Sign of the Times: Suicide Crisis Lines Now Have Text Lines

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this, given the popularity of texting, but in trying to help a friend, I discovered that suicide crisis lines now have options for people who would be more comfortable texting than talking.

This is a very good thing. Most of my friends who have some type of mental illness would rather text than talk, even under normal circumstances. So, I imagine that for many in serious crisis, the text lines could be very useful.

There are several suicide text lines out there. Google them and they’ll come right up. If you have a friend or family member who won’t even pick up the phone, this could be a life-saving option.

 


Back to Autumn

I love autumn, too, so this photo by Teija really speaks to me. Bring on the cooler weather and the color of the leaves!

Broken Light: A Photography Collective

Photo taken by contributor Teija, a woman in her thirties from Finland. Teija suffered from a severe depressive episode at the age of 25, which turned into psychosis, and led to a three month hospitalization. Fortunately, she got better quite quickly and got her life back on track. She found love after getting out of the hospital. Her life changed drastically when her partner was paralyzed in December of 2012. It has been hard ever since. They are both fighting to keep from getting too depressed. Life goes on and they try to stay strong. She has been interested in photography for many years, but began actively exploring it over the last five years.

About this photo: “I love Autumn. I was born in October. It is my season. The melancholy mood. The nature. My mind gets its balance somehow then. Even though it can be a little dark, I feel that…

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The Black Swan

Broken Light: A Photography Collective

Photo taken by contributor Jaeda DeWalt, a conceptual self-portrait artist in her forties from Seattle, Washington. Her battles with mental illness hearken back to her earliest memories, at age four, when she became obsessed with the number four and performed exhaustive rituals in patterns of four. During her teen years, she began noticing extreme mood swings, manic one moment and depressed the next, and in her late 20′s she finally sought treatment and was diagnosed with Bipolar, OCD, Anxiety, ADHD, and PTSD from the trauma of being sexually abused as a child into her young adult years. Her life was filled with self-destructive coping methods until she went full force into creating, in her mid-twenties. The process of creating and putting herself in front of the camera felt cathartic, liberating and healing. The photographic medium opened up a new world to her and ignited a kind of passion within that she didn’t even know she was capable of experiencing. She has been on an ever-evolving, healing…

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Sleep: My Blessing and My Curse

sleep-whats-sleepThere’s no question that, when you’re trying to manage mental illness, sleep is especially important. But there are times when my dastardly sleep cycle plays tricks on me. It makes want to scream “Why me, God! Why me!”

My sleep cycle has been especially haywire lately. Either I can hardly sleep at all, or all I want to do is sleep. There’s almost no in-between. Last night, I got maybe three hours of sleep, even though I was very tired when I turned out the lights. I swear, I did everything I know how to do. I tried getting in comfortable positions, and all that led to was a lot of tossing and turning. I told myself to think calm thoughts. My mind responded by racing. I don’t even remember what the racing thoughts were. I just remember being very, very frustrated. Now, that’s it’s morning, I feel like shit.

I don’t know what to do about it. I thought I had this problem licked a few weeks ago when my doctor adjusted my meds. For a while, I was sleeping normally, which for me, amounts to 6-7 hours a night.

But now, my cycle is off again. And especially when I can’t sleep, my waking hours are so much harder. I’ve tried reading before bed, but all I want to do is read more. A friend of mine has an unusual remedy. He reads, but he deliberately reads things that he has no interest in whatsoever. This does the trick for him. He falls asleep out of boredom — but he falls asleep.

I may try that. Or maybe I’ll move my meditation from the morning to the evening. I don’t know. I just want to be able to count on a good night’s sleep.

Are there any tricks you use to fall asleep (non-med related because God knows I take enough meds as it is, and I don’t want to take more)?

Feel free to share in the comment section.

 

 

 


Here lay Mike Zoosman, Born: 1981, Diagnosis: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Mental Health Safe Space

By Cantor Mike Zoosman, M.A., BCC….O.C.D.

How’s that for an epitaph? On my more difficult days, that pretty much sums up how I feel – the pathology defines me. With years of therapy and meds, and a whole lot of mindfulness, I’m getting better at reining in those moments, but…everything’s a process, I suppose?

The truth is, it took about three years of therapy for me to be okay with the idea that I was in therapy – the same again when I began psychiatric meds. Looking back on two decades of treatment, I wish I could say now that this was all on me. My own insecurities and doubt certainly have played no small part in this anxious dance, but an equally culpable party is – as many readers of this blog already know – society itself.

Chaplain Michael Zoosman headshotI don’t claim to have any new insights here. I’m sure many…

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The day Muhammad Ali made me smile

AliOnce, when I was 10 years old, I met Muhammad Ali.

I remember he was making an appearance at Burdines department store in Miami, and he was signing autographs. My mother encouraged me to go up to him. I did — but not without lots of trepidation.

When I was a kid, I was painfully shy. I barely talked to people I knew, let alone people I didn’t. I’m pretty sure I had some form of depression or anxiety even then, but when I was little, they didn’t call it that. They just called it being very, very shy.

So I went up to Muhammad Ali — and said absolutely nothing. I just handed him a piece of paper to sign. I wouldn’t even tell him my name when he asked me what it was. So he looked and me and said, “Okay kid. You’re the quiet type. I get it. But if I’m going to sign this for you, you can AT LEAST give me a smile. I KNOW you can smile, kid.”

As he said this, he looked me square in the eyes. He was calm, but there was a hint of the bravado that made him such an icon. To me, one of Ali’s great gifts was that his bravado was not off-putting. In fact, it was infectious — at least to me. 

All I know is that when Ali told me to smile, I literally felt my face light up. The Greatest smiled right back at me. The store might have been filled with people wanting his autograph. But at that moment, it was as if I was the only one in the room with him.

I don’t remember if I at least thanked Ali. I hope I did. But I kept that autograph for many years. And I’ll remember my brief moment with the Greatest for as long as I live.


A new home for my meds, thanks to Shakespeare

Shakespeare pill boxLike just about everyone I know with a mental illness, I have a love/hate relationship with my meds. But now I have something that helps ease some of the hate — this Shakespeare pillbox.

Recently, I went with some good friends to the Yale Center for British Art. While browsing in the gift shop, I found this. I had to have it.

I’ve loved Shakespeare for as long as I can remember, and I’ve loved him even more since being diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Now, I can relate to characters like Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth on an even deeper level than I could before. I know what it’s like to feel melancholy and despair.

On the flip side, just the site of this pillbox makes me smile. I look forward to opening it, and I’ve become much less likely to forget taking my meds. So, thank you, Will. You are helping me “to thine own self be true.”