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How Can You Talk About Mental Illness?

This is a post about how to talk about mental illness.

It is available in a distraction-free PDF download and also audio (through my podcast), all available at the end of this post.

Have a question? It can be anything as long as it’s disability related in some way! Ask by emailing me here.

How to Talk About Mental Illness?!

Even though I’m including this in my “You Ask, I Answer” series, I have never actually been asked about how to talk about mental illness or wellness. I just receive a lot of comments about how brave I am for talking about mental illness and wellness.

I think that bravery is really unwarranted, so I kind of brush the compliments off.

But I do want to talk more practically about mental health on this blog, not just tell you my own stories about what I am going through or whatever. So I thought I’d take that comment on being brave for talking about mental illness and turn it around a bit to talk about HOW to talk about mental illness.

First of all:

How to Talk About Mental Illness?

In the video, I was saying that I don’t think it’s brave of me to talk about mental illness or mental wellness because:

  1. I don’t think there is anything to be ashamed about in mental wellbeing or mental illness. When you remove the shame, it’s easy to talk about things openly
  2. I don’t feel shame about it because I firmly believe that mental illness is a very common, very normal experience. We might not call it “mental illness” when we have an eating disorder, ADHD or are deeply depressed, anxious, filled with panic or any of the other many, many things that comprise a “mental illness” but we actually do.
  3. If you have not had an experience with mental illness yet, you will, or someone you love will. Literally two thirds of the planet is touched by disability, so the more normal we make it to talk about this, the easier it’s going to be for all of us: when you get your brain injury, you’ll find it easier to deal with when you have already accepted disability as a natural and normal part of the human experience.

Essentially, what I’m saying here is that in talking about mental illness, we need to:

Remove the Shame in Mental Health

We have simply got to get that shame out of there.

This is not just for those to whom or with whom we are talking about mental illness: we need to remove the shame from our own minds as we talk, think or emote on this subject.

This is because if we do believe (deep down) that this is shameful, it makes it impossible to talk about openly. If we counsel someone with a mental illness and we think it’s shameful in any way that they have a mental illness, it will come across and that person will feel it, I guarantee you.

It's just not possible to really talk about mental illness and address it and heal from it if there is shame involvedClick to Tweet

How Can We Remove the Shame of Mental Illness?

  1. Make Mental Illness Normal

The way that I personally deal with shame is to normalize it: I look at the statistics of mental illness and the definitions of what makes something a “mental illness” and I’m blown over by how common it all really is.

What’s really freaky right now is anyone who does not have a mental illness or any experience with it!

Get on the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) site and really poke around, read through their excellent blog posts and articles and see how normal mental illness really is. I think this really helps in taking away the shame.

2. Connect with Something More than Yourself

I’m really spiritual, so for me, I needed to connect with Source (God, Ohm, whatever you want to call that Divine Energy that powers the universe).

For me, it went something like this: spend time in nature, practice art, pray, meditate. Connect with Source. Realize that nothing that Source creates is imperfect so I was created as I should be. I’m not the royal fuckup I thought I was. Okay, so, if I’m not a fuckup, what am I? I’m just a human being who is learning and striving to grow closer to God. 

In understanding this, I’ve set my vision very squarely on God and I use that love to ground and connect me.

There are many paths to the same source: this is what works for me and something different might work for you. The point here is to find something more than yourself to connect with, and hold on to as you recognize your wholeness and remove the shame from your ideas on who you are.

I think it’s better to find your connection in something outside of the human because humans are… human! We all flail and fail and if we tether ourselves on someone else, it creates pressure on relationships and causes them to crash. If you are spiritual, God is always the answer; if you aren’t, try nature or the universe (how can you not look at the cosmos and not see your stardust-self reflected in the scheme of this all?).

Holding Space

I can go on forever on this subject, so I want to be sure to stick to the point: how to talk about mental illness.

So far, I’ve covered that in order to be open about it, we need to remove the shame of it. That’s probably the hardest part in talking about mental illness (or healing from it, or even acknowledging the need for mental wellness), because we’ve all been raised in Western culture (and many others) to see mental illness as an Awful Thing that We Should Not Talk About.

But, seriously: where is that getting us? 

It’s getting us to the point of all of us being mentally unwell in some way, shape or form. It’s getting us to truly alarming statistics of child, teen and adult mental unhealth (check out the NAMI stats below).

So, screw it. I just don’t want to go there anymore.

I claim wholeness by being honest about where it’s hard. I seek connections to hold on to and help me through, and I recognize that this is ultimately making me stronger.

Podcast and PDF

The podcast episode is below and the downloadable PDF is linked here and in button below (just click it: it will take you to Gumroad, where it will say “name a fair price” or something like that – feel free to put 0 in the box (and you can feel free to pay for it too – really, it’s all good and I won’t be hurt!). After you enter a number, it will take you to the next screen where you enter your email address for the download. I do not store your email address and I won’t bug you after – this is NOT a bait-and-switch thing where I say “free download” just to get your email address then harass you. NOPE! The system will then automatically send you the PDF to download via your email).

If you want to subscribe to my podcast or whatever it is that people do with these things (I don’t listen to podcasts myself and it amuses me to no end that a deaf girl like me is doing this!! ). Subscribe by clicking here or the button below.

PlayPlay

This post is about the best captioned fitness programs, focusing on BeachBody. There are affiliate links in this post. Nothing is linked that I don’t use myself.

Wellness and fitness are very important to me. Not just because I like the feeling of being strong, but because it directly heals my complex post traumatic stress disorder. From that particular perspective (of having C-PTSD), it is medicinal.

The problem that I usually run  while trying to engage in specific exercise programs  is that I am deaf.

Being Deaf and Fitness

Being deaf isn’t a big deal, but if I want to exercise with others or join a program, I have issues in being able to lip read. If an instructor isn’t looking at me, or if I can’t put their speech into context, I’m lost.

Yoga will usually work for me in a class even though I can’t hear the teacher, because I can position myself so that people are all around me and I can figure out what we need to do by watching others. The same goes for most cardio types of workouts or aerobics.

As a mom with years of no childcare (or very limited) and a super tight budget, classes were not even an option. I had to find something that I could do at home.

Towards that end, I experimented with a ton of things that I found on YouTube and online before sticking with BeachBody.

BeachBody: Why It Makes Sense for the Deaf

BeachBody is a company that produces many fitness programs that go across the board in fitness levels as well as in genres. They have the buff guys who yell at you kind of program as well as the ripped older ladies who do the pilates and full-body ground lifts. They have programs for just focusing on the butt as well as ones for people with really limited time.

All of that is neither here nor there as far as us deaf go, but this is the one thing they all have in common: THEY ARE BEAUTIFULLY CAPTIONED.

Every. Single. One.

All of the programs are gorgeously and professionally captioned. Easy to read, large captions.

Just from that end, being really well captioned, BeachBody is deaf-friendly.

But not all of the programs are great for this. I can’t, for example, do Pi-Yo (the combination of Pilates and Yoga) because we end up in positions where it’s really hard to read the screen (actually risking muscle damage to come out of the position quickly and read the captions) and also because the teacher talks so much that it’s exhausting trying to read along – and annoying too, because most of her talk is just not necessary.

I recently started BeachBody on Demand .

I started it for 3 reasons:

  1. I had run through all of my BeachBody DVD’s
  2. I live on the grid now: full access to streaming services!
  3. My friend did it and said it was good

I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this!! I can’t speak highly enough of it. You pay $15/month and have access to ALL of the programs, to meal plans, recipes, absolutely everything. It’s a fantastic value. You can sign up for a free 2 week trial period here: try BeachBody on demand.

Like I said, there are a lot of programs within BeachBody. There are dance programs, hip-hop, weight-training, cardio, pilates/yoga, combination programs and fratboy-meets-military kind (barf). All of the programs that I have tried have first-rate captions and also have what they call a “modifier” – that is, someone who shows you how to do the program at an easier level.

Out of all the programs, I have tried or completed:

  • 21 Day Fix: 30 minutes long  with a complete food and food measuring system
  • 21 Day Fix Extreme (which is not really extreme – it’s just like a second serving of 21 Day Fix) – all 30 minutes long, with the food and food measuring system
  • T25– this is Shaun T.’s Focus 25: exercises for 25 minutes a day, with nutrition plan
  • PiYo – between 30 -40 minutes a day, I couldn’t finish because of the captioning issues noted above. It includes a nutrition  system but no food portion system

Each one of those programs is about $70.

Compare that with just doing it on Demand – any program you want! – with food guides and recipes ready to download or look up. You do not get portion measurement cups with Demand though – but that’s pretty easy to remedy – just go to the portion conversion table and continue without the special colored containers.

Captions Look Like This:
beachbody and captions- best deaf friendly fitness programs

I don’t want this to be an ad for BeachBody on demand.

My honest desire here is just to share with you what has really been working for me. If I had access to streaming services like this when I lived on the Lost Coast, I would have been kicking myself for not subscribing to this before. I spent waaaaaaaay more money on buying the DVD’s and the systems and so forth than I would have if I had just subscribed. $15/month isn’t much for what you get.

So, anyway.

If you are (like I was) struggling to find deaf-friendly captioned fitness programs, give this a try.

I am currently on Day 4 of the 80 Day Obsession – if you identify as a woman, please join my free, supportive Facebook group! You DO NOT have to follow BeachBody (or any fitness program in particular); it’s just a welcoming space for women to talk about fitness, wellness, becoming more of who we want to be. It’s disability-friendly (of course), all women welcome. It’s linked here.

Also, I’m keeping track of my progress over on Instagram, if you’ like to join in or follow along. I’m @mama_be_strong.

best captioned fitness programs
deaf friendly fitness with BeachBody
beachbody

The spider webs sparkled in the early morning mist.

Wave after wave of web glittered with dew, hundreds upon thousands of webs, clinging to the wild fennel and grasses that lined the walking path.

Their beauty was astonishing.

Bright, sparkling, so easily, clearly visible.

It struck me that I had walked that path a dozen times before, but had never seen a web, because there had never been dew to catch on the silk and show it’s presence.

The webs had been there all along. They hadn’t left, they hadn’t suddenly emerged either. They were always there.

I just couldn’t see them.

I am convinced this is the same as it must be with the spiritual world of those who have passed on. They are like those webs that were always there, hidden from eye only by dint of temporary visibility, but in the right conditions, become blazingly clear.

 

It is easier to deal with the absence of Dana’s physical presence now, because I can feel him so clearly at certain times. It’s as if the spiritual conditions that I need to have aligned come together and then BAM, it’s like he’s walking next to me as I stride forth.

It’s easier to deal with the absence of Dana’s physical presence now because he’s shown me so clearly through everything that has happened with the divorce that he’s with me, he’s helping. All of those nudges that I have felt, those little whispers in my heart and head – those are from Dana, who has a connection with the greater part of my spirit, the part that I may not be consciously aware of. He has a connection with the part that dreams in action and sees the sparkle of a spider’s web regardless of dew.

I find that the more that I lean in to the spiritual nudges and the heart whispers, the stronger the sense of them become and the more clear the world grows.

It is so clear now, the world has never held greater clarity for me, nor have I ever felt stronger.

These spider webs.

They are a great metaphor for the invisible world of the spirit, yes. But I think they are metaphors for even more.

We live this life with intention – or we let life live us.

The intention with which we live is invisible, but we feel it in our every thought and movement. It’s like those spider webs, only visible when the conditions are aligned, when the dew is on them and they sparkle.

Invisible one moment.

 

Seen the next.

 

But it was there all along.

I want to live a life that I personally create, and not feel driven by situations and circumstances. I want to feel the power of my own intention and let that unfold into a physical reality.

I want to remember that those silken strands are always there, whether or not I see them with my eyes, just as my brother is with me still.

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