Getting Help – Getting Better

Carolyn Phelps, Ph.D

February 25, 2013

Well, here we are at the end of season three! Proof that time marches on. So what did we learn? We learned that recovery from a natural disaster can last far beyond the actual event, that friends and families extending a helping hand by doing simple things, like taking down moldy drywall, is more helpful than the helpers even realize. We also learned that there are people like Pastor Mike, who always seem to be there for us.

We learned that depression can be a devastating illness that lasts for years if untreated. And we learned from Rena Carey that a willingness to persist on the road to recovery will have a payoff. Now, instead of leading a life that is defined by depression, Rena is living a purposeful, fulfilling life, with a willingness to reach out to others and give back to them what others have given to her. She taught us that anyone with depression can be more content if her example of hard work and persistence is followed.

We learned that there is an exciting new program that originated here in the Northland, thanks to Dave Lee, Meghann Condit, Tracy Chur, as well as the high school students that made the TXT4LIFE program move from dream to reality. What a wonderful suicide prevention program, and a program that is teaching teens and young adults to reach out to others in their time of need. To access this, text the word “Life” to 839863, and if you have a young person in your home, have them put this number in their phone. Of course, the TXT4LIFE program won’t turn you away if you’re a little older than a young adult!

We learned from Staff Sergeant Trevor Smith what the military is doing to teach resilience, and we learned that resilience is a skill you can learn, not a trait that you have, and that we all should be practicing resiliency skills for our own time of need. Those skills include cultivating a sense of optimism, hunting the good, and being able to list what we are grateful for.

We learned from Lori Schaefer that once we’re adults, taking care of ourselves is our responsibility and our responsibility alone; that there is no such thing as “I don’t have time to take care of myself,” and that the rewards of taking care of one’s self far exceed the costs. Her story was one of inspiration, with the message of learning how to live within the limits of enough.

We learned how to help children with grief, and how to help ourselves deal with the toddlers in our life. Remember, their behavior is communication to us. 

We learned the facts behind the myths about mental illness, including the fact the most people with a mental illness are not any more dangerous than people without mental illness.

We learned that substance abuse often accompanies mental illness, and the best treatments are treatments that address both illness states.

We learned a boatload from Erin Walsh about technology, social media and kids. Number one is that you don’t have to be as technologically savvy as your fifth grader, but you do need to be acquainted with the technology, so that you can set appropriate limits, and both practice and teach good digital citizenship (that means turn off your phone and stop texting during meetings!)

We learned that sex trafficking occurs right here in the Northland, and that we need to support programs that work to end sex trafficking and those programs that provide services for people who have been trafficked. We learned that the concept of sex trafficking does not involve actual transportation, but can occur in somebody’s home. We learned that there are specialized trauma treatment programs in town to deal not just with victims of sex trafficking, but victims of any traumatic event (including the flood!)

We learned about living with chronic pain, and Lois Backscheider is our personal inspiration, who reminded us again and again that how we live our life (with or without chronic pain!) is a choice, and that we can live a fulfilling, contented life regardless of our circumstance.

We learned about the individual choices family members will need to make in caring for a relative with dementia, and that those choices may differ from family to family, with each family making the decision that is best for them.

We learned that Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder can be devastating, but that recovery is possible for all mental illness.

And finally, of course, we learned about how to get help and that getting help is worth the effort, because getting help leads to feeling better.

So it was a fabulous season, and you were an integral part of that fabulosity! Thank you so much, and don’t forget to join us back for season four in the fall. You can e-mail us some suggestions for next year’s topics.

Carolyn F. Phelps, Ph.D., L.P.

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