"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us." ~ Marianne Williamson

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thank You Blog Readers.

This is just a sincere note of thanks to all you dedicated readers who have been part of the See, Believe, & Achieve blog.  I still can't believe that in just a short time we have reached over 1,000 readers. It is even more exciting to know that this blog is being read in various parts of the world. What a beautiful and motivating way to end 2011. When I first started this blog, I didn't really know what to expect and honestly thought that this was a blog only my mom would read. Yet, I kept posting and you all kept reading. Your support has truly inspired me. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you again. As with my first post remember, "The journey of a thousand miles, begins with one single step." 

The idea for this project started so many years ago and lived dormant in my heart and mind, waiting for the right moment to arrive. For me, this is not just a blog, but an opportunity to share my love and passion for mental health, well being, and life. There also comes a sense of responsibility in knowing the power of the written word. It is amazing how just one simple word can affect the way we think and feel, such as with the words faith, hope, believe, and love. If one word could inspire, imagine what many words placed in just the right phrase and content could do? And with that, this blog came to life. 

See, Believe, & Achieve is dedicated to helping others learn about mental health, which will hopefully lead to helping rid the stigma about an illness that for too long has been ignored. I realized a long time ago that this was my path and have embraced it wholeheartedly. Life is an interesting ride. It can lift you up and the next minute whip you out of sorts like rag doll in the wind. It's unknowing. It's beautiful. At times it can be magical and then there are those days that leave us wondering, "why me?" While we may never know all the answers, the one thing certain is that we are all in this together. Our lives are not our own, no matter how much we want to think so. Everything we do affects the world around us, like the ripples in a pond expanding from just one pebble being thrown into the water.

We are powerful beyond measure. It is in that moment we truly realize this, that our lives begin to take shape. As you look to the year ahead, I wish you and those near and dear to you much happiness, love, and success. Thank you once again for taking time out of your busy day to visit my blog. I hope that you have enjoyed these posts, as much as I have enjoyed writing them. I send you all a warm hug and look forward to what 2012 has to offer.

PS- Stay tuned for a recap of 2011 and what's to come for 2012! :) 

With love, 
Ane :) 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New chat link on Facebook to Help Save Lives!


What a great day for mental health! Today, the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Facebook joined efforts to help prevent suicide through an innovative new chat link.

Individuals on Facebook can now chat live with a professional crisis worker through the National Crisis Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (toll free 24/7 hotline). Individuals who see content related to threats of suicide or are worried about a friend or loved one can get help through Facebook's "Report Suicide Content" link https://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=suicidal_content: Facebook will automatically send a message to the person who posted the content and encourage them to contact the National Crisis Hotline and provide them with a link to begin chatting with a professional crisis worker. It's that simple!

A big high-five to all the folks at SAMHSA and Facebook for their creative thinking, which will go a long way in saving lives and helping folks get the help they need.

Have a great day!
Ane :)

SAMHSA Blog » Blog Archive » New Partnership Between Facebook, SAMHSA and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

December 13, 2011
Cross-posted from Facebook Safety
Dr. Regina Benjamin is the 18th Surgeon General of the United States. As America’s Doctor, she provides the public with the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and the health of the nation.
For anyone who has lost a loved one due to suicide, it is one of the most painful issues they will ever face; sometimes leaving an overwhelming sense of doubt, guilt, and silence enfolding the circle of friends and family like no other experience can. In the wake of this tragedy, we are painfully forced to question- What could I have done? Could I have made a difference? Why didn’t I know?
We don’t have a life to lose in this world. We must confront suicide and suicidal thoughts openly and honestly, and use every opportunity to make a difference by breaking the silence and suffering. Ten years ago the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention was launched. Its objectives galvanized the country around a common goal.  As a result, we have advanced the science and support for suicide prevention programs nationwide. New suicide prevention work has emerged across the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services and others. One notable achievement is the establishment of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a number that can be dialed anywhere in the United States to connect the caller with confidential and expert help.
To accelerate the action needed to prevent suicide, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius launched the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention with the charge to advance and update the National Strategy. The Action Alliance brings together public, private and nonprofit partners to engage every sector of society with a vision of ending the tragic experience of suicide in America.
Facebook is an important part of that partnership, and I’m excited about the new initiative to augment its response to potentially suicidal members by offering the opportunity for a private chat with a trained crisis representative from the Suicide Prevention Lifeline in addition to providing the Lifeline’s phone number. This service will be available to people who use Facebook in the United States and Canada. The new service enables Facebook users to report a suicidal comment they see posted by a friend to Facebook using either the Report Suicidal Content link or the report links found throughout the site.  The person who posted the suicidal comment will then immediately receive an e-mail from Facebook encouraging them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or to click on a link to begin a confidential chat session with a crisis worker.
Preventing suicide is everyone’s business. Nearly 100 Americans die by suicide every day, and in the past year, more than eight million Americans 18 or older had thought seriously about suicide. As members of a family, a school, business, neighborhood, faith communities, friends, and our government, we all need to work together to solve this problem.  We simply can no longer allow those we live, work and play with to ever believe that suicide is an acceptable solution even in the worst of times.  I ask everyone to help by learning about the symptoms of mental illnesses and substance abuse, the warning signs of suicide, how to stand with and support someone who is in crisis, and how to get someone you care about the help they need.  Most of all, we need to be open to talking about these issues in our communities.  Once we begin to support those in need, and whenever possible treat their mental and substance use disorders with the same urgency as any other health condition, we will reduce the rates of suicide, advance health and improve the use of limited health care dollars.
Learn more about the partnership between Facebook, SAMHSA and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: http://1.usa.gov/t00eiH

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Ties That Bind...

The Ties That Bind....

Holiday Blues: 
With the holidays quickly approaching it is a time for us to be reunited with family and loved ones. However, for some this time of year can be emotionally overwhelming for various reasons. It is hard to dismiss the sights and sounds of holiday cheer, so if the holidays leaving you feeling a little bit more bahumbug than like jolly ol' St. Nick, the reason may be attributed to "seasonal blues" or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which can set-in and cause one to struggle with feelings of depression during winter months.
Some warning signs are:   

  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of increased isolation
  • change in eating habits
  • weight change
  • Feelings of sadness 
This is caused by hormonal changes within the brain that affect our mood from one extreme to another, especially during the colder months. As we've learned from previous blogs the chemical known as Serotonin plays an intricate part in mood development. During winter months decreased levels of Serotonin production can cause feelings of depression. In addition, the limited amount of access to sunlight also plays a contributing factor. If you or someone you know is suffering from SAD or has symptoms of depression, it is important to contact your doctor or mental health professional. Most of all, remember that you are not alone and seeking professional help is key to start feeling better.

Separation from family and friends:

In other areas, the topic of forgiveness comes up during the holidays. Perhaps separation from family and friends due to a past argument can only add to feelings of sadness. It is definitely a situation that becomes more difficult as time passes, however, forgiving and letting go of past emotional wounds can be a first step to reconnecting with long lost loved ones and feeling happier. I know that this is easier said (or written) than done, but what better time to begin mending the ties that bind you and finding your way back home? Forgiveness and accepting forgiveness are not easy, but holding on to pain and/or a grudge will never allow you to find true happiness. No one is perfect and each of us have been on the giving and receiving end of actions and/or words that have caused emotional wounds at one time or another. This is not to say that  apologizing or  accepting an apology will erase what has been done, but it is an opportunity to free oneself from negative emotions. Forgiveness can come in many forms; whether it be through a written note, phone call, or even just the personal decision to let go of all that ails you mentally and emotionally. It is important to remember that we have limited control over others, so if you find your self reaching out and are greeted with an unwelcome response, know that everyone is different. Time heals all wounds and your courage to move forward is healthy for your own good.

Feelings of grief during the holidays: 
Coping with the loss of someone close to you can be particularly difficult during the holidays. Familiar sights, sounds, and smells can set off a variety of emotions that can overtake us at just about any time. So, remember to be patient with yourself and remember it is okay and normal to feel out of sorts. Mourning is never easy, so remember to allow yourself time to take it one day at a time. Use this time to surround yourself with a strong support system and do not isolate yourself from those who want to be there for you. Whether it is through family, friends, or a local support group find a positive way to ensure you do not go through this time of year alone. This time of year allows many opportunities to get involved with community events that will allow you to give back, whether it's volunteering at a local soup kitchen, volunteering for a community toy drive, or connecting with someone in your neighborhood or community who could use some good company.  Most importantly do not stop living and know that it will get better. Losing someone we love is never easy, but do not lose hope and keep their memory alive by sharing love with others.

Holiday Stress:
I never truly understood holiday stress, until I found myself in a store isle debating for about an hour over decorations for my tree. The debate over tiny fluffy birds or happy little snowmen left me on the verge of nixing the entire "operation Christmas tree." This is when I had to remind myself that regardless of what ornaments graced my tree, it was NOT a life or death situation, nor was it worth the stress. Which is another reason I decided on the bird theme (see picture to the right) to remind myself to not be caged in by the stresses of the holidays and to go with the flow. With that I made a simple promise to not lose focus on the most important reasons to celebrate the season.

Each year regardless of how hard I try to stick to a budget, I always seem to go astray and later on cringe and curse myself when I see my bank account balance. This also results in me scolding myself and vowing to budget better and have more self control. This year I tried something different that allowed me to stay within my budget and keep away from all those pesky "deals" that tend to make me lose focus. I shopped online! It was FANTASTIC! Not only did I find what I needed, I also was able to compare prices to other sites and  not sway from my price range. With the economy taking a hard hit on Americans across the country, finances are tight. Some families barely have enough to put food on the table, much less to ensure Jr. gets that video game under the tree. Whatever situation you find yourself in, know that no gift is worth stressing over or going into debt for. When I was little (wow the fact I even wrote that signifies I'm getting up in age haha) I'd distinctly write the letters B-I-K-E on the top of my list and yet year after year I'd get another B-A-R-B-I-E to add to my collection. Sure, a bike would have probably sent me over the moon, but you know just having something to unwrap and seeing my new doll quickly made me forget about that two wheel request. My point here is that I still survived and Christmas was NEVER ruined for me or my siblings because we didn't get the latest and greatest. What I remember most are the family traditions of board games, my parents letting us stay up late, and watching A Christmas Story (love that movie!). Remember, you can't do it all! It is okay if cranberries come from the can or the pie isn't made from scratch. What matters most this time of year is to be with those you love and celebrate being together.

Here are some other holiday ideas that may help. 

  • Bake holiday cookies and place in festive tins or wrapping
  • Create a frame and personalize it. I personally LOVE homemade gifts. They're sure to always be unique! One year, my uncle gave me a framed picture of my late grandfather when he was a teenager. It is one of the greatest gifts ever received and means so much! 
  • Write a song or poem for the one you love. Print it out on colorful paper and frame it. 
  • Send a holiday card. Getting something in the mail that isn't a bill always makes my day! Every year I send holiday cards with a photo of the U.S. Capitol here in Washington, DC. They're always a hit because they're so unique and it allows for folks back home to have a piece of DC with them. 
  • Set 15-minutes to call a loved one and say hello. Catching up with a loved one can make all the difference! It'll also make you feel great as well. This idea comes from my dad, who every year breaks out his contact book and places a call to say Merry Christmas! This is a tradition that all my aunts and uncles look forward to. 
  • Dedicate a song on your local radio station to those you love! Coming from a small town, this always seemed easier to do, but always so much fun. 
  • A personal coupon book. The person can use this all year long and redeem their coupon for a hug, movie night in, or break from making dinner. 
  • Clean your room, garage, or closet. My mom recently re-organized all my cluttered draws/closet during her visit and I can't tell you how appreciative I am! Not only can I find things easier, but it just reminds me of how much she loves me, enough to brave my closet and shoe piles!!!! It really is the little things.
  • Savings account for someone young. With just $5 some banks will allow you to open a savings account. This is a great gift and way to start teaching about finances. 
  • Make jewelry. You'd be amazed what you can do with beads and string. Another idea is to go through your personal jewelry and find unique pieces that no longer have a partner ie. earrings or single chains. Use these individual pieces to come up with something unique, like a new necklace or broach! One of my favorite belts buckles I have is made from an old gem broach that someone hot glued to a buckle. 
Wishing you all a happy holiday season! Merry Christmas and stay warm!

Big hugs,
Ane :)