Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Upside of Down … A happy new year … 2014

balloons 2014 THE UPSIDE OF DOWN

I’m bound for a place called The Upside of Down.

It isn’t a city, nor is it a town.

It’s a chink in the darkness where light filters in

Or the hint of a smile turns into a grin.


I’m searching and seeking. Oh, where can it be?

An astonishing find.  It’s hidden in me.

The Upside of Down is the ‘yes’ side of ‘no’.

It’s around the corner. I’m ready to go.


I’ll get there much sooner if I don’t hesitate.

Now is the time. Before it’s too late.

For the Upside of Down will not come into view

If I don’t lift my head and decide what to do.


I wish you all a Happy and a Healthy New Year for 2014 as well as the ability to look on the bright side of life. Let us all seek the half full cup even when it seems impossible. Let’s count our blessings even if we only find one or two, and look forward not backward.


aquarius 1I glanced at the Horoscope page, which is something I rarely do and something caught my eye. I quote: You always think ahead and make plans for your future. A conversation with a water sign may not bring you the answers you are looking for, but will give you the information you need to hear. Those who know you best know how serious and responsible you are, and this week you will have little patience with people who don’t keep their promises. Shake off doubts from your past. You aren’t there any longer.

The last two lines were the ones that made an impression on me in particular. Shake off doubts from your past. You aren’t there any longer. No, I am not and that is why I have been trying so hard to move on, to find new interests, to look forward and to find the positive wherever I can. So, maybe I am doing the right thing after all?

When I am feeling down

I would like to start my blog with my late husband’s favorite quote:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference.

When I am having a down day, I start off by having a glass of soda water.  Then I treat myself to some chocolate and go for a brisk walk. I :call a friend who makes me laugh. I might call another who makes me feel good about myself.

I listen to my favorite music. I spend ten minutes browsing through snapshots of people I love. check out facebook, send emails to friends and family and I know that when I clean up the clutter in my apartment it helps me feel useful, especially if I get rid of things I will never use nor wear. I wear clothes that I feel good in and I offer to babysit my adorable grandchildren.

And then I feel ready to face the day and find all the positive things in my life. And there are many.

Gratefulness makes me happy

Gratefulness makes me happy, but being happy does not make me grateful.

I used to wait for something special to occur. But, when it didn’t, I started working on things that interested me, and this took my mind off the waiting.

Prime Minister David Cameron – on Dementia

The most powerful nations in the world will be in London for the first-ever G8 Dementia Summit. Dementia has become a National Crisis.   ‘As Prime Minister, I have met many of the 800,000 Dementia patients and listened to their stories. As a father, son and husband, I’ve been incredibly moved. Imagine what it must be like to watch someone you live slipping away from you, perhaps unable to recognize you. They have my pledge: We are transforming Britain’s response to Dementia.’

This condition costs Britain about 19 billion pounds a year, higher than the costs of cancer, heart disease or strokes. Dementia has been downplayed or  mistaken for a natural part of the aging process.

First, the idea is to improve the diagnosis rates. Catch it early and life can be easier for so many. Britain as run an awareness campaign on television and got general practitioners to check more closely for signs of dementia. They are getting society involved in this fight back.

The most powerful nations in the world will sit around a table soon to discuss this to join forces on research and the national fight back against dementia will be matched by an international one and they will join forces when results come in.

Prime Minister Cameron, I am impressed. I don’t even live in England but my husband suffered from Alzheimer’s disease so I am all for what you are trying to do.


People with mental problems are our neighbors…

Written by Rosalynn Carter

People with mental problems are our neigbors. They are members of our congregations, members of our families: they are everywhere in the country. (in the world)

If we ignore their cries for help, we will continue to participate in the anguish from which those cries for help come. A problem of this magnitude will not go away. And because it will not go away, and because of our spiritual commitments, we are compelled to take action.

labels 2

December 25th, 2013

christmas decoration

Handling the holidays

While Christmas should be a time of joy, parties and family gatherings, there are people all over the world who are lonely.  For others, the Christmas vacation means fun, relaxation and seeing relatives who live far away. It’s the time for families to spend time together. The reasons for sadness over this holiday can be because of grief, loneliness, illness, economic concerns or divorce, to quote a few.

Some people experience temporary feelings of depression like the ‘holiday blues’ or Seasonal Affective Disorder while many other live with mental illness every day. The holiday season is especially difficult when a person with a mental illness is dealing with feelings of sadness, loneliness, depression and anxiety which are the exact opposite of the ‘Merry Christmas’ images they see all around them – before, during and after the holiday season. My wish is that a miracle cure will be found for all the mental illnesses, as well as for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s Disease and other brain illnesses that have yet to be addressed.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Cognitive Remediation where mental illness is concerned

Does mental illness cause emotional problems as well as cognitive problems? I know that people suffering from anxiety, schizophrenia, OCD, Asperger’s disorder and depression find it difficult to think clearly and have problems retaining information and paying attention.

Cognitive skills can be learned in various ways. One is computer-based whereby individuals work at their own laptops on tasks given them to work on at their own pace.

Other groups discuss strategies to improve their cognitive skills and develop ways of using newly gained  cognitive abilities.. This helps them improve their performance when carrying out everyday tasks.

Others learn social skills. They learn to perceive the intentions of other people and also learn how to act appropriately in various situations.

Another method is to teach management skills and how to live independently. This is what we tried to persuade our son to do but he refused to attend a single session. Someone told me that her recovery from mental illness was a result of her reliance on cognitive remediation. This therapy is roughly 20-years-old but I believe that it is gaining wider acceptance once again.

working on iPad

When sadness becomes a daily occurrence

depressed childHow do parents know if their child’s sadness is a part of regular growing up or a sign of something more serious? I think we all know what it is like to feel down sometimes. Well teenagers have their ups and downs too and every parent thinks that it could be a problem at school, a boyfriend or girlfriend issue, a family problem or even the death of a grandparent, which is acceptable. But if it continues for over two weeks, most parents realize that it needs to be looked into.

I only heard about this when we were in the ‘mental illness’ cycle. Apparently, many young people experience real depression and anxiety disorders at some time or another. If they are simply going through a difficult time, it will no doubt pass but if this period does not pass, it should not be neglected. By listening to parents speaking, we learned about some warning signs.

If a teenager becomes aggressive suddenly and provokes fights; if he has such bad anxiety attacks that he has difficulty breathing; if he/she is unable to make simple decisions and there is a change in his/her concentration levels, it needs to be checked out. If there is a change in his/her eating habits; complaints of stomach pains and headaches; a sudden weight loss or complaints of being worthless, he/she needs help. If that teenager’s sleeping patterns change and he/she withdraws from a previously active social life, it is advisable to seek help.

I was told that if the problem is dealt with as soon as possible, it is not too late to be of help. Of course that teenager could be taking drugs which is a different issue altogether that needs to be checked out.

From my experience of running a support group, depression can make one feel pretty desperate.

Dogs for people with psychiatric problems

I have read about psychiatric service dogs but only recently heard about it from someone who has one. It is a service dog that is trained to assist its handler who has a psychiatric disability.

For someone who gets dizzy due to the medication he/she is taking, these dogs are trained to pick up dropped items.

For a person who becomes disorientated when he/she dissociates and wanders off, the dog is trained to stop that person from getting lost and guides him/her home when given the command.

For someone who hallucinates about seeing a stranger at his front door or about smelling smoke when there isn’t any – the dog is trained to notify him/her if a stranger is at the front door or in the house and if there is smoke coming out of the house.

These dogs can give its handler an increased sense of security and great relief from feelings of isolation. The dogs also motivate the persoon to exercise. Our family did not know about these dogs when our son was ill but we had a black Belgian Shepherd that added great comfort and meaning to our son’s life. He walked that dog so far and for so long that there were times that I worried about the dog as she was no longer a puppy. But, that dog gave him easier access to the world as taking her out gave him a reason to visit places he might not have gone to otherwise. She gave him a whole lot of emotional support and also a sense of self-esteem. She most definitely gave him a sense of purpose. He felt the need to walk due to the fact that he could not sit still for long so, when she was by his side, his mood improved and he enjoyed the walks that he so much needed. She actually encouraged im to  interact socially with others as she drew attention to herself. People saw man and dog together for so many hours that they approaced and spoke to our son. Last but not least, and most important of all, that dog gave our son affection and nonjudgmental companionship and love.

belgian shepherd 2