Tag Archive: Support group

 Here is truly a great list of principles for recovery that I have found, adapted from the work of Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, whose self-help workbooks and programs such as the Wellness Recovery Action Plan have been used in Mental Health programs nationwide, including at Mental Health America, where I used to work. I highly  recommend her work! 😉

The Foundational
Principles of Recovery
Adapted from M.E. Copeland
Nanette V. Larson, B.A.

Learning all there is to know about
one’s health, wellness, symptoms
and treatment, in order to be
equipped to make good decisions.
Being open to, and seeking out,
new information.

Finding meaning and purpose in one’s
life. Gaining a sense of identity, based
on one’s own values and beliefs, which
may include one’s relationship with the
divine or a power greater than oneself.

“Going for it” with courage,
persistence and determination.
Expressing oneself clearly and
calmly in order to get
one’s needs met.

Relying on oneself, with help from
others, while working to control
one’s life and one’s symptoms.
Making choices which reflect
one’s life priorities.

Recognizing that recovery
is not a journey that anyone walks
alone. Drawing on support from
friends, family and healthcare

Having a vision that includes hopes
and dreams! Setting goals, while
refraining from negative predictions.
Fearing ‘false despair’, not ‘false hope’.

Nanette V. Larson, B.A. CRSS., Director of Recovery Support Services at the Illinois Department of Human Services /Division of Mental Health. Ms. Larson has spent the last few years developing and directing statewide recovery programs, including Illinois’ Wellness Recovery Action Planning Initiative. Ms. Larson’s passion for recovery stems in part from her personal experiences with bipolar illness. She is a nationally recognized leader in the mental health consumer recovery movement and has provided numerous presentations to diverse audiences on recovery, spirituality, and related topics.

Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, is an author, educator, mental health advocate, and mental illness survivor. Copeland’s work is based on the study of the coping and wellness strategies of people who have experienced mental health challenges. She is the author and designer of the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), a self-help mental health recovery program. She is also the author of numerous self-help workbooks for Bipolar Disorder.

In 2005, Copeland’s work led to the creation of the non-profit, the Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery which continues her work through trainings around the world.

Copeland was awarded the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association’s USPRA John Beard Award for outstanding contributions to the field of psychosocial rehabilitation in 2006.  She received Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration‘s Lifetime Achievement Voice Award in 2009.

I get a newsletter from The Happiness Club. They have support groups all over the U.S and in other countries to help them learn ways of changing their thoughts and behavior. I found a good story here from one of the clubs about changing your perceptions of frustrating situations. She describes a small change in perception that can add up to big results if we practice it:

Shared Thoughts To Keep Us All On The Happy Track.

Sharing an e-mail received from Elisa, an individual that attended a Happiness Club meeting in Fairfield.

Thursday, January 23rd’s meeting presentation: “Creating a Brilliant 2014 for ourselves,” was terrific. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

I believe Lionel made it clear that night that we are responsible for our own happiness and that truly the thoughts we think (although they seem so automatic, natural and 100% “correct”) are under our control and can lead to happiness….or not. We just have to overcome our conditioning and habitual way of responding!

Here is one result: this morning getting onto the Merritt Parkway, I had a tailgater on me. So I naturally slowed to a crawl (lol). But then I started thinking that this woman didn’t get up with the intention of ruining my day (as we discussed last night)….I started thinking of other reasons why she was tailing me …things like maybe her son got hurt and she was rushing to the hospital, maybe she got up late and was going to miss her train.

Suddenly, my thoughts changed from grumbling to trying to figure out how I could help her! How could I help her get to her son? How could I help her catch her train? I got out of her way in a loving manner and with godspeed.

The lesson here: all these reasons I ascribed to her for her behavior were just thoughts in my head. The grumbling thoughts made me feel angry and seek revenge (Yes, I know this is hysterical). The compassionate thoughts made me want to help her. So this day, which thoughts will I choose?

I don’t think my change in perspective as described in the tail gating incident would have occurred if I wasn’t in the meeting last night. So again – thank you. Elisa

This newsletter is packed with inspiration so I would encourage you to read the whole thing. You can subscribe to it here

In addition to positive articles on their website, they also have a media section that is worth checking out.

I have a confession to make. I usually don’t find time to read inspirational stuff. Then I wonder why I feel so bad and negative. Duh! I am making a resolution to read at least one inspiring thing a day! I hope you will join me!  Happy Thoughts! 😉

Joel Osteen You may think there is a lot wrong...

Joel Osteen You may think there is a lot wrong with you, but there is also a lot right with you (Photo credit: symphony of love)

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Mental Health Awareness Ribbon

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since this is Mental Health Awareness Month I”ve decided to gather some information and resources. First off, I am doing a shameless promotion for the organization that I used to work for, Mental Health America. In my neck of the woods they have a homeless assistance program, psychiatric care, therapy groups and a program for teens and young adults. They also have a peer-run mental health center, which is where I used to work. Not all locations have this, but those that don’t often have support groups in the community. You can find a location in your area here.

Here is a list of resources, taken from their website:

Need more Info?

There is more information on resources and what they are doing for Mental Health Awareness Month here.

Next up is NAMI, or the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  This organization’s main focus is to provide support for the family and friends of someone who is diagnosed with a mental illness. However in my area they have started support groups for mental health consumers as well. They are also an advocacy organization and they lobby the government for better mental health care. Here is a list of their services from their website:


nami_alex2 (Photo credit: amcmillensliqua)

NAMI HelpLine
The Information HelpLine is an information and referral service which can be reached by calling 1 (800) 950-NAMI (6264), Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., EST or by email at info@nami.org
Education, Training and Peer Support Center
NAMI State Organizations and local NAMI Affiliates offer an array of free education and support programs for individuals, family members, providers and the general public. These include Family-to-Family, Peer-to-Peer, NAMI Support Group, In Our Own Voice and more.
State and Local NAMIs
NAMI is the foundation for hundreds of NAMI State Organizations, NAMI Affiliates and volunteer leaders who work in local communities across the country to raise awareness and provide essential and free education, advocacy and support group programs.
Discussion Groups
Browse through hundreds of NAMI’s interactive group forums. With topics ranging from illness management, to job-hunting, to relationships, it’s never been easier to connect with others who’ve shared your lived experience.
Social Networks
Connect with NAMI through Social Media Channels on Facebook and Twitter or NAMI’s network for young adults, Strength of Us.
NAMI on Campus
NAMI on Campus provides information and resources to support students living with mental health conditions and to empower them to take action on their campuses.
Veterans & Military Resource Center
NAMI is proud to provide the following resources for veterans and active duty military members, as well as their families, friends, and advocates.
Multicultural Action Center
The Multicultural Action Center focuses on eliminating disparities in mental health care for diverse communities and offers help and hope to individuals of diverse backgrounds.
NAMI FaithNet
NAMI FaithNet is a network of NAMI members and friends dedicated to promoting caring faith communities and promoting the role of faith in recovery for individuals and families affected by mental illness.
Missing Persons Support
Resources and support for locating missing persons with mental illness.
NAMI Legal Support
The NAMI Legal Center provides lawyer referrals as a service to our members and the general public.
These are just a couple of organizations that can help. I am planning on making this a series because I would be writing a very long post if I want to include every organization!
Before you go I want to remind anyone who hasn’t seen my first post in this series to take a look.

Allowing Miracles

A Course in Miracles

A Course in Miracles (Photo credit: AlicePopkorn)

Miracles are natural; when they do not occur, something has gone wrong.

A Course in Miracles

Manifesting miracles does not necessarily mean that we will get what we want. Rather it means being open to possibilities:an attitude of expectancy, rather than expectations of a specific result. It means trusting the Universe to take care of our needs, even when our lives are in turmoil. We all have experienced miracles, even if we don’t know it. It may take the form of a stranger who just happens to direct you to the right help at the right time. We may find that the financial assistance and the housing we need comes through just in time. You may meet someone in a support group who has managed to beat the odds and become productive again. When we try to force miracles, however, they do not come and we become discouraged. But when we place our fate in Spirit’s hands things start happening. Miracles mean new directions and new opportunities. But for many of us, when we are in the depths of our bipolar illness, we often miss the miracles that are right in front of us. If we say, ” I don’t need medication, therapy doesn’t help, support groups are for losers”, then we are rejecting the very miracles that are offered to us. If we say, “I will never get well, it is useless to try”, then we will be right. Miracles also require effort, the willingness to seek out the resources that will help us, and put them to use. No one can help you unless you let them. Many of reject miracles out of pride; we are secretly ashamed of our illness. But if you open the door a tiny little crack to let the sunlight in, you allow space for your own miracles to happen. And remember, the biggest miracles is you, every one of us has inner strength that we are unaware of. We are all manifestations of God; we are not just our illness. If you have survived your illness to this point, then you have already manifested a miracle.

Today I will be open to whatever miracles come my way.


illness (Photo credit: cambiodefractal)

Every blade of grass has its’ angel that bends over it and whispers, ‘Grow, grow.’
The Talmud

Every one of us has that divine spark of life that strives for fulfillment. Just because we have an illness does not mean that we have to give up our dreams and crawl under the covers. A diagnosis is not a life-sentence. Rather it is a step towards recovery. Like the alcoholic, once we know what is wrong with us we can take steps to remedy  it. Many of us have lost jobs and careers due to our bipolar illness. We are demoralized by both our experiences and the stigmas against us. However, if we remember that life is a growth process first, destination second, then we may be able to see value in what was once the incomprehensible twists and turns of our lives. Maybe the Divine is steering us into directions we never thought of before.  Ask yourself, “What have I learned from my experiences? How can I use these experiences to set new goals in my life?”  It may be that your experiences may be of value to others. Start small: maybe before your illness you wanted to be a lawyer.  Maybe now you may want to be a mental health patient’s rights advocate and help others jump through the legal and bureaucratic hurdles that you once did.  And this can still lead to your bigger dream, so don’t give up. If you are drawn towards the helping professions, you can run support groups or become a peer counselor  (some mental health organizations pay consumers for both of these services). Brainstorm. There are a myriad of ways that you can use your experiences, both positive and negative, in service to humanity.

We all have a purpose in this life. Ask your angels and your Higher Power to reveal it to you.

America - home of the red, white and BLUES

America – home of the red, white and BLUES (Photo credit: Treasure Tia)

Now in my previous posts I have talked about how everything that happens to us has only one purpose, to contribute to our spiritual growth. I want to tell you about how these principles have worked and are still working in my life.

First of all, I have to admit that I am still learning. I am not always very good at applying these ideas to myself. It is easy to believe in abstract ideology, but hard to practice it. However when I do practice these principles, my life becomes much easier.

So I’ll give you a little history about myself and how I have been blessed by having bipolar disorder. Understand that at the times that these things happened, the idea of anything good coming out of them would have been laughable to me (that is, if I had been able to laugh). Hindsight is 20/20.

Career-wise having a nervous breakdown and getting fired from my job of twelve years was the best thing that ever happened to me. At the time, though, I was convinced that I was a total failure. I had zero confidence in myself even before I was fired. I worked a meaningless entry-level job. Every once in a while I would try to learn a new job there to advance myself, but I ended up always giving up because I was afraid of being judged. The same thing happened when I tried to finish college.  I yearned for a meaningful job, but I was too paralyzed to go for it.

It didn’t help my confidence any when a “friend” of mine actually told me that a monkey could do my job. Unfortunately, he wasn’t far off the mark.

After I was fired, I went through the worst depression of my life. I was hospitalized multiple times and I think even the doctors started giving up on me.  I felt helpless and hopeless.

Eventually I found a support group to go to and it helped a little. I found out that it was sponsored by the Mental Health Association (now called Mental Health America). I started going to other groups that they offered and I started to see some real improvement in my moods. I also got to know some of the staff there. Then a miracle happened. I was offered a job as a peer supporter at a new mental health center they were starting.

I felt completely at home there. I knew that this was what I was supposed to be doing.  All my fear and self-consciousness was gone. I became a much more confident person and I felt good about myself for the first time in my life. The love and support I found there among the staff and the members was just awesome.

I finally had a purpose to my life. I didn’t have a college degree and I wasn’t an expert by the world’s definition, but I did have something to give. I was an expert on myself. All I had to do was share what worked for me in my recovery, hoping that what I had to say would help others as well. And it worked both ways too. I received just as much, if not more, help as I gave.


“Stay tuned” for the second half of my post. 😉