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TOPIC TITLE: Going Public
Created On 3/21/14 8:51 AM
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Lasthope
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3/21/14 8:51 AM
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A couple of you wanted to know what I did in terms of going public with my illness... well, I decided to post something on facebook, got lots of feedback and then wrote an article about it and put it up on a blog of a pretty well known Jewish Anglo website (using my real name and photo of me). It got 386 shares and 5 tweets.
Here is the article:

Ive read a few articles lately who joke that Facebook, Pinterest, and basically all of social media exists for the demonstrative purpose of living an ideal, a pretend world if you will, where people post picturesque, happy photos and status updates to pretend that their lives are perfect. Meanwhile, many struggle with a multitude of life struggles ranging from serious to more mundane. I think the articles rang true, but at the same time I do enjoy the pictures and sugarcoated life experiences and I wouldn’t want anyone to think I feel jealous or resentful of these pretty packaged postings. I am sure that I too am guilty of posting pictures that might portray a family vacation as being awesome. The pictures don’t capture the tantrums, the fights, the picky eaters, the sunburn, etc. Pictures capture smiles and delight. That’s reality. It’s fine. It’s even fun. I am not attempting to take this experience away from the world. I just, at times, would like to keep it a bit more real. To maintain a bit of common ground, to create a place where real is normal and flaws are acceptable.


Therefore, I did something a little out of the ordinary last Monday. I posted a TMI Facebook status (That stands for “too much information” for you older folks). I had an idea and decided to do it before a little voice in my head told me not to. So I wrote it up quickly, didn’t think too much about it, and pressed enter. Do I regret it? Well, the answer is Yes and No. Yes, because I feel a little ashamed that I did not get as many ‘likes’ as I would’ve liked to, and because some people who are close to me have made no comments of support, and I’ve even gotten some negative remarks against what I did. Yes, because I bared my deepest secret to 413 people, granted many of whom don’t check Facebook, and if they do, don’t read everything. But if they did, didn’t comment or like my post. As a side comment, I’d like to say to all you secret Facebookers, you can stay secret but we know you’re out there!

The truth is, I have been thinking about doing this for a while, but wasn’t sure which medium to use. I’ve toyed back and forth between the blogs, articles, and my book that I am working on. I’ve written up various pieces, but never had the courage to post them or send them out.

I took a plunge to share about a struggle that I have with mental illness, which in itself is a big deal to even share to people close to you. So why would I share something like that with many people I don’t even talk to on a day to day or even year to year basis? It’s like this. I have a dream. I have a dream to break down the stigma of mental illness. I took one small step towards my dream yesterday. And it has given me the push to keep going. It has given me the push to continue with my newly found organization Chance to Heal which raises money to help people pay for therapy and provides support groups for those suffering in silence. It has given me the push to try to help as many people as I can, including myself.

I believe that the challenges presented to me in my life by G-d were for a purpose, and one of those is to help others who are also struggling. Mental illness has become the elephant in the room. It’s real, and everyone knows someone who’s suffering. But no one wants to talk about it. It makes us feel uncomfortable. The word mental illness in our mind is associated with crazy, ranting and raving lunatics. It’s hard for me to even say the two words. Mental illness. Mental illness. Mental illness. Hard to read it, right? What about Mental Health? That’s better. I am striving to build bridges, to open up communication lines between those who suffer and those who don’t.

Here is my status from last Monday:

“I just thought of an idea. Facebook friends, get ready…

….I’d like to start a feed here that shares our struggles that we have been through or are currently going through. And, a very important addition would be, to share how you are working on overcoming that struggle. It can be anything from a broken bone to ADD, from Diabetes to an issue with one of your children. It can be struggling with being single, or having a problem in your marriage, a painful divorce or infertility. The reality is that we ALL struggle. We all have tests and problems that were presented to us in our lives to make us grow (I believe). The point is that we are supposed to work through them and come out even stronger! That is what true happiness is about.

Today is a day when we Jews celebrate the beginning of the month of Adar, and a time when we increase happiness. What does this mean? Dressing up and being silly? Yes, that is part of it, because it brings smiles to our faces and sends good feelings running through our bodies. But, let’s go deeper than that. Let’s look at what true happiness is. In my opinion, happiness is individually defined by each person in this world. We all have our goals and desires, our wishes and dreams that we wish to be fulfilled. It may be getting a lot of money for one person or overcoming a mood disorder for another. The point is, it’s individual and it only comes about through working hard and keeping our heads up with positive reinforcement and lots of faith. I am going to jump into the waters and start. So here we go. I will be the first person to post. If you would like to share a struggle and a step you are taking to overcome it, please follow. If I am the only one, then so be it. But, I am taking this chance, because that’s what life is about. Taking chances and hoping for the best.

I struggle with an illness called Bipolar Type 2. It’s a mental illness consisting of depressive and hypo manic episodes and requires me to take medication for mood stability. I have been struggling with mood issues since age 15, and was only diagnosed two years ago with Bipolar 2. After having severe Postpartum Depression after my last birth, I have been working on getting stable again. I take medication, try to exercise, and TRY to eat healthy. I started an organization called Chance to Heal that will help people with funds for therapy or anything else involved with recovering from mental illness. I initiated a Depression support group in my community with a friend of mine who facilitates it. I have a child with Encopresis but am now taking him/her to a psychologist to deal with the issue. I also have a child with sensory issues and that can be very hard, but we work to be a positive support for him/her with the advice of a therapist and the principal. Too much information? Too bad. Let’s be real.”

That’s it. I want people to know that struggles, challenges, and especially Mental Illness do not define who we are. I want people to realize that a diagnosis doesn’t mean that we are less of an individual and have something to be ashamed of.

So no, I do not regret it. I do not regret this status due to the outpouring of support by Facebook friends either on the status or via messages proclaiming their appreciation of my honesty and their inspiration of my bravery. I do not regret it because of the friends of mine who then felt free to share their stories, their struggles, and their bravery, on the feed and privately. I do not regret it because if I even helped one person to feel less alone and less afraid, then it was worth exposing myself. And no, I do not regret it because this is the first step I am taking to help break down the stigma of mental illness and promote mental health.

May we have a truly happy month, and a Purim Sameach!


If you are interested in finding out more information about the organization Chance To Heal that will help fund people who cannot afford therapy, please e-mail chancetoheal18@gmail.com
 
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I'mTrying
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3/21/14 11:13 AM
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Kol Hakavod to you, Lasthope. If only we were all so brave. If I would use fb I would like you right away
Can you tell us more about your organization?
 
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keep climbing
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3/21/14 11:26 AM
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Wow! I am stunned by the many ways you are trying to help people. I think you are a very wonderful person for caring so much....BTW, I often think -I don't know why Hashem gave me this challenge, but if I can help other people in this situation, at leat it has a purpose. So I'm thrilled to see what you have accomplished. May this be a zchus for you anf your family.
 
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MoMo
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3/21/14 11:37 AM
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Wow!!!!
Can you please share some of the feedback you got?

P.s. you are a prolific writer! Can't wait to read you're book!
 
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Lasthope
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3/22/14 6:52 PM
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Thanks guys.
Momo, i had six friends open up to me about their struggles with postpartum depression, another friend opened up about her depression andanxiety issues, another about her social anxiety (these were all privately). On the feed a wbole bunch of different people weote sbout their vsrious struggles. Noone brought up mental illness. They brought up: child born with handicap, financial struggles, developmentally delayed child, infertility, weight issues... A lot of people had their opinions on reasons why we srent public about our problems. i got lots of positive feedback and support from some very lovely people. my siblings were supportive as well as my mom. My husbands family is a bit of a different story...my sister inlaw wrote on facebbok itself that things should be kept private otherwise people will gossip. She lives in the same city as me and has no emotio al support for me and in fact doesnt even take my illness seriously she will ask me how im feeling if i have a cold or a cough but when j was in her house last year and my therapist spoke yo her because i was suicidal she never took a minute this past year to ask me how im doing. People are in denial. Unaware. Dont understand. Guys, we have to break the stigma down. Help!!
 
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MoMo
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3/23/14 1:39 AM
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Thank you very much for sharing all that!
Together we're going to break the stigma bit by bit.
I try when appropriate to be honest about my struggles.

The stigma is already much less than it used to be and it's gonna get less and less iyh
 
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HopefulMommy
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3/23/14 1:46 AM
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Wow, that's amazing, Lasthope!! I don't use Facebook. Maybe just for this I should. I agree with what others said. You are truly making a difference in so many people's lives. Hatzlacha with everything you do!
 
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Lasthope
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3/23/14 2:31 AM
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Thanks everyone! Any advice on what to do about my sister inlaw? My other sister inlaws also didnt say anything to me and i know they read my article. Its so painful.... I dont get it...
 
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channafofanna
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3/23/14 10:04 AM
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ROUND OF APPLAUSE!!!!!
If I had facebook id like it 5 million times!!!
 
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Lasthope
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3/23/14 4:23 PM
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Thanks channa :-)
 
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MoMo
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3/23/14 8:27 PM
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About your sister in law did you ever have a fully open and honest conversation about how you feel regarding her non recognition of your situation?

I have a sister who's very nice to me but she's like your sister in law. She knows I struggle with different things but totally ignores that whole part of me. She wouldn't know how to deal with it so she'd rather live in denial and pretend that everything is great...
 
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HopefulMommy
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3/24/14 1:02 AM
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Lasthope, maybe your sisters-in-law need more time to digest this information. (((Hugs)))
 
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Lasthope
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3/24/14 2:54 AM
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No, I did not have a fully open and honest discussion with her because I feel like she doesn't want to and it's uncomfortable for me to force her top do something she doesn't want to do. Like you said, some people would rather be in denial. My husband suggested having such a conversation with her and he even said he would initiate it(it's his sister), but I think he forgot and he's also very busy so I feel bad reminding him...
 
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Belly
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5/18/14 1:52 AM
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Hi last hope
I'm really amazed by you posting on your facebook!
It takes a lot of courage!
Not everyone is ready to hear and deal with such information.
I'm sure it's good for everyone that you talk about it openly!
I once heard someone say, 20% like you for who you are, 20% don't like you because of who you are and 60% don't care.
So don't expect everyone to applaude. Some people will be supportive and understanding, some won't. What matters is that you have your husband's support and some close friends!
Many people are scared to talk about their challanges, and you helped them and us. You are amazing. Keep on counting the people you helped and not the people who don't know what to do with this info.
HUGS!!!!!!
 
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Lasthope
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5/18/14 5:48 AM
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Thanks Belly I really aprecise the support! Everyone, sorry I haven't been on lately and I really feel bad cuz i know that in the times I've needed you, u were there for me. I think it's different for me now that I'm so much more open about my deprssion. But that doesn't mean i shouldn't be here support you, and even share my current ongoing struggles. I apologize. Hope everyone's ok.
 
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channafofanna
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5/18/14 6:04 AM
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You have no obligations to the forums. Your obligations are to yourself. No nedd to appologize for doing nothing wrong...
 
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Lasthope
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5/18/14 1:09 PM
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Thanks chana that makes me feel less guilty
 
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MoMo
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5/18/14 3:33 PM
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I agree with Channa.

How did being open change things?
 
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Lasthope
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5/19/14 2:11 AM
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Thanks Momo. Well, I have the Depression support group going in my home which I am part of and that gives me a chance to let out a lot of my constant struggles. I also have a private/secret support group on Facebook called Deprssion, bipolar and borderline support group which has 15 members so far. I also made a group called Mental Health Awareness in the Jewish community where I try to share articlea, videos, anything about mental health and breaking down the stigma. It keeps me busy...
 
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MoMo
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5/19/14 2:23 AM
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Wow can I join?
 
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Lasthope
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5/19/14 2:36 AM
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Of course. Are u on fb?
 
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I'mTrying
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5/19/14 10:11 PM
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I'd love to join but I don't really use facebook and this site is hard enough for me to keep checking... I mean its so hard to be on top of checking in and posting. But if anyone has a group like lasthope's in a physical setting, I would be very interested in hearing more.
 
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Lasthope
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6/15/14 4:49 AM
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Momo, are you on facebook?
 
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MoMo
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6/15/14 10:06 AM
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First of all hi!!!!
Missed you!
How are you?
Yes I have Facebook.
How do I join?
 
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Lasthope
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6/15/14 2:36 PM
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Hi! I am BH very good. How are you?? Find my group it's called Mental Health Awareness in the Jewish Community. Request to join, and I'll add you! You can check who the admin us and your will find that is me so feel free to pm me.
 
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moshe
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7/28/14 5:18 PM
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hi Last hope,
congratulation for being brave !
 
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Lasthope
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7/29/14 3:16 AM
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thank you!
 
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