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DBSA e-Update July 2017

Congratulations to our 2016 Chapter Service Award Winners!
TOMORROW Live Discussion Chat: Food, Mood, and Your Wellness
I’m here… Video Chat with Go Fetch Wellness
Register Now for DBSA’s Last 2017 Peer Specialist Trainings
Are you a working peer specialist looking for support?
Five Myths that Prevent Men from Fighting Depression
bp Magazine: The ABCs of Disclosure in the Workplace
Parent Connection: Navigating Educational Transitions
Ask the Doc: Are there certain medications for PTSD?
NEW Webinar: Can advocacy be a tool in your wellness toolkit?
Life Unlimited: Meet Kristin Finn
Allen’s Note
Wellness Tips from Peers
Veteran Suicide Prevention Resources, Outreach, and Hope
Save the Date


Congratulations to our 2016 Chapter Service Award Winners!

DBSA Chapter Service Awards were created to honor the state organizations, chapters, and leaders who exemplify the DBSA values of community, wisdom, inspiration, and responsibility. This year, we received many worthy nominations. While we recognize and appreciate the amazing work of each and every one of our affiliates, we were particularly impressed by the following six awardees’ passion and commitment to peer support.

DBSA New Jersey—2016 State Organization Service Award
DBSA New Jersey continues to cultivate a growing roster of DBSA chapters and support groups in their state. They list leadership development and mentoring as two of their key strategies for success.

DBSA Omaha New Hope (NE)—2016 Large Chapter Service Award
DBSA Omaha New Hope knows that education leads to advocacy. In 2016, they offered educational programs to encourage individuals to participate in their own wellness plans, including sessions on physical and mental health skill building.

DBSA Portland, ME—2016 Small Chapter Service Award
DBSA Portland, ME is busy building bridges between the peer community and the public institutions that support them. By working with local law enforcement and clinical students, they ensure that the public policies that will affect them include the peer perspective.

DBSA Roland Park (MD)—2016 Small Chapter Service Award
The strength and effectiveness of a chapter depends heavily its volunteers. DBSA Roland Park’s volunteers are an enthusiastic bunch who have taken on new leadership roles such as facilitating, fundraising, and community outreach.

DBSA ABQ Metro (NM)—2016 Rookie Chapter Service Award
A chapter’s first year can be a difficult one, but DBSA ABQ Metro has been able to not only weather the unique challenges of establishing a community, but thrive in the freedom and energy that a fresh start brings.

Monica Nikel of DBSA GLBT Chicago (IL)—2016 Outstanding Leadership Award
Being nominated for the Outstanding Leadership award is an incredible honor because it means that YOU have positively impacted the life of (at least) one of your fellow peers. According to her nominator, Monica has helped the chapter grow in so many ways and they are very grateful for her leadership.

Read more about the accomplishments our 2016 Chapter Service Award winners on our Chapter Spotlights page.

Check out our Support Group Locater if you are interested in finding a chapter near you or request a Chapter Start-Up Guide to learn more about starting one.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Live Discussion Chat: Food, Mood, and Your Wellness

What an individual eats every day can make a huge impact on every aspect of wellness. Mood, energy, attention span, and achiness can all vary depending on what we ingest nutritionally. Human relationships with food can be very complicated! Join your peers on Thursday, July 20, 2017 at 11 a.m. Central Time to share and learn about experiences, information, and tips to navigating the relationship between food, mood, and your wellness.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

I’m here… Video Chat with Go Fetch Wellness

Jeff Fink, from Go Fetch Wellness talks about his journey through depression and anxiety, and how Earl, his service dog, helped him reconnect to wellness. Since DBSA's I'm here... program is all about opening channels for communication, we couldn't resist finding out more about how Jeff and Earl help others out of isolation by connecting with animals, and how that human-animal bond can start a dialogue with others about wellness.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Register Now for DBSA’s Last 2017 Peer Specialist Trainings

Every year, DBSA trains and certifies peers from across the country using nationally recognized trainers. These trainers have lived experience with a mental health or substance use disorder, are certified peer specialists, and have extensive experience supporting others on their recovery journey. The mental health field recognizes and respects the integral role that peer specialists play in improving mental health outcomes and decreasing stigma through the support, perspective, and hope that they lend to their peers. Many peer specialists pursue employment in the community, while others choose to focus on volunteer and advocacy roles—but whatever you do, this is a chance to make a difference. 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 15, 2017. Learn more and register.

DBSA Core Peer Specialist Training September 11-14
Registration deadline is August 15, 2017. Learn more and register.

Questions?
Contact Training@DBSAlliance.org or (312) 988-1164.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Are you a working peer specialist looking for support?

Support 4 Peer Workers meetings are now available every Monday at 7:00 p.m. Central via PeerLeadershipCenter.org. These ninety-minute drop-in support and development meetings are limited to 12 peer workers and include personal and work-related material as well as ample time for open discussion. All the sessions are facilitated by experienced Certified Peer Specialists. We’re so sure you’ll love these groups we’re offering your first three for free! Use code: 3FreeSupport. Learn more >>

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Five Myths that Prevent Men from Fighting Depression

Men with depression must overcome several negative perceptions to accept the need for treatment. On CareForYourMind.org, Josh Beharry from HeadsUpGuys explains how men can face down these pervasive myths and get help. Read the article.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

bp Magazine: The ABCs of Disclosure in the Workplace

If your bipolar disorder symptoms threaten your job security, it’s time to educate yourself about disability protections and whether you want to disclose your diagnosis. Read the article.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Parent Connection appears each month in the DBSA eUpdate. Here, parents and guardians can expect to find up-to-date information and resources about parenting children and adolescents with depression and bipolar disorder. We also feature news about Balanced Mind Parent Network online support communities, the Helpline and other family-focused programming.

Parent Connection: Navigating Educational Transitions

The beginning of a new school year can be stressful for any child or parent. Changing routines from the summer, developing new relationships with classmates and teachers, and navigating a new environment are all factors that can leave a child feeling anxious about their new school or classroom. Similarly, parents may find themselves overwhelmed as they face the challenge of facilitating an easy transition for their child into the new school year. Here are some tips for parents to consider as they work to manage their child’s expectations, form new relationships with their educators, and find ways to advocate for their child’s needs.

How to Prepare at Home: Talking with Your Child and Reducing Anxiety
As autumn approaches, parents can help their children become less anxious about the upcoming school year by having discussions with them, finding enjoyable activities related to the beginning of school, and discovering opportunities to help them become comfortable with their future environment. Some tips and ideas below:

  • When discussing thoughts and worries about school with your child, allow them to express their feelings and thoughts without judgement. While minimizing their concerns is meant to be reassuring, it often does not help to reduce anxiety. Instead, acknowledge their feelings and help them explore ways to help them feel better.
  • Ask open-ended questions instead of leading questions. For example, instead of saying “are you nervous about meeting your new teacher?” ask “how are you feeling about meeting your new teacher?”
  • Discuss past experiences along with new feelings about the upcoming year. Does your child remember being anxious last year? What helped calm those feelings?
  • Find activities to increase excitement about going back to school. For example, making back-to-school shopping into a special and fun experience can help your child look at the new school year in a more positive light.
  • Plan a visit to the school beforehand to help familiarize your child with their new environment and help them recognize and deal with future areas of potential anxiety. Finding classrooms, bathroom locations, and their locker well before school starts can help reduce anxiety on the day-of.  Additionally, some parents choose to take advantage of summer programs happening on the school grounds as a way to help their child feel comfortable with their new school long before their official first day.

How to Prepare in the Classroom: Communicating with Teachers
Many parents have found that the most important factor in ensuring success for their child in the classroom is to create active and open communication with their teachers. Here are some tips and ideas to consider when planning to discuss your child’s needs with their educators:

  • Spend time to create an open dialogue between you and your child’s teachers, and convey that regardless of the difficulties that your child may face in the classroom, they have support at home. With communication, teachers become much more willing to understand, accommodate needs, and learn how to help children be successful in their classroom.
  • If working with treatment providers to establish wellness strategies with your child, ask teachers to relay your child’s behaviors within the classroom back to you, to assess the effectiveness of these strategies.
  • Create “about me” packets to give to your child’s teachers include any information that can help your child be successful in their classroom, like interests, strengths, weaknesses, triggers, and ways teachers can help reduce anxiety. Some parents also choose to include medical background, diagnoses, important medication information, and an article about the child’s diagnosis for the teacher to refer to.
  • Additionally, create a referral sheet to explain any symptoms your child may have and ways to accommodate the symptoms within the classroom. (Examples here and here.)

Additional Resources Creating an IEP
In some circumstances, parents may be required to develop an Individual Education Plan and present it for approval to a team of professionals in the child’s district for approval. Some resources that may be helpful:

A special thank you to the parents from the Balanced Mind Parent Network (BMPN), a program of DBSA, for sharing their thoughts and ideas on reducing back to school anxiety. BMPN guides families raising children with mood disorders to the answers, support and stability they seek. Go to the BMPN website to learn more.

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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 have bipolar 2 disorder and I see both a psychiatrist and therapist. My therapist says she believes I also have PTSD. Are there certain medications for PTSD that are different than bipolar?

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a specific anxiety disorder that can develop after experiencing a significant traumatic event. Traumatic events can certainly lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety, but PTSD is a specific pattern of symptoms―re-experiencing or reliving the traumatic event (flashbacks or nightmares), avoiding reminders of the traumatic event, hyper-vigilance or over-alertness, and emotional blunting or withdrawal. People with depression or bipolar disorder are more likely to develop PTSD―both because having a mood disorder increases the risk of experiencing a traumatic event and because having a mood disorder makes it more likely a person who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD.

For people with bipolar disorder, medication treatment of PTSD is complicated. Several antidepressant medications have been shown to help some people with PTSD. Both sertraline and paroxetine are officially approved as PTSD treatments. But antidepressant medications are risky for people with bipolar disorder; they can cause mania or rapid mood swings. A few of the “atypical” medications sometimes used to treat bipolar disorder (risperidone, olanzapine, and quetiapine) have also been found to help some people with PTSD, but none of the “atypical” medications are officially approved as PTSD treatments. Prazosin, a blood pressure medication, has can help with nightmares and sleep problems in people with PTSD, but it is not officially approved for that purpose. Benzodiazepine (like lorazepam or clonazepam) are often prescribed to people with PTSD, but there is no evidence that they help in the long term. And taking benzodiazepines regularly often leads to dependence. Some types of psychotherapy were specifically developed to help with PTSD. These specific therapies are designed to extinguish or unlearn the link between anxiety symptoms and memories of traumatic events.

You should certainly ask your doctor about PTSD. They will likely ask you some specific questions about the typical symptoms of PTSD. Your doctor might recommend some change in medication, but that will depend on your own personal history. And you should also ask your therapist (if you haven’t already) about types of psychotherapy specifically designed to help with PTSD.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

NEW Webinar: Can advocacy be a tool in your wellness toolkit?

For many people, being empowered to have a voice is an important tool in their wellness plan. This is often the case with people who are newly diagnosed. After being silenced for so long they are looking for a constructive way to make their voice heard. Just as important, many people who have experienced a difficult journey on their way to wellness, want to make sure others have an opportunity to find a softer landing or journey.

The focus of the advocacy program offered by DBSA mirrors the organization’s goals to facilitate wellness for individuals living with a mood disorder. Recently DBSA offered a webinar describing the different ways people can become involved in advocacy. Discussed were both legislative advocacy and community outreach programs that provide positive messages about mental health. Activities include responding to communications from DBSA asking people to contact their legislators with an editable pre-written letter, to working at the state level to make systemic changes to the way society views and treats mental health conditions. View the webinar to learn more about these programs and how you can get involved.

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Eric Horner
Kristin Finn

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 Kristin Finn

Let the journey begin. I relied on two diaries from ages 10-20 to help recall details. Partying with friends to help slow my racing mind morphed into mania at age 15. Behaviors and actions did not resemble the Kristin I once was. The sneak attack followed and I lost all interest in hanging out with friends. This was a glaring red flag. At school I felt invisible and hid away in a library cubicle between classes and during lunch. How would I know I was imprisoned by the dark cloud of depression? Feeling scared and hopeless became my normal. I wanted my life to end to escape the relentless pain.

I transformed and became out-of-control and reckless with no insight or judgment. Consequences for my actions? I never gave them a second thought. I had a guardian angel! I lived a double life; lying to my parents was as easy as breathing. Eventually they took me to a psychiatrist and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at nearly 17.

I was relieved to learn that I had a treatable medical condition. There was a reason for my erratic behavior. Shortly after I started medication, I felt like God placed His hand on my shoulder and told me to have peace. I had no idea it could potentially hold me back, which was a blessing in disguise. There weren't any non-medical books about this condition and people certainly didn't talk about it! I'm grateful I have a supportive family who took the red flags seriously.

Striving for balance is a life-long journey. I'm diligent about watching for triggers that have the power to flip me into the oppressive dark cloud or excessive behaviors and agitation I feel with mania. Keeping a mood chart is critical because it helps me "see myself", especially when my conscience, judgment, and awareness grow dim. Getting plenty of sleep, having a routine, and exercise are imperative. My faith is my anchor.

When I'm gripped by depression or hypomania, I capture my thoughts to help regain control. I share them because I have a thirst for being understood. Refer to my website embracingbipolar.org, Kristin's Insights. Favorite entries are Balance, The Dark Cloud, and Depression—Taming the Wild Beast.

I talk with a therapist once a week because she helps me keep my thoughts and feelings in perspective. I struggle with telling myself stories about them. Redirecting and living in the moment makes a significant difference!

Co-facilitating the Grand Rapids DBSA support group gives me the opportunity to help people realize they’re not alone. Seeing faces when it connects that we "get it" is priceless. Watching family and friends nod their heads and realize they don't have to be silent sufferers gives me profound joy.

I thrive living with bipolar disorder. I've had numerous bumps throughout the 38 year journey but have noticed a pattern that eventually ends in contentment and peace. My passion is to increase awareness about bipolar disorder and depression and to decrease their stigma.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

Allen's Note

Each year, DBSA is proud to honor extraordinary chapters, chapter leaders, and state organizations with our Chapter Service Awards. The leadership, creativity, and dedication exemplified by this year's six honorees is truly inspiring, and it's representative of the support being offered to tens of thousands of people across the country by our entire network of DBSA chapters.

Whether leadership development and mentoring of advocates, physical and mental health skills-building education, partnership with law enforcement and clinical students, broad community outreach, or ongoing leadership of chapters established and new, the accomplishments of DBSA New Jersey, DBSA Omaha New Hope, DBSA Portland, DBSA Roland Park, DBSA ABQ Metro, and DBSA GLBT Chicago's Monica Nikel are brilliant examples of the power of peers.

In this time of uncertainty about the future of health care, and with the challenges of mood disorders still acute and all-too-often life-threatening, the unique healing power of peer support is more urgently needed than ever. I urge and empower our entire community to continue and build on the fine work we see from this year's DBSA Chapter Service Award winners.

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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

Moods Don’t Last Forever
That's all. Moods can be overwhelming and take over your whole perspective on life. But I remember that I didn't feel like this a few days ago. Maybe I will not feel like this a few days from now.

Commitment
Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.

To Sleep
I find if I breathe in, hold for 3 seconds and breathe out slowly then repeat this pattern I easily fall asleep. I concentrate on the breathing counting each breath in, holding then counting out again. It stops the thoughts of the day crowding my brain and gives me the opportunity to fall asleep.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Veteran Suicide Prevention in Action: Resources, Outreach, and Hope

Every day, 14 veterans die by suicide in the United States. While this statistic is sobering, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is taking proactive steps to provide life-saving resources, including mandating that every VA facility have at least one suicide prevention coordinator.

The Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, in Chicago, exemplifies suicide prevention efforts. Kristina Lecce, Lovell’s Suicide Prevention Coordinator, shared that the Veteran’s Crisis Line is one of the most effective resources to give veterans support before a crisis escalates, and to “get them in the door” to connect them with clinical and peer support services at their local VA. In addition, Lovell FHCC has all staff complete Operation SAVE training to ensure everyone is equipped to recognize warning signs and intervene. In addition, Lecce highlighted the value of Veteran peer specialists in suicide prevention efforts. Lisa Goodale, VP of Consulting Services, echoed this, stating that “Through a prevention lens, peers can plan an important role to engender hope, assist their peers in identifying strengths and strategies to deal with thoughts of suicide, and help connect their peers with needed services and supports.”

When asked what she would say to veterans out there, Lecce shared, “There is no wrong way to get care—come in, walk in, and reach out for support. If you are in a crisis, call the Crisis Line—give it a try. We are here to help.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis, you can call the Veterans Crisis line 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 and press one, text 838255, or visit www.VeteransCrisisLine.net to chat online.

Do you want to support fellow Veterans in their recovery? Join DBSA at our Veteran Peer Specialist Training being held September 11-15 in Chicago. Register at www.DBSAlliance.org/Veterans

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Save the Date

Live Chat: Food, Mood, & Your Wellness
Thursday, July 20, 2017 at 11 a.m. Central
Join the Chat

Support 4 Peer Workers Support Groups
Every Monday at 7:00 p.m. Central
Learn more

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

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