featuring photography by Haythem Lafaj

Location
The Stu
77 13th Ave NE
MInneapolis, MN

Cost: $11

Purchase tickets here.

Off Leash Area Presents Maggie’s Brain

By Jennifer Ilse, Co-Artistic Director, Off-Leash Area

I have sweet memories of my brother Craig, 11 years my elder. Accompanying him to Boy Scout meetings, camping, swimming, pine cone fights, building snowmen… Though at times he staked out his rightful place as older tormenting brother, he clearly adored me, loved to teach me and show me the world and the things he loved in it. At age 19 he developed acute paranoid schizophrenia, and that was the end of that chapter of our lives together. I was confused, terribly embarrassed by his behavior in front of my friends, and I missed my old Craig dearly.

I watched our parents’ frustration and grief as they struggled with understanding what to say, what to do, what to feel. And I kept my own emotions well constructed in front of them and everyone else.

As the director of a dance and theater company, art is my most comfortable form of expression of the deepest places in my soul. And hence was born Maggie’s Brain from my memories of this period of intense struggle. This was in a small town in the mid-70’s – a time and place where most people didn’t know what schizophrenia was; it was still believed that “cold” mothers were the cause, and nobody ever talked about mental illness except in hushed and generally misinformed whispers. Thankfully my parents were able to find significant emotional and practical support through the local chapter of NAMI, and as a result Craig was able to get into a network of support that enabled him to have a safe and fruitful life.

Though Maggie’s Brain is not a replica of my family’s story with mental illness, it is born from those intense memories of confusion, guilt, anxiety, love, and grief. I researched and talked with many people who have experienced mental illness personally and professionally, and from all of our experiences created a version of this journey. The social and political environment for mental illness has also improved significantly since that period of time. But the struggle, the frighteningly intense emotions, the desire for communication and understanding, are part of everyone’s journey whose lives are touched by mental illness. Maggie’s Brain is my artistic expression of that journey.

You can see Maggie’s Brain at The Cowles Center in Minneapolis, January 24-26, 2014. I hope you can come.

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DATES/TIMES/TICKETS
At the Cowles Center for Performing Arts
January 24/25/26, Fri/Sat 8pm & Sun 7pm
FULL DETAILS at www.thecowlescenter.org
Tickets: Adults $25, Students/Seniors $23/ Under 21 $19
Group rates available
Reservations: Reserve online at www.thecowlescenter.org or call the box office at 612-206-3600.

There will be a discussion with the artists, mental health professionals, and those directly affected by mental illness after the show on Friday, January 24 and Saturday, January 25 as part of The Cowles Center’s Meet the Company Talk-Back Series.

You can find out more about Off-Leash Area’s work at their website.

Give to the Max on November 14!

The Great Minnesota Give Together is a week away! On Thursday, November 14, MHAM will participate in its fifth Give to the Max Day through GiveMN.org. And, we are pleased to announce that the MHAM Board of Directors has offered a very generous matching grant to help MHAM reach its year-end fundraising goal of $25,000. The Board will match all donations made to MHAM from November 1 through the end of the year up to $10,000. Give to the Max Day also provides many other opportunities for MHAM to raise additional funds.

Each year generous supporters like you join us for the exciting 24-hour annual Give to the Max Day. Every gift made on November 14 increases our chances of winning at least one $1,000 Golden Ticket! By partnering with GiveMN, an online giving website for Minnesota nonprofits, MHAM will have 25 chances to be selected for a $1,000 Golden Ticket.  Here’s the really exciting part: At the end of Give to the Max Day, one donation from across Minnesota will be randomly selected for a $10,000 Super-sized Golden Ticket! What’s more, if we reach the top of our leaderboard, we are also eligible for a $10,000 grant.

In addition to Golden Tickets and Leaderboard awards, GiveMN is also introducing Power Hours. During five different hours, agencies that reach the top of their leaderboard at the end of the hour will receive an additional $1,000 donation. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, there are times you may want to consider donating. Power Hours are:

  • 2:00 – 2:59 a.m.
  • 5:00 – 5:59 a.m.
  • 5:00 – 5:59 p.m.
  • 6:00 – 6:59 p.m.
  • 11:00 – 11:59 p.m.

Participating is easy. On Thursday, November 14, go to the Mental Health Association of Minnesota page on www.GiveMN.org. From our donation page you can enter the amount of your donation. Follow the prompts to complete the transaction. You can also schedule your donation early if you don’t want to worry about it on the 14th. Just visit the MHAM page on GiveMN.org, enter the amount of your donation in the space provided, and then check “Make my donation count for Give to the Max Day 2013 (11/14/2013).”

Funds raised through Give to the Max Day will be used to support MHAM’s mental health advocacy and outreach programs. MHAM improves the lives of thousands of people each year by making sure they have access to mental health services and that the community has the correct information about mental illnesses. As a result, people across the state are better able to manage their overall health, remain independent, and lead a more engaged life.

Thank you for your support!

MHAM’s ‘What’s Good With You?’ blog project

By MHAM volunteer Stephen Larson

Sometimes I think we let ourselves become identified with our diagnosis simply, and certainly through no fault of our own, because this is what we know. Think back to life before recovery. Personally I did not know there was something physiologically wrong with me. I always thought life should not be so difficult, and I had God knows how many excuses for being and feeling different, alone, disconnected and just not fitting in. The bottom line was that I was damaged goods and reasons or excuses did not really matter apart from serving as more goals to overcome.

Once I had a counselor, in all seriousness, ask me why I had not killed myself yet. At the time I focused all of my anger on his audacity and his ignorance of the fact that I was special. Whatever his motives for posing such a question, the fact is that it stuck.

What kept/keeps me going despite my perceptions of my self and the world? Why care when not doing so would be so much easier?

Blaming others for my circumstances really did not make me feel better and excuses only sidetracked my focus from the real issues. I did not know life could be better. It never occurred to me that I might be normal and healthy in most regards, or that I was not at fault for what ever was keeping me down. I never considered myself mentally ill but rather not a real or whole person at all.

There was something I was not getting.

I often refer to thinking that there was a curtain in my mind and I didn’t know what was on the other side. For me my self- medicating chemical abuse was, and still can be, so horrendous no one thought to look any further. My excuses were provided by those I loved and affected the most throughout my life as I cycled through mania and depression, violence and lethargy, craving attention while fleeing and isolating from people, as well as using sex, drugs and rock & roll just to feel normal when at the same time I was clueless about who or what I actually wanted to be. But I always knew deep down things would be better someday.

And I am glad I waited. Through patience, perseverance, and most of all stubbornness I just tried doing the next right thing and tried not to get caught up in the results. I chose not to focus on happiness as a thing in the future and realized happiness is just a thought away.

And that’s what’s good with me.

I try to do the next right thing, do what I am told and trust all will be well and that I cannot fail. At first I rejected everything about my mental illness and that took some time to get over, but now instead of being consumed by a diagnosis I understand that I if follow through with my treatments and medications it becomes a rather small, though important, part of my life. This attitude generalizes to the rest of my life and allows me to be involved in my life rather than being a passive bystander.

What’s good with me today? I am able to work part time again, I volunteer for causes that are important to me, I write and I am clean and sober, though some days reluctantly. I have another chance to see life from a different point of view, a life that is now full of hope, trust and wonderful people. I once heard that if you have gratitude in your life everything is important.

So, welcome to MHAM’s ‘What’s Good With You?’ blog project!

MHAM is now requesting and accepting stories from you for our new blog project. Submissions should focus on the positive aspects of your or a significant others’ recovery from mental illness, and be up to 750 words in length. Please don’t worry about your writing abilities as assistance with writing or editing will be available.

The following writing prompts may help spark your imagination or develop your ideas:

1. Because my mental illness is managed I see the world differently. As I recover I discover_______________. (e.g. I trust people, I am eager to meet others). What is important and new in your world today?

2. Maintenance of my mental illness is very important to me. I let the people the in my life know I will not compromise on ________________________. (e.g. sleep, human contact, medications, etc…). Describe what others need to know about your recovery.

3. Considering my recovery, when I think of my future I think of_______(e.g. possibilities, wishes, hopes, desires…). Describe what your future holds.

4. Today the best things I have to offer other people include______________________. (e.g. friendship, support, companionship, understanding, help…).

Of course other ideas are welcome though we wish to stick with subjective positive experiences and insights about recovery.

Please send submissions to: stephen-larson@hotmail.com

Reaching Out for Help

Recently, SMCPros featured the work of individuals and organizations in the community.  We had an entry posted there, but we wanted to share it here as well.

Every day of the week, I find a call for help in my inbox.  The people who write are unflinchingly honest about emotional breakdowns, job losses, and medical nightmares.  They found a form on our website or our general email address, and sent something in the hopes that there is some help on the other end.  Even though they have no idea they are writing to me, they are honest and candid to a degree that awes me.  Because I forward these emails directly to our client advocates, Anna and Tom, almost none of them ever hear from me at all.
But nonetheless, they have come to the right place.  In a system that still tends to treat people as less than, and with an illness that can make even the smallest obstacle too much to handle, they have run into a group of people who are dedicated to understanding their needs and helping them find their way.  I work for a small non-profit, Mental Health Association of Minnesota.  For over 70 years, we have helped people with mental illness be heard.

We don’t focus on what we think is important, we ask them what their goals are.  For one client, it was making copies of correspondence without feeling like the hospital staff were looking over her shoulder.  For Amanda, it was just sorting through the paperwork that meant the difference between a stable home and living on the street.  For Kevin, it was trusting group home staff enough to tell them about his nutritional goals.  It all matters because the person behind it matters.

Believing that we’re important and that we can take a concrete step towards recovery is absolutely necessary.  Time becomes a real enemy when I feel depressed or anxious.  I lose my sense of what things are like without that cloud hanging over me, much the same way that you might forget how good a full, deep breath feels after a long bout of the flu.  Without hope and help, everything is too much, and every set back feels like the end of the world.

More than a decade ago, I was a patient at Abbot Northwestern, hospitalized a handful of times for suicidal behavior and thoughts.  I was not responding well to medication, and every change in my prescription added another 15 or 20 pounds to my frame, until I could barely recognize myself in the mirror.  In a matter of months, I had gone from zero involvement in the system to a head-first dive.  It was frightening and lonely, full of people who didn’t believe me or listen to what I thought might help.  I was on a unit with all kids, but many went days or even entire stays without seeing family.

I got daily visits from family.  There were cards from my friends waiting for me when I got home.  My internship supervisor came to the unit to make up for a lunch we were supposed to have.  She even arranged a get-well call from her boss’s boss, a guy named Paul Wellstone.  And from working in his office, I knew that it took phone calls all the way up the chain of command, and a scheduling effort.  Far from taking away from the impact, it doubled it.  You see, the point is that it’s not about one person who cares, it’s about entire families, communities, workplaces that do.

Mental illness is often chronic.  It can be extremely painful and damaging.  It is also true that people recover, leading wonderful and meaningful lives.  They do so every day, but they almost never do it without support. MHAM takes phone calls and emails from anyone who is living in Minnesota or is concerned about a Minnesota resident who is having a hard time navigating the mental health system.  We connect people with needed services, teach skills for self-advocacy and wellness, helping them live into their recovery.

I wanted to share this story with you so that you know two things.  First.  If you have a mental illness, and you don’t know where to turn, there is help. If it’s 2 AM when you’re reading this, and you’re in crisis, please call 800-273-TALK. It’s a different organization, but they are ready to connect with you, and believe me that it is worth it.  But the next morning, I hope you email us at info@mentalhealthmn.org, or give us a call at 651-493-6634/800-862-1799.

Second.  Whether or not you are living with a mental illness, do you agree with me that recovery shouldn’t be luck? There are plenty of ways for you to help.  Drop us a line to find out more about volunteer opportunities, how to contact your legislators about life changing community mental health services, or our wellness education program. And yes, consider a donation.  Our services may not be the easiest to fund in today’s economy, but that voice of hope is worth something.  Personally, I think it’s worth quite a lot.

Ben Ashley-Wurtmann

Policy and Outreach Associate

Connecting With Your Peers

Recovery is a journey and often involves several components. One essential component is support from others. Support from family and friends and can play an integral role. Connecting with others that are experiencing a similar health condition can be important too. Support groups can provide a positive environment to share these experiences. Support groups are not group therapy or a substitute for medical treatment, but a place where people can connect with others and to find mutual support.

The Minnesota Chapter of the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) – a program of MHAM since 2004 – has provided a platform for people to share experiences, personal feelings, information, and strategies for living successfully with mood disorders. DBSA support groups can:

> give you the opportunity to reach out to others and benefit from the experience of those who have been there.
> motivate you to follow your treatment plan.
> help you understand that a mood disorder does not define who you are.
> help you rediscover strengths and humor you may have thought you had lost.
> provide a forum for mutual acceptance, understanding, and self-discovery.

DBSA support groups are free and open to individuals who have depression or bipolar disorder, or for their loved ones. Meetings are facilitated by trained volunteers and meet at several locations within the Twin Cities area and parts of Greater Minnesota.

Check the current listing of DBSA meeting locations and times on the MHAM website. At some meetings, there are specific support groups for depression, bipolar disorder, and family issues. Please contact the facilitator directly for more information. If there is not a meeting location in your area or you are looking to attend a different type of support group, please check our listing of other sponsored support groups on our website. If you are interested in starting and facilitating a DBSA group in your area, please contact Tom Johnson at tomj@mentalhealthmn.org or 651-493-6634 / 800-862-1799.

For general information about DBSA support groups, please visit the DBSA website. Also, check out DBSA on the Not Alone radio program, airing on KKMS-AM (990), August 4 at 1pm and August 5 at 11:30 am. DBSA leadership will be talking about peer support through DBSA.

Prevent Heat Related Stress

From the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Excessive Heat Exposure Can Pose Higher Risks for Those on Psychotropic Medication or Other Substances

During this period when parts of the Nation are experiencing record high temperatures, SAMHSA is reminding everyone that these conditions can pose certain health risks to everyone—including people with mental and substance use disorders.

Exposure to excessive heat is dangerous and can lead to heatstroke, which is considered a medical emergency. Heatstroke occurs when an abnormally elevated body temperature is unable to cool itself. Internal body temperatures can rise to levels that may cause irreversible brain damage and death.

Individuals with behavioral health conditions who are taking psychotropic medications, or using certain substances such as illicit drugs and alcohol, may be at a higher risk for heatstroke and heat-related illnesses. These medications and substances can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate heat and an individual’s awareness that his or her body temperature is rising.

Visit the CDC’s Extreme Heat: A Prevention Guide To Promote Your Personal Health and Safety for information on how to prevent, recognize, and treat heat-related illnesses.

The Minnesota Olmstead Planning Committee Wants to Hear from You!

When it comes to services for people with disabilities, how well do you think current public policies and practices in Minnesota meet your needs? What’s working for you? What isn’t? These are all questions the Minnesota Olmstead Committee would like to ask.

By October 2012, this committee must develop goals, recommendations, and a timeline that will become Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan. This Plan will be submitted to the State of Minnesota through the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The Minnesota Department of Human Services will begin to implement recommended changes in 2013.

You can help shape this plan by going to the Minnesota Olmstead Planning Committee’s website. The committee wants to hear from individuals living with disabilities, their families, service providers, and concerned community members.

The site is still being developed, but check back often for more information about the Olmstead Decision and ways that you can be a part of the conversation.

Nominations Now Being Accepted for the 2012 Gloria Segal Award

MHAM is accepting nominations for the 2012 Gloria Segal Award for excellence in improving the lives of Minnesotans with mental illnesses. This award is given to honor the memory of Representative Gloria Segal. Representative Segal served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1983 until her untimely death in 1993. In her 10 years in the legislature, she worked tirelessly to change how people with mental illnesses are treated in Minnesota. She led the way in the passage of groundbreaking legislation such as mandating coverage of mental health treatment in group health insurance plans and the creation of the mental health division at the Department of Health and Human Services, the State Ombudsman’s Office for Mental Health, and the State Advisory Council.

The Gloria Segal Award is given to an individual who has improved the lives of a great number of Minnesotans with mental illnesses. Accomplishments may include:

  • Empowering people with mental illnesses
  • Clinically treating people with mental illnesses
  • Championing key legislation
  • Increasing resources for people with mental illnesses
  • Creating or improving systems of care for people with mental illnesses
  • Performing key research in the area of mental health
  • Creating a popular book/movie/play or other work of art that significantly decreases stigma

The Gloria Segal Award has been received by Representative Mindy Greiling in 2009 and Robin Wold and Hope House in Bemidji in 2011.

Do you know someone who has significantly improved the lives of Minnesotans with mental illnesses? We invite you to let us know! Please provide a short narrative including:

  • Name and phone number of the person you are nominating
  • Your name, phone number, and email
  • Nominee’s relationship to the mental health community
  • Activities which improve the lives of people with mental illnesses
  • Accomplishments in those activities

Nominations will be accepted May 15 through June 30, 2012. The award will be presented at the 3rd Annual Celebrating Recovery event on September 27, 2012.

Submit your nomination to edeide @ mentalhealthmn.org or via mail to:

Mental Health Association of Minnesota
Attn: Gloria Segal Award Nomination Committee
475 Cleveland Avenue N, Suite 222
Saint Paul, MN 55104

Setting Goals for the New Year

As January comes to an end, so do a lot of New Year’s resolutions. The University of Southern California School of Social Work recently posted a blog about some stats and tips on self-care resolutions. Of those who make a resolution, about 60% have kept their resolution after 1 month and 40% have kept their resolution after 6 months. Depending on the resolution, several factors may determine if a goal is successful or not. Self-care goals such as increasing physical activity, eating healthy foods, or setting time for one’s self can be difficult when life becomes busy and stressful.

Goal setting can be done anytime in the year, but its important to prepare. When setting a new goal, there are a few helpful tips to remember:

> Be realistic about your goals. Is this goal achievable? It’s important to challenge yourself, but setting a goal that is too complex can lead to frustration and be impossible to carry out. Goals should be simple and clear.

> Start with short-term goals rather than long-term goals. Achieving short-term goals can provide much needed confidence before setting a long-term goal.

> Track your goals. Write down your goal and keep track of how that goal is progressing. Ask yourself: What is working and what needs to be done differently?

> Don’t feel discouraged if you are unable to carry out a goal. Issues come up and things happen that you may have no control of. Revisit that goal when things become better.

 

Below are some resources on goal setting:

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance – Setting goals for recovery

Mayo Clinic – Stress blog

Self Care Infographic
Brought to you by MSW@USC: Masters in Social Work