In every draft there are hits and misses. The Dallas Mavericks in recent history have been a victim to a lot more misses than hits but that doesn’t mean the franchise doesn’t have a pretty good history of drafting playmakers. If all goes according to their plan, the 2018 draft pick will be added to this list of great finds. Click Here to Read the Story
How to Support a Friend With Mental Health Challenges by Katherine Martinelli (Presented by James Donaldson)
We rely on our friends for a lot of things, and that definitely includes providing emotional support when things are difficult. So it makes sense that teenagers struggling with mental health challenges would turn to their friends to vent, unload, and ask for backup.
But it can be difficult to figure out when a friend who is feeling down or anxious is just moody and when it’s something more. It’s hard to know when all you need to do is listen when to say something, and what to say. It’s especially hard to decide when you should bring it to the attention of an adult, and how to do that without breaking your friend’s trust.
Depression and bipolar disorder affect nearly 15 percent of teens and one in three teens will meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder by the time they’re 18, so negative feelings when they last a long time or are overwhelming, are nothing to be dismissive of.
“I have a number of students who come to me and the presenting problem of the day might not be their own symptoms,” says Dr. Lindsay Macchia, an associate psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. “It really is impacting them so much to have to feel responsible for their friends as well.”
Dr. Macchia says that this can take on different forms, from a friend going through a bad breakup to a conflict among friends to self-harm or even suicidal ideation. She says that young adults often need an emotional outlet but aren’t comfortable going to adults. “Rather than going to a parent who they think might get upset or scared,” she explains, “they turn to their friend instead.”
How to be a good friend to someone who is struggling
Validate what she’s saying. People want to feel heard, especially when they are struggling with difficult emotions or experiences that might make them feel very alone. You don’t have to pretend you are feeling the same way as your friend. Just listening non-judgmentally and saying, “That sounds hard” can help. “Validation communicates to another person that their emotions make sense given the context they are in,” explains Dr. Macchia. “Even if you have never been in that particular situation or felt an emotion quite as strongly, validating your friend shows that this is not an ‘overreaction’ or an ‘underreaction.’ It is how they feel and that is perfectly acceptable. ”
Ask how you can help. It shows you care and helps take some of the guesswork away. What he has to say might surprise you. If he doesn’t have an answer ready, it might encourage him to start thinking proactively.
Be understanding of her limitations. For example, if your friend is depressed, don’t expect her to go out with you every time you invite her. But do keep asking, and let her know that her company is valued.
Don’t gossip. It is often very difficult for people to open up about mental health challenges. If a friend confides in you, respect his trust and don’t share more than he would want. Know that it is okay to go to an adult for help if he needs it, however.
Change the subject. Listening is important, but sometimes so is providing some welcome distraction. All of your conversations don’t need to be about your friend’s mental health. Sharing what is going on with your life, talking about something you’re both interested in, or taking a break and going for a walk or doing yoga together might make her feel good.
“Engaging in positive, pleasant activities (even when she may not be sure she wants to!) can boost her mood as well,” notes Dr. Macchia. “Whether anxiety, depression or another emotion is causing her to want to withdraw, getting her to participate in energizing or fun activities is a great way to support her.”
What you don’t need to do:
• Be available 24/7
• Put yourself in danger to watch over your friend
• Feel guilty if things are going well for you
• Stay in a relationship that’s no longer working for you
Remember that you are never solely responsible for another person’s mental health. You might feel responsible, and your friend might even be making you feel like you are the only one who understands and can help, but that isn’t true. There are professionals who have been trained in helping people with mental health challenges, and sometimes as a friend, the best thing you can do is step back so that your friend can start getting help from one of them.
One final note on this subject: If a friend (or romantic partner or ex) is threatening to hurt himself or you because of something that you do, immediately tell an adult. You can’t provide the assistance that he needs, even if you want to.
When to turn to an adult
If you have a friend unloading some heavy stuff on you, it can be tricky to know when it might be time to turn to an adult — whether it’s a school counselor or a parent — for support.
As a rule, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Dr. Macchia says to look for a few signs:
• If there are any concerns about safety whatsoever, go to an adult. If your friend is hurting herself, talking about hurting herself, or showing signs that she might hurt others, then it’s important to seek help.
• If you believe a friend has developed an eating disorder, it’s urgent that she get help because eating disorders are a serious health threat, and the longer you have one, the harder it is to recover.
• If a friend seems to be experiencing a psychotic break — she has hallucinations or beliefs that aren’t realistic — she needs help immediately before she hurts herself.
• If the situation feels more adult than you should be dealing with, it’s probably time to consult a grown-up. “Any sort of gut feeling, any reaction you have that this doesn’t feel right, I might be too young for this information — or maybe there should be another person here who should be taking a part of this responsibility — then it’s important to go to someone at school or directly to the teen’s parents,” says Dr. Macchia.
• If your mental health is being impacted by the weight of this friendship then you should talk to an adult. Whether you feel increased anxiety, are showing signs of depression, or are considering self-harm yourself, it’s definitely time to get help for both yourself and your friend.
How to get help without betraying your friend
One of the biggest barriers to seeking help can be a fear of betraying a friend who has trusted you with sensitive information. “There’s a way to go about it without tattling,” assures Dr. Macchia. “It’s all about openness and honesty.”
Some things to keep in mind as you broach the subject with your friend:
• Share why you feel it’s time to bring in a grown-up. Let them know why you are concerned, and that you feel it’s time to seek additional support — because you care.
• Depending on the situation, Dr. Macchia says it might be helpful or appropriate to offer to be there for the conversation with the adult. “I don’t want teens to ever feel like they have to do this,” reiterates Dr. Macchia, “but depending on the case they may say I feel like I can support my friend and also be a buffer and have that conversation as well.”
Dr. Macchia notes that it may be especially tricky if your friend with mental health challenges asks you not to tell an adult, even after you have explained your concerns and reasoning for wanting to. “This can be extremely tough, and of course you would want to preserve your friendship as best as you can,” she says. “That being said, however, your friend’s safety and wellbeing come first.”
If you are having a hard time, Dr. Macchia recommends trying some self-validation. “Remind yourself that it makes sense to feel worried about your friend’s reaction to you telling an adult, and yet you are doing what you feel is best for them, for yourself, and for your relationship in the long run,” she says.
The importance of self-care
It’s easy to get caught up in a friend’s problems, but there’s a fine line between being a supportive pal and it going too far. If you’ve become “parentified,” as Dr. Macchia says, or feel like you’re a therapist, it may have crossed a line; it can feel a crushing amount of responsibility.
“On one hand is concern and worry and sadness about what’s going on in your friend’s life,” says Dr. Macchia, “but also there can be an impact in terms of taking on another person’s symptoms as well.” You might find yourself adopting some of their feelings and unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Whether you are the sounding board for some serious stuff or are just on the receiving end of a lot of drama, it can be wearing, so it’s important to make time for self-care. If you are feeling symptoms of anxiety, depression, are withdrawing from activities you usually enjoy or are thinking of harming yourself, it’s worth seeking professional help. You can speak confidentially about what’s going on and your clinician can help guide you and share helpful coping skills. Talking to your parents can also be helpful.
Most importantly, Dr. Macchia advises teens to “turn your attention to things that bring you joy.” She says if you love dancing, then keep dancing. Things like yoga, going for a run, getting a massage, or even shopping are all contenders for self-care — whatever makes you happy.
Because in the end it’s important to be a good friend, but if you’re not taking care of yourself it’s hard to take care of anyone else.
In an attempt to better understand this “epidemic” spreading around our country, probably at unprecedented rates, and with me going through my own recent bout of mental challenges/mental illness, I came across this wonderful article today about “A Lifeline to Mental Health”.
Please take a look at it as it is full of very helpful and insightful information to help us all have a better understanding.
In the meantime, continue to reach out to each other for help and support, loving and understanding, and reconnecting with each other at a much more healthy level. We all will be much better along with it!!!
Greetings everyone to all of you from Swedish Hospital in Seattle Washington.
If you’ve all been following me recently, unfortunately I’ve been having some cardiac issues going on the last 3 years. Yesterday I had another procedure called a subclavian steal syndrome bypass surgery. Yes, it’s very painful!!!
Hope to get home by this weekend and get back to feeling like my ‘ol self once again.
Asking for your thoughts and prayers!!!
Have a blessed day, James
Greetings everyone and Happy Weekend to you;
Wow, what a week it has been! Especially, for any of us that are having to deal with mental illness/mental issues/mental challenges.
The high profile suicides of a fashion mogul, Kate Spade, and also of famed celebrity chef and adventurer, Anthony Bourdain, brought to light again the rising rates of suicide in this country since the turn of the century.
What’s causing this? Please check out this PBS feature from June 8, 2018, Suicide Rates Are On the Rise in which they discuss some of the causes of mental illness, how to spot and detect it, and how to hopefully prevent suicides.
I feel very empathetically every time I hear of one of these situations. Whether it was carried through or not. Just knowing that people are going through a very “dark place” in their life, has me intuitively connecting an understanding of what they are going through.
Keep the faith everyone, stay strong and keep hanging in there.
Continue to love each other!
Wow, can someone please tell me what’s going on! Just this week alone, fashion icon, Kate Spade, and celebrity food gourmet and adventurer, Anthony Bourdain, took their lives via suicide, both, from all outward appearances, like they were “on top of the world”. Also, a friend of mine called me this morning to remind me when comedian, Robin Williams took his life a couple of years ago as well.
It’s almost a national epidemic and crisis that’s going on. I just saw a statistic that said that suicide is up 30% over the last decade or so on a national average.
On Wednesday this week, a young high school student in Wenatchee Washington, took his life, and there were countless others around the country who didn’t even make the news. There are 2 suicides a day in the State of Wahington among school-aged children (10 – 14), isn’t that incredible!!! Wenatchee School District High Schoool Suicide
This is exactly why I chose to speak up about the challenges I was going through. Read James Donaldson Mental Health Article Here. From all outward appearances, everything looks great with me as well, but for the last eight months, my whole world has been upside down, with the suicidal thoughts and temptation for me to end it all. I’m so glad I’m “on the other side” of all of that now, due mainly to the help of my medical professional doctors, prescription medication, and the whole community of dear friends and loved ones to come together to be supportive to me. They all know exactly what I’m going through, and that’s one thing I mentioned to one of my friends this morning, is now, with clear and rational thinking, the last thing I want to do, is to “exit this world by my own doing, and not say a word to anybody who loves me or matters to me, and of course, them loving and me mattering to them”. I can see that now, but when I was in the mist of my “darkness” I couldn’t see that and couldn’t realize that. That, I imagine, is exactly where people who take their lives, find themselves and they cannot find a way out.
I still feel like somewhat in a “fragile state” and it doesn’t take much for me to get set right back into that old mindset of “suicide being the only option”. The day after Memorial Day weekend, my cell phone service got cut off due to nonpayment (a couple of months past due). I just didn’t have $500 to pay to AT&T to keep my service on, and spent the next two or three days, scrounging together whatever I could to make the payment to get my service turned back on. But just by me going through that stress and trauma, (I know it sounds trivial to those who don’t have to worry about these things), set me right back to the mindset of thinking that suicide would finally put an end to all of this that I’m going through.
Also, a wonderful young lady who I recently met, and was very interested in getting a personal relationship established with, decided that she didn’t want to pursue a relationship with me. And again, the “rejection” is enough to send me right back into that mindset of thinking “suicide as an option”.
I want to share with you on a consistent basis my ongoing struggles and challenges too, and perhaps, you may have a better understanding to what people in this situation go through. Of course, I’ve learned that unless you actually have been in that “valley of darkness”, there’s really no way you can truly understand. You may be sympathetic, but the actual feeling of being there and having to go through it, I don’t think is ever realize unless you actually go through it.
Anyway, I am calling for all of us to continue pulling together, continue to speak out about the “dark places that so many of us have gone through”, cherish each and every moment of this wonderful thing called “life”, even with all its ups and downs, and trials and tribulations. By hanging in there, having faith, staying on a healthy path of reaching out to medical professionals and a good support group, you can get through it.
Since I started posting a lot of information about my own personal challenges, I’ve heard from countless people who shared their own experiences or experiences of of those who are close to them. Some have lost loved ones, spouses, children, and many of them, have gone through it themselves where they were actually “contemplating suicide”. Some of these are some dear friends of mine that I had no idea that they went through those things. But once we start talking about it, it makes it so much easier and reassures us that we are not alone.
Continue living the blessed life you are blessed with. Don’t give up. Love each other and be loved.
All the best to each and every one of you out there today.
With love, James Donaldson
James Donaldson’s Book Review – Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals – by Hal Herzog
Being a vegetarian for over half of my life, of course, I have had a closeness and understanding with animals, our environment, food sources and healthy living.
This book takes an interesting dive into our relationship with animals all around the world. Why is it, that “Some We Love (the cute and cuddly ones), Some We Hate (the rodents and insects and scary about and snakey slimy things) and Some We Eat (all of the meats that come across our plate just about every day).
A lot of it is cultural, some cultures eat animals that other cultures did not even think about eating, some of it is tradition or religious practices, some of it’s for so-called health benefits, and a lot of it is from socialization and peer pressure.
Dogs, cats, cute little mice and guinea pigs, most birds such as parrots and parakeets, and a lot of exotic fish and fish aquariums all around the country, we wouldn’t dare think about eating. But, they are food for quite a few other cultures and countries around the world. What makes some animals a menu item, and other animals, not to be considered?
I remember growing up watching the famed naturalist and outdoors person, Euell Gibbons, basically eating just about anything that he could get his mouth around. Stating, that just about everything was edible. And that’s true when you break it down to its raw essence, evening humans have cannibalized humans on occasion throughout history, whether out of necessity, religious practices or outright starvation.
This book will help you think in a broader perspective about why some animals are so important to us and we allow them to come right alongside us like domesticated dogs and cats, and other animals are so repulsive to us that we almost killed them on sight.
I am not advocating a particular lifestyle, or health style, I just know what’s worked for me over the last 35 years or so, and I feel like I’m doing my part in reducing my overall “carbon footprint” and “ecological impact” as I go through this thing called life.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I think you will too.