Keep Up With DBSA–CV

In order to prevent duplicating the same messages I will update DBSA–CV via the DBSA–CV Facebook Page. Please click Like on the sidebar in order to receive Facebook  updates on your timeline. For those who continue to use this site, updates will appear on the sidebar under Facebook.

Thanks,

Ben Overby

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The Meaning of Your Past

Meaning is the ‘one thing’ a person intends to communicate. If I warn you that there is danger ahead, then that’s the meaning I intend. You either accept the warning or ignore it. But past is not a person. It doesn’t intend to communicate anything. It has no life. Past is like ice cream without flavor. We choose the topping, the ingredients that give it taste. Without our decision, ice cream doesn’t take charge and say, “I am strawberry!”

Past is the ice cream. What it means is actually the one thing we are communicating to ourselves about the past. It is a waste of time to blame our past; after all, it is tasteless. It exists in our memory, waiting for a topping.

Are you giving your past life, giving it a voice? Is your past saying your are doomed to failure? Is it communicating that you are fat, ugly, dumb, and destined for poverty? Maybe it is conveying that you can succeed and only succeed? Is it warning you? Is it encouraging you?

We should accept past for what it is. It is a cluster of events. Nothing more. It can only mean the meaning we give it. If we don’t like chocolate ice cream, then we should reject it and demand strawberry. We can do it because it is in our power alone. We (not past) are literally talking to ourselves. So, take charge–when necessary spare the messenger and kill the message.

© Ben Overby, 2014

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DBSA Support Group

I’ve been contacted by several people from the Chattahoochee Valley area lately indicating a desire to participate in a support group focused on bipolar disorder and unipolar depression. We’ve put together a few groups in the past year but they never got “lift off.” No doubt there are several reasons why this is the case. For anyone who wants to participate, I will coordinate a Skype group beginning September 1, 2014. This will give us plenty of time to put the group together.

Please use the contact form to indicate your interest. I’ll provide Skype instructions later about how to check in.

Thanks,

Ben Overby, CPS

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Supported Employment

Check out this article. It is the first in a series being done by USA Today. This article highlights the need for more funding in order to make supported employment effective.

Ben Overby

 

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Stuck In the Mud

We’ve all been stuck. It’s frustrating to have a clear goal in mind only to be sidelined by procrastination. Maybe we’re stuck between competing goals–a desire to run the race neutralized by contentment with the couch. Those of us living with a mental illness often have recovery goals. Our health and relationships depend on us staying out of the mud, staying focused on our targets. We can’t afford to get bogged down, to get stuck, and if we do we have to get freed up asap.

We hear it all the time; “I feel like I’m stuck in the mud.” The question is, how do we get out.

When I was much younger, occasionally I’d frog gig. I’ll spare you the gory details and simply note that it is impossible to gig frogs without getting in the mud. Getting in mud isn’t necessarily a problem. But if the mud is thick and deep enough it is easy to get stuck. It wasn’t unusual to find myself glued to the edge of a pond like a fly on fly paper. I’ve actually pulled so hard that my foot has left my shoe behind.

Options for responding to being stuck in the mud:

1. Fight it. Not an effective strategy. The harder you pull on the boot, the stronger its grip. When sheer willpower wrestles old habits it can leave us frustrated, getting nowhere.

2. Leave the boots behind. However, ignoring a sticky situation will not make it go away. If you step out of the boot, then what? Not a pretty picture.

3. Shout for help. A friend or coach will come running and pull you out of the mud. But at what expense? Often the result is a temporary fix. Movement toward a goal might last for just a week or two before you step right back into the old pattern, feeling like a failure, losing confidence that you can consistently achieve your desires.

4. Find a mentor who understands the issue, someone who has ventured into the same place, gotten stuck, and found his/her way out. A good coach will encourage and support you as you break free. Chances are he’ll suggest that you stop fighting the mud and resolve the problem while retaining your shoes. The coach may suggest that you do something similar to what I did when I was up to my ankles in mud. Lift your foot slowly and patiently. Pulling the foot and shoe free is possible. And we enjoy a tremendous advantage by leaning on a trusted shoulder for balance.

Working as a peer mentor and whole health coach in the mental health field has reinforced (for me) that the way to help people out of the mud is through support–sharing wisdom that comes only with experience. The person usually breaks free, reaching the goal slowly and methodically, not as a student but empowered by finding inner strength. I’ve found providing a shoulder for balance to be an invaluable strategy along the way.

Put another way, I’ve found it effective to model what it is like to get unstuck. If you want to achieve what you really want to achieve, don’t allow someone to yank, pull or try to do it for you. Chances are you’ll both end up stuck, neither one hitting the intended target, sinking deep into long-term frustration.

So don’t just stand there. Doing something now to get out of the mud.

Ben Overby

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Hatred and Boiling Vinegar

Websters defines hate as: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury b : extreme dislike or antipathy : loathing

One of the more complicated challenges I face personally as well as many of the peers I mentor is self-hatred. It usually takes the form of self-criticism or self-condemnation. It is that nagging voice that refuses to shut-up.

Aversion is repugnance. It is a desire to turn away. When we avoid someone because we’re angry or afraid of them or sense they’ve injured us it is signaling hatred.

My mom pickled cucumbers when I was a kid. I hated the smell. It was repulsive to me. I had an aversion to it, which explains why I ran outside and refused to return until the coast was clear of the stench. Sometimes we feel that way toward others. And sometimes we feel that way about ourselves.

The trouble is I can’t run away from me. I’m stuck in my own skin. Sometimes the hatred is because I’m afraid of myself. Experience with mania over the 33 years has left deep scars. Though manic experiences are now controlled by medication, the fear remains close by. Sometimes I’m angry at myself. To really complicate things, a lot of the time I’m angry with myself because I’m angry with myself and want to stop being angry with myself but feel powerless. I’m sealed in a room with boiling vinegar, no ventilation, no escape route.

Often fear and anger have self-injury as the source. We can injure ourselves a thousand different ways.

For those raised in a performance-based family this is a particular problem. Did your parents connect their love for you with your performance, your behavior, your goodness however they defined it? When I kept the rules I was a “good boy.” When I violated the rules (some I didn’t know existed until it was too late!) I was bad. Expressions of love came with contingencies. So, if my parents couldn’t love me because I didn’t meet the standard, then it didn’t take long before I didn’t love me for failing my parents. And this failure to love myself was, and still can be, a devastating injury to the self.

A lot of the peers I work with, or people that I coach, loath themselves. Sometimes it is countered with substance abuse. Other times it results in attempts to snatch love from anyone who will give it (or at least appear to). There’s a craving for intimacy. At other times the person disconnects from their own emotions, thinking they are escaping the repugnant smell, ignoring the fact that at some point they are going to have to breathe.

The remedy is simple but difficult. It’s love–the prescription that heals hatred. Love does not run away but runs to. It is not angry but is understanding. It puts into context perceived self-injuries, accepts them for what they are, and forgives; lets it go. We get a double benefit because we also stop being angry at other people, cease being afraid, and stop attempting to injure the other.

I’m not an expert on any of this; I’m not a counselor and certainly not a psychologist.  I trust Jesus. He didn’t study human behavior. He knew it. He knew what was real and passed it on to his apprentices. And one of them expressed it better than I can, and I’ll stop with this;

“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God!” from The Message, 1 John.

Ben Overby
Hopeful Living
BKO Consultants, LLC
DBSA-CV, INC
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Victim of Stigma

Several years ago, while living in a community in Tennessee and serving as a fulltime minister and chairman of the county mental health board, I encountered several people suffering from mental conditions ranging from schizophrenia, OCD, to generalized anxiety.

Jeff lived under the stigma of mental illness. His life was limited. His treatment had not left him able to work. Social Security Income was his only income. A lot of the time he was non-compliant, refusing to take his medication. Usually he looked wild, hair unkempt, clothes disheveled. He showed little emotion—I never heard him laugh.

People, for the most part, seemed not to know what to do with him, how to be with him, how to  communicate with and befriend him. That includes me. I was living with bi-polar disorder but was yet to be diagnosed. I was in the dark as much as anyone else.

He needed surgery to repair a problem with his bowels. After the surgery he was left with his son to recuperate. His son lived in a small house, cluttered and dirty. Kim and I checked in on Jeff and found him stretched out on a recliner, moaning, holding his belly. Across the room his son held a fist full of cards, playing poker with his friends, barely noticing that we’d come in. The room was thick with cigarette smoke and it looked like the last place anyone should be recovering from a major surgery. In short, Jeff wasn’t being cared for and was easily ingnored because he had not been taught how to get help for himself.

We decided to take him home with us. Our boys doubled-up in one of the rooms to provied Jeff a place to recover.

When it was night we started to worry. The stigma of mental illness was creeping in. We made sure our boys locked their bedroom door. We turned the lock on our door as well. After all, who could predict what a person with a serious mental illness might do, right? Maybe he’d pull himself into the kitchen, grab a knife and kill us all for no reason. Such was my complete ignorance. We took him to the hospital in hopes that they’d care for him but they refused to admit him. Jeff was easy to turn away, after all who was going to advocate for him?

In a spiritual sense we did nothing to help Jeff recover from his mental illness. In time he disappeared somewhere into the community, just an afterthought. And that was the best we knew to do. Jeff was a poster child for mental health stigma. Through it (the stigma) he was victimized, forced to live on a social level below the surface, alone, desperate, afraid, and worst of all—unloved in any practical way. We let him down. It was the beginning of my long and painful awakening.

Ben Overby

http://about.me/Ben.overby

http://bkoconsultants.com

http://hopefulliving.wordpress.com

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