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Last week our Parents & Teachers as Partners team did a NAMI presentation for Liberty H.S. in Peoria, AZ. The audience of about 70 total participants were very appreciative and asked great questions. We are slated to do more presentations in March and April.  Nice job, team!

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I am so delighted to be invited to speak at a local book club about my book and the topic of bipolar disorder. Bringing mental illness out of the shadows and being to speak openly about it is an honor and privilege. Small events can help make big changes in attitude, one individual at a time!

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New opportunities for volunteering continue to both challenge and reward me. I have spent the Fall volunteering as a co-facilitator in a Bible-based 12 step recovery program. I continue to serve as a playroom supervisor at our local family advocay center which provides a safe environment for children who are sent for forensic interviews related to allegations of child abuse. I am also preparing for our Spring program of Divorce Care. In the meantime I am looking forward to our NAMI’s (Greater Phoenix) Parents and Teachers as Allies Program training day on December 7th, 2013. And today, we found time at home to put up our Christmas tree, count our blessings and talk with our children and grandchildren on the phone.

 Despite the death of my step-mother this September, we remember her life of service and positive spirit. We will all miss her this holiday season and forever more.  But she left a legacy that out lives her chronological years. She suffered from blindness for nearly twenty years, and didn’t complain. She chose a positive attitude and inspired all she met. We miss you, Fran, but your love continues to surround your family.  God is good and we give thanks for the time you were in our lives.

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I am so happy to have been invited to do a book signing on May 15th at Sun City West in AZ.   I have been busy going to conferences, teaching water fitness and traveling.  I think this would qualify as “blog neglect.” 

 One of my travels tomorrow involves a family wedding in FL, so that is good news. My husband and I just finished co-facilitating a Divorce Care class at our church to help in the healing process post-divorce.  We had an awesome class!

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I am honored to have the privilege of speaking to a select group of nurses in January, 2013 at my community in AZ.  They are nurses who are seeking more current information about bipolar disorder.  I am excited to meet with them and hopefully have a great discussion and stimulating question and answer period.

I hope we continue to dialogue about the importance of mental health resources in our country. Newtown, CT will hopefully highlight the importance in our country regarding greater access to mental health care. Expanding resources  for people sufering from mental illness and help for their families would be one way of honoring and paying respect to the innocent lives lost.

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Here are a few excerpts from the Fall 2012 NAMI Voice, Issue No. 29:

1 in 4 adults experiences a mental health disorder in a given year.

1 in 17 adults lives with a serious mental illness.

1 in 10 children lives with a serious mental or emotional disorder.

1.1% of the adult US population lives with schizophrenia.

Bipolar disorder affects 2.6% of the American adult population per year.

Major depressive disorder affects 6.7% of American adults.

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I apologize for not writng for awhile, but I contracted strep throat while celebrating our three year-old grandson’s birthday party. It took me awhile to recover, and thankfully, a shot of penicillin did the trick. So, I’ve had to skip teaching water aerobics for a bit, but now I’m back in the game and feeling much better.

On the bipolar disorder information front:  I’ve been invited by our county’s nurse’s association to present an overview to them in January! I am so excited, and continue to feel grateful for the opportunities to present this information to others who are hungry to learn more.

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I wasn’t sure if anyone would show up to hear my talk entitled An Overview of Bipolar Disorder.  One of my friends suggested I entitle it: Fifty Shades of Depression to get a better turnout.  But I saved my original title and still had about 75 people in the ballroom.

It was hard to offer an overview and have time for Q & A in the scope of an hour, but I did it.  The  requests for more information were impressive.  There was a sincere desire on the part of  many to better understand BD. Several people shared very painful family histories regarding family and/or friends who had suffered from BD and co-occurring disorders. There was also concern about the difficulties of finding adequate treatment. 

 The term anasognosia was new for many.  I recommended Xavier Amador’s book: I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help  (Vida Press, 2012) to  better understand that term.

If you are in a relationship with someone who is suffering from BD, you also might want to read Bonnie Rice’s book: Love Has its Ups and Downs on both amazon and smashwords. Thanks to all of you who read my blog!

 

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Yesterday I  was honored by NABE (National Association of Book Entrepreneurs) with an award for my book in the Memoir category. Since I was only a “wanna be author” in May, this was a pleasant surprise. My book came out in June, 2012.

  I want to encourage anyone who has ever  wanted to write  to follow your heart and hire good editors.  A good editor can make the difference!  I had two of them.  Nancy McCurry was my content editor and Rosa Cays was my copy editor. 

If you are a novice writer, you must prepare to be humbled.  I thought raising two children had humbled me enough.  But learning to be a writer  humbled me again!

And grandchildren do their part to keep you humble as well.  For example, one of my granddaughters (age  four)  asked me  as I put on my  make-up: “Nana, you’re just a little bit old, aren’t you?” I laughed.  Don’t let maturity get in the way of your writing!

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Yesterday I spent the entire day training to be a presenter for NAMI’s Parents & Teachers as Allies Program. It was informative and exciting to be included as a part of this team. I met a great group of people: parents, professionals and consumers who are passionate about helping others identify early symptoms of MI. The goal is to bring understanding, compassion, earlier identification and treatment to those suffering from MI, a brain disease. NAMI delivers the message free of charge so parents, teachers and entire communities can benefit and help children with mental health issues.Go NAMI!!!

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