Think Out Loud Interview

Just in case you missed the Think Out Loud interview, here you go!

Portland reporter Sheila Hamilton didn’t know her husband was suffering from bipolar disorder until too late.

My name is Tony and I’m living well with Depression.

If more people shared their stories of illness and eventual recovery, it would have a profound effect on those who are suffering in silence. I recently posted a request on the Huffington post asking for stories of recovery.

I heard from a psychologist who refused to recognize his own depression, even as he treated other people in crisis. I heard from a CEO who was so ashamed of his anxiety disorder that he suffered a panic attack in a high level board meeting. I heard from a teacher who was substituting for a health class before she realized she might have post traumatic stress syndrome. I’ve received so many letters and heard so many stories of people’s initial reluctance to recognize their illness and seek treatment. And yet, the reason I am now hearing from these courageous people is because they all eventually found a path to recovery.

It’s not easy. Recovery takes patience, commitment, strong support from family and friends, and the willingness to be brutally honest with oneself. It takes wading through therapies to find the one that clicks with your way of life. Some therapists are extremely gifted. Others are horrible. (I’d love to see an “Angie’s list” of therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists and care centers, complete with reviews and feedback from users.) It’s important to note: In every case of recovery, there is one person who believes in the person so wholeheartedly, they provide enormous support. Most times, it is a therapist or a doctor who provides the unflinching support. Other times, it is a spiritual advisor, a yoga teacher, a friend or a partner.

Tony is one such example.He stopped me in the hallway at work after we worked together on a mental health campaign. “I thought it was hypocritical not to tell you I’m living well with a mental illness.” he said. My heart immediately opened to Tony and his story. He works every day to keep his illness in check. It took many years to figure out the right combination of anti-depressants, therapies, exercise and mindfulness. As Tony notes, these therapies, drugs and coping mechanisms may not always work. He still struggles to keep his negative thoughts in check, but he works his program every single day. “For many years, I wished someone could wave away my illness,” Tony says. “Now, I realize it’s made me the sensitive and compassionate person I’ve become.”

Tony is brave beyond measure. I’m thrilled to bring you his story. And, I’d love to hear yours.

NY Times Bestselling Author Cheryl Strayed Interviews Sheila Hamilton

The tweet of a lifetime. Sometimes, 142 characters does a lot of heavy lifting.

Click the Soundcloud link here  as the fabulous Cheryl Strayed interviews Sheila Hamilton.   ‘All the Things We Never Knew.’

Healing one chord at a time: My Voice Music

I am in LOVE with this program. Ian Mouser is a local singer-songwriter who worked in a therapy setting with kids struggling with behavioral problems. Ian noticed the almost immediate reduction in harmful behavior when he allowed kids to work out their emotions to music. He started a non-profit called My Voice Music where kids find like-minded artists and learn new musical skills, all while giving voice to the thoughts and emotions they are experiencing.

Please give this a listen and share with families whose kids may benefit from the program.

JPepin Art Gallery. A place for beautiful minds

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” ~Albert Einstein

Why are activities with music, movement, drama, and art so successful with people suffering from mental illness? Through activities with the arts, artists can give meaning to thoughts and feelings that might otherwise be difficult to communicate. The exciting developments in brain imaging and neurobiology now demonstrate how art, music, movement and storytelling strengthen the synapses between brain cells.

Dr. Bruce Perry (and the Civitas Healing Arts project) has found the amazing healing effect of the arts on the youngest children impacted by trauma. CIVITAS research has shown that specific parts of the brain are stimulated by specific artistic enrichment modalities. For example: the base or brain stem responds to touch; the midbrain to music-making and movement; the limbic region to dance, art, play therapy, and nature discovery; and the cortical region to art, storytelling, drama, and writing. Through artistic stimulation, children’s brains are healing and growing!

Jennifer Pepin, a beautiful young Portlander, is showcasing the work of people who are living with brain based behavioral disorders. Art has been a powerful outlet for Jennifer, her boyfriend and a community of artists who create spectacular work. Check out the images below:

Sukey Forbes, The Angel In My Pocket, A story of Love, Loss, and Life after Death

“I’d die if that happened to me.” That’s what Sukey Forbes often hears from people when she talks about the loss of her beloved six-year-old daughter. But, as you’ll hear in this conversation with Forbes, her greatest loss also became the source of her greatest and most profound transformation.

As Dani Shapiro says, “What can we do when the unthinkable happens? We have choices, of course. We can break, become tough, allow cynicism to seep into all our broken places. Or, as Sukey Forbes illustrates in this remarkable book, grief can kick the door wide open and let the light in. The Angel in My Pocket is a devastating and beautiful paean to the human spirit.”

Dealing with a mental illness? Here are your legal protections

One of the most beautiful and heart-wrenching experiences I’ve had since writing this blog is hearing your stories regarding mental health. A mother shared her hope after finally finding a medication that worked for her daughter’s depression and anxiety disorder. A daughter grieved the normalcy she had before her brother had his first schizophrenic break. And a  well-known personality in the Portland area contacted me to say that he suffers from bi-polar disorder and is terrified of telling his employer. He doesn’t fear the stigma as much as the thought that he will likely be fired if his employer learns of his diagnosis.

I asked Dana L. Sullivan, one of the leading employment attorneys in the Northwest to offer advice for people who may be hiding a mental illness from their employer.

Laura Munson, “This is Not the Story you Think It is”

New York Times Bestselling author Laura Munson talks about her writer’s retreats in
Whitefish, Montana.

A Trauma Informed Approach to Care: Trillium Family Services CEO Kim Scott

As part of Mental Health awareness month, I hope you’ll listen to Trillium Family Services CEO Kim
Scott talk about a Trauma informed approach to care.

Scott says the key principles of a trauma informed approach:

  1. Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery;
  2. Recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system;
  3. Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and
  4. Seeks to actively resist re-traumatization.

The intervention programs attempt to respect the survivor’s need to be informed and hopeful regarding their own recovery. The team also recognizes the interrelation between trauma and symptoms of trauma, such as substance abuse, eating disorders, depression and anxiety. Trillium’s counselors work in a collaborative way with survivors, family and friends of the survivor and other human agencies.

Kevin Hines: Survivor

Kevin Hines

When 28-year-old Kevin Hines hurled himself from the Golden Gate Bridge, his first thought was, “What the hell did I just do? I don’t want to die.”

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, one-third to 80% of all suicide attempts are impulsive acts. Ninety percent of people who survive a suicide attempt do not end up killing themselves later. For many, the suicide attempt (a failed shooting or an overdose) may serve as a spiritual awakening.

Kevin Hines jumped from the bridge in 2000 after pacing for a half hour while people ignored him. Like many other suicidal patients, he employed an irrational and confusing logic — “If someone, anyone shows me they care, I won’t jump.” A tourist saw him, tears streaming down his face, and asked if he would take her picture. He snapped the photo. And then he jumped.

Listen to this incredible conversation of a life transformed. Kevin now believes life is the single greatest gift we are given. He is one of America’s most coveted mental health advocates, a popular speaker and author.