Posts Tagged ‘mental illness’

IMG_7618.JPG4 years ago I made the decision that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired being a Negative Nancy and being down in the dumps constantly. 6 months of a deep depression where I had lost almost 70 pounds due to stress and anxiety, unable to complete sentences because my mind would not allow me to choose the right words in fear of saying something wrong, weeks upon weeks of insomnia in which even if I was able to fall asleep, I’d wake up in the middle of the night with sweat-soaked pillows….a point in my life I wouldn’t wish upon ANYBODY, but I know people who are in my life currently are at.

What I realized that day was that I had not only the ability to choose thoughts that empowered me, but the responsibility to do so….not only for myself, but for people in my life that DEPENDED on me. In a world that pumps us full of negative information from the TV, the Internet, the radio, the check-out lane gossip magazines to the people in our lives that thrive on neighborhood gossip…I CHOSE to inoculate myself with the teachings of Les Brown, Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn, Zig Ziglar….and I still have the bookmark folder on my internet browser I titled “cognitive development” to prove and remind me of it. I chose not to live being dependent on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety pills for the rest of my life….and instead chose to take full responsibility for my life and the happenings in it and chose to be bigger than my problems by RE-WIRING and RE-TRAINING my brain. Personal development is the exercise your brain needs…just like those squats you do for your butt. No personal development and your brain atrophies.

Worry is a useless emotion…once you understand just what it is. If you’re going to THINK about a future event, you might as well think positively about it and fill that time reading or listening to things that empower you…not by listening to the voice in your head that continues to scare you.

My Christmas wish is for everyone who is currently suffering from depression to take steps to start to re-train their brain. Your past does not equal the future….and nobody’s opinion of you equals your reality. Each and every one of us has the ability to make today the first day of the rest of our life….and make it the BEST of our life.

God bless.


depressedAt times, we may get into a state where we just feel stuck. A state where no matter how positive our outlook is, the blows keep on coming. It can get exhausting. The truth is, none of us are immune from problems. Life happens to everyone, it’s how we react to life that will determine the quality of it. Easier said than done, I know. Car break down at the most inopportune time? You’re working overtime busting your butt trying to pay the bills but they don’t seem like they’re going anywhere, possibly even getting worse? It’s easy to want to feel like no matter what you do, it’s not worth it.

This post is not to cram some positive thinking hodge podge down your throat. I’m not going to do that because I know that no matter what I say to you about telling you to do something or to think something, it’s not going to work. I will however challenge you to think differently. I will challenge you to think about the process, the process moving from a current struggle in your life THROUGH it to where you want to be. It’s to get you UN-STUCK.

So why do some people achieve success and why do others seem to get stuck? Why do some people quit trying to achieve a goal while others achieve them so easily? Why do people quit in the face of adversity? The number one reason why people quit doing the things they want is simply because they fear being uncomfortable. They don’t understand that there is going to be some sweat equity involved. They don’t understand that in order to have something you’ve never had, you have to do things you’ve never done. Most people are simply afraid to step out of their comfort zone. Also, successful people (I’m referring to successful people as those that have achieved what they’ve set out to) have adopted a framework, a process that makes the goal real and achievable.

Loving-Couple-Photography-19The first thing you can do is to create a compelling future for the thing that you want to do. This is simply a reason, a feeling that is generated by the action that you want to create. This should be a statement that actually draws you TOWARDS the goal, not keeps you where you’re at. If you want to lose weight you shouldn’t say, “I want to lose weight because I’m fat.” Can you feel how big of a drag that is? There’s no compelling future there, only a compelling thought that you want to go plant your ass back on the couch! Instead, ask yourself how would it feel for you to lose weight? What would it look like to you? How would your spouse feel about you losing weight? How would you feel about the way your spouse feels about you losing weight? Would you feel happy? Would you feel more energetic? Would you be more hopeful? See how this creates positive emotion inside you and how it generates excitement for you to act? A lot different than the opposite, right?

Secondly, MATCH AND MODEL. Find the tools that will get you to where you want to go. Seek advice from people who have done what you want to do. If you want to lose weight, obviously you’d want to get a gym membership and maybe even enlist the help of a personal trainer…at the very least, learn different exercises and how the machines work, talk to a nutritionist and learn about what to eat and what to stay away from. Find people who have done what you want to do and do what they’ve done. Now, if the personal trainer and the nutritionist are overweight and out of shape, should you listen to them? Probably not!!! If you want advice about how to have a healthy relationship, should you take advice from people who have had multiple divorces? Probably not! Find someone that has what you want. Find out WHAT they did to achieve those results. Do EXACTLY what they did to get those results, and guess what. You’ll achieve the very same results. This example may be a little outdated since most refrigerators these days come standard with ice-makers, but we all remember filling up ice cube trays and throwing them in the freezer, right? Think about how UNCONSCIOUS we were at doing that. Did we ever stop and think one time, “I dunno…maybe this time it may not work…” NO! Of course not! A long time ago, someone discovered that if you have temperatures that are less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you can create ice cubes by putting water in this little plastic contraption with little dividers in it that look like squares!

There is one more aspect, and that is the freedom of, or acting despite inner conflict. If you have a compelling future, if you have the tools and have found who to match and model, but you don’t believe you deserve the success you may achieve, do you think you’ll be motivated to achieve it? If you have a compelling future and have the tools and found someone to match and model, but you still don’t believe you can achieve it, do you think you will? Probably not. It is ESSENTIAL for one to be free of personal conflict. You must believe you deserve and you must believe that you can. OR, find a mentor, a close friend that will push you so that you can borrow THEIR belief in you until you develop it yourself. This is acting despite inner conflict. Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” Back to the compelling future! Is your goal more important that the pain you may experience or the fear that you’re experiencing now? It should be. There may be other inner conflicts one may experience as well. This could be resentment of others, regret for past actions/choices, guilt for previous actions/choices, among others. I’ll agree with you…just those three last conflicts I listed are tough to overcome. They require deep soul-searching. The good news is that you can DECIDE to live your life differently starting TODAY that you have up until now. YOUR PAST DOES NOT DICTATE YOUR FUTURE.

I’m a Christian. I’m not here to push my beliefs on you, but it’s where I draw a considerable amount of my strength from. My beliefs are my beliefs. I believe that we were created in God’s image. I believe that we were created with greatness and we all have God-given abilities to do anything we want to do. Its just up to us to learn where to find them and how to use them. I also believe that God wants us to live in abundance. Not just in terms of abundance of money, but abundance of health, abundance of love, abundance of friendships, abundance of DREAMS! I believe that God put dreams in our heart not to torment us, but so that we pursue them! Our dreams are most often our purpose! A lot of people will say that what they have currently in their life is good enough. It could be a great marriage, healthy children, a secure job…that’s all fine. That’s okay. But appreciation for what you have is different than a dream that is untapped. Remember when you were a child, an adolescent. We all spoke with conviction about how we thought our lives would look like later in life. We were CERTAIN. Remember it. What did you tell your parents your life would look like? What did you tell your friends you would be doing? Is that the way life is looking for you currently? Most often with most people it isn’t. This creates an inner conflict. Achievement of our dreams is where one finds personal fulfillment. Pursuing your dream gives others permission to achieve theirs! One of the greatest speakers of our time Mr. Les Brown once said, “The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.” You’ll be amazed at the results you can achieve when you act with faith, belief, and conviction of your dreams.

“The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right. Which one are you?” – Henry Ford

If you are currently seeking answers, if you are currently looking for a way for you to get “un-stuck” via a proven system for success, please read my story about how I turned my Mess Into A Message.

A nurse has recorded the most common regrets of the dying, and among the top ones is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’. What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life?

A palliative nurse has recorded the top five regrets of the dying. Photograph: Montgomery Martin/Alamy

There was no mention of more sex or bungee jumps. A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men in particular, is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

What’s your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?

Read the original article at The Guardian.

From 20SomethingFinance:

We, as Americans, work too many hours. If you don’t believe so, check out the following data points that compare us to our peers around the world.

American Work-Life Balance
■According to the Center for American Progress on the topic of work and family life balance, “in 1960, only 20 percent of mothers worked. Today, 70 percent of American children live in households where all adults are employed.” I don’t care who stays home and who works in terms of gender (work opportunity equality for all – it’s a family choice). Either way, when all adults are working (single or with a partner), that’s a huge hit to the American family and free-time in the American household.
■The U.S. is the ONLY country in the Americas without a national paid parental leave benefit. The average is over 12 weeks of paid leave anywhere other than Europe and over 20 weeks in Europe.
■Zero industrialized nations are without a mandatory option for new parents to take parental leave. That is, except for the United States.

American Average Work Hours:
■At least 134 countries have laws setting the maximum length of the work week; the U.S. does not.

In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week.

■According to the ILO, “Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.”
■Using data by the U.S. BLS, the average productivity per American worker has increased 400% since 1950. One way to look at that is that it should only take one-quarter the work hours, or 11 hours per week, to afford the same standard of living as a worker in 1950 (or our standard of living should be 4 times higher). Is that the case? Obviously not. Someone is profiting, it’s just not the average American worker.

American Paid Vacation Time & Sick Time:
■There is not a federal law requiring paid sick days in the United States.
■The U.S. remains the only industrialized country in the world that has no legally mandated annual leave.
■In every country included except Canada and Japan (and the U.S., which averages 13 days/per year), workers get at least 20 paid vacation days. In France and Finland, they get 30 – an entire month off, paid, every year.
■Then there’s this depressing graph on average paid vacation time in industrialized countries:

The Impact of Too Much Work

I’m not telling you to work less hours. If you genuinely love what you do and are doing it for the right reasons, you are more than entitled to spend all of your waking hours plugging away.

But for many of us, more work leads to more stress and a lower quality of life. Without time to unwind, take care of your home, spend time with loved ones, enjoy our hobbies, connect with friends, and generally live a more balance life. Stress is the #1 cause of health problems – mentally and physically. And there are few things that stress us out on a consistent basis like work does, especially when it takes away from all of the other things that life has to offer.

Americans are the Outliers

And if all of this data tells anything, it’s that we are the outliers, not the norm. Why are we the outliers?
■Our companies fairly ruthlessly let people go. We want to keep our jobs and not be a ‘low performer’ compared to others.
■The decline of the union has led to less paid time off and other leave benefits.
■Cultural value of money over everything else. We love money, we want more of it, and we think money can buy happiness. And the more we work, the more we get paid.
■It’s been drilled in our heads that we are lazy compared to emerging market counterpart workers in India, Mexico, China, and other parts of Asia. Who isn’t? And what is our mental image of the work environments in those locales? To validate those fears, our jobs are being outsourced to the cheap labor in those countries. In reality, the U.S. is still the world leader in productivity per person.
■Our legislative branch of the government (on both sides of the aisle) has been bought and as a result has shied away from passing laws that protect workers that every other industrialized nation has passed.
■We generally don’t fight for our working rights. We take what is given to us.

What we All Need to Remember

What we all need to remind ourselves is that it doesn’t have to be this way.
■It’s OK to ask to move to fewer hours at work.
■It’s OK to take a week-long vacation if we need to. (Book your vacation at High Five Travel!!!
■It’s OK to ask to work from home.
■It’s OK to take a month of unpaid leave while you raise a child.
■It’s OK… you get the idea.

Don’t let life pass you by in the name of fear, circumstance, greed, or misguided hopes. Sometimes you just need to draw a line in the sand and say “enough is enough”.

As amazing as it sounds, last night was the first time in my life that I have seen “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” starring Jack Nicholson. Supported by other high-profile celebrities such as Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd (Doc from Back to the Future) and directed by Michael Douglas, this is one of the first movies to bring mental illness awareness to the masses in a time where the topic was shunned and even swept under the rug.

I was so taken back by this movie in so many different ways that I don’t even know where to start, but the main topic that I want to touch on first is how fearful the patients are. Fearful for trying anything and how submissive and dependent they have become under not only Nurse Ratched, but dependent to a set schedule and lifestyle. Fear had taken over their lives and when introduced with new ideas or activities, it initially created havoc. But what was amazing was that when the patients saw McMurphy imagine he was actually watching the World Series, others followed. It opened up their minds to imagine such a beautiful thing as our nations pasttime, The Fall Classic.

Most individuals with mental illness develop a sense of dependency or a loss of individualism where they constantly doubt their ability to do anything. Furthermore, fear plays a role in this because it doesn’t stop at the doubt, it continues with the worry that if they were to try to do something, that they will fail. There are several instances in this film where McMurphy actively shows and encourages his friends to try different things, from a simple activity such as fishing, or playing blackjack, and especially showing Chief how to play basketball. The sense of joy the characters felt when they came to harbor with huge fish, or how much they LOVED to lose their cigarettes playing blackjack and eagerness to TRY to win them back, or when Chief scored a few baskets is what all people in life, not just those with mental illness, strive to attain. We all feel a sense of accomplishment when we achieve something ourselves. We all need a little push in life to try different things, or to be shown how. But once the ball is rolling, there is no stopping it.<

The second part of the film that struck a cord with me is the therapy session immediately after McMurphy found out that he would not be released according to the length of his prison sentence. He went on to learn that most of the patients were there on their own accord, which is huge, but it outraged McMurphy and pointed out to each that they were only as crazy as every other person on the street.

After the scuffle that occurred after this session, McMurphy, Chief, and Cheswick were sent up to the floor above. While McMurphy and Chief were sitting on the bench after seeing Cheswick get brought away, McMurphy offered Chief a piece of Juicy Fruit. It was by no mistake that the first words Chief had spoken in this movie were to McMurphy, and it was also no mistake that those first words were “Thank You”. The things that McMurphy taught people to see in themselves meant the world to them, to the point that Billy pleaded with McMurphy to stay in the facility right before he was set to make his escape to Canada. When McMurphy was returned to the dorm at the end of the movie, Chief tells McMurphy he was ready to leave, that he was strong as a mountain and he had been waiting for him to return.

McMurphy initially had alterior motives for pretending he was “crazy” – so that he could get out of prison, but while in the facility he pointed out that no one in there was crazier than anyone else on the outside. Maybe we all need to realize that we’re just as crazy as everyone else as well, or the “crazies” out there are no more crazy than us. We all need a McMurphy in our lives, or maybe we all need to be the McMurphy.

Rich Revord from High Fives Are Free and Andrew Lonergan from Poolside With Lucky roam the streets of Downtown Saint Paul this past summer to speak with Saint Paulites about what’s going on in their lives and give them a High Five! Truly an eye opening experience…it was great to see so many smiles in the city on such a gorgeous day!

Seriously…the next time you’re feeling down and out, go give someone a High Five. The joy that you feel from seeing someone else smile at something so “crazy” or “corny” is PRICELESS.

Subscribe to this blog, leave a comment, and/or support High Fives Are Free by visiting our Online Store. Each purchase will help organizations such as NAMI who are truly making a difference providing resources to those battling mental illness. God Bless.

In today’s world, mental illness has skyrocketed for a number of reasons. I believe one is valid, and the other may or not be. The one that I believe is valid is because in an economy like the one we are currently in, people are working harder for a dollar that is worth less to put food on the table and a roof over their head. As a result, stress is higher not only in the workplace, but in the relationship at home. People are desperately trying to find a balance between home and work, and most of the time, it is unsuccessful. The second reason, I believe anyway, is that due to the overwhelming number of people who seek attention from medical experts for their stress, depression, anxiety – as acute as it may be – unfortunately do not receive the individualized attention to make an accurate assessment and diagnosis and get grouped into a much larger subset of people needing much more help. With these people, one session with a therapist could be the session to get to the root of the problem but unfortunately they get prescribed an anti-depressant that takes weeks to take effect.

I think it’s no secret by now that in the summer and early fall of 2010, I was severely depressed. It was to the point that I no longer had the confidence in myself to be effective at my job being an account executive, but also being a sales manager that needs to guide my sales staff to be effective as THEY can be. It also affected my relationship at home because, working longer hours in the office to make up for my ineffectiveness meant less time at home, therefore raising the stress level at home. It was like a vicious cycle of trying to compensate and find balance. Two months after finally walking away from my job and ending my relationship I fell into a deeper hole in which I did come out of, but what I did not know is that I would fall into one more vicious cycle that sometimes unfortunately gets described as mania, one end of the spectrum as we have all gotten to come to know as bi-polarism.

When I snapped out of my depression, it was great to be ALIVE. To finally realizing for myself and knowing that everything would be ok, that I would be ok…the first thing I wanted to do was to just get out and live life. I wanted to go on vacations, meet up with old friends, have beers (and lots of them), and just get OUT. It was a great time for me, to finally feel ALIVE after 6 long months of NOT feeling alive.

During that time, I was pulled aside by some close friends and was told that I may be out of control. I was told that I am publicizing too much of my social life in public forums and that one would perceive that maybe I would end back up in an a bad emotional place if I continued on the path I was on. I wholeheartedly disagreed and went about my business. The angst that I felt towards my friends set me onto a path of rebellion, of trying to prove to everyone that I was “ok”, and I would say a hint of selfishness. As much it meant for me to be able to be there for people who were in the same position emotionally as I was once was, I still unknowingly was going through a time where I needed to know what I was going through at that current time. Months later, I finally figured it out. See, this is where one would say I was going thru the manic side of bi-polarism. Me, I say I was going thru the second half of the “crazy-eight”.

Tony Robbins, if you haven’t had the chance to hear him speak, is mind-blowing. His ability to talk about human emotion and the way we react to others in the ways we do is undeniable. I first watched this video I’m about to share with all of you in May of 2011, and it changed the way I feel about mental illness. Mental illness, I feel, is being clumped together in one big ball and people of varying symptoms and degrees of seriousness do not get the appropriate care that they need.

In this video, Tony Robbins discusses the emotions that one tends to fall into when they feel their life is out of control. On one end of the spectrum, we have emotions like sadness and depression, and the other we have emotions like frustration, anger, and rage. When we “regain” control of our lives and feel that with others that have importance in our lives, we feel emotions like acceptance and love. The imbalance of these emotions, or should I say, the way we react to these emotions could set us on a path of crazy eights. Fortunately, I only experienced one cycle of this last year, but looking back I may have been experiencing the crazy eights for my whole life.

Yes I do believe that bi-polarism is a real thing and in extreme cases needs to be treated with effective therapy and medication. However, I believe in most cases that effective cognitive behavior therapy is very effective and needs to be explored FIRST as the option. Please watch this video to learn more about the “crazy eights”. He begins to discuss this topic at the 34:30 mark of the video so watch that part first, but I strongly encourage you to watch the video as a whole at some point. Tony does a great job in finding the root causes not only with this womans issues with herself, but with her relationship with her husband and then how to make their marraige stronger.

Thanks for reading this post, enjoy your week 🙂


When I was suffering with my bout with depression, I yearned and searched for any glimmer of hope that I may one day make it through it and come out bigger and better than I was before it. What I found was that there have been many, MANY, people just like me who not only had their own bouts with depression but they went on to lead very purposeful and inspiring lives, and furthermore, being an inspiration to others that need it.

Check out this list of notable celebrities who had personal struggles with depression and beat it. Hopefully this gives you or your loved one hope that they TOO can not only beat this ugly disease, but go on to be the great people that they strive to be!