Pastor Brad Hoefs

Pastor | Author | Speaker | Hope Coach | Mental Health Advocate

Becoming Your Own Advocate by Jamie Meyer

Becoming Your Own Advocate by Jamie Meyer

by Jamie Meyer

I remember the day I saw a psychiatrist for the first time. When he spoke the words “major depressive disorder,” I felt both relieved and discouraged. Relief that there was a valid reason why I felt numb and hopeless. Discouragement that I’d been labeled with a mental illness.

After receiving that diagnosis l faithfully took my medication and eventually began seeing a therapist at my doctor’s request. Although I started feeling better after a few months, I still relied on both of them to decide what was best for me. After all, they were the experts and my part was to follow their instructions if I wanted to get well, right?

There came a point in my recovery, however, when I desperately wanted to get off the medications and get back to the “old me.” I mentioned this to my doctor and was told that I’d most likely be on medication the rest of my life. Since my diagnosis had been changed to bipolar 2 at this point, I’m guessing he viewed this as a more serious disorder than depression, one that would require lifelong treatment.

Knowing I was in this for the long haul, I determined to learn more about my diagnosis and the things I could do to stay as healthy as possible. If I had been diagnosed with diabetes or fibromyalgia I’d be searching for more information, so why wouldn’t I take the same approach in learning about an illness in my brain?

While I found many books and articles about bipolar 2, they mostly encouraged people to stay on medications and rely on their doctors and therapists if they wanted to get well. While I agree that these professionals have more education and knowledge about mental disorders than I do, I’m the only one who’s an expert on me! Only l know what it’s like to live with the unique thoughts, feelings, and symptoms that are a part of my illness. The same is true of you as well.

Wanting to improve my thinking, behavior and emotional health, my searching led me to Fresh Hope, a faith-based support group for people experiencing mental health challenges and their loved ones. They focus on living well in spite of having a mental health issue. Fresh Hope groups emphasize that we are not victims of our illness but that we have the right to stand up for ourselves and manage our own mental health care.

Being an advocate for ourselves means we partner with our health care providers rather than giving them sole power to make decisions for us. Appointments become opportunities for mutual discussion. Our part is to communicate honestly with our doctor, letting he or she know if our meds are working or not and requesting changes if side effects are unacceptable or we feel worse instead of better.

In our therapist’s office we have the right to ask for what we need and to be honest if we’re not seeing progress. There may be times when we’ll need to change the subject of a session in order to discuss something urgent that has come up. We’re also free to respectfully disagree with our therapist’s recommendations if we don’t feel they would be helpful in our recovery.

Taking personal responsibility also includes learning about and choosing healthier thoughts and actions that will improve our mental wellness. For example, we can reduce anxiety by learning relaxation techniques or methods to slow down racing thoughts. Choosing to exercise regularly, avoiding junk food, and keeping a gratitude journal can help to improve our mental and emotional stability.

Standing up for ourselves with our doctor and therapist and choosing more positive, helpful thoughts and behaviors are just some of the ways we can manage our mental health condition. We’re less likely to feel helpless and hopeless if we take responsibility for our own wellness rather than depending on someone else to “make us better.”

Jamies-bio

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

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Becoming Your Own Advocate by Jamie Meyer

Becoming Your Own Advocate by Jamie Meyer

by Jamie Meyer

I remember the day I saw a psychiatrist for the first time. When he spoke the words “major depressive disorder,” I felt both relieved and discouraged. Relief that there was a valid reason why I felt numb and hopeless. Discouragement that I’d been labeled with a mental illness.

After receiving that diagnosis l faithfully took my medication and eventually began seeing a therapist at my doctor’s request. Although I started feeling better after a few months, I still relied on both of them to decide what was best for me. After all, they were the experts and my part was to follow their instructions if I wanted to get well, right?

There came a point in my recovery, however, when I desperately wanted to get off the medications and get back to the “old me.” I mentioned this to my doctor and was told that I’d most likely be on medication the rest of my life. Since my diagnosis had been changed to bipolar 2 at this point, I’m guessing he viewed this as a more serious disorder than depression, one that would require lifelong treatment.

Knowing I was in this for the long haul, I determined to learn more about my diagnosis and the things I could do to stay as healthy as possible. If I had been diagnosed with diabetes or fibromyalgia I’d be searching for more information, so why wouldn’t I take the same approach in learning about an illness in my brain?

While I found many books and articles about bipolar 2, they mostly encouraged people to stay on medications and rely on their doctors and therapists if they wanted to get well. While I agree that these professionals have more education and knowledge about mental disorders than I do, I’m the only one who’s an expert on me! Only l know what it’s like to live with the unique thoughts, feelings, and symptoms that are a part of my illness. The same is true of you as well.

Wanting to improve my thinking, behavior and emotional health, my searching led me to Fresh Hope, a faith-based support group for people experiencing mental health challenges and their loved ones. They focus on living well in spite of having a mental health issue. Fresh Hope groups emphasize that we are not victims of our illness but that we have the right to stand up for ourselves and manage our own mental health care.

Being an advocate for ourselves means we partner with our health care providers rather than giving them sole power to make decisions for us. Appointments become opportunities for mutual discussion. Our part is to communicate honestly with our doctor, letting he or she know if our meds are working or not and requesting changes if side effects are unacceptable or we feel worse instead of better.

In our therapist’s office we have the right to ask for what we need and to be honest if we’re not seeing progress. There may be times when we’ll need to change the subject of a session in order to discuss something urgent that has come up. We’re also free to respectfully disagree with our therapist’s recommendations if we don’t feel they would be helpful in our recovery.

Taking personal responsibility also includes learning about and choosing healthier thoughts and actions that will improve our mental wellness. For example, we can reduce anxiety by learning relaxation techniques or methods to slow down racing thoughts. Choosing to exercise regularly, avoiding junk food, and keeping a gratitude journal can help to improve our mental and emotional stability.

Standing up for ourselves with our doctor and therapist and choosing more positive, helpful thoughts and behaviors are just some of the ways we can manage our mental health condition. We’re less likely to feel helpless and hopeless if we take responsibility for our own wellness rather than depending on someone else to “make us better.”

Jamies-bio

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.unnamed

8 Things You Can Do When Someone You Love Has Bipolar Disorder by Rick Quall

8 Things You Can Do  When Someone You Love Has Bipolar Disorder by Rick Quall

by Rick Qualls

Bipolar disease is difficult to treat. It is complicated and hard to diagnose. It may take three or more years to identify. It can be a financial nightmare and contributes to the wreckage of relationships.

Bipolar disease is difficult for caregivers, too. What can you do to help someone who has bipolar disease?

  1. Educate yourself about the illness.

My wife was critical in managing my disease. She went with me to psychiatric appoints. She noticed symptoms and side effects that I was not aware of. She was able to give input to my doctors which helped find the diagnosis.couple-hugging-2

Learn what you can about the disease. Meet the professionals treating your loved one. They can give you personal suggestions and teach you about the disease. Do internet research for information and suggestions. Make sure the sources are legitimate.

  1. Address your stress.

Caring for anyone with chronic disease is difficult, but bipolar’s cyclic nature is added stress. Encourage the person with bipolar to develop a support system that includes professionals, friends, and family. The broader their support system the better for both of you. You cannot be the sole source of their support.

  1. Develop your own support team.

Simplify your life. Don’t have unrealistic expectations of yourself. Take time to de-stress by spending time with friends who can help you decompress. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially including sleep, exercise, and eating.

Caregivers often feel isolated. Finding others in similar situations help.The support may be face to face, or it may be online, such as forums, and blogs. We can be helpful to others traveling their path toward healing. One Bible verse encourages comforting one another.

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”  2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT)

  1. Take notes.

Jotting down different behaviors, when they occur, what preceded, and what followed. Make sure your loved one knows you are doing this or they will feel betrayed. Share what you learn. You are a team with your loved one. These notes help spot symptoms when they can be treated early.

  1. When your loved one is stable, together plan what to do during the next crisis.

What are the triggers for mania or depression? For example, if insufficient sleep is a trigger your plan may be to use sleep aid medications (see your doctor) short term until you are stable again.

Impulse spending might trigger a manic episode. Actions you can do: avoid credit cards, avoid internet banking, and shopping.

  1. Offer listening and personal acceptance.

Having someone who actively listens and cares help the person with bipolar feel more comfortable about their disease. Stay calm. But do not tolerate verbal or physical abuse. If that happens, walk away until there is a better time to discuss issues.

  1. Be your loved one’s advocate.

They may feel the whole world is against them. Assure them you are there and you have their back, and it will give them calmness and confidence.

  1. Affirm their strengths.

Your loved one may feel worthless. Remind them of their strengths and the tough situations they have overcome. This gives a sense of calmness and helps recovery.

Finally, if you are a person of faith use your spiritual resources. Cultivate a deeper prayer life. And discover Bible passages and promises to give you hope. One of my favorites is: “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Is. 40:31

Quails-bio-slide

 

Becoming Your Own Advocate by Jamie Meyer

Becoming Your Own Advocate by Jamie Meyer

by Jamie Meyer

I remember the day I saw a psychiatrist for the first time. When he spoke the words “major depressive disorder,” I felt both relieved and discouraged. Relief that there was a valid reason why I felt numb and hopeless. Discouragement that I’d been labeled with a mental illness.

After receiving that diagnosis l faithfully took my medication and eventually began seeing a therapist at my doctor’s request. Although I started feeling better after a few months, I still relied on both of them to decide what was best for me. After all, they were the experts and my part was to follow their instructions if I wanted to get well, right?

There came a point in my recovery, however, when I desperately wanted to get off the medications and get back to the “old me.” I mentioned this to my doctor and was told that I’d most likely be on medication the rest of my life. Since my diagnosis had been changed to bipolar 2 at this point, I’m guessing he viewed this as a more serious disorder than depression, one that would require lifelong treatment.

Knowing I was in this for the long haul, I determined to learn more about my diagnosis and the things I could do to stay as healthy as possible. If I had been diagnosed with diabetes or fibromyalgia I’d be searching for more information, so why wouldn’t I take the same approach in learning about an illness in my brain?

While I found many books and articles about bipolar 2, they mostly encouraged people to stay on medications and rely on their doctors and therapists if they wanted to get well. While I agree that these professionals have more education and knowledge about mental disorders than I do, I’m the only one who’s an expert on me! Only l know what it’s like to live with the unique thoughts, feelings, and symptoms that are a part of my illness. The same is true of you as well.

Wanting to improve my thinking, behavior and emotional health, my searching led me to Fresh Hope, a faith-based support group for people experiencing mental health challenges and their loved ones. They focus on living well in spite of having a mental health issue. Fresh Hope groups emphasize that we are not victims of our illness but that we have the right to stand up for ourselves and manage our own mental health care.

Being an advocate for ourselves means we partner with our health care providers rather than giving them sole power to make decisions for us. Appointments become opportunities for mutual discussion. Our part is to communicate honestly with our doctor, letting he or she know if our meds are working or not and requesting changes if side effects are unacceptable or we feel worse instead of better.

In our therapist’s office we have the right to ask for what we need and to be honest if we’re not seeing progress. There may be times when we’ll need to change the subject of a session in order to discuss something urgent that has come up. We’re also free to respectfully disagree with our therapist’s recommendations if we don’t feel they would be helpful in our recovery.

Taking personal responsibility also includes learning about and choosing healthier thoughts and actions that will improve our mental wellness. For example, we can reduce anxiety by learning relaxation techniques or methods to slow down racing thoughts. Choosing to exercise regularly, avoiding junk food, and keeping a gratitude journal can help to improve our mental and emotional stability.

Standing up for ourselves with our doctor and therapist and choosing more positive, helpful thoughts and behaviors are just some of the ways we can manage our mental health condition. We’re less likely to feel helpless and hopeless if we take responsibility for our own wellness rather than depending on someone else to “make us better.”

Jamies-bio

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