Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sooooo Happy About OBAMACARE!!

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Statement;

Supreme Court Decision on Health Care Law

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2012 -- The National Alliance on Mental Illness has released the following statement by NAMI Executive Director Michael J. Fitzpatrick:

"The Supreme Court's decision means that the American people can continue to move forward to build a health care system that covers everyone.

No system is perfect, but it has been clear for some time that many Americans support specific provisions of the law—such as that requiring insurance coverage of pre-existing medical conditions. The decision protects that provision,  along with others that are important to people living with mental illness.

"The law is a foundation. Let's keep building on it."

At NAMI's national convention in Seattle this week, a symposia on the law is scheduled for Friday, Speakers include Tim Englehart of the CMS Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office in Washington, D.C. and Leah Hole-Curry of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute in Olympia, Wash.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Keep on fighting, don't ever give up...

Persevere: to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Before I go to bed, I want to share this:

Knowing that I am able to make a difference in someone's life and knowing that I am able to help someone to see that they are not alone in this battle is the most amazing feeling to me! I find such a sense of accomplishment and truly a warming in my heart by being able to do that for others.  I hope to be able to continue to do that for the rest of my life and hope to one day have my own non-profit dedicated to that.  Interesting thing is, when I was in Sheppard Pratt 7 or so years ago, I spent much of my time trying to help the other patients.  I guess that is just who I am and what I was meant to do, I am really starting to realize that by the feeling it gives me to know that I've made a difference in someone's life.  I am now realizing that I thrive on being able to draw on my past experiences, my strengths, my weaknesses, my story of "life with bipolar" in its entirety and then being able to use them to help other individuals suffering from Bipolar Disorder and/or their loved ones.  Trying to help individuals while working in the field of mental health in its traditional sense never really worked for me and I believe I am starting to see why.

I share this because today I received a private message on the "Kissing Stigma Goodbye" Facebook page.  This individual that messaged me expressed to me a concern of hers and I was able to discuss with her my own personal experiences and was able to share more of my story than I have previously through private message with her. She was so appreciative that I took the time to respond to her message and that I was willing to go into detail with her in regards to my story. I feel so incredibly accomplished today that I was able to help someone else!  

That my friends, is what "Kissing Stigma Goodbye" is all about!

Thanks for reading! Until next time....

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Facebook and Twitter Time

I feel the need to mention my Facebook and Twitter pages every so often, knowing that I have new readers that may not know about them. I've also been sick and in bed the last few days so I am bored out of my mind but not feeling well enough to actually write a post.  So, here is my PR announcement for the day.

Like Kissing Stigma Goodbye on Facebook- there you will find links to my new blog postings, links to mental health articles and stories, inspirational quotes and so much more! So, what are you waiting for? ;)

Follow Kissing Stigma Goodbye on Twitter- I'm not nearly as active of a "Tweeter" as I am a "Facebooker"- creature of habit I guess- I've been a FB'er for so many years.  Twitter is a new concept to me- I am putting a concerted effort into trying to be an active tweeter.  So while my PR announcement is not nearly as convincing for Twitter just follow Kissing Stigma Goodbye on Twitter anyway and I'll keep making that effort to be a more active tweeter!

Thanks for reading as always! Until next time...

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

Interesting Article...

This is an interesting blog posting.  It is not something I myself can relate to because my Bipolar never takes me to an enjoyable place.  However, I do know that it is something that many individuals with Bipolar Disorder can relate to. Found it interesting and thought I'd share in case anyone else was interested as well.

The Enchantment of a Bipolar Life By: Daniel Bader

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Your challenges in life are just preparing you to be the best and strongest you possible! Do not be defined by your struggles but rather by your triumphs!" -Shari Alyse-

Monday, June 18, 2012

How to improve your self-esteem...

So by now I’ve discussed what low self-esteem is and how mental illness and self-esteem issues feed off of each other.  But, what can we do to improve our self-esteem? Mental illness is not a life sentence to low self-esteem! We as individuals- both individuals with and without mental illness- can take measures to improve our self-esteem.  You owe it to yourself to take those steps! If you struggle with low self-esteem, do yourself a favor and begin that journey down the road towards improved self-esteem, you will thank yourself for it! Just so you know, this comes from personal experience.  I still have room for improvement but my self-esteem is markedly better than it had been and it feels truly AMAZING!

Self-esteem is how you view yourself.  To change your self-esteem from low to high you must change how you view yourself from negative to positive. Sounds simple put like that, huh?  Well, it takes a lot of hard work and self-awareness but it is possible (trust me!).

Take notice of when you are thinking negative thoughts about yourself.  Work really hard to change these negative thoughts into positive ones.  When you catch yourself thinking negatively about yourself, change the flow and direction of your thoughts into something positive.  There are different patterns of negative thinking, start to recognize which patterns you have fallen into.  

These are the 6 patterns of negative thinking:

  •  All-or-nothing thinking- Seeing things as either all good or all bad.  For example…”If I do not succeed at this task then I must be a total failure”. 
  •   Mental filtering- You distort your view of a person or a situation to only see the negatives. For example, believing that a mistake you made at work or at school will make everyone think that you’re not up for the job or smart enough for school. 
  •  Converting positives into negatives- Not accepting your achievements, not giving yourself enough credit for your achievements.  For example, “I only did well on that assignment because it was easy”. (I was the queen of this one- never gave myself credit for anything I had accomplished in life- this is one that I could still use a little work on) 
  • Jumping to negative conclusions- You jump to negative conclusions for no reason at all.  Like believing someone is mad at you because they did not respond to your text message within an hour or so. (this was another one of my biggies) 
  •  Mistaking feelings for facts- Confusing how you feel or your beliefs on something with what the facts are.  For example, “I feel like a failure so I must be a failure” or “I believe that I am ugly so I must be ugly”. 
  •  Self-put-downs- Undervaluing yourself, putting yourself down, using self-critical humor, etc. Example: “I don’t deserve anything better than this” or “I am stupid and will never amount to anything”, etc.
It may be a good idea for a week or two to record your negative thoughts as you notice them so that you can determine which patterns of negative thinking your thoughts fall into. If you already have it figured out then good for you… don't stop there!

So you’ve identified your negative thinking patterns and have made the vow to begin recognizing negative thinking. Now, how do you actually change that thinking? Start making an effort to incorporate the following into your daily life:

  • Make a concerted effort to be a “glass half full” individual as opposed to a “glass half empty” individual.  Be positive and be hopeful! 
  •  Forgive yourself for the mistakes you make.  Everyone makes mistakes; it doesn’t make you a failure or a bad person. Use mistakes as a learning opportunity.
  • Avoid thinking/using words that may lead to unreasonable demands or expectations being placed on yourself, like words such as “should” or “must”.
  • Think about the good things in your life, things that have gone well, accomplishments you’ve made, etc. Focus on the positive! If you need help identifying positive aspects of your life go to your friends, family, coworkers, classmates, etc. for some help- they are not nearly as hard on you as you are on yourself.
  • Use negative thoughts as cues to develop new, healthy patterns. Don’t react negatively to negative thoughts; instead change them to positive thoughts. 
  •  Encourage yourself. Give yourself credit.  Acknowledge when you meet goals. So on and so forth! 
  •  Take the time to sit down and write a list of positive things about yourself.  If you’re having trouble thinking of them ask other people in your life to help you.  Use that list to change your thoughts to positive when you are thinking negatively until you are able to change the direction of your thoughts without using the list.  If you need to carry it with you, then do it! Whatever works best for you! Eventually you want to be thinking positively about yourself so that you no longer need to make the effort to change your negative thoughts into positive thoughts!
Some more things to remember that will help you increase your self-esteem:

You are NOT perfect! I am NOT perfect! NOBODY is perfect! Do NOT aim for perfection! Aiming for perfection is only going to result in perceived failure which will bring your self-esteem down. Humans are not made to be perfect. Instead aim to make accomplishments and meet goals. If you are always aiming for perfection you will be holding yourself back and bringing your self-esteem down further.

You can’t change everything; you don’t have control over everything. Know what you can change and what you can’t change. You can work towards changing your weight; you can’t work towards changing your height.  Don’t get stuck on the things you can’t change.  If you are unhappy with something you can change, then what are you waiting for? Change it! If you are unhappy with something you can’t change then begin the process of learning to accept and love yourself, every part of you.  Don’t beat yourself up for something you can’t change! It is part of who you are- learn to love it!

Set goals! Make a plan! Stick to it! Accomplishing goals works wonders for the self-esteem.
Be proud of yourself! Be proud of your opinions! Be proud of your ideas! Force yourself to step outside your comfort zone and express your opinions and ideas. Never feel scared to let your voice be heard!

Do something to make a difference- volunteer, participate in a walkathon for a cause you believe in, any idea you can think of to give back.  For me, my blog fills that void for me!

EXERCISE! EXERCISE! EXERCISE! (I personally suggest early morning workouts- they are the best and keep you going all day, at least in my opinion they are the best, they are my new found love in life. I know not everyone has the desire to get up at 5 a.m. to workout but make sure you work out at some point at least a few days a week)

The major thing is really to become aware of your thoughts and feelings and take the steps needed to change them! Turn those negatives into positives- in due time you won’t have to put any effort into the positive thoughts because you will be viewing yourself in a positive light. 

They already believe in you, let them help you believe in yourself!

I always welcome e-mails; I have recently been through a good  bit in regards to my own personal self-esteem and relationship issues, please feel free to e-mail me if you have any personal or general questions for me.  I will answer anything asked to the best of my ability and completely honestly.  Of course, I am not an expert but I am speaking from personal experience and am always willing to share more details with my readers. I will always respond to any reader’s e-mails.

Next blog positing… “Psychosis”… Fun stuff, stay tuned!

If you haven’t signed up for e-mail updates of “Kissing Stigma Goodbye”, what are you waiting for? You will find a place to do so in the sidebar. Make sure you confirm it when the confirmation e-mail is sent to you or you will not receive updates.

“Believe in your dreams and they may come true; believe in yourself and they will come true” –Unknown

Thanks for reading! Until Next time…

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

Friday, June 15, 2012

I'm going to give a little information about my current life, that's not something I typically practice with this blog. I am set to graduate in 2 months with my MBA! It is so crazy to me that I have accomplished such an amazing milestone in my life and I look forward to all my career has to offer me! With that being said, I am extremely industry specific in regards to the work I want to do. I want a career not a job so I need to love what I'm doing. I want an administrative position in a non-profit, mental health organization. I love the work I'm doing now for my internship, it is exactly the type of work I'd like to continue to do. I had a meeting with the executive director where I am completing my internship this morning. I wanted to discuss with him the possibility of any positions that may be opening there. I did not go into the meeting really expecting anything to be open, it is not that large of an organization so there aren't positions open that often. I was indeed right that they had nothing to offer me. The executive director told me he wishes that he did have something to offer me because he knows I'd do a great job and that if anything were to come available he would let me know. Not entirely surprising to me,basically what I expected to hear. What I did not expect to hear was what he then discussed with me for about 20 minutes. He is a man that knows many many important people in the world of mental health. He has contacts at NAMI, Mental Helth America, Shepard Pratt, so on an so forth. He listed tons of mental health organizations he knows people at. He told me to get my resume to him and he would send it out to all of the organizations that he knows individuals at along with his reccomendtion for me. He told me he'd be happy to help me find a job and he wants to talk with me in much more detail after he returns from his vacation next week. I never expected anything like that. I am so grateful to him that he is offering me that kind of help. My resume will stand out from the rest when it is going straight to an executive and coming from a well known executive director. This was an amazing and gracious offer he made me and I left his office feeling very hopeful that I will find just the right job to begin my career and hopefully one day I will be starting my own non-profit and if not then I sure better be running one down the line! I can't even express how grateful I am to him for this and how lucky I feel to have someone take such an interest in helping me get to where I want to be with my career! I really feel so lucky today and everyday! Life is truly amazing for me, finally! They say good things come to those that wait, well I guess I waited long enough because life is good now!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Driving While Bipolar Article

This is a pretty interesting article, I thought I'd share in case anyone is interested in reading it. It is called "Driving while Bipolar" and discusses learning ways to "drive" and not "crash" when symptoms reappear.  It takes a very different approach than usually seen and I really liked the approach taken! I am going to try to learn a thing or two from it in regards to my illness!

Thanks for reading! Until next time...

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

Mental Health and Self-Esteem

There is a vicious cycle between low self-esteem and mental health concerns.  Having low self-esteem makes individuals vulnerable to developing mental health concerns. In particular it makes individuals more likely to develop depressive disorders, eating disorders and substance abuse problems. Having any psychiatric disorder lowers an individual’s self-esteem even more. When more than one psychiatric disorder is present (say depression and anxiety or bipolar disorder and anxiety for example), the effects on the self-esteem are even worse. So, self-esteem negatively affects mental health and mental health negatively affects self-esteem, it is a double edged sword! Those of us with mental health concerns are already so many steps back from other individuals when it comes to having a healthy self-esteem.

Stigma adds to the picture! Stigma has a strong negative influence on the self-esteem of individuals with mental health concerns. If society is constantly looking down on you for having a mental illness then it makes it pretty hard to change your outlook on yourself and therefore improve your self-esteem. Stigma really has a huge effect on people- I know it did on me!  That is why I find it so important to take every chance I get now to educate people about mental illness and about stigma.  

I was never able to openly discuss my mental illness in the past for 2 reasons…
1) My self-esteem was very low!
2) Stigma made me scared to tell anyone that I suffered from Bipolar Disorder so instead I hid it like a deep dark secret when really there is nothing to hide about it!
My self-esteem has drastically improved with a lot of hard work and I don’t care about what others think about me for having a mental illness! If someone doesn’t accept my mental illness then they don’t deserve a place in my life! No exceptions! I will continue to fight stigma for as long as I am alive because nobody deserves to live in fear and shame due to their mental illness. Just as importantly, nobody deserves to have their self-esteem lowered because of the stigma associated with mental illness and the way some individuals in society treat people with a mental illness.

It is so important to realize that what truly matters is how you view yourself! If you don’t believe in yourself- who else is left to believe in you? My next blog post will be about how to improve your self-esteem so stay tuned for that! I think most of us have room to improve there, I know I do! I have made a lot of improvements in the recent months but I’m not perfect!

Thanks for reading! Until next time…

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

You're not alone!

It is so easy to feel alone when you struggle with a mental illness.  I know because I've been there.  Society doesn't accept mental illness so many of us just hide it away in a closet for no one to see.  It is so tiring and discouraging to do so.  Finding comfort in knowing that you are not alone in this struggle is so very important! 
For any of my readers, I am always available by e-mail (  I am not an expert at all but I am someone who has been there and understands. I am someone who struggles with a mental illness every day of my life so I understand what it is like to feel alone in the battle, to feel like no one understands me or what I'm going through.

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

Monday, June 4, 2012

What is Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem… something I can speak about with experience.  I struggled with my self-esteem for much of my life.  It was not until very recently that I finally realized my self-worth and was able to begin changing my view of myself from negative to positive.  That shift in self-esteem is what gave me the strength and the courage to be able to publicly tell my story and to stop hiding my mental illness like a monster in the closet.

What is self-esteem?

Simply put, self-esteem is how an individual feels about themselves, their overall opinion of themselves.  Self-esteem is how an individual honestly feels about their abilities and their limitations.  Self-esteem is shaped by our thoughts, experiences and relationships and begins to develop in early childhood. Self-esteem can change over a person’s lifetime.  Certain life events can have a temporary negative impact on an individual’s self-esteem such as losing a job, relationship issues/breakups, money concerns, poor grades, etc.

An individual with healthy self-esteem feels good about themselves and views themselves as deserving respect from others.  An individual with low self-esteem puts very little value on their opinions and ideas and constantly worries that they aren’t good enough.

Some factors that influence self-esteem include:

  •  An individual’s own thoughts/perceptions
  •  An individual’s relationships and interactions with others especially immediate family
  •  How other people react to an individual
  • Experiences at school, work and in the community
  • An illness, disability or injury
  •  Culture
  • Religion
  • Socioeconomic status
Relationships with the individuals closest to you in life (parents, siblings, peer, teachers) are the relationships that play the biggest role on your self-esteem.  If an individual has had strong close relationships throughout their life and in general have received positive feedback they are more likely to have a healthier self-esteem. Individuals who received mostly negative feedback, criticism and a devaluing by individuals in their life are more likely to struggle with poor self-esteem.

Putting relationships aside, let us look at our own thoughts! Our thoughts are within our control and play the largest impact on our self-esteem.  Individuals that always focus on the negative- flaws, weaknesses, etc., have the ability to change this. It is possible to learn to reframe how you’re thinking and focus on positive qualities instead of negative thoughts. (I will further address this in a blog positing within the next week)

Self-esteem affects every facet of our lives, including, but not limited to:
  • Job and career choices
  •  Relationships with friends and family
  •  Relationships with children
  • The way in which we give and receive love
  • The success we have in reaching our goals
  • Job performance
  •  School performance
Benefits of healthy self-esteem
  • Ability to be assertive in expressing your needs and concerns
  • Confidence in your ability to make decisions
  • Ability to form secure and honest relationships and to be less likely to stay in unhealthy relationships
  • Ability to be realistic in your expectations of yourself
  • Less likely to be overcritical of both yourself and of others
  •  Possess more resiliency and higher ability to handle stress
  •  Lower likelihood to experience feelings of guilt, shame, worthlessness, hopelessness, etc.
  • ·Lower likelihood in developing certain mental health conditions (eating disorders, addictions, anxiety, depression)
General characteristics that you may find of individuals with healthy self-esteem
  • Eager to express themselves
  • Not defeated by mistakes or failures
  • Comfortable in a leadership role
  • Able to handle and learn from criticism
  • Willing and ready to take risks
  • Positive about life
  • Not afraid of new things
  • Trusting and hopeful
  • Able to fully experience their feelings 
  •  Aware of their own personal strengths and weaknesses
  •  Intent with their lives
  •  Unlikely to brag to others
  • Able to ask for and accept help when necessary
General characteristics that you may find of individuals with low self-esteem
  • Convinced that they are worthless
  • Feelings of insignificance
  • Unsure of their abilities
  • Likely to follow the route that is easy and familiar 
  •  Uncomfortable with praise
  • Fearful/unsure of the future
  • Blind to new opportunities
  • Negative thinkers
  • Unable to handle criticism or rejection
  • Overly concerned about others opinions of them
  • Defensive
  • Easily defeated
  • Uncomfortable in social situations
  •  Manipulative
  • Quick to blame others
My initial plan was to address self-esteem in general, how to improve self-esteem and mental health concerns and their relationship to self-esteem all in this one post.  Then as I started to write this, I realized how much each of them individually has to offer and that I could not condense them into one post.  With that being said, consider this the first of 3 posts about self-esteem.  The other 2 will be done and posted by the end of this upcoming weekend- most likely before then.

I believe the following quote is appropriate to end with.  It is a quote from an article about self-esteem that I found on the Mayo Clinic’s website.  I believe that it is very well worded.

“Self-esteem affects virtually every facet of your life. Maintaining a healthy, realistic view of yourself isn't about blowing your own horn. It's about learning to like and respect yourself — faults and all.”

Thanks for reading! Until next time…

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

(Resources used:  Self Esteem Check: Mayo Clinic,   Mental Health- Self-Esteem)