Overcoming The Silence Of Stigma Through Film

Who would think that the way to finally get your family talking about mental illness would be to sit them in front of a camera and start rolling? That’s exactly what Dinesh Das Sabu did in Unbroken Glass, his new documentary from Kartemquin Films.

Taken from NAMI  which is found   HERE.

 

After living his entire adult life without ever talking with his siblings about his mother’s suicide, Dinesh felt that 20 years of silence was far too long. It was time to start talking. He was overwhelmed with the thought of bringing up his family’s unspoken history with schizophrenia, especially considering the massive cultural stigma attached to mental health in the South Asian community.

So, Dinesh decided to film the conversations, using the camera as an excuse: “The camera gave me a lot of courage because, with the camera there, it became a project—a way for my family to talk not only amongst themselves but also to the public.”

Mental Illness in the South Asian Community

In the Asian-American community, there is a need to address mental illness. According to The U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health, Culture, Race and Ethnicity, suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, compared to the ninth cause of death for Caucasian Americans. In addition, Asian American women have the highest suicide rate among women over age 65 as well as the second highest among women 15 to 24.

Even with all this, Asian Americans use mental health services at about a third of the rate of white Americans.

In South Asian culture in particular, mental illness is viewed as a defect with one’s character and soul, making those living with mental illness feel far too much shame to ever seek help. Even if South Asians and Asian Americans move past the taboo, NAMI Multicultural Mental Health Facts show that multicultural communities don’t have access to the right resources, as cultural and language barriers stand in the way.

Breaking the Stigma with Unbroken Glass

Dinesh’s hope is that by sharing his family’s story, by showing real scenes of a South Asian family intimately discussing these often-off-limits issues, his film will allow Asian communities to acknowledge the reality of mental illness. Even though stigma (at times) appears to be unbreakable, it is essential to take the first step and start a conversation. Once the stigma is broken, more and more people can feel empowered to seek out help and tell their stories.

Unbroken Glass is one of those stories.

Watch a trailer for the film here: https://vimeo.com/183053024

And for updates on screenings and to schedule a screening near you, visit http://www.unbrokenglassfilm.com/screenings/

– See more at: https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/January-2017/Overcoming-the-Silence-of-Stigma-through-Film#sthash.JRBqh7yc.dpuf

An Ode To Schizophrenia

Taken from  NAMI  which is found   HERE.

I suppose all people who are affected by mental illness have that moment when “it” happens—the moment when their condition makes itself known. My moment happened when I was an undergraduate in college. It was in the form of voices, hallucinations and paranoid thoughts that one of my professors was trying to kill me.

I was scared and acted like it. I was in trouble, but I acted like everything was fine. My mind split, but it seemed to repair itself enough to get by. I learned one thing that proved to be true in the real world: When you struggle with an invisible disease, many won’t believe you. That realization hurt the most and still hurts to this day.

Many years after college, my father passed away on Jan. 2, 2007, due to natural causes, then my sister died the very next day in a car accident on her way to the funeral. I cannot express the pain and anguish that came over me.

The months that followed brought back all of the horrors of my collegiate break, but this one seemed much deeper. My mind split again, but this time there was no repair. I decided to get away from everyone, moving into a serene house in the woods with a pond and vocal wildlife. I loved to gaze at the moon and listen to an orchestra of fireflies and bullfrogs.

It was here that I took up art again. I was 12 years old when I first entered my own world of creation. I was a plasterer’s apprentice at the time, and I used construction materials to create works of art before I even knew they were works of art. I did a few “headstone portraits,” as I called them, using discarded sheetrock. Only my sister would ever see these works, as I would quickly and quietly throw them out. I did hide a few upstairs every now and then, but I always found that once I created a work, it stayed with me.

I cannot say when or why I decided to take art back up so many years later. One day, I bought canvas, brushes, knives and other materials and transformed the living room into a full studio. I did not fight the voices or hallucinations, as they were my partners in this new endeavor. I created things from my mind and from my pain, and with every piece, I got a little better. I eventually showed my work in various shows. I joined art clubs and art organizations. I began to socialize again. I started to feel alive again.

Then things took an unexpected turn. I was working on a book of poetry when my symptoms returned. It was the old fear returning again, and this time I was no match for it.

I attempted suicide but somehow managed to (I don’t exactly remember doing it) call a hotline number I had been given and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. I was admitted to a psych unit and was given meds and a caseworker. The therapy and the meds helped almost immediately, and after just four months I started to feel better.

In the year-and-a-half that has passed since that attempt, I have again rebuilt my life. I rejoined more art-based activities and became active in mental illness groups. I had known about NAMI for a long time but had wanted no part in it. Now, things are different. I am different.


                                     “Ode to Schizophrenia” by Steven Wilson

I had been approached by Capital Arts Board members and asked to be the featured artist for its Go Green Art Exhibit, which celebrated Mental Health Month as well as the environment. When they asked me, I sat in my chair for a few moments and thought it out. I felt myself shake my head a few times “no” before I said the word “yes.”

Over the next few days, I filled my allotted exhibit space and wrote a speech I was asked to give at the reception. The day of the reception came, and people trickled in. I walked around gathering what strength I could. After a few hours, the show director got everyone’s attention and I was in the spotlight. I took a few deep breaths and started my speech. The consensus was that the reception was a success, and the director received a lot of positive feedback about my speech in particular.

Maybe it was because I held nothing back: I spoke about my past in full bloom. I told them about the suicide attempt, the hospitalizations and the medications. I shared true stories about the works hung before them. I expressed how none of my successes would have been possible without the many people who helped me along the way. I told them who I am—who I really am.

My name is Steven. My diagnoses are schizophrenia, PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder. But I am not my diagnoses.

I am an artist. I am a human. I am.

 

Steven Wilson is an artist who works in visual and written form. His work has been seen in over 20 exhibitions. He is on the NAMI Jefferson City Board of Directors and is a member of the Missouri Writers’ Guild. Steven also orchestrated a booth for NAMI Jefferson City at Project Homeless in Jefferson City, which enables those less fortunate to gather information about NAMI and its programs. Visit him at www.stevenwilsonart.weebly.com

– See more at: http://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/December-2016/An-Ode-to-Schizophrenia#sthash.hHPYR5T2.dpuf

Understanding What Causes Stigma

Taken from NAMI  which can be found   HERE.

We often discuss how much of a problem stigma is and how much it impacts those who live with mental illness. However, it is somewhat rare for us to focus on the foundation stigma roots itself in. But this is something discussed in detail in Living and Working with Schizophrenia, a book by Dr. Marjorie Baldwin. She explains five possible components that may be leading to the persistent and institutionalized problem of stigma.

There are so many people who deal with stigma every day, in every aspect of life. People like Alan, a 30-year-old accountant who lives with bipolar disorder. And if we understand stigma’s roots, we may better understand how to improve the lives of people like Alan.

  1. Responsibility

Alan sits at a bar with his friend Jack. Alan slumps in his stool and stares at his half-empty beer bottle. Jack sighs loudly as he looks around the room.

After a long silence, Jack finally says, “Remember senior year when we never slept? We were always doing something—partying, playing basketball, occasionally going to class?”

“Yeah, I remember.” 

“Is there any chance of you being like that again? Lately it seems like the life’s been sucked out of you.”

“I don’t know.”

“Can’t you just snap out of it?”

Too often, those living with mental illness are held responsible for their conditions—as if they are intentionally selecting a life with symptoms, rather than without. When people believe that an individual has a choice in this matter—that they are in control of their mental illness, they are then blamed for their symptoms. When this happens, they receive little sympathy and more stigma.

  1. Uncertainty 

If a person’s condition is uncertain (as in it is unlikely to be improved), they are more likely to be stigmatized and avoided by friends and family. The more hopeless the situation seems, the more it is viewed as a waste of time.

I can’t do this anymore,” Alan’s wife blurts out at the dinner table.

Alan looks up from his plate and stares at her with a puzzled expression.

“I want a divorce” she continues. “I know things aren’t easy for you… But I just can’t bare another silent meal, another loveless embrace, another cycle of you going from making me breakfast at 3 a.m. because you can’t sleep to sleeping through my birthday. I hate that I can’t help you—this whole thing just feels endless.”

  1. Unpredictability

While uncertainty focuses on the long-term outcomes of someone living with a mental health condition, unpredictability focuses on short-term outcomes. Those who experience symptoms are sometimes perceived as unpredictable and erratic on a day-to-day basis. Unjust social distance may occur because of this.

Alan’s two friends from college, Jack and Dan, are sitting on the couch at Dan’s house, watching basketball.

“I’m telling you…he’s different than he used to be,” Jack tells Dan.

“Different how?”

“I just never know what’s going to happen when I meet up with him. Sometimes he’s fine, but sometimes he acts really weird…” Jack suggests. “Last time I saw him, he kept having to get up from the bar to pace around the room.”

“What? That’s really strange.”

“Yeah. I’m honestly trying not to hang out with him anymore.  It’s embarrassing when he does stuff like that.”

  1. Incompetence

Unfortunately, people view those living with mental health conditions as unable (or too incompetent) to make rational decisions. This is what leads to stigmatizing laws and practices that prohibit individuals living with mental illness from having the same rights and opportunities as other people—such as the right to hold office, the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury, etc.

Alan sits in his cubicle, plugging numbers into a spreadsheet.

His boss, Bill, walks over to him apprehensively. Bill pulls up a chair, rests his elbows onto his thighs and puts his face in his hands. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but we had to go with someone else for the account manager position.”

Alan’s face sinks as he pauses to take this in.

After a breath, he slowly responds, “I don’t understand… I’ve worked here for five years. My job is leading up to this position.”

“It seems that some of the higher-ups don’t see you as management material.”

  1. Dangerousness

Alan’s brow furrowed, as he turned to Bill and said, “I’m frustrated to hear this. I think this decision is unfounded. I have diligently worked for this for five years!”  

“I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do.” Bill says as he quickly stands up and backs away from Alan like a scared child coming across a snake. He scurries to his office and closes the door.

Dangerousness is when unpredictability manifests into fear. People often avoid those with mental illness because they are afraid of random acts of violence.

But the truth is, we all know someone like Alan. And more often than not, he’s not dangerous or unpredictable or incompetent or hopeless. He’s just Alan.

Alan—and the millions of people who go through similar struggles—needs people to be more understanding, compassionate and educated about mental illness. He needs people to recognize that his symptoms are not his fault. He needs people to believe that recovery is possible. He needs people to understand that having mental illness does not mean he is any less competent or intelligent than any other person. He needs people to know that living with a mental health condition does not automatically make him violent.

Alan needs people to see him, not his condition.

Can you?

 

 

Do You Inherit Your Parent’s Mental Illness?

Taken from the  BBC  which is found   HERE.

In the battle to find what causes mental illness, scientists are increasingly looking at genetic factors. For James Longman – whose father killed himself after suffering from schizophrenia – it’s a very personal question.

I’m often told I look like my dad, that I have his mannerisms and some of his habits. It’s something I take pride in. But it’s also something that worries me because he had schizophrenia, and when I was nine, he took his own life.

After a particularly bad two-week episode, he set fire to his flat in London, and threw himself out of a window.

Some of the details of his life and death have only become clear while looking into this story. Multiple suicide attempts; walking around London in just a bathrobe; hearing voices. They are details that contrast so strongly with the man I remember from when he was well – happy, creative and funny.

Twenty years earlier, his own father – my grandfather – had shot himself after finding out he had cancer. I also have other family with mental health issues. Now in my twenties I sometimes struggle with depression. So I naturally think – is this something that runs in my family?

For a lot of people, mental health is a difficult thing to talk about. But those who deal with these issues can often point to family members with similar problems. Do I get depressed because of the trauma of losing my father in such tragic circumstances? Or is it written into my DNA?

At King’s College London (KCL), researchers have been looking into the genetics of mental health.

Studies into twins and family histories have proved that mental health illnesses have a genetic contribution. But it’s only in the past few years scientists have been able to fully identify the genetic changes that might be causing that increase in risk.

Prof Cathryn Lewis, a researcher from the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre explains: “It’s really hard to identify the genetics for mental health disorders. We learn at school about simple Mendelian [relating to the laws of Gregor Mendel] diseases – like Huntington’s or cystic fibrosis – where there is the gene, a single gene that contributes to it.


Are you affected by this?

  • Samaritans provides emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or thoughts of suicide
  • Its number is 116 123 and is free to call and will not appear on a phone bill
  • Rethink Mental Illness has more than 200 mental health services and 150 support groups across England.
  • Its number is 0300 5000 927

“Mental health disorders are not about a single gene but about a collection of genes. We need to start thinking about this as a cumulative loading of genetics.”

The work at KCL is still in its early stages. But it has been found there are 108 genes with changes in people with schizophrenia. Now, nine genes have been found across those with depression, and 20 in people who have bipolar disorder. There are almost certainly many more still to find and scientists say many of these genes will be shared across the different conditions.

Making sense of my genetic legacy is important, because it allows me to break away from the feelings of inevitability that depression gives you. Is this meant to happen? Am I meant to get over this? Is this bigger than me?

“Evidence from the last few years also suggests that many mental disorders share common genetic risk factors – for instance, genetic variation associated with schizophrenia overlaps with both depression and bipolar disorder,” says Lewis.

My father’s schizophrenia has not been passed down to me – as I haven’t experienced any of the symptoms I would have had by now – but perhaps some of the genetic coding we share has caused me to experience depression.

Siblings can have very different outcomes. Twins Lucy and Jonny have a bipolar mother. Jonny has also suffered from the condition, while Lucy has not.

“When I have a bad episode I’m not able to drag myself out of bed,” says Jonny. “Or if I do, maybe next level, I’m able to drag myself out of bed but I can’t understand things. I literally can’t understand how things fit together. There’s cloudiness in my brain. So there are lots of physical aspects of feeling what people are calling mentally unwell.”

I asked him how he felt when he was diagnosed with his mother’s illness.

“Oh my God. So many different emotions and intellectual responses that you go through. I cried with relief.” But he continued: “I’m my mother’s child. But I feel like my own condition is unique. Because every mental health condition is unique to that person.”

If you have a depressed parent, you’re twice as likely to experience depression. With bipolar, you’re four times more at risk. And in schizophrenia – which my dad had – it’s eight times.

But these are relative risks – overall risk remains very low. And, as ever, there’s a certain amount of chance involved in picking up genetic traits. Our upbringings and what we experience as children and adults has a huge influence on whether or not we develop mental illness.

My father’s death has had a huge impact on my life and on my relationship with my mother. She too has depression – brought on perhaps by my father’s death. So it was vital that I spoke to her, to understand a little more of what she went through – and what worries she had about me.

The sense of failure she felt in not being able to stop his death was clear. So too were her concerns about me developing a psychotic illness like my dad.

She describes the day he died. She came into my school to tell me, and remembers my nine-year-old face looking up at her from her lap, my legs swinging between hers. I’d cry at night, she told me, calling out for my dad. I remember none of this.

But her fears about me inheriting a serious condition like schizophrenia are behind her.

“He would be very proud of you now,” she says. “Very, very proud you’re doing all the things he would never be able to achieve. In his heart, he would feel: ‘Oh wow, what a great young man – we made him.'”

“Living With Schizophrenia” Recovery Video For The Whole Family

Taken from Schizophrenia. Christianity. Hope  which is found  HERE.

I. Holger

In this 25-minute video, Living with Schizophrenia, produced by the LEAP Institute, you will see interviews with three people who are recovering or have recovered from schizophrenia.

“Some of the things I wish I had known earlier about schizophrenia,” says Rebecca, who lives with the illness, “is that it’s not a moral problem or a problem with your intellect.  It’s simply a chemical imbalance in the brain.”

Ashley, who also lives with the illness counters a prevalent view of people who have the diagnosis.  “Society views schizophrenia as a person having a split personality or a person who is extremely violent or dangerous,” she says.  “Those stereotypes really bother me. . . I don’t have a split personality.”

In the video, parents and siblings of those who live with symptoms also speak about their experience and what they have learned.  Dr. Xavier Amador, a psychologist and founder of the LEAP Institute, began to argue with his ill brother, telling him to “just cut it out,” or “you’re being immature.” Amador learned the wrong way, what the best way was to help his brother.  ‘Stop arguing’ topped the list.

“Shut up and listen,” says Amador, in a gentle tone.  Listening transformed his relationship with his brother.

Dr. Amador wrote I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help, in which he describes the LEAP method of communication and how to help someone accept treatment. He helps narrate this video, filled with hope. “We don’t have a cure for schizophrenia, but I tell you,” he says, “we have so many tools to make the lives of these people so much better.”

 

Schizophrenia and Technology: Opportunities for Recovery

Taken from  NAMI  which is found    HERE.

Technology is rapidly changing the world. People use the Internet at home and on their phones to do everything from gather information to perform everyday tasks. What isn’t well understood is how much people with serious mental illnesses use technology to cope with their symptoms and support their recovery. In a mental health care system with persistent funding cuts and a workforce shortage, technology may be an underappreciated tool. For example, I have had patients living with schizophrenia mark their next appointment in their phones, but my clinic didn’t connect to their phones to provide reminders or notification of changes. How many other missed opportunities are there in this new world?

When NAMI received a grant from the Drake Family Trust to study schizophrenia, we chose to investigate the current state of technology use among people with schizophrenia. In 2014, NAMI conducted the Health and Technology Study, the largest study to date to examine ownership and use of technology among individuals living with schizophrenia.

Methods

NAMI partnered with Harris Poll to prepare an online survey, which an institutional review board approved. The survey questions focused on access to technology, coping strategies and patterns of use. The survey was conducted online from Aug. 25 to Sept. 8, 2014, and included 457 respondents who self-identified as having schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. While the study gives insight about Internet users who self-identify as having schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, the study has some limitations. We don’t know how representative this sample is of the larger population, which is an area for further inquiry.

Key Findings

The results showed that people living with schizophrenia who responded to the survey use digital technology generally as much as the rest of the population. Respondents used digital technology to help them gather information, improve their capacity to manage symptoms and connect with others.

Access to Digital Devices: Most respondents (90%) owned more than one digital device such as a personal computer, tablet or smartphone. More than half (54%) had access to smartphones (compared to 64% of all Americans).

Managing Mental Illness: Many respondents used their devices to manage their mental illness in daily life in the following ways:

  • To block auditory hallucinations with music or audio (42%)
  • To find health information online (38%)
  • To schedule reminders for appointments (37%) and for taking medication (28%)
  • To look up transportation and maps (32%)
  • To monitor symptoms (25%)
  • To identify coping strategies (24%)

Personal Connections: Respondents used digital devices to connect with others, including supporting other people (26%) and developing relationships with other persons with schizophrenia (26%).

More Information

The survey findings were published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in the articleDigital Technology Use Among Individuals with Schizophrenia: Results from a NAMI Survey” (registration is required to view). The authors were Katrina Gay, National Director of Communications at NAMI, Anand Pandya, M.D., former NAMI Board President, and Ken Duckworth, M.D., Medical Director at NAMI. The authors received help from Dr. John Torus, a leader in technology assessment for the American Psychiatric Association, and Adam Joseph, a Fulbright Scholar who has studied Twitter use and misuse of the word “schizophrenia.”

Visit NAMI’s website for more information about the study, including a detailed presentation of findings. In addition, presenters from NAMI will discuss the survey at the NAMI National Convention in Denver, July 6–9. We welcome you to come talk with us about the findings, how you think technology tools can be a resource and how NAMI can use technology to promote recovery.

Acknowledgments: Former NAMI Board President Keris Myrick played an important role in helping to conceptualize the project, helping to design the survey and offering her lived experience of an individual who uses technology in her recovery.

Ken Duckworth is NAMI’s medical director.

– See more at: https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/April-2016/Schizophrenia-and-Technology-Opportunities-for-Re?utm_source=naminow&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=naminow#sthash.NSh4mhRe.dpuf

Linda Andrisan Recovery Story

This article was originally written in 2008. What I find interesting is it could have been written yesterday. While I believe great strides have been made in the area of mental illness the fact is there is much work to be done to encourage and educate those who are suffering. And our God is still God, even when our road seems so lonely. God bless you!  Allan
Taken from  Mental Wellness Today which is found   HERE.
This year marks 20 years since I was diagnosed with a mental illness, it started as depression and turned into manic depression. Some people experience it for a little while and then it either, goes into remission or goes away completely. Unfortunately for me, it’s here to stay, but I’ve learned how to deal with it for the long term, and what I’ve realized over the years is that I’m not alone and there is help.
According to a survey released in November of 2007 by Mental Health America (MHA) in Washington, DC, about 82 percent of Americans are affected by depression at some point in their lives. The MHA survey showed that some people suffer alone without seeking help because they are too ashamed to tell their family and friends .What lonely and painful life that would be. I know that untreated depression only worsens and inevitably affects a person’s entire life-leading to job losses, a dwindling social life possibly divorce, and even homelessness.
I’ve come through all kinds of losses and straggles Twenty years ago a painful divorce shattered my world and sent me into the throes of a deep depression. I had lost my reason for being and I remember just laying there – limp and motionless-on the couch in my one bedroom apartment with no place to go, and no hope for the future. I kept the shades closed and the TV and radio off. It was completely silent with no stimulation, and I felt as though I was dead to the world I was on my own then and rent was my responsibility. Not wanting to get evicted I dragged myself to the computer and typed up a resume and cover letters to mail out.
Finding a job had never been hard for me though I always seemed to be looking for one.Within two weeks, I had pulled together four part-time teaching jobs in the DC area and forced myself to appear in the classrooms for each class meeting. I was seeing a therapist at the time who I had found randomly in the Yellow Pages. He said I needed medication and he sent me to a psychiatrist who prescribed 50 mg of Prozac every day. Not knowing any better, I took it. It caused severe drowsiness and I barely made the one hour commute to work every day I was up at 5 am and didn’t get home until 10 pm.
Looking back over that difficult time, with only old psychotropic medications at the doctors ‘ fingertips, I now feel that there must have been a Higher Power watching over me , along with my own hidden blind ambition that the depression so severely threatened Despite it all, I got my hard-earned paycheck and some work experience that helped secure a full-time college teaching job in a small, obscure Confederate town about 50 miles outside of the Atlanta area.
This past Christmas, I went back to Barnesville, Georgia, where I saw a much more mature college than the one I attended. Tears filled my eyes as I thought about what the past 20 years have entailed.
This Article was from Anchor Magazine found in the Spring 2008 issue. If you are serious about Recovery and are looking for help, I highly urge you to subscribe to Anchor or SZ Magazine, go to www.mentalwellnesstoday.com  or click the images below.