Fifty thousand dollars!

Markel representative hands NAMI Executive Director, Kathy Harkey a check for $50,000.

I am a board member for NAMI Virginia and newly appointed fundraising chair. I did a panel event about mental health earlier this year, hosted by Markel Corporation employee Deborah and Mary A. Deborah told her mental health story for the first time and it was incredible and brave and her co-workers were in disbelief that the person they see as so together had struggled with addiction and mental health issues.

Later that year, Markel sponsored the NAMI virtual walk. I introduced Portia, one of the staff at … Read more...

Never is a dangerous word

Photo Credit: Metallica Through the Never Album Cover

We use this word when we are highly emotional. Or when we feel life has not treated us fairly.

“My son died and I’ll never get over it.”

“My daughter has relapsed so many times, she’ll never get her act together.”

“I’ll never fall in love again after my husband left me.”

“I’ll never get that promotion.”

“My life sucks and it will never get better.”

Besides being a self-fulfilling prophecy, it can make others feel hopeless and undermine their potential. But hey, you feel what you feel right?

You can do … Read more...

Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are

Many of us beat ourselves up about not doing enough or being enough. Or we allow someone else to imply we could do more.

What we fail to do is tell ourselves is that we are enough.

So while I often hear, “Meet others where they are.” My question to you is, “Are you meeting yourself where you are?”

Because if you are expecting yourself to make a million-dollar house out of ten dollars worth of plywood, you will disappoint yourself. You are creating unrealistic expectations that are bound to make you feel like a failure.

You should be your … Read more...

How important is self-care?

I remember thinking, “How can I possibly care for myself when I have no time?” I know now that I have to put my oxygen mask on before I put it on others. It was painful to learn that.

The times I decided to bag the support group and do something else meant I was giving up that which was working for me at a time when I needed it most. Those times you decide to meditate, go to yoga, take a hot bath, play golf, go for a run, allows you the break you need to refuel and gain … Read more...

It’s the helplessness

After Charles died, helplessness and I had a come-to-Jesus moment. I couldn’t make it budge, reverse engineer it, or even make it change its mind.

It stood stubbornly in its place reminding me that I couldn’t change the outcome. That I was a victim to the emotion to which I was now facing. I didn’t want to do grief. I wanted to back out of it. But it swept me away anyway. I had no choice.

Helplessness and I first met when a loved one started using drugs and alcohol as a teen. I couldn’t stop it, change the course, … Read more...

In April 2020, my life almost came to a halt

by Jessica Donovan Amend

Sitting in my bathroom, with my then fiancé asleep in our bedroom just a few feet away, I sat with tears streaming down my face. I literally fell to my knees praying that God would help me figure this out, help me through this agony that I felt so deeply in my soul.

Now I’m not going to say that YOU need to believe in God and I’m also not going to say that I know anything for certain, but what I do know is that this night, God showed up for me. That night I … Read more...

Coping strategies for extreme emotions

Whether you’ve lost someone you love, your are struggling with thoughts of suicide, or you are suffering under the weight of any extreme emotion, there are strategies for managing the tsunami.

Here are four responses to extreme emotion.

  • Change in temperature
  • Intense exercise
  • Paced breathing
  • Cheerleading

To employ any one of these strategies, you have to create a pause. That’s a mindfulness technique of stopping yourself and taking one deep breath. There are times in life you don’t have time for a deep breath.

Change in temperature

A change in temperature, usually cold actually has an effect on your body … Read more...

One Teacher’s License Plate Mental Health Project

Written by Anne Moss Rogers from an interview with Tammy Ozolins, Middle School Teacher, Pocohantas Middle School in Henrico, VA

3D printer plate from student design- Image from Tammy Ozolins
This was the student design. Since the original images were too small for publishing in the book, designer Carolyn Tye McGeorge rendered these in high resolution for publication.

Tammy Ozolins, also known to her middle school students as Ms. Oz, is lucky to have the full support of her principal and the school counselors in her efforts to have open conversations on mental health topics. For her students’ school projects … Read more...

How do you help someone who doesn’t want help?

We want our loved ones to go to therapy, rehab, take their medication or do their follow-up. But many times with those who struggle with behavioral health, whether mental illness, addiction, or both, don’t always want to comply with treatment. What’s more, teens doing drugs want even less to do with healthcare because they have “all-natural” solutions to the pain they are enduring. Never mind that they move to unnatural remedies.

The point is, they don’t want to listen to you. And you may not have the relationship now to get them to accept treatment or take medication. Not because … Read more...

Why do people cut?

People cut to:

  • Help them feel something when they are numb inside
  • Be able to physically see the pain they feel inside
  • To punish themselves
  • Push their pain away
  • Feel a sense of control, joy, or excitement
  • Communicate their emotional pain to others
  • Distract themselves from emotionally painful issues

To those who can’t fathom it, cutting is a mysterious practice. Why would anyone do that to themselves?

People cut to cope with any number of situations–grief, rape, thoughts of suicide, an eating disorder, depression, sexual abuse, relationship disruption, and more. Cutting is a way to turn intangible pain into tangible … Read more...