You Can Recover – Jennifer’s Message of Hope

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Marshall, Co-Founder of This is My Brave an amazing community of advocates dedicated to ending the stigma surrounding mental illness by sharing our true personal stories through poetry, essay, and song.

Jenn was diagnosed with Type 1 Bipolar Disorder in 2006 at the age of 26. She’s had four hospitalizations within five years – two before any diagnosis was reached, and two more because she was trying to protect her newborn son (postpartum psychosis) and her unborn daughter – and all were because she was unmedicated at the time. Writing her way through life with a mental illness became her way of healing, and her award-winning blog BipolarMomLife has become an inspiration to many.

Jenn created This Is My Brave because she learned first hand how powerful and therapeutic it was to live openly and not hide her diagnosis. She wanted to give brave individuals from the community a platform through which to creatively share their stories of living with mental illness to educate and inspire others. She lives outside Washington, DC with her husband and two children. Jenn is the living proof that people with mental illness can recover and rebuild healthy, meaningful, productive lives. Her work was recently featured in the Oprah Magazine. Jenn wants people struggling with mental health issues around the world to know that they are not alone. There is hope and help. And, regardless of their struggles, they can recover.

Health Benefits of Social Connectedness

Gayathri and Dad

 

On June 8th, I had the pleasure of presenting at the Mental Health America Conference in Alexandria, Virginia. Later that night, I called my parents in India and learned that my 81-year-old father had a fall and was unconscious for a few minutes. He had survived esophageal cancer recently but was struggling to breathe. So, I decided to cut short my stay at the conference, return home to Portland immediately, and rush to India to see my dad. Unfortunately, by the time I landed in St. Louis en route to Portland, I learned through a social media post that my father had passed away. My whole world collapsed. Riding on his favorite Java motorbike as a little girl, I had thought my father was invincible…I still wanted him to be. He was my hero. The man who twirled me around until I broke into giggles, the man who had taught me to dream big and work hard, the man who called me “Princess” and treated me like one. Heartbroken, I collapsed in my seat sobbing, as the plane taxied.

I am deeply grateful to the love and support of strangers on that plane who helped me get off the plane and board my connecting flight to Portland. I am deeply grateful to my husband and daughters who helped me get on a plane to India within hours of landing so I could be with my mother and siblings to grieve and celebrate my father’s life. And, I am deeply grateful to our extended family and friends who held us in their embrace, and helped us get through the difficult times. Together, we smiled through our tears, chanted my father’s favorite yogic chants, and a dear friend and professional singer presented a house concert with his favorite songs. I miss my dad terribly and will cherish his love forever. And, I am most grateful for the network of friends, family and strangers who continue to strengthen me on my journey forward.

As Emma Seppala, Ph.D. writes in her article Contentedness & Health, social connections improves physical health and mental and emotional well-being, boosts immunity, and lowers level of anxiety and depression. Over the years, I have learned that social contentedness also helps us build the resilience we need to navigate through life’s ups and downs.

I invite you to make time to nurture and enjoy your relationships with family and friends. And, enjoy the many health benefits of social contentedness.

The Cause + Event Race Series

October 18, 2015

Cause and Event photoEvery race has a cause. No race has EVERY cause…until NOW.

The Cause + Event Race Series is unlike any other race series of its kind. The runner (or walker) chooses their favorite registered 501(c)3 nonprofit and their cause will receive at least half of the racer’s registration.

Join ASHA International’s HOPEBRINGERS team and help us raise funds to promote mental health awareness, and bring hope and healing to people’s lives.

Date: Octobber 18, 2015
What: 5k walk/5k & 10k run
Where: Bethany Village, Portland, OR
Time: 7:30-8:30 am
Cost: $35 includes bib and chip timing plus $15 donation to the cause of your choice.

And a Free Kids Fun Run – Tot Trot and 1K

To register, please click here 

Click To Register
  1. Under Team Registration, please click on Join an Existing Team
  2. Please click on join ASHA International’s HopeBringers and complete the registration form. Thanks!
  3. To learn about 2015 Cause and Event please click below
Click To Learn More About the Cause & Event

Please register today and invite your friends, family, and colleagues to join us. Thank you!

If you have any questions, please email Gayathri Ramprasad at gayathri@myasha.org or call 971 340 7190.

We look forward to seeing you at the event!

The 8 Dimensions of Wellness

The 8 Dimensions of Wellness

For more than a decade of my life, I had struggled with debilitating anxiety, panic attacks and depression. Like millions of people around the world, I longed to discover a magic pill to cure my ills and promise me nirvana. But, despite taking many medications, ongoing psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECTs), hospitalizations and failed suicide attempts, wellness had remained a distant dream. The anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants worsened my symptoms, and made me more agitated, depressed and suicidal. And I was utterly confused why the medications that were supposed to alleviate my symptoms exacerbated them instead.

Staring out of the fifth-floor hospital window one day after yet another failed suicide attempt, I promised to take charge of my life and create a life of wellness. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I just wanted to be well. Most of all, I wanted to be able to take my little girl to school, play with her in the park, and tuck her to bed at night with her favorite story.

Somewhere deep in my soul, I was convinced that the medications were making me sicker instead of helping me heal. So, despite my fears and those of my family, I decided to listen to my inner wisdom and wean myself off all medications under the supervision of my psychiatrist and explore holistic pathways to health and wellness.

Read the rest of the article.