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5/10/2013 Volunteer day

Friday, May 10, 2013

On Fridays I volunteer at my local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Billings); I am also on the Board of Directors and have a mental illness myself. I see some blogs with people talking about Depression or Bipolar Disorder. I rarely see anything about my disorder. I have the label of Schizoaffective Disorder-Bipolar Type. Notice I did not say I am Schizoaffective. It is just a label for my illness like Diabetes is a label for a disease relating to blood sugar levels. Mental illnesses are brain disorders and definitely medical disorders. They can not usually be cured, but can be controlled with medication. The reason I say that is that some people are able to stop taking medications for Depression after taking it for awhile. Unfortunately there are those of us that must take it for the rest of our lives. Me included.

I have been mentally ill since I was 14 years old. I am now 50 years old. The biggest lesson I have learned is that I must be consistent on taking my medication. The second is that I must get 8-9 hours of sleep a night. The third is that I need a good diet with healthy foods including fruits and vegetables. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon Whether fresh, frozen or canned. The canned I buy low-sodium type. The fourth lesson I have learned especially since starting SP is I need to exercise everyday at least 10 minutes or more. emoticon I was doing water aerobics, because I have osteoarthritis in my knees and my spine. I did that for 4 years at least 3 times a week. Then I gave up my gym membership, because I didn't go as much in 2012. On February 1st, 2013, I started a walking program. The Shape Up Montana program was very beneficial to me. I walked 200 miles from Feb. 1st through May 1st. emoticon emoticon emoticon What an accomplishment for me! I had a partial knee replacement in Feb. 2010 and I wasn't able to walk more than 10 minutes at a time for 3 years. It took me awhile, but I am up to 1 and 1/2 miles in 30 minutes now. Wow! I am so shocked I am able to do it!

I love to walk early in the morning when there is no traffic noise and hardly any people out and about. I see lots of bunnies as I live in Billings and there is a lot of them here!! Not really sure why in a city this size there are so many, but we do have lots of green grass and trees. So they always can find something to eat. emoticon

I felt it was really important to get this message across to the SP community. There are mentally ill people in many families. In fact the statistics are 1 in 5 people are mentally ill.

I bet you know or have a loved one, friend, neighbor or have met someone with a mental illness. You may not see it on the outside, but the stigma associated with mental illness is so rampant that many people are glad it doesn't show!! Why? People don't understand the illnesses and often think we are violent people, because of all the recent shootings and tragedies around the country and world. I will tell you it is very hard to get treatment in many locations. The lack of psychiatrists in Billings alone is terrible. They all have waiting lists and they are long lists of people needing services. And in most places it is hard to be hospitalized against your will unless you are a danger to yourself or others. You also must go through the Emergency Room to be admitted. It often takes up to a day to get admitted. Sometimes it is shorter, but I have know people that have waited that long in the Emergency Room.

So I hope you have a better understanding of those of us that deal with mental illnesses. You never know who might have one, because it doesn't show on the outside. Maybe that is a good thing. Maybe not. I guess it depends on the person and how open they are about their illness! Me, I choose to educate people where ever I go, so someday the stigma now associated with mental illness will be lessened or gone! I wish it would be in my lifetime. I am not sure it will. But I can keep talking about it and explaining it to others in hopes more people will understand that it is a brain disorder. A medical illness in my/our brains.

If you get a chance there is a good movie out about mental illness. It is called "Silver Linings Playbook" directed by David O. Russell. It tells the story of Pat Solatano played by Bradley Cooper, a man with bipolar disorder who returns to his parents home after many months in a mental hospital following a meltdown after the break-up of his marriage. He is determined to reconcile with his wife. Go rent the DVD. Look for it on Netflix. Look at Redbox. I looked at a local Redbox in Billings and it wasn't listed yet. I am going to try Netflix or buy the DVD. I think it is worth it!

Have a nice day! Remember, everyone is struggling with something. Be kind and smile. That might be the one thing that brightens their day!! Thanks for reading!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post

    I think that it is great that you are so open about your illness and are so into educating everyone you can about mental illness. I hope you live to see acceptance of mental illness as "real". Hopefully, there will also be breakthroughs in treatment.

    Keep on plugging.


    2852 days ago
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