Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Exciting News!!
Nipissing Family Program Yoga Mondays

Joel and April would like to annnounce that yoga for beginners class is available to all family members every Monday evening. We will begin the class by offering a beginners lesson from a local yoga teacher. She will continue to train April who will then take over the class. We are hoping many of you will make use of the many stress reducing benefits yoga provides.  Our expected start date will be around the middle of March 2010.

For more information please contact April at 494 4774 x 226

Yoga for Stress Relief:

Dating back over 5000 years, yoga is the oldest defined practice of self development. The methods of classical yoga include ethical disciplines, physical postures, breathing control and meditation. Traditionally an Eastern practice, it’s now becoming popular in the West. In fact, many companies, especially in Britain, are seeing the benefit of yoga, recognizing that relaxed workers are healthier and more creative, and are sponsoring yoga fitness programs.
Overview of Yoga:

Many of the popular techniques found to reduce stress derive from yoga:

controlled breathing


physical movement

mental imagery


Yoga, which derives its name from the word, “yoke”—to bring together—does just that, bringing together the mind, body and spirit. But whether you use yoga for spiritual transformation or for stress management and physical well-being, the benefits are numerous.

Yoga’s Effects On the Body:

The following is only a partial list of yoga’s benefits:

reduced stress

sound sleep

reduced cortisol levels

improvement of many medical conditions

allergy and asthma symptom relief

lower blood pressure

smoking cessation help

lower heart rate

spiritual growth

sense of well-being

reduced anxiety and muscle tension

increased strength and flexibility

slowed aging process

Yoga’s benefits are so numerous, it gives a high payoff for the amount of effort involved.

What’s Involved With Yoga?:

The practice of yoga involves stretching the body and forming different poses, while keeping breathing slow and controlled. The body becomes relaxed and energized at the same time. There are various styles of yoga, some moving through the poses more quickly, almost like an aerobic workout, and other styles relaxing deeply into each pose. Some have a more spiritual angle, while others are used purely as a form of exercise.

What Are The Benefits Of Yoga?:

Virtually everyone can see physical benefits from yoga, and its practice can also give psychological benefits, such as stress reduction and a sense of well-being, and spiritual benefits, such as a feeling of connectedness with God or Spirit, or a feeling of transcendence. Certain poses can be done just about anywhere and a yoga program can go for hours or minutes, depending on one’s schedule.

How Does It Compare To Other Stress Reduction Methods?:

As yoga combines several techniques used for stress reduction, it can be said to provide the combined benefits of breathing exercises, stretching exercises, fitness programs, meditation practice, and guided imagery, in one technique. However, for those with great physical limitations, simple breathing exercises, meditation or guided imagery might be a preferable option and provide similar benefits. Yoga also requires more effort and commitment than taking pills or herbs for stress reduction.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Five Key Skills for Raising Your Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a different type of intelligence. It’s about being “heart smart,” not just “book smart.” The evidence shows that emotional intelligence matters just as much as intellectual ability, if not more so, when it comes to happiness and success in life. Emotional intelligence helps you build strong relationships, succeed at work, and achieve your goals.

The skills of emotional intelligence can be developed throughout life. You can boost your own “EQ” by learning how to rapidly reduce stress; connect to your emotions; communicate nonverbally; use humor and play to deal with challenges; and defuse conflicts with confidence and self-assurance.
What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage your emotions in positive and constructive ways. It's about recognizing your own emotional state and the emotional states of others. Emotional intelligence is also about engaging with others in ways that draw people to you.

Emotional intelligence consists of four core abilities:

Self-awareness — The ability to recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior; know your strengths and weaknesses; and have self-confidence.

Self-management — The ability to control impulsive feelings and behaviors; manage your emotions in healthy ways; take initiative; follow through on commitments; and adapt to changing circumstances.

Social awareness — The ability to understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people; pick up on emotional cues; feel comfortable socially; and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.

Relationship management — The ability to develop and maintain good relationships; communicate clearly; inspire and influence others; work well in a team; and manage conflict.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) vs. Intellectual Intelligence (IQ)

Most of us have learned not to trust our emotions. We've been told emotions distort the more “accurate” information our intellect supplies. Even the term “emotional” has come to mean weak, out of control, and even childish. "Don't be a baby!" we say to the little boy who is crying on the playground. "Leave him alone! Let him work it out!" we admonish the little girl who runs to help the little boy.

On the other hand, our abilities to memorize and problem-solve, to spell words and do mathematical calculations, are easily measured on written tests and slapped as grades on report cards. Ultimately, these intellectual abilities dictate which college will accept us and which career paths we‘re advised to follow.

However, intellectual intelligence (IQ) is usually less important in determining how successful we are than emotional intelligence (EQ). We all know people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially inept and unsuccessful. What they are missing is emotional intelligence.

Emotional development: How to raise your emotional intelligence

Most of us know that there is a world of difference between knowledge and behavior, or applying that knowledge to make changes in our lives. There are many things we may know and want to do, but don’t or can’t when we’re under pressure. This is especially true when it comes to emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is not learned in the standard intellectual way; it must be learned and understood on an emotional level. We can’t simply read about emotional intelligence or master it through memorization. In order to learn about emotional intelligence in a way that produces change, we need to engage the emotional parts of the brain in ways that connect us to others. This kind of learning is based on what we see, hear, and feel. Intellectual understanding is an important first step, but the development of emotional intelligence depends on sensory, nonverbal learning and real-life practice.

Developing emotional intelligence through five key skills:

Emotional intelligence consists of five key skills, each building on the last:

Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 1: The ability to quickly reduce stress.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 2: The ability to recognize and manage your emotions.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 3: The ability to connect with others using nonverbal communication.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 4: The ability to use humor and play to deal with challenges.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 5: The ability to resolve conflicts positively and with confidence.

The five skills of emotional intelligence can be learned by anyone, at anytime. But there is a difference between learning about emotional intelligence and applying that knowledge to your life. Just because you know you should do something doesn’t mean you will—especially when you’re feeling stressed. This is especially true when it comes to the skills of emotional intelligence.
Raising your emotional intelligence by engaging your emotions

When you become overwhelmed by stress, the emotional parts of your brain override the rational parts—hijacking your best-laid plans, intentions, and strategies. In order to permanently change behavior in ways that stand up under pressure, you need to learn how to take advantage of the powerful emotional parts of the brain that remain active and accessible even in times of stress. This means that you can’t simply read about emotional intelligence in order to master it. You have to learn the skills on a deeper, emotional level—experiencing and practicing them in your everyday life.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 1: Rapidly reduce stress

When we’re under high levels of stress, rational thinking and decision making go out the window. Runaway stress overwhelms the mind and body, getting in the way of our ability to accurately “read” a situation, hear what someone else is saying, be aware of our own feelings and needs, and communicate clearly.

The first key skill of emotional intelligence is the ability to quickly calm yourself down when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Being able to manage stress in the moment is the key to resilience. This emotional intelligence skill helps you stay balanced, focused, and in control–no matter what challenges you face.

Stress busting: functioning well in the heat of the moment

Develop your stress busting skills by working through the following three steps:

Realize when you’re stressed – The first step to reducing stress is recognizing what stress feels like. Many of us spend so much time in an unbalanced state that we’ve forgotten what it feels like to be calm and relaxed.

Identify your stress response – Everyone reacts differently to stress. Do you tend to space out and get depressed? Become angry and agitated? Freeze with anxiety? The best way to quickly calm yourself depends on your specific stress response.

Discover the stress busting techniques that work for you – The best way to reduce stress quickly is through the senses: through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. But each person responds differently to sensory input, so you need to find things that are soothing to you.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 2: Connect to your emotions

The second key skill of emotional intelligence is having a moment-to-moment awareness of your emotions and how they influence your thoughts and actions. Emotional awareness is the key to understanding yourself and others.

Many people are disconnected from their emotions–especially strong core emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, and joy. But although we can distort, deny, or numb our feelings, we can’t eliminate them. They’re still there, whether we’re aware of them or not. Unfortunately, without emotional awareness, we are unable to fully understand our own motivations and needs, or to communicate effectively with others.

What kind of a relationship do you have with your emotions?

Do you experience feelings that flow, encountering one emotion after another as your experiences change from moment to moment?

Are your emotions accompanied by physical sensations that you experience in places like your stomach or chest?

Do you experience discrete feelings and emotions, such as anger, sadness, fear, joy, each of which is evident in subtle facial expressions?

Can you experience intense feelings that are strong enough to capture both your attention and that of others?

Do you pay attention to your emotions? Do they factor into your decision making?

If any of these experiences are unfamiliar, your emotions may be turned down or turned off. In order to be emotionally healthy and emotionally intelligent, you must reconnect to your core emotions, accept them, and become comfortable with them.

Emotional intelligence skill (EQ) 3: Nonverbal communication

Being a good communicator requires more than just verbal skills. Oftentimes, what we say is less important than how we say it or the other nonverbal signals we send out. In order to hold the attention of others and build connection and trust, we need to be aware of and in control of our nonverbal cues. We also need to be able to accurately read and respond to the nonverbal cues that other people send us.

Nonverbal communication is the third skill of emotional intelligence. This wordless form of communication is emotionally driven. It asks the questions: “Are you listening?” and “Do you understand and care?” Answers to these questions are expressed in the way we listen, look, move, and react. Our nonverbal messages will produce a sense of interest, trust, excitement, and desire for connection–or they will generate fear, confusion, distrust, and disinterest.

Part of improving nonverbal communication involves paying attention to:

Eye contact

Facial expression

Tone of voice

Posture and gesture


Timing and pace

Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 4: Use humor and play to deal with challenges

Humor, laughter, and play are natural antidotes to life’s difficulties. They lighten our burdens and help us keep things in perspective. A good hearty laugh reduces stress, elevates mood, and brings our nervous system back into balance.

The ability to deal with challenges using humor and play is the fourth skill of emotional intelligence. Playful communication broadens our emotional intelligence and helps us:

Take hardships in stride. By allowing us to view our frustrations and disappointments from new perspectives, laughter and play enable us to survive annoyances, hard times, and setbacks.

Smooth over differences. Using gentle humor often helps us say things that might be otherwise difficult to express without creating a flap.

Simultaneously relax and energize ourselves. Playful communication relieves fatigue and relaxes our bodies, which allows us to recharge and accomplish more.

Become more creative. When we loosen up, we free ourselves of rigid ways of thinking and being, allowing us to get creative and see things in new ways.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 5: Resolve conflict positively

Conflict and disagreements are inevitable in relationships. Two people can’t possibly have the same needs, opinions, and expectations at all times. However, that needn’t be a bad thing! Resolving conflict in healthy, constructive ways can strengthen trust between people. When conflict isn’t perceived as threatening or punishing, it fosters freedom, creativity, and safety in relationships.

The ability to manage conflicts in a positive, trust-building way is the fifth key skill of emotional intelligence. Successfully resolving differences is supported by the previous four skills of emotional intelligence. Once you know how to manage stress, stay emotionally present and aware, communicate nonverbally, and use humor and play, you’ll be better equipped to handle emotionally-charged situations and catch and defuse many issues before they escalate.

Tips for resolving conflict in a trust-building way:

Stay focused in the present. When we are not holding on to old hurts and resentments, we can recognize the reality of a current situation and view it as a new opportunity for resolving old feelings about conflicts.

Choose your arguments. Arguments take time and energy, especially if you want to resolve them in a positive way. Consider what is worth arguing about and what is not.

Forgive. If you continue to be hurt or mistreated, protect yourself. But someone else’s hurtful behavior is in the past, remember that conflict resolution involves giving up the urge to punish.

End conflicts that can't be resolved. It takes two people to keep an argument going. You can choose to disengage from a conflict, even if you still disagree.

For more information go to: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/eq5_raising_emotional_intelligence.htm

Friday, February 12, 2010

Helping Someone With A Mood Disorder

Mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder (also known as manic-depression) affect millions of people. Their family members and friends are affected too. If someone you love has a mood disorder, you may be feeling helpless, overwhelmed, confused and hopeless, or you may feel hurt, angry, frustrated and resentful. You may also have feelings of guilt, shame and isolation, or feelings of sadness, exhaustion and fear. All of these feelings are normal.

What you need to know:

Your loved one’s illness is not your fault (or your loved one’s fault).

You can’t make your loved one well, but you can offer support, understanding and hope.

Each person experiences a mood disorder differently, with different symptoms.

The best way to find out what your loved one needs from you is by asking direct questions.

What you need to find out:

Contact information (including emergency numbers) for your loved one's doctor, therapist, and psychiatrist, your local hospital, and trusted friends and family members who can help in a crisis.

Whether you have permission to discuss your loved one's treatment with his or her doctors, and if not, what you need to do to get permission.

The treatments and medications your loved one is receiving, any special dosage instructions and any needed changes in diet or activity.

The most likely warning signs of a worsening manic or depressive episode (words and behaviors) and what you can do to help.

What kind of day-to-day help you can offer, such as doing housework or grocery shopping.

When talking with your loved one's health care providers, be patient, polite and assertive. Ask for clarification of things you do not understand. Write down things you need to remember.

What you can say that helps:

You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.

I understand you have a real illness and that’s what causes these thoughts and feelings.

You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.

I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.

When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold on for just one more day, hour, minute - whatever you can manage.

You are important to me. Your life is important to me.

Tell me what I can do now to help you.

I am here for you. We will get through this together.

What you should avoid saying:

It’s all in your head.

We all go through times like this.

You’ll be fine. Stop worrying.

Look on the bright side.

You have so much to live for; why do you want to die?

I can’t do anything about your situation.

Just snap out of it.

Stop acting crazy.

What’s wrong with you?

Shouldn’t you be better by now?

What to do if someone is in crisis

What can I do when my child or an older relative is ill?

How long will it take before the person feels better?

Some people are able to stabilize quickly after starting treatment; others take longer and need to try several treatments, medications or medication combinations before they feel better. Talk therapy can be helpful for managing symptoms during this time.

If your friend or family member is facing treatment challenges, the person needs your support and patience more than ever. Education can help you both find out all the options that are available and decide whether a second opinion is needed. Help your loved one to take medication as prescribed, and don’t assume the person isn’t following the treatment plan just because he or she isn’t feeling 100% better.

There is hope:

As a friend or family member of someone who is coping with bipolar disorder or depression, your support is an important part of working toward wellness. Don’t give up hope. Treatment for mood disorders does work, and the majority of people with mood disorders can return to stable and productive lives. Keep working with your loved one and his or her health care providers to find treatments that work, and keep reminding your loved one that you are there for support!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

CBC documentary lights up possible pot, schizophrenia link

Let's set aside, for the moment, all the debate over whether marijuana is a gateway drug whose users may be propelled toward harder, more dangerous drugs.

There's a new, more sinister concern about cannabis. According to some scientists, it may be directly linked to mental illness, including schizophrenia, in young pot smokers.

CBC's The Nature of Things takes an unsettling look at the new evidence tonight in The Downside of High (8 p.m., CBC), an hour-long documentary written and directed by Bruce Mohun and narrated by series host David Suzuki.

The Downside of High is a particularly effective examination of its subject because it straddles the line between cold, hard scientific information and up-close human experience. As an entry point to the discussion, the film's makers introduce us to three young British Columbians whose lives were sent careening sideways after they started experimenting with pot.

Each first tried smoking marijuana in the usual peer-group environment; each quickly got hooked on getting high; each soon developed deeply delusional behaviour -- hearing voices, extreme paranoia, fear and panic -- that ultimately landed them in hospital psychiatric wards for extended stays.

And each, along with the doctors who have helped them in the slow effort to rebuild their lives, is convinced that their mental illnesses were triggered by marijuana use.

That's where the scientists come in.

The Downside of High examines the work of several researchers who have studied the link between pot and schizophrenia, beginning with a groundbreaking 1987 Swedish study that followed 50,000 young army recruits for more than 15 years and concluded that those who used marijuana during their teen years were six times more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia during the next decade and a half of their lives.

Dutch researcher Dr. Jim Van Os included this study as he prepared a comprehensive overview of all the available data on the topic; his admittedly more conservative conclusion is still cause for concern.

"We found that cannabis use nearly doubles the risk of developing future psychotic states," he explains, "be it isolated psychotic symptoms or clinical psychotic disorders, like schizophrenia."

Van Os's research also concluded that teens who begin using marijuana before the age of 15 may be four times as likely to develop schizophrenia.

Part of the problem, according to The Downside of High, is the fact pot growers -- including the "B.C. Bud" purveyors who call Canada's West Coast home -- continue to develop new breeds of weed that are exponentially more potent than the "harmless" pot that fuelled 1960s and '70s counterculture.

In addition to containing much higher levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), marijuana's active (and sometimes psychosis-producing) agent, new strains of pot also contain much less CBD (cannabidiol), which is thought to protect pot users against the drug's psychosis-inducing properties.

Van Os and other scientists have also found evidence that there's a genetic link that makes some people much more likely to suffer marijuana-induced mental illness; some of the most current research is aimed at developing an accurate test that might allow parents to learn whether their teenagers are part of the high-risk group when it comes to pot and mental-health problems.

As one might expect in a film focused on scientific research, nothing here is completely conclusive. Not all scientists agree on the cause-effect relationship; not all pot users are at risk of encountering mental illness. But there certainly is much to consider in The Downside of High, especially for parents and teens who find themselves standing at a much different gateway than they ever thought the issue of recreational drug use might create.

The Nipissing Family Program will be showing this episode aired on CBC at our next Monthly Peer Support Meeting Tuesday March 2, 2010. 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
 Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 28, 2010 D3

Monday, February 8, 2010


Here are some tools and techniques you may find helpful in dealing with the everyday stress you may be experiencing. They may not be for everyone, but I hope you will find something here that will help you cope with difficult life situations a little better.
Please remember, your life and your well being matter too. If you want help or have thought about getting help, care enough about yourself to get the support you need.

If you want a quick emotional pick me up, and suggestions that may have a lasting impact, visit:
Feel good more often and become for effective with your actions

Helping Your Moods

Using Cognitive Therapy. A helpful resource book dealing with with emotions is  "The Feeling Good Handbook" by David Burns. The Cognitive Therapy approach is based on the idea that what we think greatly affects how we feel. If we can recognize when our thinking is "distorted", and apply techniques to combat these distortions, our distressing feelings will subside or disappear.

7 Tips to Stay Positive


Co-dependence is a concept that was first used to describe the behaviors of spouses of alcoholics and drug addicts. It has been described as the strong tendency to overly control situations or people or to take care of someone else in a way that interferes with their ability to be responsible for themselves. This term has also been applied to family members and friends of those suffering from a mental health issue. Here is a link to where you can utilize some of some of the tools of the Co-dependents Anonymous program.

Co-Dependents Anonymous Canada


Keeping a journal often helps you discover and deal with feelings in a healthy way. Recognizing patterns in thinking allows you to better able to deal with them. You could also participate in our Nipissing Family Blog by making your voice heard or by writing your own blog. See link belowing on how to create your own free blog to share your ideas and thoughts.

The Benefits of Journal Writing

Creating your own Blog

Emotional Relief

Dealing with the uncertainty, stress, and chaos that often accompanies mental health issues is overwhelming at times. Here is some information to help ease the emotional rollercoaster you may experience when living with your loved one.


Impact of Mental Health Issues Within the Family

Managing Stress - The Relaxation Response

Surviving Trauma

Friday, February 5, 2010

Start a Discussion!!


City to Fight for Beds


City politicians will fight to keep 31 specialized-care beds in North Bay when the Northeast Mental Health Centre moves into the new hospital.
There is no reason why these jobs have to be moved," Coun. Dave Mendicino said Monday, referring to an estimated 62 health-care positions associated with the beds that may be moved to Sault Ste. Marie or Sudbury. There's no reason why we can't come up with a community-based solution."

The future of the 31 beds has been up in the air since 1999 when a provincially appointed health-restructuring commission recommended they be transferred to Sudbury.

The recommendation was met with much opposition in North Bay, particularly by the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce, which campaigned in 2004 to keep the beds.

The chamber, however, backed away from the fight due to concerns the battle could delay or jeapardize the construction of the North Bay Regional Health Centre, which was awaiting provincial approval at the time.

Many believed the beds had been lost. But a second report prepared by Ken White, former president and CEO of Trillium Health Centre, came out in 2005, recommending the beds remain in the city.

The problem, however, is the physical space to accommodate the 31 beds was never incorporated into the design of the new North Bay Regional Health Centre. And now officials are trying to figure out where to locate the beds.

A task force is expected to report back to a regional advisory committee by the end of March, with a recommendation to be brought forward to the North East Local Health Integration Network, which has final say over where the beds will be located.

The options include keeping the beds in North Bay, possibly at a long-term care facility or other such agency; moving them to Sudbury; or transferring some to Sault Ste Marie.

Mendicino tabled a motion Monday, which was unanimously adopted by council, calling on the task force to focus on North Bay as its No. 1 option and Monique Smith to get involved in the fight.

The motion was buoyed by the support of approximately 25 members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union who work at the mental health centre and attended the meeting.

**We are looking for interested family members to join us at NEMHC for a roundtable disscussion regarding the 31 specialized beds. If this is an issue you are passionate about and would be interested in attending to voice your opinion or get more information, we would love for you to join us. The meeting will take place around the 3rd week of February. Call April or Joel for more information.
How to Cope With A Loved One's Mental Health Issue

It can be difficult living with a family member who has a mental health issue. Here are suggestions to better cope with a friend or family member's mental health issue.
If you find it difficult to come to terms with your loved one's mental health issue, there are many others who share your difficulty. Strange, unpredictable behaviors in a loved one can be devastating, and your anxiety can be high as you struggle with each episode of illness and worry about the future. It seems impossible at first, but most people find that over time they do gain the knowledge and skills to cope with mental health issues effectively. They do have strengths they never knew they had, and they can meet situations they never even anticipated.

A good start in learning to cope is to find out as much as possible about mental health isssues, both by reading and talking with other families. NAMI has books, pamphlets, fact sheets, and tapes available about different illnesses, treatments, and issues you may have to deal with. The Nipissing Family program offers The NAMI Family-to-Family education course yearly. The 12 week course and materials are free. The course runs 2.5 hours weekly. The next anticipated date is set for early fall 2010. (contact April for more information about registration)

The following are some things to remember that should help you as you learn to live with mental health issues in your family:

  • You cannot cure a mental disorder for a loved one.

  • No one is to blame for the illness.

  • Mental disorders affect more than the person who is ill.

  • Despite your best efforts, your loved one's symptoms may get worse, or they may improve.

  • If you feel extreme resentment, you are giving too much.

  • It is as hard for the parent or sibling to accept the disorder as it is for other family members.

  • Acceptance of the disorder by all concerned may be helpful, but it is not necessary.

  • A delusion has little or nothing to do with reality, so it needs no discussion.

  • Separate the person from the disorder.

  • It is not OK for you to be neglected. You have emotional needs and wants, too.

  • The illness of a family member is nothing to be ashamed of. The reality is that you will likely encounter stigma from an apprehensive public.

  • You may have to revise your expectations of the ill person.

  • You may have to renegotiate your emotional relationship with the ill person.

  • Acknowledge the remarkable courage your sibling or parents may show when dealing with a mental disorder.

  • Generally, those closest in sibling order and gender become emotionally enmeshed while those further out become estranged.

  • Grief issues for siblings are about what you had and lost. For adult children, they are about what you never had.

  • After denial, sadness, and anger comes acceptance. The addition of understanding yields compassion.

  • It is absurd to believe you may correct a biological illness such as diabetes, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder with talk, although addressing social complications may be helpful.

  • Symptoms may change over time while the underlying disorder remains.

  • You should request the diagnosis and its explanation from professionals.

  • Mental health professionals have varied degrees of competence.

  • You have a right to ensure your personal safety.

  • Strange behavior is a symptom of the disorder. Don't take it personally.

  • Don't be afraid to ask your loved one if he or she is thinking about hurting him- or herself. Suicide is real.

  • Don't shoulder the whole responsibility for your mentally disordered relative yourself.

  • You are not a paid professional caseworker. Your role is to be a friend or family member, not a  caseworker.

  • The needs of the ill person do not necessarily always come first.

  • If you can't care for yourself, you can't care for another.

  • It is important to have boundaries and to set clear limits.

  • Just because a person has limited capabilities doesn't mean that you expect nothing of him or her.

  • It is natural to experience many and confusing emotions such as grief, guilt, fear, anger, sadness, hurt, confusion, and more. You, not the ill person, are responsible for your own feelings.

  • Inability to talk about your feelings may leave you stuck or "frozen."

You are not alone. Sharing your thoughts and feelings in a support group has been helpful and enlightening for many. Join our Peer Support Meetings at Nipissing Family, the 1st Tuesday of every month. 6:30 to 8:30 p.m (for more information contact April)

Eventually you may see the silver lining in the storm clouds: your own increased awareness, sensitivity, receptivity, compassion, and maturity. You may become less judgmental and self-centered, a better person.

Source: NAMI