A Letter From Deborah
It’s liberating to talk about my struggles with mental illness. That is now that I’ve come out on the other side. There was a time I hid my anxiety and depression because I was embarrassed and didn’t understand my emotions.
My symptoms came on suddenly after starting the birth control pill with estrogen. Falling into despair I didn’t know what hit me. I was scared and doctors at the time couldn’t explain why either. I saw a psychiatrist but did not want antidepressants. Instead, I engaged in exercise to raise my endorphins, which gave some relief from the depression but not the anxiety.
I struggled with anxiety for years. When I gave birth to my first child my anxiety increased even more and I suffered postpartum depression. I tried to manage it with exercise again to avoid psychiatric drugs. My anxiety was more intense than the depression and developed into OCD behaviors, gradually driving me into adrenal fatigue with my second pregnancy five years later. The physical changes were draining and my emotional stress was so heightened I finally resorted to an antidepressant that seemed to aggravate my symptoms.
Traditional medical and mental health doctors were unaware that I was estrogen dominant and my body became copper toxic as estrogen was retaining copper causing a build-up. The excess copper with nowhere to go disrupted my neurotransmitter’s activity.
I gave it my best fight but in the end, I miscarried my second pregnancy. That trauma added guilt and shame worsening my mental health symptoms and eventually, I gave up my career as well. The following eight years involved enduring varying dosages of different antidepressants each with its own awful side effects.
These drugs did little to nothing for my depression, worsened my anxiety with a racing mind and panic attacks while at the same time I felt drained and numbed. My loved ones did not know how to help because I had always been a strong, professional working woman seemingly able to handle anything. As a barely functioning depressive person, I took matters into my own hands and went off of the antidepressants to feel something again.
I definitely got my feelings back. The only problem was they were angry, unhappy emotions surfacing from what I had been through. The love for my daughter helped me cope and keep fighting to be healthy.
Then as I entered menopause, with unbearable night sweats and took hormone replacement drugs, with estrogen, my depression became more intense. Not wanting to go back to the awful feeling of antidepressants. I decided to try a new approach. I sought naturopathic doctors who use a natural method of correcting imbalances in neurotransmitter activity with advanced nutrient therapy. This was the best decision of my life. These doctors uncovered that all my hormone-related psychiatric symptoms were because my body did not detox copper properly. They found that out by doing some blood work to identify any heavy metals. This test is not covered by OHIP but I was very glad when the results came in.
It took some time to get the excess copper out of my body and balance other depleted nutrients but I started to progressively get better and heal. I can happily say I no longer suffer fatigue, depression, nor OCD, have minimal anxiety, and best of all no side effects. All along I had a treatable condition that doesn’t respond to psychiatric medication. Speaking out about what I went through is much easier now that I survived copper toxicity and have peace of mind.
Many years ago, I had a boss that nicknamed me “Smiley.” Thanks to advanced nutrient therapy normalizing my brain chemistry, eating a low copper diet and incorporating my own personal healing practices my life has been renewed and I can smile again. For me stopping the roller coaster trial and error of antidepressants and going a natural route was a good decision.
The lesson from my journey that I share is that we all have a unique biochemistry and what is right for one may not be for another.
Thanks for listening. I hope and pray that everyone who is suffering from mental illness will find their balance.
It can be very difficult and heart-wrenching to see a loved one struggling with symptoms of mental illness. And often it can be hard to know how to best help and support your loved one.
Every individual is different and situations vary greatly. The person may have a specific diagnosis, or you may just have concerns about the way a person has been talking and behaving. You know your loved one and may have an understanding of what approach or support will be most helpful. However, below are a few tips and things to consider when you are trying to help a loved one.
Know the warning signs of mental health problems
For example, withdrawal from social interaction, unusual problems functioning at school, work or social activities or dramatic changes in sleep and appetite are possible signs. Someone exhibiting these signs or having these experiences does not necessarily mean the person has a mental health problem, the symptoms could also be related to other issues or problems. But following up with an evaluation from a medical professional could help address any problems and prevent more serious symptoms from developing.
Getting started, approaching the issue
One of the hardest and most important steps may be just starting the conversation. You do not have to be an expert or to have the answers. Express your concern and willingness to listen and be there for the person. Don’t be afraid to talk about it. Reassure them that you care about them and are there for them. Use “I” statements. For example, use “I am worried about you…,” “I would like you to consider talking with a counselor….” rather than “You are….” or “You should….”
Try to show patience and caring and try not to be judgmental of their thoughts and actions. Listen; don’t disregard or challenge the person’s feelings.
Encourage them to talk with a mental health care provider or with their primary care provider if that would be more comfortable for them. For some people, it may be helpful to compare the situation to physical health concerns and how they would respond. For example, if there was a concern about diabetes or high blood pressure would they be likely to seek medical care?
Remind them that seeking help is a sign of strength.
Learn about Mental Health Conditions and Treatments
Educate yourself. The more you understand about conditions, symptoms, possible treatments, and what to expect, the better you will be able to support your loved one. However, carefully consider sources of information online. As with any topic, the quality of information available online varies a great deal.
Help address potential barriers
Try to anticipate and help address any potential barriers to the person seeking help. For example, find out about local resources available to help. For example, make it easier for the individual by researching potential therapists, hours, locations, and insurance-related issues (OHIP vs Private Insurance). If you think they might be barriers, address possible issues with transportation, childcare, strategies for communicating with an employer, etc.
Seek support for yourself
While you’re focusing on helping your loved one, it’s also important to take care of yourself – physically and emotionally. Reach out for help for yourself if you need it. Recognize and acknowledge the limits of what you can give.
Blogger Victoria Maxwell writes: “When my mother was ill with the swings of severe depression, mania, and anxiety, I was worried as well as angry. I needed someone outside the family to freely discuss my frustrations and hurt without the fear of upsetting her. A qualified therapist offers clarity, objectivity, solutions not previously seen and a place to safely deal with the emotions arising from such difficult circumstances.”
Expectations and Collaboration
It is important to have realistic expectations. Recovery is generally not a straightforward process, there will likely be improvements and setbacks along the way. With the permission of your family member, you can work with their treatment team to help provide support.
Even if you feel your support and actions are not making a difference, they are likely making a difference for your friend or family member. Your loved one may be hurting and not clearly recognize what you’re doing or may not be able to express appreciation. But knowing you are there for them can be important in helping their recovery.
If you are providing primary care for an aging parent, ill spouse or if you are the parent of an addict, you are at a higher risk of developing mental health issues. You need to take care of yourself. You can’t help anyone unless you are fully present and in good health.
All the stress relief activities in the world won’t help if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Meditation won’t do you any good if you aren’t getting adequate sleep. In fact, when you try to meditate, you might doze off because you aren’t taking care of your body’s need for sleep.
Similarly, hitting the gym once in a while won’t relieve much stress if you’re only fueling your body with high-processed junk food. You need to take care of your basic needs first if you want your stress relief activities to be effective.
What Is Self-Care?
Self-care describes a conscious act one takes in order to promote their own physical, mental, and emotional health. There are many forms self-care may take. It could be ensuring you get enough sleep every night or stepping outside for a few minutes for some fresh air.
Self-care has been defined as, “a multidimensional, multifaceted process of purposeful engagement in strategies that promote healthy functioning and enhance well-being.” (Dorociak, 2017) Self-care is vital for building resilience toward those stressors in life that you can’t eliminate. When you’ve taken steps to care for your mind and body, you’ll be better equipped to live your best life.
Unfortunately, however, many people view self-care as a luxury, rather than a priority. Consequently, they’re left feeling overwhelmed, tired, and ill-equipped to handle life’s inevitable challenges.
It’s important to assess how you’re caring for yourself in several different domains so you can ensure you’re caring for your mind, body, and spirit.
You need to take care of your body if you want it to run efficiently. Keep in mind that there’s a strong connection between your body and your mind. When you’re caring for your body, you’ll think and feel better too.
Physical self-care includes how you’re fueling your body, how much sleep you’re getting, how much physical activity you are doing, and how well you’re caring for your physical needs. Attending appointments, taking medication as prescribed, and managing your health are all part of good physical self-care.
When it comes to physical self-care, ask yourself the following questions to assess whether there might be some areas you need to improve:
- Are you getting adequate sleep?
- Is your diet fueling your body well?
- Are you taking charge of your health?
- Are you getting enough exercise?
Socialization is key to self-care. But, often, it’s hard to make time for friends and it’s easy to neglect your relationships when life gets busy.
Close connections are important to your well-being. The best way to cultivate and maintain close relationships is to put time and energy into building your relationships with others.
There isn’t a certain number of hours you should devote to your friends or work on your relationships. Everyone has slightly different social needs. The key is to figure out what your social needs are and to build enough time in your schedule to create an optimal social life.
To assess your social self-care, consider:
- Are you getting enough face-to-face time with your friends?
- What are you doing to nurture your relationships with friends and family?
The way you think and the things that you’re filling your mind with greatly influence your psychological well-being.
Mental self-care includes doing things that keep your mind sharp, like puzzles, or learning about a subject that fascinates you. You might find reading books or watching movies that inspire you fuels your mind.
Mental self-care also involves doing things that help you stay mentally healthy. Practicing self-compassion and acceptance, for example, helps you maintain a healthier inner dialogue.
Here are a few questions to consider when you think about your mental self-care:
- Are you making enough time for activities that mentally stimulate you?
- Are you doing proactive things to help you stay mentally healthy?
Research shows that a lifestyle including religion is generally a healthier lifestyle.
Whether you enjoy meditation, attending a religious service, or praying, spiritual self-care is important.
As you consider your spiritual life, ask yourself:
- What questions do you ask yourself about your life and experience?
- Are you engaging in spiritual practices that you find fulfilling?
It’s important to have healthy coping skills to deal with uncomfortable emotions, like anger, anxiety, and sadness. Emotional self-care may include activities that help you acknowledge and express your feelings on a regular basis.
Whether you talk to a partner or close friend about how you feel, or you set aside time for leisure activities that help you process your emotions, it’s important to incorporate emotional self-care into your life.
When assessing your emotional self-care strategies, consider these questions:
- Do you have healthy ways to process your emotions?
- Do you incorporate activities into your life that help you feel recharged?
- Do you understand your emotions or other’s emotions?
Have you ever felt an intense emotion but struggled to come up with a way to put your feelings into words? Perhaps you’re going through a difficult breakup and are having trouble processing the mixture of anger, grief, sadness, and other emotions you are experiencing.
Some may be impossible to even identify. Or maybe you’re excited about the possibility of something new — a promotion, for example — but are experiencing something else in addition to the excitement — something you can’t quite articulate out loud.
You’re not alone. Describing emotions is a complex and often extremely challenging — not to mention sometimes undesirable — task that leaves many people overwhelmed and even more confused than the feelings themselves. However, this ability is an important one to have in developing emotional intelligence.
Introducing the Emotion Wheel
The emotion wheel or wheel of emotions (sometimes misnomered the emotional wheel), created by Robert Plutchik, offers a visual representation of primary emotions, displaying the varying degrees and complexities of different feelings. As a tool, it can help people grapple with, put a name to, and come to terms with their emotions in many different contexts, including simply developing greater self-awareness.
What is the Emotion Wheel?
Created by the late psychologist Robert Plutchik, the emotion wheel describes eight basic emotions: anger, anticipation, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, surprise and trust. The wheel is arranged in a circular shape with each section containing three different degrees of each emotion, with the central emotion in the middle.
For example, for the emotion “anger,” the lesser degree is embarrassed, represented on the outer edge of the slice, and the greater degree is hurt, situated by the middle of the emotion wheel.
How to use the Emotion Wheel
The emotion wheel is a tool that enables people to describe and verbalize their emotions, as well as understand the relationship between and intensity of their feelings. The ability to articulate and identify emotions is an important component of emotional intelligence.
People can use the wheel to identify their emotions and come to terms to how they are feeling, make informed decisions, seek resolution, gain closure, and, ultimately, become more self-aware and self-compassionate.
Contexts in which people use the Emotion Wheel:
The wheel can also be helpful to use when attempting to explain your emotions to other people, such as in therapy. The ability to put a name to what we are feeling can give individuals a greater sense of control and help them develop a plan for moving forward and coping.
Many organizations use the wheel or variations of it to facilitate team-building and encourage members and employees to establish common ground, understand each other’s perspectives, and further develop their own self-awareness. This can lead to better working relationships, as well as improve individual skills. After all, leaders and employees alike need to have strong emotional intelligence to perform their jobs well.
The Emotion Wheel in work, life, and beyond
When Plutchik created the emotion wheel, he noted that all animals exhibit a range of emotions. Feeling is a complex process, and coming to terms with how we are feeling can sometimes be overwhelming. The emotion wheel gives us explanations and enables us to explore why we feel the way we do, as well as how we manifest those sentiments.
The emotion wheel is a tool people can use in many areas of their lives, from relationships to work to coming to terms with the things that affect them and moving forward. Ultimately, it promotes greater self-awareness and understanding.
Develop Your Self-Care Plan
Self-care isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. Your self-care plan will need to be customized to your needs.
A self-care plan for a busy college student who feels mentally stimulated all the time and has a bustling social life might need to emphasize physical self-care.
On the other hand, a retired person may need to incorporate more social self-care into their schedule to make sure that their social needs are being met.
Assess which areas of your life need some more attention and self-care. And reassess your life often. As your situation changes, your self-care needs are likely to shift too.
When you discover that you’re neglecting a certain aspect of your life, create a plan for change.
You don’t have to tackle everything all at once. Identify one small step you can take to begin caring for yourself better.
Then, schedule time to focus on your needs. Even when you feel like you don’t have time to squeeze in one more thing, make self-care a priority. When you’re caring for all aspects of yourself, you’ll find that you are able to operate more effectively and efficiently.
What can you do to help?
If you know someone that is experiencing Mental Health Issues, please review some of these websites listed below. You can always have the person call 311 for more information on services available to those living with Mental Health Issues. You can also:
- Request Prayers for someone suffering from any form of mental illness. https://www.holyredeemerchurch.ca/prayerpals-prayer-request/
- Become a Prayer Pal and pray with our team https://www.holyredeemerchurch.ca/become-a-prayerpal/
- Check out the websites below or get involved with an organization that helps those suffering from Mental Health Issues live better lives. Most of these organizations operate with volunteers. If you want to get involved, please check out the websites and make contact with the organization of your choice!
Our sisters and brothers in Christ that experience mental health issues need support.
Become aware of what services are out there for them.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has excellent resources. Please visit the website and become aware of what is out there.
CMHA Website: https://ontario.cmha.ca/mental-health/
Please don’t confuse CMHA with CAMH. CAMH is the Center for Addictions and Mental Health. CAMH has a comprehensive website that provides more information and services. Please review their website and become more aware of the programs and services for those suffering from mental health issues.
CAMH Website: https://www.camh.ca/
Mental Health Supports in Sudbury
It’s okay not to feel okay. Many people may feel anxious or scared at this time. These are normal responses to unexpected or stressful situations. Disruption to daily routines and distance from family and friends is hard. Reach out to those you care about by phone or video chat, stay active at home, eat healthy meals and get plenty of rest.
If you need mental or emotional support, do not hesitate to reach out for help at no charge.
Here are some Programs and Services available in Sudbury:
An online service providing access to millions with anxiety, depression and other common mental health issues. Register your profile with the Canadian Content and sign up for a free course.
Addiction, Mental Health and Gambling Treatment Services.
TEL: 1-866-531-2600 or 519-439-0174
Crisis Intervention Services
Operated by professionals with Health Sciences North, Crisis Intervention Services works with individuals of all ages to provide brief counselling and referral to supportive programs or agencies.
24 hour hotline 705-675-4760
Visit 127 Cedar St, Sudbury. Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (no appointment necessary).
Crisis Services Canada
A national network of existing distress, crisis and suicide prevention line services.
Elder/Senior’s Advocacy North
Friendly Caller Program
Providing telephone companionship to isolated seniors
If you would like to receive weekly friendly calls from one of United Way’s trained volunteers, please contact: Charlene Legacy, Director of Labour and Community Services
Telephone: 705-560-3330 ext. 223 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Health Sciences North
All Health Sciences North Mental Health and Addictions services (MHA) remain open. We are meeting with clients through virtual or telephone appointments wherever possible. If this is not possible, we will continue to see you in person.
Click here to view HSN’s MHA information poster.
Visiting Hospice Service
Maison McCulloch Hospice
Phone: 705-674-9252, ext. 236
Visiting Hospice Service is a volunteer support program offered to anyone with a prognosis of 12 months or less, as well to the person caring for their loved one during the end-of-life journey. We are currently offering telephone support calls by trained volunteers. Work is underway to re-open face to face visits specifically to those who live alone and do not have a live-in caregiver. This is pending the progress of the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteers are trained through Hospice Palliative Care Ontario.
Monarch Recovery Services
Click the link to find out about the services offered during COVID-19 reopening.
Northern Initiative for Social Action (NISA)
NISA continues to offer peer support by phone and video through Zoom, but our centre at 36 Elgin Street, Sudbury, remains closed.
Peer support available by calling 705-222-6472. Open Mondays to Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Regional Warm Line available by calling toll-free 1-866-856-9276 between 6 p.m. and midnight.
Check out our latest newsletter for services and happenings at nisa.on.ca/2-column/news-and-events
Older Adult Peer Support
Phone: 705-222-6472 extension 342
Hours: Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Free emotional mental health support offered by and for older adults 55+ struggling with loneliness, social isolation, grief and loss, stress, depression, anxiety, physical illness, memory problems, caregiver burnout, housing changes, etc.
Regional Warm Line
Hours: Daily 6 p.m. to midnight
Offers a listening ear and peer support to people all across northeastern Ontario who are experiencing any kind of emotional mental health challenges. No one needs a diagnosis to call, just a wish to connect with someone who understands. All calls are confidential.
Réseau ACCESS Network
2S-LGBTQ+ Seniors Program (55+)
The 2S-LGBTQ+ Seniors Program aims to support and empower those who identify as older adults (55+) within the 2S-LGBTQ+ community, to promote healthy relationships, and to increase access to health and social services.
The older adult’s social programs focus on creating inclusive social programs, activities or initiatives that offer a space where members can come together, find support and overcome isolation while accessing services that are available to and welcoming to 2S-LGBTQ+ older adults.
For more information please contact the Seniors’ Program Coordinator, Adrienne (She/Her) at 705-688-0500 ext.222 or by email at email@example.com
NEW Coffee and Chats
Grab a hot drink and join us every Thursday from 10:00 am – 11:00 am for your morning!
Beginning August 6th, Coffee and Chats will be an informal virtual drop-in social group for those who identify as older adults (55+) within the 2S-LGBTQ+ community and their Allies.
How to join: Email Adrienne at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 705-688-0500, ext 222
Meetings will be held virtually through Zoom (phone, tablet, computer with microphone and/or camera needed). A link for the group will be provided upon registry.
2S-LGBTQ+ Older Adult Community Needs Assessment
Public Health Sudbury & Districts
Tips for mental health and additional online links to mental health resources.