Category Archives: Wellness

Greenville Entrepreneur To Talk About Life With Mental Illness

17 May 2016

Many people only know Nichole Livengood as a vibrant, creative, serial entrepreneur, who is also a “good mom.” Others know there’s more to the Travelers Rest resident, she said. They know her as a person who lives with mental illness. Livengood has talked about being bipolar on her blog, Gap Creek Gourmet, for years. On May 24, she’ll talk about it on a panel with other women who, like herself, are succeeding in their careers while dealing with a diagnosed mental illness. The event, “Breaking the Silence on Women’s Mental Health,” is being held in observance of National Mental Health Awareness, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency in Greenville. A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) Greenville. Livengood also hopes the event will benefit women who are suffering from mental illness in silence. She wants them to know that not only do they have nothing to be ashamed of, but that they can deal with it and move forward. Livengood’s genetic diagnosis came while she was in her late 20s. She views it like any other medical issue.

Joe Pantoliano Got Help For His Depression and So Can You

16 May 2016

famous face from Hollywood is helping people with mental illness. You know him as a TV and movie tough guy, but Joe Pantoliano was in North Haven Thursday morning with a much different message. You probably know Pantoliano from The Matrix, The Fugitive, and The Sopranos. What you probably didn’t know is that he suffers from clinical depression. That’s because, for years, he didn’t know he had it. Now he’s talking about it so other people can get help like he did. “We’re running away from our problems. We’re drugging our feelings away,” Pantoliano told a packed breakfast at Fantasia in North Haven. “We’re not talking our feelings away.” The famous actor and director ran and drugged his own problems away for years. He can laugh about his family’s problems now. “I never thought my mother was mentally ill. I just thought she was Italian-American,” he told the crowd, to a big laugh. In an interview with News8, he then said of his family’s mental illness, “We had it in our family and I didn’t even know it. I didn’t know that the family dysfunction had a mental component to it.” He says he spent years using food, alcohol and drugs to try to hide the pain he always had inside. Now, however, he shares his diagnosis of clinical depression with groups like the one this morning. It was the annual fundraiser for the Clifford Beers Clinic. The clinic provides mental health services to thousands of children in the New Haven area. Chief Executive Officer Alice Forrester said their experts recently did mental health assessments of middle school aged children in the inner city. “We’re finding 45-50% of the kids have full-blown PTSD,” she said. Yes, half the kids had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Pantoliano found out just how prevalent mental illness is when he started telling people the plot of his 2006 movie “Canvas.” “What happens to a family when mental illness is introduced into a family,” Pantoliano explained. “So people would say, ‘No kidding, me too, my brother is…’ Or, ‘No kidding, me too, my mother.’ ‘No kidding, me too, my sister.” That led Pantoliano to direct a documentary he titled “No Kidding! Me 2!” The film explores all kinds of mental illness, or dis-ease as Pantoliano puts it. He also created the No Kidding, Me 2! foundation to try to reduce the stigma of mental illness. “People don’t get help because they’re ashamed to ask for it. There’s that shame component,” said Pantoliano.

One Candidate’s Risky Bet: Talking About His PTSD

15 May 2016

Congressional candidate Sean Barney is doing something few politicians have dared: discussing his personal battle to overcome post-traumatic stress disorder from his tour in Iraq. As a Democrat running for Delaware’s at-large House seat, the Marine Corps veteran on Thursday is marking the 10th anniversary of what he calls his “alive day” — when he was shot through the neck and nearly died — by revealing publicly for the first time the invisible wounds he has struggled with far longer than the physical ones.


Decriminalizing Mental Illness

14 May 2016

Over the last 30 years, the U. S. prison system has become home to more than 350,000 individuals living with a severe mental illness — that is 10 times the number of patients that receive treatment in state psychiatric hospitals. Our under-resourced, and overcrowded jails and prisons are not equipped to support these individuals, and many who enter the system leave sicker than when they were detained. It is time to decriminalize mental illness and invest in well-informed policies, intervention programs, and treatment clinics. Let me first offer some historical perspective to understand where we are today. Psychiatric hospitals were built in the 1800s to treat mental illness. At their height in 1959, state mental hospitals held approximately 559,000 patients. Although established on moral principles, these institutions fell out of favor during the 1950s through the 70s following accusations of patient neglect and were replaced by community care facilities and services. After a few years, the cost and logistics of community-based care became unsustainable. Thousands of people lost access to care, and without meaningful alternatives, were funneled into the prison system. In short, our prisons have become the new asylums.

How To Explain Anxiety to People Who Don’t Understand

13 May 2016

If you have an anxiety disorder, know that you’re not alone: the Anxiety Disorders Association Of America reports that anxiety disorder is the most common mental health condition in America, affecting around 18 percent of the entire population. And it’s important to remember that there’s a wide variety of anxiety disorders that people struggle with, from post-traumatic stress disorder to general anxiety disorder to specific phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Unfortunately, when it comes to explaining the concept of anxiety disordersto the uninitiated, that variety — and some common misunderstandings about what “anxiety” really means in its disordered state – can confuse some well-meaning but ill-informed people. If you need some guidance regarding how to let friends or family into the realities of your anxiety condition, the tips below may help.

You may not be able to communicate the details of your disorder if you don’t fully understand them yourself, so the first step to educating others is to get educated. Is your particular experience common to the disorder? What treatment is available? Do you have specific anxiety triggers, and if so, do you know what they are?

Of course, you may not feel like being the information bureau about this particular issue for your friends and family, which is a wholly legitimate and understandable way to feel. If that’s the case, you may want to direct them to some sources of information that can explain it further. The mental health organization Mind and the National Institute of Mental Health both have good resources that get into the nitty-gritty in intelligible ways.

But if you do want to try to help the people in your life who do not have anxiety disorders to try to better understand your experience, here are a few tips for explaining anxiety to people without much experience of it as a serious problem. Good luck, my friend.

What Tinnitus Is Teaching Me About Recovery

12 May 2016

He was a huge help. His uniform said “Security,” but he was more like a human GPS. I was late for an appointment, sweaty and in a bit of a panic. I walked up to his building and before I could even open the door, he had it open for me. His uniform threw me off a bit. I wasn’t looking for trouble, just directions. “Can you tell me where this address is?” I asked. “Right around the corner, up two blocks,” he answered. In a few minutes, I was at my appointment. Grateful and now focused on getting my hearing checked. My hearing needs some care and attention these days. Not because my wife told me to get it looked at, although she probably has wondered about it.I have tinnitus, a constant high pitched ringing in both ears. It is not a gift, not a super power, just an irritation. It’s like having a pre-adolescent Justin Bieber singing one continuous note in my head. For more about my journey with tinnitus, see this humorous post on the 16 Ways to Cope With Tinnitus (Ear Stalking). The doctor did not tell me anything I did not know. There is not much that the medical system can do for this condition. Thanks, Doc. Turns out the Security Guard was more helpful than my Doctor. I guess that I’m like Humpty Dumpty. My doctor can’t put me back together.


Therapy Animals Help College Students Cope With Stress

11 May 2016

College is going to the dogs, and even a few cats these days. As a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania for 38 years, Mary Jalongo saw her share of students stressed out as finals approached. Now retired, Jalongo, a longtime dog lover who has researched and written about the benefits of therapy dogs, is doing her part to ease those stress levels. She is among a legion of therapy dog handlers who have put college campuses throughout the region on their itineraries. Once the province of nursing homes, hospitals and elementary schools, therapy dogs — canines specially trained and certified to interact with people in institutional settings — are going to college. Nicollette Long, an IUP sophomore from Philadelphia, couldn’t be happier. Long, 20, was among hundreds of students taking a break from studying for finals and finishing term papers to head to the school’s Stapleton Library to pet a pup. Although there were about a half-dozen handlers with a variety of therapy dogs — ranging from an 85-pound golden retriever to a pint-sized Pomeranian — it was Jalongo’s laid-back Italian greyhound, Fiona, that caught Long’s eye and claimed her heart. “Being an animal lover and growing up with dogs, she put a smile on my face. She was just an adorable, loving dog,” Long said. “And it was very relaxing, especially right before I had to go to math class.” The feeling is mutual, said Julie Baker of Blairsville. Baker’s 2-year-old golden retriever, Marley, lapped up the attention and ended up on his back enjoying belly rubs from students.

‘Kanye Saved Me,’ Lamar Odom Says

10 May 2016

Dwight Howard isn’t the only NBA player to get an impromptu Kanye West concert while being stuck in a hospital. Turns out, Lamar Odom got a private performance, too…albeit, under completely different circumstances.

While Kevin Love and the rest of the world were gearing up for Game of Thrones on Sunday, a new episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians hit the airwaves. And in that episode, Kim Kardashian discussed how big of a role Kanye played in Lamar Odom’s road to recovery – even though no images or footage of Odom being in hospital were ever meant to make it on the show.

Because Odom, who was hospitalized last year after being found unconscious at a Nevada brothel, was unable to communicate with friends and family at the time – “Lamar wasn’t able to walk,” Khloe Kardashian said, “he had no facial recognition” – Kanye used music as a way of getting through to Odom.

“There was a moment when Lamar couldn’t really express himself and he couldn’t really talk, but he could hear what we were saying to him,” Kim said. “Kanye really felt we can cure him through music, like we can get him to talk. He would go to the hospital and he would rap and sing, and I think Lamar started to get his function back and started to talk once he started to listen to a lot of music.”

How Music Therapy Brings Joy to People With Hearing Loss

09 May 2016

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia will cost $236 billion this year in the United States alone. Besides the significant monetary cost, memory loss can also take a significant toll on personal relationships. What’s more, changes in mood and personality can dramatically alter a family’s way of life. Unfortunately, medications that treat memory loss are expensive and still have a long way to go before they are truly effective. That’s why many aging services providers are adopting alternative therapies for older adults with memory loss, in addition to medication. These therapies can help people with memory loss connect with their loved ones, soothe emotional distress and reduce the need for antipsychotics.

Music & Memory, a personalized music therapy program for those with memory loss, has shown real impact on mood, social engagement and family relationships, and it has our attention here at Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services (CMSS). The program is gaining traction across the country as another tool for helping those with memory loss.

Coming to Terms With My Mother’s Mental Illness

07 May 2016

My mother looked her doctor straight in the eye. “You’ve got to let me out of here,” she said. “I’m building 36 luxury condos in Malibu.” The doctor nodded his head, excused himself, and called me. “Is it true?” he asked. It wasn’t. It sounded convincing—my mother is a formidable woman—but can also be deeply delusional, which is how she ended up in a closed ward at UCLA’s hospital. Her mental state was no news to my sister and me: when we were children, she claimed that she’d been impregnated by an extraterrestrial and that California would soon be falling into the ocean. By the time I started the eighth grade, we moved in with my father as she took off to join a cult in Virginia, giving them a large chunk of her divorce settlement as the price of admission. Mom, my sister and I eventually learned, was schizotypal, a relatively rare personality disorder characterized by ingratiating first impressions, supernatural thinking, and an unshakable belief that they know best how the world is ordered. Early on, whenever my mother was being oversensitive—whenever she claimed insight into the workings of the universe, whenever she leapt into some fit of anxiety bursting with tears—my sister and I would shrug our shoulders and tell ourselves that all Jewish mothers, as the stereotype goes, were probably like that; that she drove us crazy because that was her innate modus operandi; that all of her irrational behaviors were forgivable, even endearing; that they were explicable parts of a long tradition of mothering we’d seen in movies and television shows and read in books by Philip Roth.