We are God manifesting.
These are trying times for so many of us. I am recording my life into recovery and wellness. And with that, I am passing along things I did as self-help. For one thing, I sought out ways to change my thought-life. Louise Hay and others feed me with nourishment I desperately needed when I needed it.
Positive thoughts gave me my life back, transformed.
Best wishes for you and the life you desire . . .
In my reinterpretation of the popular interpretation of the Bible theme, I provide the reader a way to hold their faith and yet use it in a positive, affirming, and all inclusive manner.The good news was never intended to bash others and do harm.
I'm wrote my story in hopes that it will inspire others to share their story. I don't know if there is a "book" in everyone but I know for certain there is a story in there. I encourage you to share your story of overcoming some of life's challenges. Someone needs to hear what you have to say. They are waiting!
"MY UNDERSTANDING FAMILY LETS ME BE ME"
Every culture in the world has certain norms that govern everything from personal relationships to religious practices and political views. These norms shift depending on the times and places in which we live; however we are always expected to conform to them. Those who do not often find themselves subject to a painful, even paralyzing, stigma.
There are two of these nonconforming groups who I have found to be particularly stigmatized: those suffering from mental illness and those who consider themselves “Spiritual But Not Religious” (SBNR). I know about both of these by personal experience. I am a person who lives with depression and lives a spiritual life unattached from organized religion. Despite the fact that a growing number, nearly 20%, of Americans are identifying themselves as SBNR, they are consistently branded as heretics and “non-believers”.
How can this be? Religious texts and leaders proclaim that God/Source/the Creator loves us all unconditionally, yet it seems that this message is often followed up with—you guessed it—conditions! We either don’t believe enough or the right way, and that’s why we’re not getting what we want in this life and why we won’t end up in heaven in the next.
The real issue, I contend, is the continued practice of viewing those who differ from us as “other”. It’s an exclusivity game—we belong, you don’t. Christ’s mission on earth was to help us understand that we are all of the same Source energy. We are all loved just as we are, and all entitled to heaven, just as we are. Yet (and I am not pointing the finger at anyone in particular), instead of embracing people across the spectrum of spiritual beliefs, we allow norms to divide us. On the largest scale, this leads to conflicts between the world’s three major religions; on a smaller scale, it leads to the stigmatization of people who do not follow the rules.
We must push back against stigmas—that is a given. In the meantime, however, we also must seek out and cultivate what I call the “understanding family”. This is a group of people who accept, love and support us no matter what. It can be the family we are born into or the one we make for ourselves, but they are critical to our mental, spiritual and even physical wellbeing.
Many of us take this support system for granted, especially when our lives are going well. It consists of our spouses, parents, friends or religious community. However, it is when we suddenly find ourselves on the fringes of society that we must sometimes seek out a new family built on common interests or struggles. They are the people who will let us know that we are not alone. They are often our only refuge from the world at large. Most importantly, they are the ones who will help us combat the most damaging stigma of all—the one we assign to ourselves.
I'm sharing the news of my being among national Award Winners for accomplishments over the past year. It has been a pleasure to serve as State Director and local chapter President. And I consider it an honor to be recognized by DBSA national.
I appreciate all the wonderful support I was given by my fellow officers, Board members, and the chapter membership throughout the year. You may view the announcement on the national web site athttp://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=peer_chapter_spotlights
Congratulations to our 2013 Chapter Service Award Winners!
The DBSA Chapter Service Awards recognize exemplary service by DBSA
chapters, state organizations, and their leaders. Winners will be honored at the 2014 Chapter Leadership Forum in addition to receiving a cash award.
Steve Brannon of DBSA Jackson (TN) and DBSA Tennessee - Outstanding
Steve is an excellent role model for pursuing a wellness-focused life while living with a mood disorder. He fights stigma by openly sharing his journey in the local newspaper, on DBSA’s website, and on his weekly online newsletter. He has worked with the local police department to help educate and train police officers for crisis response teams. Steve was selected for DBSA Peer Advocacy Training and was a representative of DBSA for Hill Day in Washington, D.C.
At his local chapter, DBSA Jackson (TN), Steve gently encourages, trusts, and believes in support group participants. He instituted a monthly “share your inspiration” night in which group members report on what keeps them going, creating an environment of hope and personal growth. Steve is dedicated to further advancing DBSA’s mission into surrounding communities and across the state. The number of support groups has doubled in the past year under his direction, encompassing all major cities and some smaller cities across the state. He has traveled hundreds of miles at his own expense to conduct local chapter visitations as state director. Steve’s passion for the advancement of DBSA’s mission in Jackson and the state of Tennessee is so strong that he has diligently dedicated his time and resources for over a decade.
DBSA Tennessee - State Organization Service
DBSA Tennessee's amazing accomplishments made 2013 a rewarding year!
They supported chapters in their state by hosting educational presentations and training programs, giving them the tools necessary for successful chapters. With help from DBSA Tennessee, five local chapters were interviewed on television or radio to promote DBSA to the community. Leaders encouraged one chapter’s community outreach, resulting in a city-wide Mental Health Day declared by their mayor. DBSA Tennessee’s robust plan to help new chapters in the startup process helped find free meeting locations, assistance in affiliation fees and paperwork, and provided a sponsor from an already established chapter to assist the new chapter.
Five members of DBSA Tennessee attended DBSA’s Peer Advocate Training in Washington, D.C. and then created an advocacy plan for their state including a campaign against proposed budget cuts to close all 45 of Tennessee’s Peer Support Service Centers. DBSA Tennessee is a growing, thriving organization. With its advocacy for peer support and local chapter start-up, community outreach and commitment to peer education, DBSA Tennessee is one of the most energetic affiliates of DBSA.
DBSA Murfreesboro (TN) - Rookie Chapter Service
DBSA Murfreesboro began in July of 2013 with support from DBSA Tennessee.
The chapter started out with one support group, which saw its attendance
double in fewer than six months, becoming one of the fastest growing local
chapters in the state. The growth of the chapter can be attributed to the forces behind it that work tirelessly to get the word out about the group. Flyers and pamphlets are distributed to agencies and health care providers, the Salvation Army, local hospitals and businesses, and more. DBSA Murfreesboro provides post-hospitalization support for those who would otherwise have none. Educational materials, resources, and wellness tools are provided to each chapter participant. They have also started a family and friends support group.
Members of DBSA Murfreesboro participated in the state chapter meetings and backing of their U.S. Representative. For a chapter that achieved all of this in six months, DBSA Murfreesboro has a fine resume of accomplishments, but they consider their greatest success to be the level of support offered to each person who walks through their doors.
DBSA(Depression Bipolar Support Alliance)Jackson Pushes Back Against Stigma
I identify myself as “spiritual but not religious”. And one of my core beliefs is that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. We enrich this experience by remembering/acknowledging/honoring our oneness with the Source and with each other. To do this, we must embrace our neighbor as an individual, regardless of their state of their physical or mental health, the size of their wallet, the “correctness” of their religious views. For the past ten years, my work as Founder and President of DBSA Jackson has focused on the “consumers” (individuals utilizing mental health services for depression and bipolar disorder), as well as their family and friends. Together, we have created a supportive “understanding family” comprised of a plurality of belief systems.
As “progressive” as we like to think we’ve become, there is still an enormous stigma attached to mental illness. We all have our problems and worries, and we all have coping mechanisms—some healthy, and some, not so much—that we use to deal with them. However, what about those among us that need help managing their mental health challenges? Faced with the very real prospect of rejection, they are silenced and cut off from the world. Unfortunately, many religious institutions reflect this societal view, and this has only further isolated those dealing with mood disorders.
Mother Teresa did not shy away from those facing challenges. On the contrary, she gravitated not to the pillars of society, but to those considered less fortunate and even, by some, undesirable, most notably the poor and infirm. It is with a desire to serve that I have based my organization’s community outreach: first, to in-patients in a behavioral health facility and, secondly, to a population of consumers in the larger community. My inspirational support meetings provide spiritual encouragement to in-patients and other consumers suffering from mood disorders, regardless of the person’s faith (or lack thereof). The aim is to create a supportive, trustworthy, respectful, non-judgmental, and nurturing atmosphere where these individuals can safely explore and strengthen their desire for wellness and contributing to society.
I begin these meetings with a moment of silence in which we remember “those members of our family that we have yet to meet.” A central message of our work is that everyone needs time to be alone and go within: what I refer to as visiting the “inner sanctuary”. In my book, The Two Agreements, I discuss the importance of entering the “stillness” and the “Silence” to find one’s own connection with the Source, on their own terms, rather than those imposed upon them by any person, organization, or religious dictates.
I am also sensitive to the fact that mental illness does not only affect the consumer, but their loved ones as well. That’s why I hold a second meeting each week that’s open to friends and family in need of support. Many focus all of their energy and attention trying to help the diagnosed person. Others are frightened away, and remain distant from the person experiencing the illness. Still others report feeling hurt, helpless, overwhelmed, confused, sad, guilty and ashamed because of their loved one’s illness. I believe that no matter the reaction, these family members and friends need support and comfort as they walk the often-challenging road to wellness alongside their loved one. To this end, my work includes special events that build a family atmosphere and promotes healthy relationships between people with illnesses, family and friends from different walks of life.
I believe that bringing consumers out of isolation helps push back against stigma. Both of the groups that meet weekly, our understanding family, are part of a larger mosaic. Within that mosaic, our family demonstrates the necessity of unity not only to these individuals and to their loved ones but also, on a deeper level, the human family, and our connection with one another. Spiritually speaking, the esoteric teachings of major religions speak of an underlying unity in all of creation, an eternal oneness.
In these most trying of times, our inspirational support group and network creates a safe place, in space and time, for these vulnerable individuals and their loved ones. The result is that they maintain their treatment plan and likely avoid hospitalization. There are a number of fully-employed consumers who regularly attend our meetings and events. These individuals claim they gain the strength to work and contribute to the community because of the support and encouragement they receive. In helping every consumer in our organization to “be well and live well”, we are pushing back against stigma in a most profound way.
S.L. Brannon on DBSA Life Unlimited web site -- http://bit.ly/1kEBzlZ
The Two Agreements fb page -- http://bit.ly/the2agree
S.L. Brannon, B.A., M.Ed., D.Div. You can learn more about me on facebook and linkedin.