The 23rd Psalm

Psalm 23:1  A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Psalm 23:2  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth mebeside the still waters.

Psalm 23:3  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:4  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23:5  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.


Psalm 23:6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Prayer Requests & Praise Reports, April 30th

Psalm 19:1  To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the expanse proclaims His handiwork.
Psalm 19:2  Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
Psalm 19:3  There is no speech nor are there words; their voice is not heard.
Psalm 19:4  Their line has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
Psalm 19:5  and he comes forth as a bridegroom from his canopy; he rejoices as a strong man to run a race,
Psalm 19:6  going forth from the end of the heavens, and its course is to their ends. And there is nothing hid from its heat.
Psalm 19:7  The Law of Jehovah is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of Jehovah is sure, making the simple wise.
Psalm 19:8  The Precepts of Jehovah are right, rejoicing the heart; the Commandments of Jehovah are pure, giving light to the eyes.
Psalm 19:9  The fear of Jehovah is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of Jehovah are true and righteous altogether,
Psalm 19:10  more to be desired than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Psalm 19:11  And Your servant is warned by them; in keeping them there is great reward.
Psalm 19:12  Who can understand his errors? Oh make me pure from secret faults;
Psalm 19:13  and keep Your servant back from presumptuous sins; do not let them rule over me; then I shall be upright, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.
Psalm 19:14  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Jehovah, my Rock and my Redeemer.

New Prayer Requests

Allan- My sister’s husband is improving although still in a coma after two months.  Please pray that he will soon be weaned from his respirator and that he will have a miraculous recovery. Pray also for my sister and three adult children.

Allan–  Dorci has had surgery to remove a cyst from her spine.  Please pray that God would allow her to heal quickly and completely.

Eero–  We have a spiritual camp (06.11-06.13.2010). To the camp comes people who are alcoholics or drug addicts. I hope, that you praying that Jesus saves, heals and frees them. And that all will go well.

Past Prayer Requests

PK Sweet- please pray for a bipolar son with brain damage also…that he may know and love and follow Christ, be free of all addictions and self destructive behavior, get the help he needs and be @ peace…also that God help us all in the family to be filled with the Spirit and bear luscious fruit, and be filled with joy rather than despair

Mom– Would you all keep our family in prayer? I posted here under another name before, but feel more comfortable with this handle considering my prayer request. Our just turned 20 yr. old son, who disenrolled himself from his engineering studies 2 weeks ago, has been on a roller coaster ride for the last 3-4 weeks. Fortunately, he lives with us in an apartment on our property. First he was diagnosed with depression and prescribed prozac, then celexa. Unfortunately, he was pushed into mania and a mixed bipolar state. He is now recovering and though still agitated, is coming down on the correct medication, with good sleep, good food and good exercise. He has been diagnosed as bipolar and we now have begun the journey of helping him get the right help, medications and plan for his life. Please keep him and us in prayer, and prayer for wisdom for his doctor and counselor. Thank you so much—

Long Term Prayer Requests

Set Free– erunner – we still have no building for our church it’s not easy to share with another ministry since we are limited to having any special services. Please continue to pray that God will answer soon. And when he does I’ll be sure to let you know. I will continue to lift these other prayers you have here in your website I know they are more serious then what I am requesting. God’s Richest Blessings.

Angela–  Keep Angela in prayer as she continues on her road of recovery from Anorexia.

Okie Preacher–  Battling unknown physical problems and depression.  “I have a physical problem that the doctors have not been able to identify. It has been characterized by severe muscle pain and weakness, joint pain, fatigue, shortage of breath, dizziness, difficulty swallowing, and coughing fits that almost cause me to pass out.”

White Horses- Prayer for anxious thoughts and worrying.

Shaun Sells–  Keep Shaun in prayer for wisdom as he seeks to continue his ministry to those with mental illness in his church.

Dusty– Continued prayer for deep depression.

Rachel–  Continued prayer as she struggles with bi-polar disorder.

Natalie Tan–   Keep Natalie in prayer as she moves further away from her battle with Anorexia.

Allan–  Our nephew’s wife has M.S.

St. Olaf Choir: The World’s Most Beautiful (Virtual) Choir

I came across this very unusual concept for recording a song and the result is breathtaking.  Although this is late for Good Friday and Easter I believe this song can be listened to all year round.  God use music to calm a troubled soul and I pray this would be used to that end.  Allan

Taken from Christianity Today Entertainment Blog which is located   HERE.

A couple months ago, my wife and I heard one of the world’s finest choirs, the St. Olaf Choir, conducted by Anton Armstrong. Their concert at Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church was nothing short of divine, bringing us to the gates of heaven. I doubt if even the angels themselves can top St. Olaf’s.

Today, I discovered another amazing choir — an ensemble of 185 voices from 12 nations . . . a collection of people who have never met one another, nor have they met the conductor for whom they were singing. This was conductor/composer Eric Whitacre’s “virtual choir” singing his own composition, “Lux Aurumque” — with each individual voice recorded with a simple webcam at each singer’s home computer. Whitacre held online auditions, then put together a brief instructional video, followed by him “conducting” the piece for the virtual singers. They simply sang their parts into their webcams, and sent them to Whitacre, who enlisted someone to edit all the pieces together to form a choir. The result is nothing short of stunning:

Read more about how the project came together here. And as we near Palm Sunday and Easter, pay attention to the words (in Latin) and their translation:

Lux, Lux
Lux, Lux
Lux Lux
Calida
Calida
Gravis que
Gravis que
Gravis que
Pura
Pura velut aurum
canunt et canunt et canunt
et canunt angeli
canunt moliter
natum, modo natum

Translation:
Light, Light
Light, Light
Light, Light
Warm
Warm
and heavy/loaded/pregnant/deep/dignified*
and heavy/loaded/pregnant/deep/dignified*
and heavy/loaded/pregnant/deep/dignified*
Pure
Pure as if gold
(They) sing/prophesy and (they) sing/prophesy and (they) sing/prophesy.

*’Gravis que’ is actually written and said as one word, Gravisque, meaning “and [definition].” There are many words listed because it actually means all of those, in a poetic sense that is difficult to capture in one English word.

The One!! The Only!! Chato Stewart

For those of you who read this blog you may or may not recognize the name of Chato Stewart.  Many of you will know who he is when you realize it’s been his Mental Health Cartoons I have been using for so long now.

I’m excited to announce that Chato is moving into new territory.  He will be appearing on the website  Psych Central whose website is located   HERE.

Chato’s initial article is located below .  As you read you’ll notice he gives a shout out to More Than Coping!

Chato shared his story with us last year.  That article is located   HERE.

I’m amazed at how many people find their way here as they search the net for Chato’s cartoons.  That shows us the need for a sense of humor for all of us who have been down the dark road of mental illness.  Please pray for Chato as he begins his new venture. Chato has a real heart for those who are hurting.  He fills a unique niche in the battle against mental illness as he seeks to bring much needed levity to a very serious topic.

Warning:

The Mental Health Humor blog is not intended to stigmatize! While viewing the content of the blog, understand it is meant to be positive! Yet, we cannot please every one. If you find humor about mental illness offensive, then please do not view the blog.

mental health cartoonist for psych-central: chato b stewartI am so PSYCHED to be at Psych Central!  But with all networks, there is a transition period.  To some “Chato B. Stewart” and the “Mental Health Humor” cartoons are new.

The first knee jerk reaction is who in the hell would make fun of people with mental illness!!! What a Jerk!!!  I agree 100%!!!

Fortunately, that is not what I’m all about.  My goal is to use humor as a health coping mechanism.  I truly believe humor is the best medicine.  Yet, we all have varying taste when it comes to our own sense of humor.  That is why I have my “Warning” above.

My mission is NOT to laugh at my peers but rather with them.   Here is a good example of BAD mental health health humor written by my Blog Buddie, Alicia Sparks, on her Psych Central blog, Celebrity Psyching. While Reviewing the movie,  Observe And Report, she asks the question, “Does The Mental Health Humor Cross A Line?”

Observe and Report, actor Seth Rogen’s latest “comedy” adventure, has been out for a week now, and reviews are – quite frankly – not all that hot as far as the mental health angle is concerned.

Rogen portrays Ronnie Barnhardt, a mall security guard with bipolar disorder on a mission to restore safety and decency to the Forest Ridge Mall.

How did she sum up the movie and answer the question?

Mental illness and comedy don’t always work well together. Oh, the union is far from impossible (my friend and fellow advocate Chato B. Stewart does a fantastic job with Mental Health Humor)

Okay, maybe I mentioned Alicia Sparks because she is here at A Psych Central and gives me a good review.

What about what others have said about my approach to using humor with mental health?

“Chato Stewart has been afflicted with major depression and bi-polar disorder.  I have used his cartoons on the blog as I believe humor can be a tool in combating mental illness.  Chato graciously agreed to write something for the blog and I pray you might come away with a few insights and a smile on your face… Chato B. Stewart: Humor As A Gift To Deal With Mental Illness”

A comment from his post:

“Thanks for using your gift of a sense of humor to help all of us remember to not take ourselves too seriously. Humor definitely can help get us through some tough days…”

****

Here is what Ken Jensen, author of the book,  “It Takes Guts To Be Me: How An Ex-Marine Beat Bipolar Disorder” said about my use of humor.

“Laughter is the best medicine and my friend Chato B Stewart of www.MentalHealthHumor.com proves as much with his mental health cartoons.

Chato fights bipolar disorder his own way and part of it involves his comical drawings that depict many phases of mental illness. He captures the lighter side of these dark moments in a effort to defuse the stigma surrounding mental illness. If you doubt the power of comedy, you’re cutting short a viable opportunity for some measure of relief in your life. Of course, there is much more to be done when searching for stability, peace and happiness, but a good laugh covers a lot of ground. ”

Now that I dropped a bunch of names, let’s get to some of the cartoons.  I’ll let you come to your own opinion.  Please, feel free to share your thoughts about the cartoons.  The following cartoons were part of the 2009 Mental Health Awareness Month Cartoon-A-Thon:

cartoon-a-thon mental health cartoons

cartoon-a-thon mental health cartoons

The cartoon character below is ME.  Or at least how I see myself.

cartoon-a-thon mental health cartoons

2009 cartoon-a-thon mental health cartoons

Would you like to know more about Chato B . Stewart?

Feel Free to connect with me on FaceBook too.


Words Of The Wisdomless: Build

“It is never what you do that makes people remember you, it’s who you do it to that makes it forever. It can come back to bite you and knock you down or build you up and put you in the clouds. Be the builder not the wrecking ball.”

– by Chato B. Stewart

Like it? Link it: http://blogs.psychcentral.com/humor

“When Medicine Got It Wrong”: When We Blamed Schizophrenia On The Parents Airing on PBS Beginning This Week

This is a fascinating special that zeroes in on the topic of schizophrenia.  Our nation was still in the dark ages in the 1970’s when it came to the understanding of this illness.  Mark this one down as a must see to get an idea of how far we have come and what had to be overcome to get here.

Below is a preview for you to view and a link to a site that lists the days and times you can view this program across the country.  Allan

The “When Medicine Got It Wrong” website is located     HERE.

A state by state listing of when the program airs in your state is located    HERE.

BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR LOCAL LISTINGS AS THE ABOVE LIST IS NOT 100% UP TO DATE!

Review provided by  TRULY  CA

Narrated by Rita Moreno, When Medicine Got it Wrong is the groundbreaking story of a small group of loving California families in the 1970s who challenged the commonly-held belief that schizophrenogenic parents caused schizophrenia. Angry at being blamed for an illness they knew was not their fault, mothers and fathers in San Mateo, California started Parents of Adult Schizophrenics (PAS) and began fighting for better understanding and treatment.

The story starts in 1974, and centers on two families — the Oliphants and Hoffmans — whose sons developed schizophrenia in their teens. Doctors told the boys that their parents were the cause of their problems. Medical records labeled each child as the “identified patient” in a dysfunctional family structure wherein the parents were more psychologically ill than the family member exhibiting delusional and psychotic symptoms. The cure: separation from the parents. The boys were institutionalized at Napa State Hospital, and the parents were warned that visits would be detrimental to their sons’ chances of recovery.

When Medicine Got it Wrong shows how these families transcended extreme cultural shame to go public with their stories — first by forming PAS, and then openly challenging doctors to recognize the medical nature of their children’s ailment. The Oliphants and Hoffmans prompted researchers to question their assumptions about schizophrenia’s etiology. Their passion inspired parents across the country to organize and lobby for research and more appropriate, compassionate care.

Their passion paid off: by the end of the 1970s neuroscience was investigating causes outside of family dysfunction and interpersonal relationships. Rapid discoveries in the next decades revolutionized medicine’s understanding of these brain diseases. By the mid-1980s, textbooks dropped the term “schizophrenogenic,” and in the 1990s pharmaceutical companies introduced the first new generation of medication in decades. Finally, these families began to see hope for their children.

The parents featured in When Medicine Got it Wrong waged their battles in an era when mental hospitals were shutting down and the most severely mentally ill were turned over to community care. Yet in the community, virtually no treatment centers would take in severely ill patients because, ironically, these patients’ were too sick to participate in therapy. Many became homeless and their untreated symptoms often resulted in bizarre behavior, senseless crimes and ultimately incarceration.

When Medicine Got it Wrong addresses misconceptions about severe mental illness head-on and provides historical context for our contemporary mental health care crisis. Through the perspective of families, audiences share in the continued struggle for better understanding and care for some of California’s most vulnerable citizens.

To order a DVD of When Medicine Got it Wrong, please call Documentary Educational Resources at (800) 569-6621 or go to der.org.

Fort Campbell Tries To Stop Soldier Suicides, Part 2

While commander of Fort Campbell’s hospital, Brig. Gen. Richard Thomas saw thousands of soldiers returning from war, some with physical and some with emotional injuries. But something was preventing his medical staff from getting them early treatment: the stigma that those injuries carried in the macho world of the military.

What he learned was that many soldiers would open up about symptoms if they were given the opportunity to talk one-on-one with a counselor right after coming home, rather than just fill out a survey, he said.

Now an assistant surgeon general, Thomas says the Army is piloting a project to provide counseling time to entire battalions and brigades immediately after completing deployments. A similar approach is being applied to detecting mild traumatic brain injuries, which can lead to increased risk for mental health problems, he said.

“What we are doing is focusing on the early symptoms of traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder so we can get treatment earlier, rather than waiting for these guys to have chronic, long-term problems,” he said.

Some soldiers will never step foot inside a behavioral health clinic; they fear the stigma, and they fear also that a diagnosis could lead to a medical discharge, said Dr. Tangeneare Singh, a combat veteran herself and chief of the department of behavioral health at Fort Campbell.

So any soldier who walks into one of the several medical clinics on post, whether it’s for a twisted ankle or trouble sleeping, is screened for depression and PTSD symptoms.

Soldiers who report such symptoms to their primary doctors are assigned a case manager, like Tina Robertson, a licensed nurse.

On a recent day, Robertson described for Singh the symptoms of a soldier who came into a clinic showing minor signs of depression. Robertson explained that his stress stemmed in part from his marriage. “He had some previous marital problems prior to deployment, which has gotten worse since he returned,” Robertson said.

Singh said his symptoms sounded like an adjustment disorder and recommended that he be monitored for any changes in mood or behavior over the next couple of weeks and be enrolled in a marital therapy class.

Her message to those who seek help: “It’s OK to be upset over things that have happened in the war. It’s OK to have anger stemming from that, but you need to learn how to modulate that when you get home.”

The number of patients being treated at the behavioral health clinic has increased by 60 percent, from 25,400 in 2008 to nearly 40,000 in 2009. To handle the expanded need, they’ve also increased the number of counselors in that clinic to 60 last year, compared to 36 in 2008. In all, Fort Campbell has about 100 counselors, some of whom work in areas like social work, family advocacy, substance abuse and children’s behavioral health.

Singh and Robertson both say they’ve seen an increase in soldiers coming in with signs of stress as the 101st Airborne Division’s next deployment nears; nearly 20,000 soldiers from the division are leaving for another deployment, the fourth or fifth tour for most of these units.

During this time, alcohol and drug abuse can intensify, as well as spousal abuse or domestic incidents, she said.

“Soldiers are anxious about what’s going to happen,” she said.

Authorities at the post are more vigilant about indications that something is amiss. Last summer, Daina Cole was looking at data that showed a large amount of alcohol-related incidents, like drunken driving, in a particular unit.

Cole, as the installation’s risk reduction manager, tracks high-risk behaviors such as arrests or reports of domestic abuse among the installation’s 30,000 active-duty soldiers. She also looks at two surveys soldiers fill out after returning from a deployment, answering questions like, “Do you have upsetting memories or dreams of stressful events that happened during your deployment?”

These data create a kind of emotional snapshot of individual units that is being used to uncover and treat shared stress or behaviors among their soldiers.

For this particular unit, Cole was concerned that the already high number of alcohol-related incidents could skyrocket over an upcoming holiday weekend.

After presenting the data to the unit’s command, the soldiers were enrolled in a drinking and driving prevention program. After the weekend, the data showed no major spike in drinking incidents, she said.

“It worked because it targeted that demographic. It spoke their language and it got their attention,” she said.

Groszmann, the NCO, is getting ready to deploy with his soldiers this summer to Afghanistan. He’s planning to test the Army’s resiliency training while in combat. He plans to travel around to the tiny, remote outposts and remind his soldiers that while they may be shot at and be sleep deprived, they can make it through these temporary hardships.

The hard part is getting soldiers to believe that they can heal from any wound, whether physical or mental.

“When you make a bad decision, when you have one bad night, and you’re able to bounce back from that,” Groszmann said, “then we’ve won.”

Fort Campbell Tries To Stop Soldier Suicides Part 1

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a topic that is going to continue to be in the news as long as our country has men and women seeing live combat.  This is also a topic I would like to keep closely as it impacts so many of us directly or indirectly.

Once again we are going to look at the unpleasant reality of soldiers who commit suicide.  Almost one year ago I ran an article about the challenges faced at Fort Campbell and today and tomorrow I am doing so again.

It seems many who have difficulty accepting the reality of mental illness don’t have a real argument against PTSD.  Possibly because our bravest and best so often are the ones suffering.  Hopefully as the general population is educated about PTSD their views will soften in regards to other just as real illnesses.  If you are interested the article I ran last year is located   HERE.  Allan

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Thousands of soldiers, their bald eagle shoulder patches lined up row upon row across the grassy field, stood at rigid attention to hear a stern message from their commander.

Brig. Gen. Stephen Townsend addressed the 101st Airborne Division with military brusqueness: Suicides at the post had spiked after soldiers started returning home from war, and this was unacceptable.

“It’s bad for soldiers, it’s bad for families, bad for your units, bad for this division and our Army and our country and it’s got to stop now,” he insisted. “Suicides on Fort Campbell have to stop now.”

It sounded like a typical, military response to a complicated and tragic situation. Authorities believe that 21 soldiers from Fort Campbell killed themselves in 2009, the same year that the Army reported 160 potential suicides, the most since 1980, when it started recording those deaths.

But Townsend’s martial response is not the only one. Behind the scenes, there has been a concerted effort at Fort Campbell over the past year to change the hard-charging military mindset to show no weakness, complete the mission.

There are Army doctors like Tangeneare Singh, reaching out to soldiers struggling silently from depression, trauma-related stress and other mental illnesses. There are staffers like Daina Cole, who tracks data collected from Fort Campbell’s soldiers, looking for evidence of problems.

And there are platoon sergeants like Robert Groszmann, trained to listen carefully to the soldiers under his command to detect signs of trouble. He knows that the Army must deal with the deadly issues of some of its fighting men and women, though some disdain this “touchy-feely Army stuff.”

“You have to get people to buy into this, because it really is a paradigm shift from the old Army that tells you to suck it up, rub some dirt on it and you’ll be fine,” Groszmann said.

Spc. Adam Kuligowski’s problems began because he couldn’t sleep.

Last year, the 21-year-old soldier was working six days a week, analyzing intelligence that the military gathered while he was serving in Afghanistan. He was gifted at his job and loved being a part of the 101st Airborne Division, just like his father and his great uncle.

But Adam was tired and often late for work. His eyes were glassy and he was falling asleep while on duty. His room was messy and his uniform was dirty.

His father, Mike Kuligowski, attributes his son’s sleeplessness and depression to an anti-malarial medication called mefloquine that was found in his system. In rare cases, it can cause psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, paranoia, depression, hallucination and psychotic behavior.

But instead of getting medical help, Adam got push-ups. One time, he got angry, throwing his gun on the ground and telling his commander to send him to jail. He was given an Article 15 nonjudicial punishment for misconduct and assigned kitchen duty during his days off.

The final straw, his father said, was when his first sergeant threatened to take away his security clearance and take him off his intelligence job.

Adam wrote a note telling his dad, “Sorry to be a disappointment.” Then he shot himself inside a bathroom stall with his rifle.

When the Army closed their investigation into the soldier’s suicide, his father said an investigator told him that Adam’s problem was that he was unable to conform to a military lifestyle. Mike Kuligowski did receive a personal note from the general who was commanding the division at the time: “We don’t know why this happened,” he wrote.

Kuligowski was not appeased. “It reminds me that officers know absolutely nothing about the plights of the soldiers who are under their command,” he said. “What kind of leadership is that?”

But Robert Groszmann is convinced that the right kind of leadership is at hand.

Groszmann was one of the first NCOs to be trained in the Army’s new resiliency program at the University of Pennsylvania, part of the Army’s movement to provide more holistic training for today’s soldiers. The training emphasizes one-on-one conversations between leaders and soldiers about how to think positively, become more self-aware, build character and be prepared for stress.

The staff sergeant knows which soldiers in his unit are struggling. It’s the soldier who got arrested recently for a domestic situation and now faces criminal charges. Or the soldier whose father died during her deployment and left her with creditors looking for money.

It’s his job to step in and help them through these rough patches, because sometimes soldiers don’t have anyone but the Army to rely on, said Groszmann, a 30-year-old noncommissioned officer in the division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team.

The ingrained fear of admitting a weakness often comes from a soldier’s own peers – the tight-knit group of warriors that represent his or her military family, Groszmann said.

“That other specialist is going to eat you alive if he sees any weakness and that’s where it’s on people like me to say, ‘You guys need to lay off of him.'”