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DBSA e-Update August 2017

DBSA Supporting Parents
Have you ever experienced Tardive Dyskinesia?
Join the DBSA Website User Experience Team
When is a Loss a Win?
Last Chance to register for DBSA September Peer Specialist Trainings
Supporting, Creating, and Celebrating Leaders October 14, 2017
Let’s shine a spotlight on Peer Support!
Finding Support in Greater New York City
Live Chat: Communicating with Kindness and Honesty during Difficult Conversations
Checking Your Mental Health Temperature
bp Magazine: A Safe Space—What To Know About Going To The Hospital
Ask the Doc: Can a bipolar doc be effective and safe to treat patients?
Life Unlimited: Meet Jeena Jodikinos
Note from Allen
Wellness Tips from Peers: Rule of 3s; Meditation; It's OK
Save the Date


Congratulations to our 2016 Chapter Service Award Winners!

DBSA Supporting Parents

These words from a current Balanced Mind Parent Network (BMPN) encompass what its cofounders were seeking. In the 1990s, parents of children living with a mood disorder reached out online to find information, resources, and support. They found each other and created a virtual community, where all were welcome and resources and understanding were shared. Together, they lessened the feelings of isolation and helped each other through the challenges of pediatric mood disorders.

This community grew into a nonprofit organization that merged with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance in January of 2014. The Balanced Mind’s family-focused programming became part of DBSA’s program services and resources to improve the mental health of, and facilitate wellness for, individuals living with mood disorders from childhood throughout adulthood. Under a single organization, DBSA has the potential to provide consistent support to families and their children as they grow into adults living in mental health and wellness.

Today, this community continues to thrive with eleven online communities and resources accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Parents and, in some cases, grandparents and other guardians, connect with one another to share celebrations, concerns, and support each other through their family’s wellness journey. In addition to the online communities of support, BMPN hosts several additional resources:

To learn more about BMPN, go to DBSAlliance.org/BMPN or contact Angie Day, Chapter and Volunteer Services Director, at ADay@DBSAlliance.org.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Have you ever experienced Tardive Dyskinesia?

DBSA is interested in learning more about how tardive dyskinesia impacts the lives of people who live with this condition. Tardive dyskinesia refers to a chronic movement condition caused by use of medicines commonly used to treat certain psychiatric conditions. The uncontrollable movements can be limited to one part of the body or multiple parts. If you have ever experienced tardive dyskinesia, please consider taking our short survey.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Join the DBSA Website User Experience Team

With your help, we'll be able to alter our site to create the best possible web experience for people looking for information, education, inspiration, and support on DBSAlliance.org. Sign up for the team!

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

When is a Loss a Win?

What constitutes an advocacy win? Is it advancing a long-sought-after piece of legislation or regulatory policy? Yes, but a win can also be successfully obstructing a piece of legislation that could create a barrier to care, or celebrating that a regulatory rule that had restricted access has been favorably revised. Can an outcome that reverses hard-won rights be considered a win? It depends on how you look at it.

Political pendulums swing back and forth, and public policy is influenced by those shifts in power. However, within those shifting winds, new mobilization begins. For example, how many of you responded to an action alert for the first time during the health care debate? Perhaps you called your elected official’s office or participated in a rally. There is personal empowerment that comes from these actions. For others, there is a feeling of waking up after a long sleep, reinvigorated with a desire to become involved. Regardless of what stirred you to action, these personal transformations are wins worth celebrating. Subscribe today to the DBSA advocacy platform and continue with your wins!

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Last Chance to register for DBSA September Peer Specialist Trainings

Afraid you missed out? Good news! The deadline to register for DBSA Core and Veteran Peer Specialist Training has been extended to August 31. This is a chance to make a difference by using your lived experience with a mental health condition to help others—and yourself—on the journey to wellness. Don’t miss your chance to register for DBSA’s last trainings in 2017.

DBSA Veteran Peer Specialist Training September 11-15
Registration deadline is August 31, 2017. Learn more and register. Questions? Contact Training@DBSAlliance.org or 312-988-1164.

DBSA Core Peer Specialist Training September 11-14
Registration deadline is August 31, 2017. Learn more and register. Questions? Contact Training@DBSAlliance.org or 312-988-1164.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Supporting, Creating, and Celebrating Leaders October 14, 2017

DBSA’s very first virtual Chapter Leadership Forum will be held on October 14, 2017 from 10:30 a.m. - 4: 30 p.m. CST. This year’s Forum will focus on creating, celebrating, and supporting leaders within the DBSA community through Facebook live, ReadyTalk webinars, and Slack real-time messaging—all FREE of charge! The week leading up to the event will give you the chance to celebrate and inspire individualized leadership in DBSA by sharing stories, engaging in daily online discussions, and by viewing inspirational videos through a special Facebook group for CLF Participants. Learn more and register at DBSAlliance.org/CLF2017.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Let’s Shine a Spotlight on Peer Support!

Are you a peer specialist? Have you worked with a peer specialist? We want to highlight YOUR experiences with peer support work. Your story may be featured on our site! Contact LIngram@DBSAlliance.org or at (312) 988-1164 for information and to submit your story!

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Finding Support in Greater New York City

New York City has been celebrated in countless movies, songs, and stories as one of the greatest cities in the world. Unfortunately, as the most populous and most densely populated city in the US, it is also home to hundreds of thousands of people living with a mood disorder.

According to government statistics, major depressive disorder is the single greatest source of disability in NYC. At any given time over half a million adult New Yorkers are estimated to have depression, yet less than 40% report receiving care for it.

DBSA chapters can play role in addressing this issue through education, advocacy, and support groups. We are fortunate to have chapters in Manhattan, Long Island, and upstate New York, but we stop short at serving all five boroughs. If you know of anyone who is interested in starting a chapter in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, or Staten Island, please have them contact us at StartUp@DBSAlliance.org.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Live Chat: Communicating with Kindness and Honesty during Difficult Conversations

Save the Date! On Thursday, September 21st at 1:00 p.m. CDT, the Peer Leadership Center will be hosting a live discussion chat on communicating with kindness and honesty during difficult conversations. When working in a peer role, providing perspective to the peers you serve is a key factor in building a trust based relationship. Sometimes, these conversations can be difficult or uncomfortable, but there are ways to ensure that the way you communicate is kind, direct, and honest. Join your peers at PeerLeadershipCenter.org on Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. Central Time to share and learn about experiences, information, and tips in communicating with kindness and honesty during difficult conversations. Detailed information about this chat will be posted at PeerLeadershipCenter.org in the coming weeks.

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Checking Your Mental Health Temperature

For all the high-tech medical gadgetry, the thermometer remains among the most remarkable medical devices: safe, easy to use, reliable. Pop it in, and out comes a number (body temperature) that can be used to make a number of important decisions related to our physical health. If only there was something analogous that could read our mental temperature. While we aren’t there yet, there is a device that can tell us more about our mental well-being than we might think. Like a thermometer, it is easy to use and present in most households. Dr. Ardesheer Talati shares on CareForYourMind.org how your smartphone can be used like a thermometer to measure well-being. Read the article.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

bp Magazine: A Safe Space—What To Know About Going To The Hospital

Hospitalization gets a bad rap, but sometimes it’s the place that you need to be during a severe mood episode of mania or bipolar depression. Read the article.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Greg Simon, MD, MPH, is a psychiatrist and researcher at Group Health Cooperative at the Center for Health Studies in Seattle. His research focuses on improving the quality and availability of mental health services for people living with mood disorders, and he has a specific interest in activating consumers to expect and demand more effective mental health care.

Got a nagging question? Submit your questions to Ask the Doc online. Also, take a look through our Ask the Doc feature page, a comprehensive archive of past columns, which may already have the answer to your questions.

Ask the Doc

I am a physician who recently had to resign from Residency due to a breakdown which resulted in a Bipolar II diagnosis. I'm on the right meds and taking care of myself and haven't felt this healthy in over a decade. There is so much stigma, especially in the medical community, about mental illness. My question is: Can a bipolar doc be effective and safe to treat patients?

The answer is: Yes, absolutely!  But we should think more about how to address that stigma and how to keep things on a good path.

First, I can’t help wanting to say that you’re a doctor living with bipolar disorder rather than a “bipolar doc.” Living with bipolar disorder can make things complicated, but it doesn’t define you. In decades past, many state medical boards asked whether doctors applying for a medical license had ever had any mental health treatment. They were assuming that ever having mental health treatment meant that a doctor could not practice safely or effectively. Fortunately, that has changed. Medical boards now ask whether applicants have any health condition that would interfere with practicing medicine safely. That’s the right question to ask.

That stigma is not limited to the medical profession. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) used to “ground” any pilot taking antidepressant medication. So many pilots decided not to seek treatment for depression. If I were choosing between a pilot with untreated depression and a pilot with treated depression, I’d certainly choose the latter. The FAA no longer automatically disqualifies pilots because of depression treatment, but stigma about other diagnoses or treatments is not much changed.

Your own story is a similar to the airline pilot example. You are feeling and functioning much better after learning about bipolar disorder and getting effective treatment. Having a correct diagnosis helps you to be a safer and more effective doctor. One issue is especially relevant to residents or doctors in training: a stable sleep schedule. For many people living with mood disorders, changes in sleep can increase risk of mood swings or hypomania. This can be an issue for people with jobs that involve big swings in work hours (like hospital nurses or emergency medical technicians).  You’ll want to do your best to maintain a stable sleep pattern, and you might need to ask for accommodation to do that. Big changes in sleep schedule are actually not healthy for anyone, but they can have worse consequences for people who live with mood disorders.

When you create your personal wellness plan, you’ll want to include some “doctor specific” warning signs to look out for. For example, you might think about changes in your mood could affect your personal interactions with patients (like being more irritable) or the way you make decisions (like being more impulsive or overly pessimistic). All doctors could use more self-awareness in those areas. But someone who is prone to depression or hypomania should develop a more specific list of warning signs and actions you’ll take if you notice them. You can find tools to develop that plan in DBSA’s Wellness Toolbox.

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Eric Horner
Jeena Jodikinos

Read more inspiring stories. If you would like to participate in our Life Unlimited feature by sharing your story, please submit your contact information.

Life Unlimited: Meet Jeena Jodikinos

At an early age, I started to feel like I was much different than people around me. I’ve always felt that I have never truly fit in with the crowd. I guess a good way to explain it would be feeling like “a needle in a haystack.” I can remember having a lack of self-esteem as early as 10 years old.

My parents got divorced when I was 11 or 12 and that damaged me in more ways than one. Things got worse after that. I got bullied in middle school and part of high school. I was sexually assaulted and abused at 15. I became pregnant at 16 by the same person. I let myself down; I put trust in someone who only made my life worse and abused me in more ways than one. I finished high school with help from my family and graduated from a technical institute where I earned my diploma in the medical field. I somehow found the courage to get away from this man who caused me so much pain. Soon after high school I met a new man and fell in love. We got engaged and then married. I had the best wedding day and dress, just had the wrong man.

At 21 I decided to overdose and luckily I failed. Attempting suicide wasn’t the worse part. Waking up next to someone who still didn’t care about you hurt the most. At 22 I had a mental breakdown and was taken in an ambulance from work to a hospital where I was admitted to their psych floor for a second attempt at suicide. That was one of the greatest experiences of my life! With help from medical professionals it was suggested that I get a divorce, as the marriage was doing more harm than good. Again I had to find the courage to pick up the broken pieces and move on to something better for me and my child.

Along with the depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, I now also suffer with PTSD. Every day is a struggle, but everyday I’m getting stronger. I take multiple medications and have gone to therapy several times throughout my life. I’ve learned even though it may seem impossible to forget all the bad things in the past, it is possible to continue to get better. You have to SPEAK UP! It is impossible to get through any mental disorder on your own. Hearing others stories about living with a mental illness gives me hope as I hope that my story gives someone else hope. Just remember, as bad as things can get that the world keeps turning. Life goes on and you are the key to your happiness! As painful as it seems, all the broken hearts in the world continue to beat, and the one thing I’ve learned is time changes everything. We can’t go back; we can’t erase the damage that is done. The only choice we have is to keep moving forward!

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

Allen's Note

We’ve had a few cooler nights here in Chicago, where the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is headquartered, and—in addition to store displays packed with “back-to-school” enticements—you can sense in the air and see in the crowds on the streets increased activity and intensity. Any lulls or potential “lazy days of summer” are coming to an end for a lot of us, and a return to school is imminent or already begun for millions of young people and their families.

With the return to school, and the transition to a new school environment on top of that in many cases, children and young adults can find themselves with existing mood-related issues exacerbated, or with first-time instances of mood disturbances. Indeed, many people identify transitions, such as back to school, as triggering; indeed, life changes of any kind, including those related to school or other significant environmental adjustments, are demonstrated within psychiatric research as sources of new or worsened mood-related symptoms.

That’s why this time of year in particular reminds me why it’s so important to us to continue the work of the Balanced Mind, which became part of DBSA’s suite of programs in 2014. As the lead article showcases, the Balanced Mind and other DBSA initiatives for youth, young adults, family, parents, and other caregivers are vital lifelines for individuals and families facing challenges. For example, Getting Started is a guide actually written by parents about how to navigate the challenging world of a diagnosis and initial treatment. Because that world is usually as complicated and diverse as the young people experiencing it, there’s also a vital, and growing, need for resources like the DBSA Helpline, a phone or e-mail connection to first-person experiences, recommendations, and peer support—much in the spirit of the in-person or online peer support DBSA had provided primarily to adults with mood disorders for over 30 years.

Whether young or old, there are millions of people who are experiencing mood disorders and need hope, help, support, and education. DBSA is proud to provide that from the powerful, personal perspective of those of us, myself included, who have been there and know how to hold hope for our peers until they can hold it for themselves.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Facing Us Clubhouse

Visit the FacingUs.org to get more tips, create your own tips, track your wellness, and connect with peers. Joining the Facing Us Clubhouse is easy and free.

Wellness Tips from Peers

The Rule of 3’s
It often helps me to do just 3 of something. Sometimes it’s 3 of something very small or easy, like doing just 3 dishes. This is a helpful approach in several ways. First, I’ve gotten 3 dishes done! Next, I’ve gotten something done and maybe I have a little momentum now. Finally, I’ve changed my biochemistry in some very important way. (That last one might be the most important,) P.S. It doesn’t have to be 3 things. Sometimes 2 is just as good or just more doable.

Meditation (even a small dose)
My goal is often small—but even just a minute of meditation can be helpful. For me, a timer is pretty much necessary. My favorite timer is online at the Berkeley Monastery site.

It’s OK
"It’s ok to not be ok as long as you are not giving up." – Karen Salmansohn

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Save the Date

DBSA Core Peer Specialist Training
Chicago, IL
September 11-14, 2017
Apply Now

DBSA Veteran Peer Specialist Training
Chicago, IL
September 11-15, 2017
Apply Now

Live Chat: Communicating with Kindness
Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. Central
Join the Chat

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