Like every story, there is a beginning, middle, and end. My story has a beginning that no person would ever dream of. My middle, although lengthy and devastating, is what keeps me different from anyone else. My ending is not only another beginning but also what holds me together most days. Some of us wish for an ending so that things can be over just to be able to move on. I wish for an ending in a way that means I get to start a new chapter because that means more healing and more time. Let’s face it, that’s really what we need.
Mental health and wellness requires we take a holistic approach. As Mr. Miyagi said in the 1st karate kid movie, “our whole life is a balance”. To be truly mentally healthy, we need to make sure that we are taking care of our mind, body and spirit. We do that through activities and exercises that connect us to those domains of our life. For instance, reading strengthens and relaxes our mind, hiking strengthens our body, and faith practices strengthen our spirit. By using a holistic approach we can handle life and stresses much more effectively. Holistic Behavioral Healthcare is part of our mission at Appleseed.
Spring is here. As we watch the crocus poke through the ground and enjoy more and more daylight, it's a good time to recommit ourselves to our mental health care. Do some mental health spring cleaning. Identify a habit that prevents you from being your best. It could be the habit of criticizing others or negative self-talk. Whatever it is, commit yourself to being self-aware and to quickly replacing the behavior with a healthy alternative. Plan ahead and be ready. Speak a word of praise instead of criticism or replace negativity with encouragement. With a steady effort, you can change that habit that is holding you back.
One of the things that can raise our anxiety is how we choose to think about our problems. In our modern culture we see our stressors as bad and something to be avoided. Previous generations took the position that our adversities are things that teach us life lessons and make us stronger. So let me encourage us today to examine the circumstances we are in and begin to ask “what can I learn about myself from this?” How can I use these stressors to make me a better person? By doing this I can make what was causing me anxiety into something that gives me strength.
April is sexual assault awareness month. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network reports that every 73 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Sexual assault can range from harassment to direct physical sexual abuse. Everyone has a role to play in preventing sexual assault. There are many different ways that you can step in or make a difference if you see someone at risk. The key to keeping others safe is learning how to intervene in a way that fits the situation and your comfort level. Do what you can to interrupt the situation. A simple distraction can give the person at risk a chance to get to a safe place.
March is women’s history month. There are multiple examples of how women have taken the lead to positively impact our understanding and treatment of mental health. One such hero is Nely Bly. Nely was an investigative journalist. In 1887 she went undercover at a New York psychiatric hospital. After 10 days as an inpatient, Bly wrote about her experiences in an exposé for New York World. Her report got the attention of the state legislature and triggered new funding and reforms in the treatment of people with mental health conditions. Her report was later published in the book “Ten Days In A Mad-House”, which I highly recommend.
Some of the things that cause us stress relate to questions that do not have answers. Things like “why do bad things happen to us?” In these kinds of situations our coping skills need to focus on giving-expression to our experience and emotions. One of the best ways to do that is to explore your creative side. There are many ways to express yourself. Journaling, writing poetry or songs, drawing, painting, sculpting, playing music or building something. Find your way of creatively expressing what you are experiencing, thinking or feeling. It can provide the outlet you need to process your emotions during a difficult time.
The life of St. Patrick was full of trauma including being kidnapped and enslaved at age 16. He faced his difficulties using a forward-facing approach, a deep seated belief his life had meaning, and serving others. Here is a portion of one of St. Patrick's recorded prayers to help give you encouragement. “I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me; God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me afar, a near, alone or in a multitude.” ― St Patrick
Teen Dating Violence includes four types of behavior: Physical Violence Sexual Violence, Psychological Aggression, and Stalking. It can take place in-person or electronically, such as repeated texting or posting sexual pictures of a partner online without consent. Teens often think some behaviors, like teasing and name-calling, are a “normal” part of a relationship—but these behaviors can become abusive and develop into serious forms of violence. Many teens do not report unhealthy behaviors, because they are afraid to tell family and friends. If you are a teenager experiencing abusive behaviors please reach out to a trusted adult or call our Safe Haven program at 419-289-8085, 24 hours a day/7 days a week.
February is Black History Month, and I want to highlight important ideas from Black leaders that support your mental health. Martin Luther King Junior said, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” Finding ways to build honest and supportive relationships is one of the most important things you can do for your mental health and to increase your feelings of wellbeing.
To give our children the best chance for being strong and resilient you need to be an encourager and teach them to self-encourage. All human beings need encouragement. Encouraging your child not only keeps them feeling more positive and motivated, it also gives them an inner voice that will help them to encourage themselves for the rest of their life.
With the hope of the vaccine ending the pandemic, it is important for us to acknowledge that we are dealing with losses experienced at the hands of the virus. For some, it is the loss of a loved one. For others, it is the loss of life experience, work, and finances. It is important to acknowledge your losses and your feelings of grief. I encourage you to talk to your friends or close family. Grief can happen in response to loss of daily routines and ways-of- life that usually bring us comfort and a feeling of stability. Acknowledge your feelings and process them with friends. Consider what you have learned from all of the experiences you've had during COVID-19 and how you can take this knowledge and build informed changes into your life going forward.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, Human Trafficking can happen to anyone, but some people are more vulnerable than others. Become aware of the warning signs and determine to be an advocate for those experiencing this horrible crime by visiting https://humantraffickinghotline.org/what-human-trafficking.
Today, we appropriately set aside time to remember the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His Letter from a Birmingham Jail is one of the most moving reads I have encountered. Many things he said over the course of his life can help us all live more fulfilling and resilient lives. He said related to the power of love and forgiveness, We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”. Let us all remember the life, legacy, and enduring wisdom of Dr. King.
COVID-19 has changed how we celebrate this year. I encourage you to think of ways to use the technology available to make these holidays special. Use a social media app to get family together and make a craft. Send out the list of needed supplies and let everyone get what they need before the meeting. Read stories to your grandchildren over the phone or computer. Use the same to Share stories of Christmases past. Use the Netflix party app to remotely watch a holiday movie together and chat. There are still ways to celebrate this season. Find creative ways to adapt. It will help manage the loneliness you may be dealing with this year.
This week is a week where many of us are celebrating holidays or holy days, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanza are on many of our minds. Rather than allowing these special days to become stressful by focusing on planning and getting tasks done, focus on the relationships and deeper the meaning of each celebration. The deeper message in all of these holidays can give us hope and strengthen our resilience. Allow them to enrich your faith while you treasure the people in your life whom you love.
With COVID-19 affecting our holidays, schools going more and more remote, and the lingering post-election stress it is important to ask ourselves questions that help us manage our stress response. The Greater Good Science Center poses a few questions to help us think about how we are managing and reacting got what is going on around us (Smith & Suttie 10.2020).
This is Thanksgiving week. Gratitude is the quality of being thankful and the readiness to show appreciation and return kindness. Harvard Medical School writes that “The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. Gratitude encompasses all of these. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what you receive, tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies ...at least partially... outside themselves. Gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves.
This week is Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week. Mental health is an essential component of your overall life experience. It impacts all domains of life including physical, spiritual, vocational, and relational. One area of life where a person’s mental health has a big impact is in housing. Surveys indicate that close to half of people who are homeless have a mental health diagnosis. Often depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress can underlie the series of life occurrences that lead a person to homelessness. I would encourage all of us to think of the ways in which we can help those experiencing housing insecurity.
One international study published just this month reports that people who had a strong sense of meaning and purpose in their life were more resilient, especially in relation to Covid-specific stress. What are some things that give us a sense of purpose? Caring for someone who needs your help, an activity or hobby that is meaningful such as gardening or cooking, or being part of a group that connects you with others such as a service club or a church. So if you find yourself stressed don't do less, do more of what gives you a sense of purpose.
Appleseed, the Safe Haven program's parent organization, earned the 2020 Platinum Seal of Transparency, the highest level of recognition offered by GuideStar, a service of Candid. By sharing metrics that highlight the progress that Appleseed is making toward its mission, the organization is helping donors move beyond simplistic ways of nonprofit evaluation such as overhead ratios.
You deserve to be treated well and in a safe, caring relationship. Help is available by calling Appleseed’s Safe Haven program 24-hour crisis hotline at 419-289-8085. Visit www.safehavenofashland.org for more information.
Rape Crisis Domestic Violence Safe Haven Announces Events to Honor Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic Violence is the willful intimidation as part of a systemic pattern of power and control perpetrated by an intimate partner against another and happens across all genders, ages, races, and other demographics. This abusive behavior may include physical, emotional, psychological, financial, or sexual abuse. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime with 1 in 3 women and 1 and 4 men experiencing physical violence by their partner in their lifetime. Rape Crisis Domestic Violence Safe Haven program is holding several events to honor victims and survivors of domestic violence throughout October. All events are free and open to the public.
We are winding down National Recovery Awareness Month and National Suicide Awareness Month. Both of these issues can be made worse by interpersonal tensions and stress. With COVID-19 still disrupting how we live and the intensifying election propaganda, we need to intentionally make time for self-care. Below are a few self-care tips for stress management.
September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. Dying by suicide is a tragedy for both the one who dies and the family and friends left behind. People who are grieving the death of a loved one to suicide need- you- to- be- their- support. Loss survivors grapple with complex feelings such as fear, grief, shame, and anger. Accept their feelings and provide support without criticism. Use sensitivity during holidays and anniversaries as these stir up memories of the lost loved one, and emphasize their absence. Use the lost loved one’s name when talking to survivors. This shows that you have not forgotten this important person, and can open the door for sharing.
Recovery is possible. There are many great recovery communities in our area. Don't let anything keep you from reaching out. There are paths that will allow you to find meaning and purpose in the aftermath of very difficult life experiences. If you find yourself addicted and struggling remember you are loveable, forgivable, and changeable.
May was National Mental Health Awareness Month, and here at Appleseed, it is a month that is extremely important not only to our agency but to every one of our staff. It is a time that we can use to reach out to our community and offer education on strategies to improve their mental health.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The month of April is an important time for everyone here at Appleseed Community Mental Health Center. Each April, staff at Appleseed’s RCDV Safe Haven Program promotes awareness of sexual assault, harassment, and abuse and prevention of this crime through a variety of educational events and presentations. The month of April also brought on some difficulties, however, with the COVID-19 Pandemic bringing many of the planned events of the month to a halt and many others had to be revised or rescheduled.
January has always been an important time of the year for Appleseed Community Mental Health Center. It is a time that we look forward to a new year and plan for the year ahead. For Appleseed and its Rape Crisis Domestic Violence Safe Haven program, January is also a chance to bring awareness to two key topics: National Human Trafficking Awareness Month and Stalking Awareness Month.
The month of October has come and gone, and for us at the Rape Crisis Domestic Violence Safe Haven of Ashland (a program of Appleseed Community Mental Health Center), much of it has revolved around promoting domestic violence awareness.