Profiles in Advocacy – Janet Hays, Reimagining the Office of Sheriff

Janet Hays is reimagining the office of sheriff and has proven experience putting vision into practice. She is a New Orleans resident and national leader in the advocacy movement for those impacted by serious brain illnesses. In her work with Healing Minds NOLA and Mental Illness Policy Org she is putting broken bones together and breathing life into them. Now she is running for Sheriff in her Orleans parish. Kathy Day, Senior Family Liaison at Treatment Advocacy Center calls Hays, “... a passionate advocate who works harder than anyone I know. Her persistence often pays off in ways that help families dealing with serious and persistent brain illnesses.” Leslie Carpenter, a leading advocate for people with no fault serious brain diseases, cites the Zoomcast series Hays produced in 2020 and into 2021 as, “... one of the best compilations of both what is wrong with the present system and... what [...]

Profiles in Advocacy – Janet Hays, Reimagining the Office of Sheriff2021-10-14T14:03:34-04:00

One Angel Who Did Not Fear to Tread

I want to tell a story I've told many times before. But I can't tell it enough. It's the story of what happens when someone with a mental illness falls into the pit of despair is lifted up by the loving faithfulness of one who cares. December 1, 2016. I am in the Goodman exit lane off I-490 in Rochester, New York. An unusual light shines in my rearview. In seconds, I hear a loud crack and feel a tremendous lurch. Someone traveling too close, going too fast, hit me. Hard. I called 911 and a policeman showed up, followed by an ambulance. I was taken to Strong Memorial hospital where they ran tests and found nothing conclusive. But I became increasingly agitated. I became convinced that I was paralyzed. Three doctors ran tests on me at separate times and concluded that nothing was wrong. Physically. That's when I called [...]

One Angel Who Did Not Fear to Tread2021-09-21T21:58:37-04:00

“We’re going to be okay.”

One of the labels for the mental illness I have is bipolar disorder 1, rapid cycler. This means that my mood state constantly changes. I often go from abject despair to supreme elevation, and back again in less than the time it takes to complete a sentence. It is exhausting. It's like running a marathon at a sprinter's pace, with no water stations to rest. The body can't take this for long, much less the mind and spirit. The challenges we have faced in 2020 have tried the souls of many, even those with no mental health diagnosis. Added to this the death of both my parents and it is little wonder that the First Quarter of 2021 has hit me like a horrendous hangover. But there is hope. Even when circumstances around us seem bleak, there is a glimmer of hope. As a follower of Christ, I celebrate this [...]

“We’re going to be okay.”2021-04-04T20:10:37-04:00

The Light at the End of the Tunnel by Kevin McDermott

Hi, My name is Kevin McDermott. I'm a firm believer in JESUS CHRIST LORD AND SAVIOUR and am seriously mentally ill. I'm diagnosed bipolar and schizophrenia. Here's my story.   About 22 years ago before I was diagnosed with SMI, I left home to embark on a journey that would forever change my life. I had no money and only had the clothes on my back. I wanted to find my way to eternal life. Anyway on my walk I came upon a drainage tunnel which sits outside of Lincoln village apartments. I could walk through it but I had to hunch my back to do it, I walked about a mile and there was an adjoining drainage tunnel that I came to.    My mind was racing and I thought of the movie Shawshank redemption where the main character (Andy) had crawled through a sewage of crap and came [...]

The Light at the End of the Tunnel by Kevin McDermott2021-01-24T15:02:53-05:00

A Beautiful, Brilliant, Unquiet Mind

When I first received my bipolar diagnosis, the picture painted for me of my future was rather bleak.  The staff at the psychiatric hospital explained that I would likely not be able to continue in ministry.  I would go on disability, have repeated hospitalizations and the chances of remaining in my marriage were slim to none. My psychiatrist, however, offered a ray of hope.  He recommended a memoir that had just been published by one of the most world-renowned expert on bipolar disorder - Kay Redfield Jamison.  In Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, Jamison beautifully describes her own life-long struggle and brilliantly depicts the love-hate relationship many folks with Bipolar have with their illness.  She defines what she prefers to call "Manic-depression" ...a disease that both kills and gives life.  Fire, by its nature, both creates and destroys.  "The force that through the green fuse drives [...]

A Beautiful, Brilliant, Unquiet Mind2019-04-03T21:43:19-04:00

What to Call Psych Units, and Why

Leslie Carpenter, who serves as President of the Johnson County (Iowa) chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI, posed a compelling question on her Facebook page that is garnering a great deal of response from advocates for persons with mental illness. Leslie asks,   If you could re-name a psychiatric unit or system to get rid of the common place, “Behavioral Health”, what would you change it to? She gives this as her rationale:  I am hoping to elevate thinking on this away from a name that infers that children and adults with brain disorders like Schizophrenia can be treated with coping skills and behavior modification and help the public to understand these are MEDICAL Conditions that need and deserve Treatment... Finally, she primes the pump with these: 1. Neuroscience Unit 2. Neuropsychiatric Unit 3. Brain Disorders Unit 4.______________________ As of this writing, there have been 61 comments, [...]

What to Call Psych Units, and Why2019-03-06T23:22:36-05:00

Feeling Burdened By or a Burden For?

Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11.28-30)   I grew up in a country church where there was much talk of having burdens. Members, ministers, missionaries all spoke of having a burden for youth, drug addicts, Africa. Through their impassioned speech, the sweat on their brows, and the waving of their leather Bibles, they would stir up in us a burden to give — prayer, supplies, money. What I got from this early spiritual teaching is that a burden is something God gives a person who then transfers this burden to others. It didn’t occur to me at the time that it had [...]

Feeling Burdened By or a Burden For?2019-02-03T17:04:45-05:00

Examining Medical Science; Observing Faith Practice

{Note: This post was first published in June of 2017. The events described convinced me I could no longer live alone without assistance. I'm publishing this today (March 18, 2018). Later this week, I'll share one that reflects how far I've come.} I spent last weekend in an Emergency Observation Bed (EOB) of a local hospital. I was allowed to wear my sweats and slippers (I came prepared), as well as read my Bible and write in my cloth-bound journal.  Note to self: Get a sturdy pocket sized Bible instead of my 8-inch thick parallel one. One guy on the unit asked me if I was going to beat him up with it. What brought me there? I wasn’t exactly a threat to myself or to others, but I did feel I was on the verge of losing control. As I told my psychiatrist, I didn’t feel desperate, but [...]

Examining Medical Science; Observing Faith Practice2018-03-18T16:24:33-04:00

A Simple, Sacrificial Solution to School Shootings?

Another school shooting. It makes me sick to my stomach. More than this, it eats away at my soul. Lord, have mercy on us. On the children who died and those left behind. On the families of the victims and the family of the shooter. On the school and the community. On our nation: those crying out for limits to weapon access; those advocating for a better mental health care system; those dreadfully perplexed by where the world went wrong and how to right it. If you’ve come here looking for an easy answer, you’ve come to the wrong place. Easy solutions to complex problems are not only misleading, they are dangerous. What is most needful is not easy and even-dimensional. It is damn hard. It requires sacrifice. Sacrifice of our time, our talent, our money. First, it’s about time. We live in a lonely culture, getting lonelier by the [...]

A Simple, Sacrificial Solution to School Shootings?2018-02-17T19:32:27-05:00

No One Cares About Crazy People: A Review

I hope you do not "enjoy" this book. I hope you are wounded by it; wounded as I have been in writing it. Ron Powers knows craziness inside and out. His book is part-expose, part-memoir. Not only does he unveil the atrocious way demoniacs/lunatics/maniacs/mentally ill have been abused throughout history, he also shares a very personal story about how mental illness has ravaged his family. Powers primarily examines schizophrenia, the mother of all mental illnesses. The most debilitating. The one most resistant to treatment. This is the illness Powers's sons Kevin & Dean have. But this diagnosis does not define them. They are creative, compassionate young men. Powers describes how his sons were moved by music and this passion for artistic expression gave them direction and purpose. But, as their minds gave way to the mental illness within, they would lose the capacity for anything coherently creative. Only chaos. [...]

No One Cares About Crazy People: A Review2018-01-19T16:09:36-05:00
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