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DBSA e-Update October 2017

DBSA Celebrates the Life-changing Power of Peer Support
Save the Date for These Peer Leadership Center Online Events
Ask the Doc: Can going on or off hormones cause mood swings or a manic episode?
Parent Connection: DBSA’s Wellness Tracker App
bp Magazine: Bipolar Disorder and Grappling with Obsessive Thinking
Taking Suicide Prevention Upstream
Acts of appreciation are advocacy too!
Reminder―ACA open enrollment starts November 1
Starting a DBSA Chapter Webinar
Life Unlimited: Meet Sue Atkinson
Note from Allen
Wellness Tips from Peers
Save the Date


DBSA Celebrates the Life-changing Power of Peer Support

Tomorrow, October 19, 2017, is Global Peer Supporters Celebration Day. Spearheaded in the U.S. by the International Association of Peer Supporters (iNAPS), the day celebrates the power and life-saving value of peer support to promote wellness and recovery. “It is a time when we reflect on and celebrate the important roles played by people with lived experience of mental health and addiction challenges in helping others on their journeys of recovery and inclusion within communities of their choice,” says Bill Beverley-Blanco, iNAPS Board member.

Here at DBSA, we celebrate the power of peer support every day! If you are an individual who identifies as a peer—someone with personal lived experience in recovery—chances are, you have found strength in sharing your experience with someone who could relate, or gained hope by learning from another person how they moved forward to create the life they wanted. Having open, honest, judgment-free conversations is what connects peers on a deeper level. For many peers facing mental health challenges, talking with another person who has had similar experiences and feelings can be the spark of hope that change is possible. That spark often leads to making a commitment to act towards positive life changes. For those who have experienced peer support, the value is without a doubt, priceless. From all of us at DBSA, thank you to all peer supporters around the globe!

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Save the Date for These Peer Leadership Center Online Events

Coping with Overwhelming Emotions Discussion Chat
Thursday, October 26, 2:00 p.m. CST
The Peer Leadership Center will be hosting a live discussion chat on coping with overwhelming emotions. The ebb and flow of feelings and emotions is a natural part of the human experience, but sometimes, this can feel overwhelming and uncomfortable. Whether you are having this experience yourself or in supporting a peer, brainstorming about tools for coping and building resilience is always helpful!

LiveForward presents: The Road to Recovery: Melding Physical & Mental Wellness Webinar
Thursday, November 2, 2017, 11:00 a.m. CST
Many people in recovery seek to improve their physical wellness but encounter barriers such as struggles with motivation, resources or lack of information. Changes can seem so daunting that people often give up. Studies show that physical wellness and mental wellness are inextricably intertwined, so ways at succeeding in physical wellness are very important. LiveForward is an approach to recovery that melds these two elements. The webinar’s two presenters, one whose recovery started with peer support and was strengthened through athletic endeavors, and the other whose athletic endeavors led him to his own personal recovery and peer support, will share ways to support peers in overcoming barriers and achieving their holistic goals.

Making Recovery a Priority: Integrating Peers into Traditional Provider Agencies Webinar
Thursday, November 16, 2017, 12:00 p.m. CST
The effective delivery of peer support services is crucial to the wellbeing and progress of peers receiving these services, as well as to creating an organizational culture of wellness and recovery. In this webinar, we’ll look at key components of successfully implementing this process, including supervision and leadership, creating community to promote recovery and wellness across the agency, and how to define different peer roles.

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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

Can going on or off hormones cause mood swings or a manic episode?

Any reaction to starting or stopping medications (like hormones) is possible. But some are more likely than others.

Corticosteroid hormones (like prednisone) are sometimes prescribed to treat asthma, arthritis, or other inflammatory conditions. Corticosteroids can have big effects on mood, even in people who did not already have a mood disorder. Starting prednisone or similar medications can cause symptoms of mania and stopping those medications can cause symptoms of depression. Anabolic steroid hormones (like testosterone) can cause symptoms of mania, including agitation, irritability, suspiciousness, and even hallucinations. These problems are rare with normal doses prescribed for people with low testosterone, but can occur in high doses especially when used in very high doses, like those sometimes used by body builders. Stopping testosterone, especially after taking high doses, can bring on symptoms of depression. High doses of thyroid hormone can cause problems that resemble manic symptoms, like trouble sleeping or feeling jittery or speeded up. Stopping thyroid hormone can cause problems that resemble depression, like fatigue or feeling slowed down.

Birth control pills or hormone replacement pills can certainly affect mood, but those effects vary from person to person. Some women report that birth control or hormone replacement can cause or increase symptoms of depression and some report the opposite―that hormones reduce depression. It would be unusual for birth control or hormone replacement to cause symptoms of mania.

One added wrinkle is that oral contraceptives or hormone replacement medication can reduce the levels of some mood stabilizer medications―and that can increase the risk of relapsing into depression or mania.

That’s a lot to keep track of. So, it’s important that your psychiatrist know about you stopping or starting any other medications and that your medical doctors know about you stopping or starting any mental health medications. And it’s usually a good idea to fill your prescriptions in a single pharmacy or pharmacy system―so the pharmacist and her/his trusty computer can look out for any medication interactions.

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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: DBSA’s Wellness Tracker App

As the year passes, changes in your child’s routine and environment are to be expected. The ebb and flow of the school year, seasonal changes, and breaks in a regular routine―like school vacations―can all contribute to your child’s mood and overall wellness.  Understanding how changes over time may affect your child can be helpful as you work together to discover wellness strategies. To do so, consider using DBSA’s Wellness Tracker as a way to identify patterns and seasonal effects on your child’s mood.

The DBSA Wellness Tracker is an innovative, user-friendly online tool and App that allows you to keep track of your child’s physical and emotional/mental wellness. With this tool, you can track key health trends related to the following:

  • Overall mood
  • Mood disorder symptoms
  • Lifestyle (including sleep, exercise, etc.)
  • Medication and side effects
  • Physical health

Using the DBSA Wellness Tracker can help you better recognize potential health problems and mood triggers in your child’s daily life. Additionally, each section of the DBSA Wellness Tracker Report provides robust information to help you better partner with your child’s clinicians on treatment plans that address their overall health and well-being. Learn more about the DBSA Wellness Tracker.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

bp Magazine: Bipolar Disorder and Grappling with Obsessive Thinking

Obsessive thinking is a fairly common but rarely discussed symptom of bipolar. We look at ways you can take charge when intrusive thoughts take hold. Read article

 

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Taking Suicide Prevention Upstream

Hospitalization for suicidal ideation or attempts among children 5-17 has doubled in the past decade. Learn how schools can combat this public health issue with readily available resources on DBSA’s advocacy blog at CareForYourMind.org. 

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Acts of appreciation are advocacy too!

It is admirable to respond to a request to send an email or call an elected official asking them to oppose or support a piece of legislation. All of us should be commended for taking the time and answering the call when an action alert comes in. But when was the last time you wrote your elected official to thank him/her for taking the right action? Last month 23 U.S. Republican Representatives and all U.S. Democratic Representatives demonstrated support for peer support services by voting on an amendment transferring $2 million to the Peer Support Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program. This action provides each of us the opportunity to thank our Representative when they take action on issues that are important to our community, as well as to educate them on the value of peer support. To learn how your Representative voted, go to this link.

If they supported peer support services, thank them! It’s easy to do. Simply follow this link to a pre-written, editable letter you can email to your Representative. It’s never too late to say “thank you” for a job well done.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Reminder―ACA open enrollment starts November 1

If you are interested in obtaining health care through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges for 2018, the open enrollment period begins on November 1, 2017, and ends December 15, 2017. Learn more or enroll at www.Healthcare.gov.

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DBSA Chapters

Starting a DBSA Chapter Webinar

Does your community need a support group for people affected by bipolar disorder or depression? DBSA chapters provide people living with depression and bipolar disorder the opportunity to find comfort and direction in a confidential and supportive setting. In addition to a free, open-to-the-public support group, chapters often develop other initiatives, including educational programs, information on local healthcare resources, and mental health advocacy. 

If you would like to learn more about starting a DBSA chapter, join us at 6:00 p.m. Central on Thursday, November 16. You’ll get an in-depth look at what DBSA chapters do, how they are run by peers like you, and what kind of training, resources, and support DBSA provides. Register today!

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Life Unlimited
Sue Atkinson

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 Sue Atkinson

Bipolar disorder did not become a part of my life until I was 34. While I had experienced several bouts of depression earlier in my life, it had never been so severe that I required hospitalization. I was the proud mother of two beautiful daughters and an 18-month-old son when mania rushed into my world like an unexpected thunderstorm. You see, one day I woke up with the inspired idea to start my own shopping business. Mind you in addition to being full-time mom, I also had a part time job, was a member of a moms group and was highly involved with the Parent Teachers Organization (PTO), yet starting my own business seemed like no big deal―how could I fail; I loved to shop! And shop I did; driving around and picking up anything I found bright and shiny. Then one day as I was playing with my kids in the yard, I saw my neighbor walking towards me, a good man I had known for years, but on that day, I was convinced he was coming over to kidnap my kids. After rushing the kids inside, I sat down in a chair and said to myself, “Something is really wrong.” These events led me to my first hospitalization, after which I had more than 6 years of relatively good mental health―years that I am extremely thankful for as they allowed me to be Mom to my three wonderful children―until my eldest was in fifth grade.

Then, triggered by many factors including the loss of a long-held job and some physical health problems, the bottom dropped out and started 15 years of almost annual hospitalizations, 13 in 15 years. It felt like I was either in bed or in the hospital. This was no life for me, or my family. My doctor recommended a DBSA Support Group. I attended and it felt like it helped, but some days, I just didn’t feel like I could muster the energy to go. On one such day, I pushed myself to go. It was Divine intervention because that day, the psychiatrist guest speaker introduced me to Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS). I was so excited about this new technology I immediately spoke to my doctor about getting a VNS implant and within two months I had one―and so began my journey towards sustained wellness.

I knew the implant was working when, within only a few months, I felt good enough to plan my daughter’s graduation party. A few months after that, I no longer needed my medications. I started engaging with life again. After my divorce, I moved to Tennessee for a year to live with my sister. I spent that time learning. I took a WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) class. I took classes on facilitating peer support groups and started a DBSA Chapter. Life still had its ups and downs, but aside from a time when I had a problem getting a new battery for my VNS implant, I felt pretty good. After moving back to Illinois, I helped facilitate a DBSA support group. The organization has changed my life for the better by helping me learn so much about how to help myself and others. When the chance presented itself for me to start a new DBSA chapter at Linden Oaks hospital in Naperville, IL, I leapt at the chance and became the chapter president.  I continued my learning by training by become an instructor for DBSA’s “Living Successfully with a Mood Disorder” course. Teaching the course and leading the support group has become a passion of mine, and is as much of a wellness strategy for myself as for those in the group or course―helping others helps me! I’ve also tried to advocate for mental health by serving on educational panels and by sharing my story. Recently, my daughters and I shared our family story in a video for WebMD. I feel bad about the times I wasn’t there for my family, but I know I am loved and I am so thankful for the support of my children―the are my rocks!

I am excited to continue my education and advocacy volunteer work. And to spend time with my beautiful grandchildren. To others living with depression and bipolar disorder, I hope my journey can serve as an example that life can be good; that unexpected paths can lead to life changing discoveries; that peers and family can help you when you can’t help yourself; that learning can open new doors; and that wellness is possible.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Allen Doederlein
DBSA President

Note from Allen

In a 2008 literature review and analysis within the International Journal of Disability and Human Development, "The impact of work environment on mood disorders and suicide: Evidence and implications", Dr. Jong-Min Woo and colleagues comment, "Mood disorders are closely related to the occupational environment. Depressive disorders cause more severe functional impairment than any other illness...These losses are not confined to the individuals they directly affect, but are substantial for our society at large...Considering the robust evidence proving efficacy of treatment for depression, the investment and unprejudiced attention of employers would be very helpful to their employees’ mental health and business productivity." The fine review and analysis also includes within its second associated table an overview of what would, in the authors' estimation, make an ideal workplace.

I note with interest, appreciation, and pride the extent to which DBSA has created a work environment with most of the included facets identified in this table. And this makes me reflect on the extent to which a workplace can be the greatest trigger of mood-related and other mental health issues―or the greatest aid to healing from them. I've experienced both myself, and most internal and external stakeholders with whom I've spoken about workplace mental health issues tend to say the same.

DBSA's staff is capable, dedicated, humane, kind, and fun. In my nine years with the organization, I've had the privilege of working with some of the smartest and most helpful people I've ever encountered in a workplace or elsewhere. While not at all a peer support environment like those powerfully created by our wonderful chapters, there is much peer support within our staff family. And there is much passion and talent among this fine group; our work would not happen without a great team at all levels, and consistent, thoughtful leadership among our Vice Presidents.

With this in mind, I’m opening up this column to my colleagues, the Vice Presidents, who lead and guide specific areas within DBSA. I know you'll enjoy and learn from their perspectives―as I am fortunate to do, most every day. My thanks to this group, all of the DBSA staff, and to all of you reading this and engaging with DBSA.

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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

Loneliness
Remember you aren’t alone. Call people and volunteer for areas where there is a need. When I help people, I feel worthwhile.

Remembering the Good
Your senses remember experiences better than your brain ever will. Soak the experience in―the smells, the sounds, and especially the feelings. If you stay “in the moment” that way, then you can trust that the memory of it will be there for you, in your body, when you need it... and you won’t have to carry around a notebook to make sure!

Strength
“Trauma is what happened to you, it is not who you are.” “Trauma is what happened to you. It is not who you are.” This changed me. I repeat it over and over anytime I’m feeling hopeless. It gives strength to the true me that’s been hidden for so long, maybe always.

Bubbles & Bubble Wrap for Your Wellness Toolbox
Need to add some fun to your wellness toolbox? Think like a kid! Grab a bottle of bubbles and blow some bubbles, visualize your anxiety floating away as you blow the bubbles. Get some bubble wrap and pop them when you feel angry.

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Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Save the Date

Discussion Chat: Coping with Overwhelming Emotions
Thursday, Oct 26
2:00 p.m. Central

Webinar: LiveForward presents The Road to Recovery: Melding Physical & Mental Wellness
Thursday, November 2
11:00 a.m. Central

Webinar: Starting a DBSA Chapter
Thursday, November 16
6:00 p.m. Central

Webinar: Making Recovery a Priority: Integrating Peers into Traditional Provider Agencies
Thursday, November 16
12:00 p.m. Central

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