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Mental Illness Awarness Week Oct 5-11, 2014

October 5 to October 11, 2104 is Mental Illness Awareness Week meant to increase awareness, support, and advocacy for persons and families living with mental illness.
Here is my poem, Graceful, dedicated to this week. I hope it motivates you to do your part to eliminate mental illness discrimination.


You called at half-past three that time,
On a lazy spring afternoon,
Saying, “Please pass the sugarbowl.”
I didn’t have the nerve just then,
To simply tell you, “No.”

Just like you,
I was lacking crystals in reserve.
My spoon was scraping bottom,
No cubes or grains in sight.
All sweetness there was withered cane,
It all was gone, just thresh.

I recalled the day way back when,
One appeared out of left field.
It landed in my open cup,
How it plopped in there? – no clue.

I’ve drank my tea without a trace,
Bitter swallows warmed the throat.
I’ve done that so many times before,
A master now—no joke.

I think about every kind word spoken,
Please say it at every chance.
I know that the day will come,
When it’ll circle back.

Surprisingly, it will not return,
Around the way you think.
And maybe never in this life,
Give kindly words, yet still.

Sprinkle goodwill everywhere,
To all you say and do.
You’ll be amazed how grace appears,
In time to salvage you.

Laughter and Leisure

Did you have your first laugh of the day yet? Laughter is good for the soul. Children laugh at least 300 times per day. It lifts the spirits and allows you to soar. It is also Friday, so take some time to enjoy yourself. Here is my poem, JAMBOREE, about carving time out for leisure, laughter, and recreation.


No invitation came to me,
I crashed it just to see.
What revelers do for fun these days,
Millennial jamboree.

They all arrived bedecked out,
Stepped out of cars you see.
No walkers here, no slow-pokes there,
Quickness was the fee.

Ten boys arrived a-waddling,
Pants slinging so very low.
Keys now jingling and jangling,
Preventing free form flow.

Some boys in grunge,
Fly girls in tights,
Prancing the night away.
A pierced tongue,
Both ears with studs,
And nose-rings diamonds bright.

Red weaved hair spiked up real high,
Wrapped tightly in a bun,
Adorn the crowns of many.
As two girls now stride by with confident smiles,
A natural look tiara,
Parading through the sky.

The single mother chaperone,
Refusing to let go,
Her beautiful young daughter,
Laughing as she goes.
“Hush up now,” she says to her, “and please remember me,
Have a clue, just hear me out, before it’s all too late.”
“I must admit you are quite smart, and know a thing or two.”
“But when it comes to these here things,
Listen up—you really don’t know Jack.”

A concerned dad,
Hands out some belts,
To raise pants waist an inch.
“No need,” he says, “right now,
To show your bright red boxers.
Revealed back is never free,
It all comes at a price.”

A young lanky male is all bearded,
Rushing up to be a man.
Sulking now as his girlfriend says,
The same thing as his dad.
“I like you more clean-shaven,
You have a handsome face.
Don’t hide behind that mask of hair,
Seize now your rightful place!”

A Marley song,
A Jay-Z rap,
A blend of old and new.
Silver disco ball slings sparkling light,
Pandora’s app in tune.
An orange drink minus Alizé,
Displayed in crystal bowls.
Iced teas with flavored spices,
Like dominos stacked upright saluting.
To quench an endless longing,
The thirst that burns inside.

A birthday cake,
Writes out a name,
A shout-out to broadcast the fame.
Gold yellow frosting all around,
An age so proudly sitting,
Propped on a purple stand.
Slices served on plastic plates,
A milestone reached, enabled by life’s plan.

No toast, no speech, no cards were there,
Few birthday gifts to see.
It all arrived in QR codes,
And gift cards on a screen.

We did it too at parties,
High platform shoes in green.
Blue mid-riff blouse, bright tubes of pink,
White seersucker pants too tightly seamed.
To show the curves,
We just now got,
Right out of puberty.

Psychedelic shirts with matching pants,
Announce a dynamite look.
Muscles popping everywhere,
Through tightly wrapped long sleeves.
A second skin designed for you,
Plastered on in your fantasy.
A one-of-a-kind creation,
It’s just like you—unique.

Massive gemstones like paperweights,
Suspended on thick ropes of gold.
You can’t help but notice them,
Screaming out and loudly shouting,
“Hey there, look now: bling-bling!”

I laughed with them,
And hoped that they would be,
So much more than us,
Safe from all the fuss,
Just striving to release.

When two arrived,
The time passed by,
No fights, no knives,
No guns, no mess,
Just young adults living life.

The crowd dispersed,
Home to their lives,
Another day in eternity.
I’m glad I came,
To marvel in the new reality.

“Look at that,” I said to me,
“How far we’ve just come from,
The joy that comes to mix it up,
Untold diversity.”

My hope renewed,
To see how much they are just like us.
A chuckle fills my heart’s desire,
To know they’ll make it too.

I look back now,
And wonder how we ourselves even made it.
Good times, good friends,
Good guidance there,
A roadmap paves the way.

Mental illness and Alzheimer’s disease

I read this interesting news clip from the AMA on Alzheimer’s disease and thought I would share it.
Remember, September is World Alzheimer’s Month to raise awareness, education and support for persons and families living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Early memory lapses associated with tripled risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s.
The Los Angeles Times (9/25, Healy) “Science Now” blog reports that according to a study published online Sept. 24 in the journal Neurology, “after the age of 60, ‘cognitive complainers’ – people who say they have noticed mental slippage – are more likely than those who do not complain of such changes to develop mild cognitive impairment, and to have Alzheimer’s-like plaques and tangles in their brains upon death even when dementia was never diagnosed.”

The CBS News (9/25, Firger) website reports the decade-long study evaluated 531 individuals without dementia annually, finding those who reported memory problems at any point were three times as likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s. The study revealed that 56 percent of participants reported changes in memory by age 82, with one in six developing dementia during the study and 80 percent reporting serious changes in memory early on. The findings urge physicians to take memory concerns seriously.

CNN (9/24, Christensen) provides more background, going on to cite higher incidences of memory problems in smokers and women who did not take hormone replacement therapies. The article also cites the benefits of exercise, proper diet, and mental engagement.
HealthDay (9/25, Salamon) reports that individuals carrying a gene increasing the risk for Alzheimer’s had double the odds of impairment. Also covering the story is MedPage Today (9/25, Gever).

Alzheimer’s poem dedication: WINDS OF TIME

Obviously, I like to write. So today I am offering my poem, WINDS OF TIME, and dedicating to the persons living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

My grandpa looked at me and said,
Once a man but twice a child.
I pondered on the words together,
Not knowing what he meant.

You see, my child, the things I need are all here in this room,
My cane, my dentures, my music box,
A good book worn, but true.
When I was just a child like you,
I accumulated things.
Red fire truck, much toys galore,
Gold chains, and rings, and things.

I left my home to explore the world,
Trekking mountains high and low.
Then one day I found my love,
That’s when I knew I would settle down for sure.
The house, the cars, the kids, the sports, and many concerts too,
All neatly wrapped—a prize.
An accolade bestowed to me for all the work and pride.

Suddenly, a body wracked with aches and pains and worry,
Struggling to navigate the slopes, the hills—in no hurry.
The house too big, just full of things,
Blue shirts last worn as teen.
Pearl necklace placed on my wife’s young neck,
While on the honeymoon.

I learned to cull repeatedly the things that I just don’t need.
One hundred plates, mind filled with hate,
Regretful thoughts and worry.
I look at you and wish that you won’t grow up in hurry.

I only wish for you my child,
To know that what is true,
To live a life that’s meaningful.
To love, to serve, to give it back,
Release it now, like honey.
That’s when you’ll know,
You did your part.

Now here’s your start,
Get on your mark,
Head held real high,
No flopping in a strong head wind.
Get strong,
Hold on,
Get ready.

Gary Rhule, September 23, 2104.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month

Did you know that Alzheimer’s disease is also considered a mental illness. This condition affects memory, cognition, thoughts, mood and judgment. It is an illness because it changes the way we function and interact with everything we do daily. And, September 2014 marks the third global World Alzheimer’s Month™, an international campaign to raise awareness and challenge stigma and discrimination faced by persons living with Alzheimer’s disease, their families and caregivers.

The theme for World Alzheimer’s Month 2014 is ‘Dementia: Can we reduce the risk?’, focusing on ways we may be able to help reduce our risk of developing dementia with brain healthy lifestyles. In general what is good for the heart is also good for the brain: healthy meals and eating; eliminate smoking, and physical activity. Do what you can today to make a difference.

Mental illness: recovery is possible – Transitioning to Recovery

Nearly 60 million Americans experience a mental health concern each: whether it is depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic syndrome, ADHD or schizophrenia.
The good news is that recovery is possible. Please attend the following conference to learn more or as a refresher on transitioning to recovery.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI, is hosting a Connecticut State Conference: Transitioning to Recovery
Saturday, October 18, 2014 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM (Eastern Time), Sheraton Four Points – Meriden, 275 Research Parkway, Meriden, Connecticut 06450, United States
Please visit NAMI CT Website, for more information and to register for the conference.

What is mental illness? New research says Schizophrenia is eight different diseases, not one

Schizophrenia appears to be a group of eight distinct disorders, so says new research published online Sept. 15 in the American Journal of Psychiatry, a publication of the American Psychiatric Association: “schizophrenia is not a single disease, but a group of eight distinct disorders, each caused by changes in clusters of genes that lead to different sets of symptoms.” After comparing “the DNA of 4,200 people with schizophrenia to that of 3,800 healthy people,” researchers also “found that certain genetic profiles matched particular symptoms.” The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Liz Szabo, commented on the findings in USA TODAY, September 15, 2014, noting that Schizophrenia is eight different diseases, not one. This is an interesting article that highlights how new research may reveal ways to better identify the problem and lead to better therapies.

Mental Illness and stress is like a mountain. But it can be overcome.

There are many times in life that we feel stressed and need the motivation to keep moving.
I wrote this poem to motivate myself, and hopefully you, to keep moving, to cope, and put it all in focus.


In life there’s tribulation.
A crooked road lies there.
Every corner turned,
And crevice swerved,
Mountain peaks stand there.

From Spur Tree to Mount Rosser,
Sandy Gully to Blue Mountain,
I walked for miles around,
Confused and disoriented.

From Auburn to Duhaney,
From Crossroads to Molynes.
One day I just decided,
To take one step then two.
That’s when it all occurred to me,
There was a pattern there.

Emboldened by this fortitude,
I climbed up to the mountain top.
The drying shrubs and pines of green played fair,
Lashing arms and legs.
To say that if you do belong,
Why did it take so long?

It wasn’t simply cruelty,
To see if I would quit.
It was a way to prod me on,
Saying, “Go on, never quit.”

Suspended at the height up there,
I trembled at the scene.
To think if I had fainted right before,
A sight to hold, such beauty there, unseen.
A bird’s eye view so widely cast,
Only sparrows know the thrill.

I did a jig going down the other side,
Happy to behold that sight,
Too glad to have made it through.
I never looked back even once,
No need, I’d overcome.

For a while I dozed right off,
Contented in the breeze,
I felt along my back.
The road now straightened up with ease,
I bent a curve, and up ahead,
A soldier mountain glared.

I quivered at the sight of it,
Oh no, this one is higher,
Blocking out the light.
I spun around desperately searching,
There must be room for flight.

But like before and way back then,
I took one step and then another.
In life there’s sure to be many more.
Mountains in life?
No bother.

What is mental illness?

Mental illness is a medical diagnosis that refers to health conditions that result in changes in thinking, mood, or behavior, or some combination of all of them.
The changes results in an inability to function well in our activities, for example, in school, work relationships, recreation, etc.

Depression is the most common type of mental illness, affecting more than 26% of the U.S. adult population.
Depression is persistently feeling sad or blue, for more than 2 weeks to meet the medical diagnosis, that interferes in our ability to function.

Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Alliance on Mental Illness websites for information on mental illness.
Most importantly, they also provide links for online locators for various providers of mental health services.