Stand By My Man

November 27, 2017 / Amy Krolak  / 
men, man

I turned on the Today Show on November 1st and I caught the segment where Matt, Al and Carson talked about the Movember Program and how they would be participating. It’s also known as the no-shave November campaign for men’s cancers like testicular and prostate and NOW there would be an additional emphasis on men’s mental health issues, like depression and suicide.

When You Should Seek Mental Help

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Let’s Celebrate A Hopeful Recovery from Dual Diagnosis

November 7, 2017 / Amy Krolak  / 
hope

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reported that 50 percent of individuals with severe mental health disorders are affected by substance use. In addition, 37 percent of alcohol users and 53% of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental illness.

Double trouble but there is hope because researchers are looking into the connection between these disorders and Physicians are developing treatments integrating the recovery program and treatment plans. Also, researchers are looking into the relationship between early substance use and the increases in likely future problems with alcohol and drugs. I believe the more we know about something, the better we are able to find solutions. I started on the path of substance abuse as a young teen. I have continued to work through this along with the mental illness conditions I am experiencing.

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Who Moved My Life? Change is Coming

October 16, 2017 / Amy Krolak  / 
change

Why does it seem like just when I have my life figured out, it changes?

One of my first part-time jobs, after my children were all in school, was as a Library Aide at the public library working in the Children’s Division. As an avid reader, I hoped that bringing books home for the kids would propel them into reading even more. During my four-plus years there, many books were read, however not everything in my work was that easy. In my second year, our library went digital and started using PC’s. For those of you like me that grew up without computers, this was scary. My own children were right on the cusp of the internet. One of my responsibilities was a daily shift on the circulation desk. When I first started, we were still using “dumb terminals.” The transition to an Internet-based program and using new tools to do all of the work of the library was met with mixed responses. Boy, did some people resist. To some degree, the age of the employee was directly correlated to the response, as the older workers showed much more resistance. Several of the women I worked with in my department were basically computer illiterate and were okay with that. One of the techniques used by the administration was to hold several seminars and workshops on change. The one that stuck with me was the “Who Moved My Cheese” mindset, based on the book of the same name. There are six steps to move through on your way to acceptance of the changes you are facing.

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Safety Plans and Mental Health

October 3, 2017 / Amy Krolak  / 
first aid, safety plan

We always prepare a first aid kit for our physical injuries when we go on a camping trip. What if those of us who have experienced symptoms of mental illness had a way to prepare a first aid kit or safety plan to meet those needs?

There are many different types of safety plans but one for my depression and anxiety was the one I never imagined I would need and I wish was explained to me. The plan I probably put the most thought into was the birth plan for my first child. Specifics such as what music to have on, what to have as a focus object, not to have drugs if possible were thought about and discussed with both my husband and my doctor. I will say, the plan was mostly followed although, I did take a little something for the pain.

The other type of plan that comes to mind is a fire safety plan for your house and family members. What do you do if the fire comes near you? What are the alternate ways out of the house: windows, doors? And where to meet up once you are out?

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Feeling Happy Can Be Hard But Clap Anyway

September 7, 2017 / Amy Krolak  / 
happy

“Not every day is filled with complete happiness, but every day is filled with moments of hope, love and possibilities. Every day is filled with resiliency and strength—and that, is my happiness.” Source: NAMI

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap clap)
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap clap)
If you’re happy and you know it,
then your face will surely show it
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. (clap clap)

FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT

Acting ?as if’ is a common prescription in psychotherapy. It’s based on the idea that if you behave like the person you want to become, you will become like this in reality:

  • If you want to feel happier, do what happy people do—smile.
  • If you want to get more work done, act as if you are a productive person.
  • If you want to have more friends, behave like a friendly person.
  • If you want to improve your relationship, practice being a good partner.

Too often we hesitate to spring into action. Instead, we wait until everything feels just right or until we think we are ready. But research shows that changing your behavior first can change the way you think and feel.

There are trials showing how important it is to take action toward a more positive way of being. “Trying to be happy, the research suggests, could be an effective way to achieve the numerous health benefits that come with greater well-being and a more positive life outlook. Happiness has been associated with improved physical and mental health, greater relationship satisfaction, lower rates of disease and increased longevity.”

A Harvard researcher Laura Kubzansky, an American health sociologist working at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Fellow of the American Psychological Association, posits that “psychological states such as anxiety or depression—or happiness and optimism—are forged by both nature and nurture. ?They are 40–50 percent heritable, which means you may be born with the genetic predisposition. But this also suggests there is a lot of room to maneuver.’”  She dreams of preventing anxiety and depression by instilling emotional and social competence in children. She imagines this prevention with the support of parents, teachers, pediatricians, sports coaches, etc. This joint effort could promote both mental health and long-term resilience.

13 Incredibly Smart Tips To Be Happier From Mental Health Experts

  1. Realize that happiness doesn’t mean having everything you want and being problem-free all the time.
  2. Cut “should” from your vocabulary, because it basically guarantees whatever you think “should” happen, won’t.
  3. Remember that your negative thoughts are not true. They’re just thoughts.
  4. Start your day by reminding yourself one positive thing about your life.
  5. Anyone can benefit from therapy, so consider making an appointment for a checkup.
  6. Don’t think about your work responsibilities at home, and vice versa.
  7. Stop checking your smartphone randomly. Instead, give yourself specific times to catch up on social media and email.
  8. Make keeping up with your friendships a priority.
  9. Actually take the time to plan short-term pleasure AND long-term goals — aka actively make your life what you want it to be.
  10. Treat yourself with compassion and lots of love.
  11. Don’t forget that your physical health has an impact on your mental health, too.
  12. Several times throughout your day, take a deep breath and tell yourself that everything is OK. Eventually, your brain will get the memo.
  13. Make a conscious effort to take care of your mental health the same way you would your physical health.

Get Happy Now

Something that I came upon about sabotaging your happiness spoke to me quite strongly. Our bodies will reflect what we feel and if we ask our bodies to show the positive, our minds will follow. The following negative behaviors can be fixed with the “Get happy now” directives. If you find yourself acting in the following ways, practice these get happy now actions.

You slouch when you walk.
Get happy now: Lift your chin up and roll your shoulders back to keep your outlook on the positive side.

You take pictures of EVERYTHING.
Get happy now: Focus on your subjects when taking pictures—or, better yet, just sit back and enjoy yourself.

You don’t exercise.
Get happy now: Just get out and move. It doesn’t need to be for long—walking to errands if possible, taking the stairs—but any activity will help keep your mind moving.

You procrastinate.
Get happy now: Before you finally tackle your problem head-on, do something that helps you ease stress: listen to music, go for a run.

You take life too seriously.
Get happy now: Seek out humor every day

You don’t sleep.
Get happy now: Try to figure out why you aren’t sleeping and then take the steps to create a restful environment.

You’re never alone.
Get happy now: Schedule an appointment for you time. And more importantly, keep it

You don’t actually talk to anyone.
Get happy now: Make sure to schedule a date with a friend, family member, or partner at least once per week.

You can’t live without your mobile phone.
Get happy now: Create an electronic Sabbath, where you abstain from all devices once a week, even if just for half a day.

You multitask.
Get happy now: It’s simple, really: put down the phone, turn off the television, and pay attention to what you are doing and what is going on around you. Allowing your brain to process everything that is happening to you in real time (and not broadcasting it to your social media followers) may be the best thing you can do for your mental health.

Pass It On

When you are happy, you want to pass it on! Go ahead and spread the cheer. Smile at strangers! Life can be too short to not stop and smell the roses.  Happiness is contagious. A perfect example for me is watching my children laugh at their favorite TV shows. Humor really helps with happiness. My family likes to tease me that I have no sense of humor but really I do. I like physical comedy, slapstick but not the violent kind like the Stooges. What makes me laugh and I go to when I am feeling down is when Bert wears penguin pants in Mary Poppins or the scene in My Best Friend’s Wedding in the restaurant with Dionne Warwick and the lobster claws. 

For me, happiness can be as basic as experiencing something as a child does. For example, if you remember playing in the mud as a child, it creates pure joy. Other examples are a baby laughing, eating a melting ice cream cone, and what always makes me laugh out loud is puppies at play.

HAPPINESS IS A JOURNEY

“Most importantly we need to realize that happiness is not some far off destination we arrive at. It’s more about the journey that happens along the way and this is the everyday moments that are in fact our lives. We need to let go of our limiting beliefs and what is holding us back and embrace our own power within. This is how we create a life we love and cultivate our own happiness.” Source:  Project Happiness

Those Crazy Kids…Real Story Of Childhood Mental Illness In Schools

August 28, 2017 / Amy Krolak  / 
child

What are the facts?

Some of the statistics are:

  • 1 in 5 children and youth have a diagnosable emotional, behavioral or mental disorder.
  • 1 in 10 young people have a mental health challenge that is severe enough to impair their functioning in school.
  • Many estimates show that even though mental illness affects so many of our kids aged 6-17 at least one-half and many estimate as many as 80% of them do not receive the mental health care they need.
  • About 50% of students ages 14+ with a mental health condition will drop out of school.
  • Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for 15-24-year-olds.

What Does It Look Like?

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