Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mental Health Awareness Month

I hope those reading had a wonderful holiday weekend with family and friends! 

Today I want to ask you what you would do if you found out a friend or relative was sick.  Perhaps to the point  that he or she could not work. Would you check in on them?  Would you bring food?  Would you offer to help out with daily errands or chores?  Many people are generous and helpful when they learn someone needs help.  When there is a medical problem that makes life challenging - often times others step in and help.  They may fund raise, they may visit, they express concern and people come together to help out.
What happens when the disease is bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or major depression?  Do we rally together and offer our support in the same way?  Why not?
It seems no different - right?
Someone with cancer, MS, injury after an accident....  these things all gain sympathy and assistance.
Mental health is somehow looked at differently.  My question today is why? 
Why is it that people with mental illness feel they have to keep it a secret?  Why don't family and friends rally the same way they would for other types of diseases?
May is mental health awareness month.  I think about people with mental health issues and I know that they are suffering from a disease, just like any other disease - yet we put such a different label on it.  This label stigmatizes them so that many people are afraid or ashamed to admit when they have an issue.  This leads to undiagnosed or undertreated illness.  Sometimes tragedy.
If we want to make a difference in mental health treatment, it needs to start with how we view disease.  We need to be supportive.  Mental illness is exactly that, it is an illness.  People do not ask to be sick, it is not a personal choice.  It is a disease that needs treatment.  People dealing with mental illness need support like anyone else going through a challenging time. 
Next time you hear of someone who is struggling with mental illness, remember that it is a disease like any other.  Show empathy and support your friend, neighbor or family member.  Don't perpetuate the stigma! 

Monday, May 12, 2014


Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

Meaning is one of the five pillars of well-being described in M. Seligman's book, Flourish.    So my question today is about the importance of meaning in our lives and how as moms we communicate the importance of meaning to our children.

When I think about Maximize Wellness Counseling and Coaching LLC I love what I do.  It has meaning for me each and every day.  I enjoy working with individual clients as well as giving workshops and programs that help people grow and increase optimism.  Helping people relieve anxiety and sadness and increase overall wellbeing provides me with meaning that increases my overall well-being each day.

A few years ago my daughter had a homework assignment to draw pictures of a woman who works and write down what the they like best about their job.  I had no idea about the assignment until it came home in the completed folder.  My daughter drew a picture of me with a brief case and a suit on and said that mommy sells drugs to doctors.  What mommy likes best about her job is "when she does good she gets to go on fancy trips". 
Well, it was true, as a Pharmaceutical Sales Manager I did go on some fancy trips that were based upon sales. So why did it bother me so much that she saw that as the best part of my job?

In my mind the best part of my job was so much more than that.  I managed a wonderful team of people I cared very much about.  It meant a lot to me to coach, train and mentor them.  I was proud to see my team members have career success and gain valuable skills.  I had products I believed in.  Products which helped make people's lives better and I was able to be a leader who made sure that my team was able to appropriately communicate to physicians the ways these products can help patients.   All of those things provided meaning, yet all my daughter saw was that I went on fancy trips.  That was a bit of a wake up call for me that day.  It made me realize that as a parent it was not enough to find meaning in what I do, but I needed to take a look at myself and how I communicate what is important to me.  Clearly the message I was sending out was not what I wanted to communicate.  Maybe I had lost sight of what had meaning for me and had not noticed at the time. 

Meaning is subjective and changes over time.  Sometimes we lose sight of it and re connecting to what is meaningful to us can put us back on track to higher well-being. 
My question for readers today is to think about meaning in your life, reconnect to something bigger than yourself....

Please visit my website for more information on behavioral health counseling services, coaching or workshops you may be interested in.   www.maximize-wellness.com

I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, May 5, 2014


Happy Monday!
Forgiveness can be one of the most difficult things for many of us to do.  So much of the literature and research on happiness and optimism speaks to the importance of forgiveness.  To forgive others is not as much about the other person as it is you.  Your health and well-being is affected by your ability to forgive others.  This is a concept that is not new.  It is something we have all heard throughout our lives from family and religion - however how many of us can truly say they forgive easily?  I know that despite all the information and experiences I have had in my life and working with others that show me how powerful forgiveness can be - I find it challenging.
I bring up this topic today because of the recent news coverage of two women.  Rachel Chapman and Michelle Night. 
Over the weekend I saw a follow up story of Rachel.  She was accidentally pushed into a pool at her bachelorette party by one of her friends.  She was paralyzed from a fracture in her neck just three weeks prior to her wedding.  At the time this happened I remember seeing stories about her and her resilience and her relationship with her now husband.  So moving and inspiring.  What struck me this weekend was her book, "The Promise"  which I am very much looking forward to reading.  She spoke to reporters about how important her friends are to her and how she and her friends have promised to never reveal who pushed her.  It was an accident and she loves her and forgives her completely.  I thought as I watched her story that yes it was an accident, but to have that much love and forgiveness in her heart showed how incredibly strong and loving she is. 
After thinking about her story and about what it means to forgive, another story caught my eye a day or two later - Michelle Night.
Michelle was one of the three women held captive and abused for years and years and escaped last year.  She also has a book out and was speaking with reporters.  She spoke about holding the hand of one of the other girls and how she would tell her that they would get out of there soon and keep believing.  Michelle talked a little about tough moments and thoughts of ending her life, but she also spoke about seeing butterflies and having hope for a better future and for freedom.
Her captor committed suicide in jail.  As I heard of his death my thoughts and prayers were for those girls - not their captor.  When Michelle was asked how she felt about his death she replied that she was sad that he took his own life and that she forgave him for what he did.  When the stunned reporter asked why, she said that he is a "human being" and that everyone deserves forgiveness.
I was so moved by her words.
I thought about Rachel's story - the push was an accident - no harm intended despite the outcome.  I can come to understand her forgiveness.  But Michelle's forgiveness of her captor is something that is just so hard to comprehend. 
These two women both have incredible stories of accomplishment and resilience and their ability to forgive is just one example of the optimism and resilience and incredible strength they both have.
Hearing the stories of these women remind me of the blessings I have in life and how grateful I am, but it also makes me think about what resentments I may hold on to at times and remind me the importance of forgiveness in my life.

I would love to hear your stories of forgiveness and your thoughts on the healing power it can have...

Also if you would like any more information about Maximize Wellness Counseling & Coaching or want to contact me - please click HERE or go to www.maximize-wellness.com for more information.