State by State Links for Free Mental Health Drop In Centers at bottom.

aljewelingtable(I learned Jewelry making at my Drop-In Center)…they have dbt too. free.

Drop-In Peer Centers for Behavioral Health: An Exploding Trend

Allison Strong

One of the reasons I am glad that I moved to Florida is that it led me to a peer run drop in center near my house called Rebel’s Drop In. In my small county, Broward, between Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, we have 5 of these centers. Peer run drop in centers average 5 per state, see the links below to find one near you.

Mindfulness, OA, NAMI Connection Peer-to-Peer, and a 14-year running Schizophrenics Anonymous meeting are there.  I learned to make jewelry and took new and improved pieces to Etsy, Holiday Gifts and my own wardrobe.  They have Peer Mentoring there, free of charge, to help you reach goals you may have forgotten about in crisis or not.  I have a Peer Mentor, who is someone who has been in my shoes, psychiatrically, and we get together to go over my goals on a variety of fronts. One of the most challenging for me is to ‘widen my social circle.” I’m making progress.

Does it sound too good to be true? No, it’s not and it’s an exploding, well-researched trend. So who picks up the tab?  The programs are subsidized by grants from the state, who always want a list of printed names and signatures, times and dates, so when you go there, make sure you sign the list. Every signature helps them get grants so they can expand and maintain their offerings.

These places are usually in a building owned by a local hospital for outpatient or continuing behavioral care in different tracks called IOP (Intense Outpatient Treatment paid for by insurance and Medicare/Medicaid). Then, after the patients leave, the aroma of coffee fills the air, the colored crayons come out, and food from Memorial regional Hospital arrives to feed those who have little or no sustenance in the grand room.  I’ve eaten it often and it’s always balanced.

In addition to the grand room, where painting, crafts, socializing, and jewelry is done, there are perhaps six private rooms holding various self-help/support meetings until 7:30PM. (Bipolar Support, Emotions Anonymous, Depression Support, Life Skills are just a few). On the weekends, since there is no IOP in session, the hours of the center are bit different.  In the words of Deanne O’Brien, who overcame her own mental health nightmare, (which is one prerequisite for Peer Mentors and Supervisors) “No one is too sick to attend Rebel’s Drop In.” I really believe that.

I’m on Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr communicating with people with mental illness. Many have never heard of these drop in centers.  My friends and I go once or twice a week, drink coffee, bring donuts and gossip. We never know when we’ll be in-patient next, and it’s good to see all the faces of our illness. We are so grateful that the late Ann Rebel’s family gave a charitable endowment to Memorial Regional Hospital, for the purpose of continuing mental health care, Peer Mentoring, and WRAP planning (Wellness Recovery, Action Plan).

If you are curious to see if any of these sorts of arts-oriented facilities exist in your city, county or in a town near you, try these links:

 

Topic:

Art

Bipolar Disorder

Consumer

Jo Menary|Tue, 2015-02-24 21:26

Allison, I am so proud of you. What great information and encouragement you are sharing. Keep is going! Jo

  • reply
  • michael |Sun, 2015-03-29 06:43

Great Job Allison. I am so proud of you not only for your informational writing but also fro you willingness to help others find the support they may need to help them in their lives as they deal with the same illnesses you suffer from! Love Michael, your Husband!

  • reply
  • Maggie|Sun, 2015-03-29 07:05

Looks like you dug around to get all this info. Thanks for making it available for us.

  • reply
  • jennifer blake|Mon, 2015-03-30 08:44

I love rebels! discovered it when I got out of mental hosp….wish they had one in boston where my son lives…this place saved me from myself many thanx Alison for great info!

State by State Links for Drop In Centers

aljewelingtable(I learned Jewelry making at my Drop-In Center)…they have dbt too. free.

Drop-In Peer Centers for Behavioral Health: An Exploding Trend

Allison Strong

One of the reasons I am glad that I moved to Florida is that it led me to a peer run drop in center near my house called Rebel’s Drop In. In my small county, Broward, between Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, we have 5 of these centers. Peer run drop in centers average 5 per state, see the links below to find one near you.

Mindfulness, OA, NAMI Connection Peer-to-Peer, and a 14-year running Schizophrenics Anonymous meeting are there.  I learned to make jewelry and took new and improved pieces to Etsy, Holiday Gifts and my own wardrobe.  They have Peer Mentoring there, free of charge, to help you reach goals you may have forgotten about in crisis or not.  I have a Peer Mentor, who is someone who has been in my shoes, psychiatrically, and we get together to go over my goals on a variety of fronts. One of the most challenging for me is to ‘widen my social circle.” I’m making progress.

Does it sound too good to be true? No, it’s not and it’s an exploding, well-researched trend. So who picks up the tab?  The programs are subsidized by grants from the state, who always want a list of printed names and signatures, times and dates, so when you go there, make sure you sign the list. Every signature helps them get grants so they can expand and maintain their offerings.

These places are usually in a building owned by a local hospital for outpatient or continuing behavioral care in different tracks called IOP (Intense Outpatient Treatment paid for by insurance and Medicare/Medicaid). Then, after the patients leave, the aroma of coffee fills the air, the colored crayons come out, and food from Memorial regional Hospital arrives to feed those who have little or no sustenance in the grand room.  I’ve eaten it often and it’s always balanced.

In addition to the grand room, where painting, crafts, socializing, and jewelry is done, there are perhaps six private rooms holding various self-help/support meetings until 7:30PM. (Bipolar Support, Emotions Anonymous, Depression Support, Life Skills are just a few). On the weekends, since there is no IOP in session, the hours of the center are bit different.  In the words of Deanne O’Brien, who overcame her own mental health nightmare, (which is one prerequisite for Peer Mentors and Supervisors) “No one is too sick to attend Rebel’s Drop In.” I really believe that.

I’m on Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr communicating with people with mental illness. Many have never heard of these drop in centers.  My friends and I go once or twice a week, drink coffee, bring donuts and gossip. We never know when we’ll be in-patient next, and it’s good to see all the faces of our illness. We are so grateful that the late Ann Rebel’s family gave a charitable endowment to Memorial Regional Hospital, for the purpose of continuing mental health care, Peer Mentoring, and WRAP planning (Wellness Recovery, Action Plan).

If you are curious to see if any of these sorts of arts-oriented facilities exist in your city, county or in a town near you, try these links:

 

Topic:

Art

Bipolar Disorder

Consumer

Jo Menary|Tue, 2015-02-24 21:26

Allison, I am so proud of you. What great information and encouragement you are sharing. Keep is going! Jo

  • reply
  • michael |Sun, 2015-03-29 06:43

Great Job Allison. I am so proud of you not only for your informational writing but also fro you willingness to help others find the support they may need to help them in their lives as they deal with the same illnesses you suffer from! Love Michael, your Husband!

  • reply
  • Maggie|Sun, 2015-03-29 07:05

Looks like you dug around to get all this info. Thanks for making it available for us.

  • reply
  • jennifer blake|Mon, 2015-03-30 08:44

I love rebels! discovered it when I got out of mental hosp….wish they had one in boston where my son lives…this place saved me from myself many thanx Alison for great info!

I’m willing to be disliked for telling the truth..Allison Strong

NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) published me 2day on local mental health discrim and stigma at my drop in center. http://bit.ly/1P3gyAI

NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) published me 2day on local mental health discrim and stigma at my drop- in center.

http://bit.ly/1P3gyAI

The reason I choose the Anne Boleyn shot is because I stick my neck out and it gets chopped off.

Stigma where it shouldn’t be: My local Nami.

This is a letter to another person who has tardive dyskinesia and is quiet about it. She’s smarter than me. She realizes it scares people. I’m writing her about being stigmatized and discriminated against by my local drop in center and local Nami. This is not the first time I’ve looked at this issue. For all of you people who are trying to advocate, help others, sometimes they don’t want our particular voice to be heard. I took her name out of the letter and am reprinting it and asking you…should I let NAMI national know about this situation or let it lie? I’ve already cried ‘foul’ locally in a very measured, calm manner. The problem is trouble begets trouble. What would it help? Would it result in more doors being shut in my face? My local Nami is Broward County Florida, by the way. This is my way of asking you: What should I do about this?

Allison

Dear M,

 

Buzzfeed published a list of thirty books on mental illness. My book is beginning to just come pouring out of me. I added bipolar hope blog and a one-off on Mindful Management of Mood Disorders-DBT to my list of publishers. When I saw this list, because I had gotten my first list of books from you, naturally I thought of you.

 

I have a thorny situation I thought I would ask your advice. I want to volunteer in mental health in more than just writing. I am doing a type of telephone outreach developing a database for IBPF and since I’m decent on the phone from years of being a disc jockey and know how to talk naturally, (you just talk and mumble and they get it..they don’t feel ‘slicked’ out..you know?) I am enjoying that.

 

 

Here is the situation. I wanted to write a second article about a drop in center that I’d written a first article about. In past, I volunteered for three years with high hospital clearance. I lead a good peer support meeting. I developed an eating disorder meeting, got us in newspaper, showed up until others began tooo..in short the meeting is still running today. I fell off their volunteer rolls. When I asked to be put back on and take the class, I was told I was too unstable. While it’s true I’m verbal, impulsive and sometimes dominant, especialy with people who have thought disorders and are going at a slower speed, I’ve worked on it and have gotten better.

 

AT that drop in center, there are peer volunteers who have offered me drugs in the parking lot. Others make professional appointments to fix the computer for example and don’t show or call to cancel. I even get calls from paranoid volunteers who think the CIA is after them. I don’t do things like this and I don’t report either. But I’ve run into the same problem with NAMI. I attended a few of their ‘connections’ meetings and was scolded for nodding my head and saying ‘uh huh,’ when someone was talking. They solicited volunteers to lead more support groups. I am really good at this. My calls go unanswered. I tried a third time and filled out a telephone application with the head office volunteer and told him about the problem at “Rebel’s Drop In.” He reassured me I’d done the right thing by confiding in him, as the information would have been relayed to him anyway. They vet us thoroughly. I have been told twice they have no one to do the newsletter. This would be so easy for me and I volunteered. My application has been ignored for two weeks. I followed up with a phone call a week ago and left a message about ‘starting slow and small to work towards a common goal.” it was also ignored.  I got an email from them yesterday and cooly responded that I’m aware I’m being discriminated against because “she’s got that.” she’s ‘trouble,’ ‘she’s angry.’

 

So my email just said, “I’m not angry, this happens to me a lot since I got Tardive and that I understand I’m the face of a fearsome statistic even though I’m asymptomatic. I think it’s the tardive. If I had never mentioned it in a “Connections” meeting I would have been warmly welcomed. I have a strong skill set.

 

Sometimes doctors won’t take me as a patient, and the ones willing to explain said it was because they viewed me as ‘trouble,’ ‘a walking lawsuit’ a ‘basketcase on too many drugs.’ My own psychiatrist of  17 years says I’m an ‘exotic’ and that people just don’t understand.

 

I feel good. I had bipolar depression last year from April to Mid july and it was tough. My new antidepressant is hard to keep down, side effect of nausea. But I’m a trouper.  I realize certain things aren’t meant to be. I was hoping to volunteer for the drop in center or Nami by facilitating ‘connections’ or a ‘mat pilates’ class. The nearest DBT class is held there. I don’t feel comfortable or supported there.

 

I wanted involvement with Nami to learn more about things like mental health parity, ballot initiatives, etc. I had wanted to do a series of articles called “Activism Made Easy” giving examples of petitions signable by the click of a mouse. I was hoping to soak up their expertise. I’d be a great grant writer. Maybe I’m meant to write my book and isolate. I crave human interaction, especially with my peers.

 

I’m at a fork in the road. I’m considering contacting Nami’s national branch and explaining the situation. I am continuing to work on my character defects and off putting personality traits. But I hurt deep inside at an organization dedicated to eliminating inequality and stigma stigmatizing me. It really hurts, M.

 

Allison Biszantz

So be clear: I’m being discriminated against and not allowed to contribute there in any way even though I could help fundraise, do the newsletter, start and nurture new “Connections” meetings and more. I’m also considered ‘not stable enough’ to volunteer again at the local drop in center. That is also a deteriorating situation. Question is…how far should I take this?

 

 

Ok that’s it

I’m writing a book. Who isn’t. I actually have five or six. Three in a series sort of YA bipolar disc jockey juggles illness, men, rapid cycling and alcohol on occasion. Father says to me the other day, “You need a Project. Find out how much it will cost, a-z to get your book published and I’ll write a check. I hadn’t expected such but XLibris was having a sale.

Based on what my friends have told me, 399.99 plus a plot/pace/content assessment is going to be too little and I’ll get hit up for more fees down the line and I told my consultant that I had been warned and asked her to really dig deep and tell me the price. She got argumentative and angry. It didn’t help matters at all that my foot got broken and hurt badly.

My last conversation with this person was that she felt insulted and when it came down to it, she though I’d need 25k to get a book out there, but she had politely refrained from throwing this in my face. Don’t you think that 399.00 plus 199.00 and the sum total of 25k are a little far off?  Where were all these fees coming from? Wasn’t she being unethical to ‘undersell me’ something for 600.00 that was going to end up costing our family 25k?  Then she got into this whole thing about how Authorhouse and Xlibris are very different (I had previously spoken to Authorhouse) and that’s why she chose Xlibris. I asked her about 12 questions about Print on Demand, and wondered why she had not brought up marketing guidance. You got me right, they provide no marketing or advertising for you for free, but for an additional fee, they can arrange to have your book reviewed and so forth.

I asked her how much that would be…the various ranges of services. She deferred and said that I’d need to speak to someone else. OK, that sounded hinky. Then she came back in a feisty email and told me she had way more things to do like talk to other clients rather than argue with me.

I called back my father, who had forgotten his offer. She said he wanted me to ‘listen’ and ‘sit down.’ that’s when you know it’s really going to be bad. He said I was a stupid girl, had nothing to say, no book to write, and he didn’t know why I was bothering him with this Xlibris stuff.

“But you offered or I’d have never bo-”

“I didn’t offer, you asked.”

“No, I didn’t”

That’s when it got ugly.

“You always ask,” he roared. Or did he intone with a sneer? I didn’t know, but I’ve been through this with him a lot. It happened regarding me moving back to San Diego with the promise of the gift of an expensive, beautiful 16hand ex racehorse, that with the right amount of grooming, discipline and work, would be worth triple the hundred thousand he paid for it. In the end he gave it away to a gifted horsewoman for free, providing she gave him 1/3 of the back end. I was stunned. I had just been dumped for being bipolar by the love of my life and didn’t need to be thrown around like a rag doll. Then he told me to ride this older palomino who had a bunch of nasty habits. He had worked as a “Pony,” a lead horse on the racetrack for ten or more years. After landing on my ass a few times I asked him about it.

“Oh, yes,” “Walter’s Pony,” he mused. “That horse needs to be given Ketamine before being ridden. Otherwise, he’ll likely hurt you. There’s a white vat of Ketamine Pellets in the barn. Be sure you give him some.”

He had been using me to make sure that nasty animal got exercise. I never rode him again. I am a good horsewoman but I don’t have time for deadly games on a vicious animal who has stored up a lifetime of animosity for us human beings.

But this, this was different. This was my book. A book I’d pledged to write in a most anonymous manner to shield him and his racehorse family, the rest of the family who goes to the Breeder’s Cup, races in Dubai and the Kentucky Derby. Have I ever been invited? I’ve been disinvited to the weddings of two of my sisters. My Dad says my sister made the request and my sister refuses to discuss the matter.

Dad says that my honey and I embarrass both him and his La Perla CFO daughter. Way to go Suz. But can’t you just be honest with big sis? I can take it.

But this thing with the book.   He took my dream, drop kicked it as if it were a soccer ball, and let fly with his foot until he had kicked it all the way across the soccer field.

I was suicidally depressed for the next two days. I didn’t know if I was going to make it this time.

He’s been doing this my entire life.

Three years ago, when I was visiting in Kentucky, he  met with his European Tailor. He offered to buy me a dress. I didn’t ask. They made a size 12. Here I am in it. When the bill arrived, there was hell to pay, and it was all my fault. The dress had long since arrived and been taken in but I wished I’d never accepted the gift. Same with the car. When it poops out, I’ll take the bus.

In the meantime, I’m signing up for DBT, the latest and greatest treatment for my own Borderline Personlity Disorder. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, they say.

He called the next day as if nothing had happened. “How does it feel to have dropkicked my dream across the field as if it were a human head?”

“Well, ” he suggested, as if we were discussing high tea.  “Take my name out of your phone and–”

“FINE!” I screamed, and hung up the phone. I hope he doesn’t call for a year.

 

No longer a One TRick Pony for my volunteer work at International Bipolar Foundation

As I’ve written before, when trying to advocate, raising your hand to volunteer, etc, you may encounter rejection. Maybe it’s me, maybe I come on too strong. But one organization, International Bipolar Foundation, reached online at ibpf.org seems like a perfect fit. Right now I am compiling a list, a database if you will of drop in centers, advocacy groups, MHA offices and anyplace who provides services to people diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It’s interesting work and when you actually get someone on the line, they are usually nice and passionate about what they do. My volunteer coordinator and blog editor gave me this assignment and wanted ten names. When I told her that there were about 400 of these centers nationwide, she was flummoxed. See, they write this book, “Healthy Living with Bipolar Disorder,” update it annually and it’s written by a panel of experts from holistic to the most Western of Medicine.

I especially like the non moralistic approach to substance use, abuse and dependency. It lays out the facts, the ratios of risk/benefit and the possible consequence of huge financial costs, should you destabilize and end up back in the psych ward. That can be disrupting in many ways, especially if your meds are completely rewritten, if you are working and miss work or are just demoralized by going to the hospital.

I haven’t been in 15 years but I’ve come close. Because I have Tardive Dyskinesia, and many psychiatrists and neurologists don’t have up to date movement disorder info (and there is quite a bit) They would not know the best way to treat me. If they loaded me up with a bunch of Zyprexa, Abilify, Invega or Seroquel, not to mention Geodon, I’d immediately start thrashing. But in my experience, psychiatrists in hospitals are in a hurry and often don’t believe the new admit. Try telling a psychiatrist that an accidental careless overdose of Tegretol was not a suicide attempt. Do you think they’d believe you? It happened to me when My doctor put me on 200 mg instead of 100 mg. I forgot to look closely at the label.

Anyway, I am doing work for IBPF besides blogging and it makes me feel really good. My goal, the one I wish to reach, is to make decent videos with light soundtracking for tempo and to be able to insert a logo or make other edits. We downloaded movie maker. I would like to find a local teacher. I sure am enjoying talking to all these mental health advocacy people around the country. The trend seems to be for the patient to become educated and make their own choices, whether to take meds or not, whether they can still drink, stuff about sleep, side effects, an entire section dedicated to bipolar disorder in children and how to treat a bipolar patient who has ADHD and or other co occurring disorders.

Allison

Budget Cuts for Arts focused “Drop In” centers for mental health consumers in Fl

A huge amount of County money was cut from the Arts-focused “9MusesArtsReach” up here. When asked why the funds were cut, the county said they were looking for more transparency and weren’t sure what they are paying for. A judge on the bench here locally snapped back, “Well, when you see our Emergency rooms and jails overflowing with mentally ill people, you’ll know what YOU WERE paying for, and I guarantee you, this will be a whole lot more expensive, not to mention putting the community at risk, both the mentally unwell and the rest of them.  This probably wont affect Rebel’s Drop in as they are an arm of a local hospital that is the fifth largest provider of hospital care in the country. They have money. 9Muses will really be hurt. And I like it there. Their depression support group is truly transformative and supportive. What they do not support is the depression and negative self talk or thoughts themselves. “Hold onto the Good!” is their motto and they are kinda ‘tough love.’ They won’t let you sit in your garbage.