A Life Refreshed

Hello world!  It’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog post!  The month of August was a busy one!  In addition to work and daily life responsibilities Bill and I attended Cinda and Linea Johnson’s “Perfect Chaos” book signing reception in St. Louis.  It was fabulous to say the least!  Bill and I enjoyed reuniting and visiting with Cinda and Linea after meeting them in Ottawa, Kansas at the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build for the Hill Family.

In addition to the book signing event, I also attended the Karla Smith Foundation “Erase the Stigma of Mental Illness” conference where Tom Smith, co-founder and President of the Karla Smith Foundation, opened the conference recalling the transitions that he and his family experienced when his daughter, Karla, was diagnosed with clinical depression which eventually lead to her tragic death by suicide.  Also, guest speakers Linea, a recent graduate from Seattle University with a major in English and Creative Writing, recent World Health Organization (WHO) intern and national speaker and writer along with her mother Cinda, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of the Special Education graduate program at Seattle University shared their story about how mental illness has affected their lives from initial diagnosis to treatment.  They also shared resources and suggestions for supporting loved ones, in particular youth, living with a mental illness.  Nanci Schiman, MSW, CAPSW, Program Manager for The Balanced Mind Foundation, shared the journey her family has gone through regarding the bipolar disorder illness of her oldest and youngest daughters.  And Chris Hendrix, Director of Programs and Events for the Karla Smith Foundation and a trained Wraparound facilitator, shared information about a treatment solution called “Wraparound.”  If that wasn’t enough, Kelly Gable, Pharm. D., BCPP, Psychiatric Clinical Pharmacist and Assistant Professor at SIUE and Melanie Wylie, APN, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Chestnut Health Systems talked about different treatment options for all age groups.  What an inspirational, educational, exciting and enlightening month!

I feel very blessed to live in the times we live in.  In addition to the advances that are being made in the realm of mental health and wellness there are champions out there fighting the good fight!  Thank you to all of the guest speakers and to the Karla Smith Foundation!  This mom feels refreshed and ready to tackle what lies ahead, and I especially feel less alone as we too journey with our loved one.

If you find that you are searching for resources as you support a loved one who lives with a mental illness I highly recommend the Nati0nal Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) education and support programs.  You can find out more about NAMI and what they have to offer by clicking here: www.nami.org.  I also highly recommend The Balanced Mind Foundation which can be accessed here: www.thebalancedmind.org.  The Balanced Mind Foundation guides families raising children with mood disorders to the answers, support and stability they seek.  I also highly recommend the Karla Smith Foundation who provides support groups for families and friends of those with a mental illness.  You can access the KSF website here: www.karlasmithfoundation.org.  I will update the blog here soon with additional resources.  Until then…let’s keep learning and supporting our loved ones!

Growing stronger…