Monday, October 7, 2013

Celebrating Mental Illness Awareness in October

The month of October honors people living with mental illness in diverse ways...

In fact, in 1945 the United States government made the first week of October, "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." However, in 1962 the word "Physically" was removed to honor all people with disabilities. And in 1988, the government expanded the calendar recognition to promote the entire month of October and also changed the name of the holiday to National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and the theme for 2013: "Because we are EQUAL to the task." Campaigns to raise awareness around disability employment issues, and to celebrate the diverse contributions of workers living with disabilities is carried out during this month.

Moreover, the certified peer specialist (CPS) position recognizes and supports people living with mental illness who want to work with peers affected by mental illness by becoming certified as a peer counselor. CPSs learn about the stages of recovery, how to communicate with and advocate for peers, and to facilitate self-help meetings among other duties and responsibilities. To learn more about this certification visit:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a grassroots non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing advocacy, education, support, and research to children and adults affected by mental illness. Each year NAMI celebrates mental illness awareness month during the first full week of October. This year, NAMI is celebrating mental illness awareness week (MIAW) October 6-12, 2013. Please support mental health events and programs in your area especially this week!

Atlanta Area: Attend the Whole Health & Wellness Conference on Saturday, October 12th from 1-4 PM at the College Park Recreation Center in College Park, Georgia. Furthermore, I will share my experience living with mental illness among other presenters. Founder and visionary of the conference is Mrs. Kenya Rucker Phillips. For details about this conference visit the website:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Time to Stop Meds?

I take one anti-psychotic for my schizophrenia, one anti-depressant, and another med to counteract the side effects. I understand that my medication for schizophrenia is a lifelong commitment, however, I've heard from others that depression for some may be temporary.  With  that said, sometimes I feel like I do not need to take my anti-depressants, but I will not stop taking them until I get my doctor's support...

To quickly tell you about my background with depression, I developed postpartum depression after the birth of my son. I started taking the anti-depressants a little over a year ago after experiencing some symptoms which were probably triggered by a lot of "good stress"- having a baby and managing my new way of life. I remember my symptoms of depression included having a frequent overwhelming feeling, intense anxiety, lack of motivation, poor diet, and sleeping more than usual among other symptoms. When I became aware of my symptoms I spoke to a professional as a "walk-in" at the center where I receive treatment.

At first, I was afraid symptoms of my schizophrenia would return which prompted me to seek help. However, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. I did not immediately take the meds until I spoke with a professional about possible side effects, which did not seem unbearable at the time.

After being on the meds for a while my doctor and I tweaked my doses. And I have experienced some side effects such as poor concentration that requires me to take another med to counteract the side effects.

Now, I feel like I can cope with a lower dose of medication and would like to try to go without anti-depressants completely and to lean on a lot of my coping skills for support. Recently, I asked my doctor if I could discontinue use my anti-depressant medication, but he advised me not to until I met with him face-to-face to determine my well being. However, he did approve of me taking a lower dose of meds by breaking my pills in half.

I am optimistic that I will be able to transition off the anti-depressants well, sometime in the near future. I plan to meet with my doctor soon. I will keep you updated on my appointment and plans to discontinue use of my anti-depressants. In the meantime, I will most definitely continue to take all my medicine until otherwise advised by my doctor.

Question: If you were diagnosed with depression and have discontinued use of anti-depressants, how did you know you were ready to stop taking the meds, and how did you transition off of them mentally and emotionally?

To learn more about schizophrenia and depression visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

How to Cope with Dark Seasons

I aim to empower those affected by mental illness. However, the truth about recovery is there will be many dark seasons. Still, I hope peopl...