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Increasing Understanding of Mental Illness

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Written by Kristen Reese; Associate Director of Rediscovering You

Over the last seven months I think most of us have had to make our mental health a priority. One thing, in-particular, I’ve struggled a bit with in the last couple months is loneliness.

I am used to being a pretty active person, but I have been feeling socially disconnected due to the pandemic. One of my favorite things is going out to dinner with friends. I’ve cut that back quite a bit, just to be safe. The way I do my job and how I interact with coworkers and our patrons has also changed.

Cigna surveyed 20,000 adults from the United States in 2018 (before COVID) and 46% sometimes or always feel alone. While 47% sometimes or always feel alone and/or left out. I know I am not alone in these feelings. I can only imagine what these numbers are today.

Loneliness can lead to depression, anxiety, psychosis, and/or substance abuse. I know I need to address the loneliness and find ways to continue to cope. No one knows when things will get back to normal so- What can I do now to adjust? I know I need to find a purpose. Here are some things I have done that have helped me: I bought a kayak and took it out on the lake a number of times, taking my dog for a walk, reading (and talking to friends or coworkers about the book), and going to lunch or dinner with one or two friends on an outside patio (once every 2-3 weeks). I have found when I get exercise a few times a week it helps keep me in a positive frame of mind. My motivation comes from maintaining relationships with my family and friends; however I can in these times.

Mental Health America shares other possible ways to reduce loneliness: community service or volunteering, alleviate stress, expect the best from people, and focus on quality relationships. For more information on these tips, visit

Rediscovering You also has resources available on anxiety, depression and substance use.

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Written by Kristen Reese; Program Director of Rediscovering You

Recently I had a wave of bad news rush over me. Then the waves crashed into me again, and

again. I was knocked down, overwhelmed, and helpless. I wondered how this could be happening, right now, when life was already hard due to the pandemic.

I disconnected from everything for a day. I didn’t respond to text, Facebook, etc. Instead I read and I listened to music. I didn’t think anyone had anything to say I hadn’t already heard until I read, “If you are uncomfortable- in deep pain, angry, yearning, confused- you don’t have a problem, you have a life. Being human is not hard because you’re doing it wrong, it’s hard because you’re doing it right. You will never change the fact that being human is hard, so you must change your idea that it was ever supposed to be easy,” said Glennon Doyle in the book “Untamed”.

I took time to reflect on this statement. I opened my mind to this new perspective. What I took

away was: When you put your heart out there, especially when the outcome is uncertain, you’re living life; and when you get knocked down, take the time you need to heal, but make sure you always get back up. I also realized that everything is not about me. Sometimes you got to let people go because that’s what they need.

There will always be good times and hard times. I choose to focus on the good times and learn from the hard times. This leads me to a song I heard for the first time the same day. It’s called “Hard Days” by Brantley Gilbert. The course goes like this;

“If you never had hard days

If you never had a heartbreak

Never had more than you can take

Or carried the weight of life on your shoulders

Would you feel like you earned it?

Would you live with a purpose?

Or ever know your own strength

If you never had hard days”

Words are big for me. They hold weight. Sometimes I need to reread things to get the full

meaning. There are times I put a song on repeat to absorb the lyrics. May I suggest the next time you are overwhelmed by what’s going on around you, pick up a book or turn on the radio. The words you hear could lift you up on the hard day.

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