Showing posts with label Mental Health Awareness Month. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mental Health Awareness Month. Show all posts

Monday, May 20, 2024

Can voices in your head be a good thing?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 20, 2024

Everyone has voices in their heads. Sometimes they can come to life as we remember things people we love said to us. Unfortunately, the voices can also come from memories of terrible things people said. When you have #PTSD those voices can become the loudest ones we hear. How do we drown them out with the ones we need to hear?
“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” ― Thomas Aquinas
As an author, I don't just hear the voices of people I know. I create the voices of people I wish I knew. They said the things I needed to hear when I was falling apart. My painful memories are poured into them as they confide in someone they trust. Instead of having their pain dismissed, they are comforted the way I wish I was back when the pain was often too much for me. The hope I write about comes from memories of strangers coming to help me, not just heal, but thrive.

One of my best friends told me the night before one of most memorable conversations he was suicidal. I could hear hope in his voice, so I didn't panic but I felt great sadness for him. I asked him why he didn't call me. He said he didn't need to because I was the voice in his head. That is how powerful it is to have a good voice in your head especially when a bad voice is shouting.
“Fear is such a powerful emotion for humans that when we allow it to take us over, it drives compassion right out of our hearts.” ― Thomas Aquinas

We tend to push people away from us when we need them the most. Do we fear they will judge us as being weak or fear they may believe we deserve suffering? Is it safer for us to hide our pain as we can wait it out and magically go back to the way we were before, or is it because we fear we are beyond being helped? While Aquinas was correct, the fact is, it doesn't have to drive compassion out of hearts unless we turn it into a contest.

If we think our suffering is so much greater than someone else we may not feel compassion for them. If we notice how much we have in common, we realize the words that would comfort us and dare speak them to comfort someone else. We may never hear those words spoken to us before they come out of our mouths, but we hear them when we say them, thereby comforting us in return.

Writing The Ministers Of The Mystery series was healing for me because I wrote all the things I wished I had heard someone say to me. Above that, I shared the suffering I feared to share with people I know. As you read The Scribe Of Salem, The Visionary Of Salem, and the 13th Minister Of Salem, you'll find yourself surrounded by friends you wish you had, hear what you wish you had heard, and find power in what you can do for others. You'll find out why you may have felt God wasn't interested in your suffering and then find your way back to Him directly by your spirit.

When you finish reading them, I hope they inspire you to deliver the voices of hope others need to hear and become the good voice in their heads too.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Mental Health Awareness because life can get better!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

American Hospital Association
As Mental Health Awareness Month, May is a time to raise awareness of and reduce the stigma surrounding behavioral health issues, as well as highlighting the ways how mental illness and addiction can affect all of us – patients, providers, families, and our society at large.

Hospitals and health systems play an important role in the conversations we have around mental health care, including creating partnerships that address behavioral health issues in non-traditional ways. Many of our members are creating new innovations around how behavioral health disorders are identified and treated—through the integration of physical and behavioral health services, changes in their emergency departments and inpatient and outpatient settings. These strategies improve the overall value of health care and can lead to improvements in patient outcomes, quality of care and total costs.

As part of its long-standing commitment to supporting all organizations that work in the realm of behavioral health care, AHA supports the integration of behavioral and physical health, and will continue to help hospitals as they play key roles in establishing partnerships and programs to ensure access to the full continuum of behavioral health care for all who need it.
Learn more here

While most online sites reference Mental Health Awareness Month, they do it implying it only applies to veterans. The truth is, it applies to everyone needing help with the illnesses that strike the mind. Well, we all have one. Don't we?

You could be the one with the need, or it could be a family member or someone else you care about. If you have the wrong idea about the basis of mental health, then you as the one living with it, or caring about someone can jump to the wrong assumptions. It can make your lives suck big time instead of getting better.

How many times do you have to see a commercial for medications and how life can become better than what it is? Do you get the point you are not the only one needing help?

Then add this. There are so many others dealing with the same things you are, that companies are advertising it and spending huge sums of money. Would they do that if you were the only one? Nope!

If you are a veteran then go to Make The Connection and watch some of the videos they have up. This one is about living in the present because if you're still living in the past, you need to remember you don't live there anymore! This veteran was dealing with physical and mental health needs.

This one is for everyone else, but remember, you can still learn a priceless lesson from others. What is it? THAT LIFE CAN GET BETTER!

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Mental Health Month:Spiritual Mind Care

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 2, 2023

You can't help other people for long on an empty tank. You need to refill it! With what? Being able to ask for help as you are willing to give it.

I was just reading on Forbes, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s Landmark Initiative On Loneliness And Social Isolation, and how loneliness is claiming far too many lives. We all know there is a mental health crisis in America. We don't have enough mental health providers to help all those seeking it. What makes it even more troubling is, most people needing help, won't ask. We need people to be willing to help others and change the conversation they have going on in their own minds. If they think they don't deserve help, or feel as if no one would care they need it, they won't ask.

We see that all the time in the veterans' community. They tell themselves they should be stronger and able to deal with everything. They tell themselves they'll get over it if they wait and sooner or later, it will go away. Most of the time, these same people will be the first ones to show up and help another veteran heal. If they won't accept help for themselves, and give away whatever they have without filling themselves up with what they need, they can't do it for long. How many times do we have to read about one more veteran, knowing what others felt with #PTSD because they had it too, but ended up taking their own lives because they lost hope they'd heal too?

The way some people think, I shouldn't have had to ask for help for myself since I was helping everyone else. Strange how that goes. Considered an expert on what survivors go through, a Chaplain, trained to help others after trauma, I couldn't have done it for over 40 years now without getting help for myself. Sometimes it came from friends also in this work. Other times it came from Mental Health Professionals. Sometimes it came from reading, however, that was not as beneficial as a human voice, a hand reaching out to be held, or hugs.

If you want to be a healing helper, wonderful but if you do not get spiritual mind care, you won't have much to give others in need. When they do, they need people to answer the call for help and you need it too.
Notably, the callers and visitors often spoke about their health to the clinical team, alerting them to situations like mental or physical decline, that led to life-saving visits from our doctors. This video with one of our earliest members, Virta—tells the story better than I ever could. (Forbes Sachin H. Jain)
Consider the scripture "Freely you received, freely give." It was instructions to those Jesus was sending out to heal others. That means you have to have it before you can give it. How can you give something away you do not have? You can't. I know there were many times when I could not help anyone because I needed help to heal. I had nothing to give away.

I'm not talking about going to church unless you already do. I'm talking about a spiritual connection to God with no one else getting in the way of receiving what you need for spiritual mind care. It gives you a renewed perspective when you realize you are never really totally alone. After all, no matter what religion you may claim as a choice you made for yourself, most religions say God alone created our souls and sent them here for a purpose. If you are tugged to help someone else, that was not from your mind, but from your spirit. When you do, you are filled up so you are able to give. When you gave more away than you replenished, you need a refill, just like I did.

One of the last times I faced this emptiness was last year when one of my closest friends passed away from Covid. He was my rock, encourager, and a nagging voice in my head every time I wanted to give up on the work I do. I knew I needed help because the grief of losing him was too much for me to heal on my own. 

I was rewriting a book series. As I was editing it, I realized I was more connected to the darkest parts of the books instead of the hopeful parts. The therapist helped me work through it and the result was a three-part series, Ministers Of The Mystery. The Scribe Of Salem, The Visionary Of Salem, and the 13th Minister of Salem is about suffering and healing with the help of others offering spiritual support to someone suffering. They had no clue that when he was once again filled with his connection to God, what he would deliver to the world.

My husband and I moved to New Hampshire four months before the pandemic hit. It was very lonely not being able to get out and meet people. I was grateful we had friends here because otherwise, we wouldn't have gone anywhere. They have been in our lives for decades. Without them, and some nice neighbors, along with our daughter, we'd have no one to talk to or remind us we are not alone.

I would not have been able to deliver these books without someone helping me heal, as much as my friend did for over 15 years. That is how this works and we keep working for the sake of others. First, we need to be filled, then we can give, but if we do not refill what we give, we can't give.

One more thing to consider is, if we tell people to ask for help, yet are not willing to ask for our sake, what kind of message do they receive? If they know when we needed help, we not only asked for it but received it, and then see us willing to help others, that gives them hope they can do it too!

Monday, May 23, 2022

PTSD and the power you have within your mind

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 23, 2022
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but too many are unaware of how much power they do have over their own mental health. There's a reason why no one ever asks, "Have you lost your brain?" It is your mind that holds your thoughts and emotions. Just like when you fall in love, people say "they have my heart" while leaving the mind totally out of the conversation. 

There are many different mental illnesses, and most have been researched enough so that there are always ways to make the lives of people better, if not perfect, at least better. It is the same with people fighting PTSD. No one can make your life perfect but between experts and the power you have within your mind, it can become a hell of a lot better than it is now. Even if you are on the road toward healing, even you can achieve more healing than you hoped for.

While service members and veterans battle PTSD, so do civilians in far greater numbers. Considering PTSD only happens after surviving a mind-shaking event, they suffer the same way as military people. What keeps getting left out of the conversation is that military people are also just people too, and can have the same traumatic events as everyone else. The unique thing is that military people have to also recover from what happens while serving their country.

While civilians can understand your pain and struggles, they cannot understand all the events that caused yours. You cannot understand all of their events unless you survived the same thing. It is time that everyone understands what they do have in common with other survivors. This is why I wrote The Lost Son Alive Again.

After 40 years of working with veterans and families struggling with PTSD, it was time for me to turn my attention to everyone fighting this same enemy. It includes several veterans and survivors of other events so that more people can see themselves in these characters.

The Army is trying to do something for soldiers.

 Mental Health Awareness Month highlights resources available for those in need on Army Times addresses the needs of active duty and veterans, but as you can see, none of this is new and efforts to support them to seek mental health help have fallen way too short.
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. — May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it comes at a time when active-duty and veteran suicides are at alarming levels. The U.S. Army, and the U.S. Army Sustainment Command in particular, are making enormous efforts to help Soldiers, Civilians and their families be aware of mental health problems and offer support and services to those who need them. This year, at least to this point, offers a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy picture. According to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, testifying before Congress on May 11, Soldier deaths so far this year are “significantly lower” than during the same period last year. And rates of suicide in the Army are lower at this point than during the most recent five-year and 10-year average for the combined forces. That’s good news, but a Department of Defense report published in September 2021, said, “In CY (calendar year) 2020, there were 580 service members who tragically died by suicide.”

 That is good and bad in all of this. Aren't you tired of the attitude of anything is better than nothing? After all, that is why we are seeing these results 4 decades after I got into all of this. The premise of this book, as well as the upcoming Stranger Angels Among Us, is to open eyes, hearts, and minds to the power all of you, civilians as well as military folks, have within your own mind.

The main character was a reporter coving the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. An RPG blew up near him and almost killed him. It set off powerful PTSD and then other events added to the damage already done.

He was done waiting for miracles. After all, God washed His hands of Chris a long time ago. When the shock of surviving wore off, regret took its place. He was sure the man he was died on the operating table, precisely seven years from that day. Friday, September 13, 2019, Christopher Papadopoulos had seen a lot in his life and he didn’t want to see anymore.
Bill Gibson, his best friend, and ex-brother-in-law was struck by PTSD from serving in the Army.
Chris dreaded talking to him about the marriage falling apart and wasn’t sure what Bill had heard about it from his ex-wife. He could only imagine all the horrible things she told him, blaming it all on him. “So Bill, what are you doing back in Salem? The last time I saw you, you said you were going to stay in the Army for the rest of your life. And then I got blown up.”
“I was but I got out over five years ago. We’re here for a reunion. One of our buddies died five years ago.”
“Oh sorry. Was he killed in action?”
“No, but he’s dead because of it.”
Chris felt the tension building inside of his body. His mind was consumed with building anger. He didn’t care who died or how. All he could think about was what had happened to him since the last time he saw the man across from him. Seeing Bill reminded him of what life was like when he wasn’t hurting.

David was also struck by PTSD while serving with Bill. 

David Mac Donald strolled into the bar, tall, muscular, fiery red flowing hair with a scraggly beard. He looked more like an ancient Scottish warrior than he did when he was in the Army with cropped hair. David’s family moved from Scotland when he was going into high school and he joined the Army as soon as he graduated. When he walked over to the group, they all got up out of their chairs and hugged and then he saw Chris. “Oh my God! Nanos!” He walked over to him. As soon as he got a closer look at his eyes, he could see an all too familiar pain the fake smile couldn’t cover-up. He gave him a bear hug and whispered in his Scottish accent, “Your demon is in control for now. Time to take back your life like we did.”
“Hell of a way to end a marriage.”
“I thought it was the end but it wasn’t. The bitch stalked me after that. I wanted to get a restraining order but couldn’t find the balls to say my wife beat me. Anyway, she called me over and over again, showed up when I least expected it, and made my life hell.”
“Is that why you fell apart?”
“Yep. I was doomed because somehow she always found out where I was and who I was with. I couldn’t go anywhere.”
“What did all that do to you?”
“You know, with the wars I covered and getting blown up didn’t do as much damage to me as she did. I had nightmares and flashbacks, mood swings off the charts and so filled with anger, I had to go to the gym just to beat up a bag.”

These men joined forces with other survivors from different events to help Chris change the conversation about PTSD so that people will learn how to find the power within their minds to heal to the point of living a miracle! 

The Lost Son Alive Again Paperback is available now for Mental Health Month. And the ebook of The Lost Son Alive Again is coming out June 1st for PTSD Awareness Month.