News & Events

“Despite My Diagnosis…” Stigma Story by CCM Contributor Meghan King

The Youngtown Edition (the school newspaper of the County College of Morris) is working with two other CCM clubs this semester, Active Minds and Writers Club, on a series about students in the process of recovery. This series is called “Despite My Diagnosis.” Read one of these stories, by Meghan King:

Meghan King

My name is Meghan and I have lived with anxiety and depression for over a decade now. I was diagnosed eight years ago in the fall semester of my junior year at William Paterson University (WPUNJ).

Looking back, I believe symptoms began to display themselves when I was about 15-16 years old. My mother left when I was a small child of 11 due to addiction, alcoholism, and living with bipolar disorder untreated. I know my battle with abandonment, trauma, and anxiety and depression have some roots in this loss. Anxiety shows itself as irritability, lack of focus, panic attacks. My depression has many faces from not wanting to get out of bed to accomplish daily tasks, questioning my value, not believing in my self worth, etc.

It took me years to realize that despite my diagnosis, I am a survivor and I thrive in the face of adversity. Seeing therapists since I was a teenager and taking the time to find the right medication to help me have a better quality of life has taught me this. I chose to stop attending school after missing school for 3 weeks due to psychosomatic symptoms I was having. I needed to take care of myself. That decision was frowned upon, to say the least. I couldn’t handle what I was going through and making my academic success a priority. My doctor started me on medication following my diagnosis. After trial and error, I have found the combination that works for me.

From August 2018 to June of this year I moved four times. I slept on couches, transferred jobs between North and South Jersey to living under a liquor store in Paterson because I did not have stable housing. I was basically homeless. If it weren’t for my loving boyfriend, his family, my brother, and my friends for emotional support, I don’t know how I would’ve traveled this road.

I have always had a spirit of surviving despite my diagnosis. I was having panic attacks while driving, things around me would slow down and I would have to practice grounding skills. I had to focus on my breathing and things around me to stop my racing thoughts. Nothing has scared me more than experiencing a panic attack while driving. Having to kick those ugly, dark thoughts out of my head, and convince myself that yes, I am worthy of love and my life is worth living.

As a side note, my boyfriend’s mother would have me over for dinner most of the week. Their home was too small to accommodate living there, but that woman fed me and let me stay on occasion. Simply providing meals for me and showing her care has made all the difference. She has shown me so much love and has been one of my greatest blessings. I signed a lease with my boyfriend in June for an apartment and I truly feel at peace where I am. I started a job that allows me to more than scrape by.

I can live comfortably and safe. I’m paying things off and paying for classes to continue my education. I have learned to live one day at a time and appreciate my blessings. I choose not to be defined by my mental health challenges.

Recovery Friendly Career Day at CARES

Rockaway, NJ, October 2019 – Join the Center for Addiction Recovery, Education & Success (CARES), Morris-Sussex-Warren Workforce Development Board, and employers in kicking off the first Recovery Career Day on Wednesday, October 23, from 10:00am-12pm.

The purpose of this event is to help people at any stage of recovery find community and purpose through work. This event will provide individuals with access to recovery in friendly employers and training programs. Participants will have the opportunity to apply for jobs and receive information on career training.

The event is FREE but registration is required. Contact Don Hebert at dhebert@mcpik.org.

The Center for Addiction Recovery, Education & Success works to engage and organize the recovery community by helping individuals find, maintain, and enhance their recovery experience through peer support, educational and volunteer opportunities and sober recreation, as well as working to reduce stigma associated with substance abuse through advocacy, education, and service.

Stigma-Free Mendhams: Special Program on Mental Health for Families — Oct. 3

A special program on family mental health issues will be held in Mendham Township on Thursday evening, Oct. 3,  at the Mendham Township Middle School.

The program, entitled “How Parents Can Support Positive Mental Health in their Children,” is sponsored by the Mendham Township School District and the Mendhams Stigma-Free Task Force.

It is open to all residents of Mendham Borough and Mendham Township, and residents of neighboring towns also are invited to attend.

  • Date: Thursday, Oct. 3, at 7  p.m.
  • Location: Mendham Township Middle School, 16 Washington Valley Rd, Brookside, NJ 07926
  • Speaker: Tracy Klingener, Assistant Director, Self-Help, Advocacy, & Education, with the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris
  • Topic: “How Parents Can Support Positive Mental Health in their Children”
  • Sponsored by: Mendhams Stigma-Free Task Force & Mendham Township School District

The Mendham Township Committee and Mendham Borough Council both passed resolutions declaring their municipalities Stigma-Free, with an overriding goal to help eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness and with substance abuse disorders and get people who need help into treatment programs.

As part of the countywide initiative, residents are urged to take the Stigma Free Pledgehttps://morriscountystigmafree.org/take-the-pledge/

A Successful Stigma “Squash”

For August 31st’s International Overdose Awareness Day, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey asked NJ residents to participate in the “Squash the Stigma” water balloon challenge.

Participation was simple: The person needed to fill a few balloons with water, write stigmatizing words or beliefs on each balloon in marker, and then record themselves squashing them on the ground.

Check out the results! Thanks for all who participated!

Mind Matters 5K’ to benefit mental health programs at Madison Area YMCA

From the Madison YMCA:

MADISON – The public is asked to lace up its running shoes for the Madison Area YMCA‘s “The Mind Matters 5K” at 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, at the Giralda Farms office campus off Madison Avenue. The event also will feature a shorter, one-mile “Family Fun Run/Walk.” Families are encouraged to dress in Halloween costumes.

Supporters may register online at https://www.compuscore.com/Race/Register/NJ/Madison/TheMindMatters5k. Participants who register before Thursday, Oct. 10, will be charged “early bird fees” of $27 for the 5K, and $8 for the “Family Fun Run/Walk.” Registration is free for all children 7 and younger for the “Family Fun Run/Walk.” USA Track and Field (USATF) members will receive a $3 discount off the race registration fee on pre-entry. Same-day registration starts at 8:30 a.m.

The race is a fundraising event for YMCA’s Annual Fund, which “enables hundreds of children and families to participate in YMCA membership, innovative programming, wellness initiatives and services including childcare, early childhood education and summer camps at the Madison Area YMCA’s Family Center and the F.M. Kirby Children’s Center of the Madison Area YMCA,” according to CEO and President Diane Mann. YMCA CEO Mann noted that “The Mind Matters 5K” will support a range of mental health and wellness programs at the YMCA.

The Community Mental Health Initiative: “As mental health is rapidly becoming a leading issue across the nation, the YMCA has taken steps to establish the Community Mental Health Initiative to raise awareness and lower the stigmas associated with mental illness,” Mann said. “The Community Mental Health Initiative also focuses on reducing barriers to mental health care by providing community members with knowledge and skills” to help people cope with mental health issues.

Project Community Pride of the Madison Area YMCA: Mann explained, “Project Community Pride is a youth counseling program that has joined the YMCA as one of its community-based programs, and an important extension of youth development services for children, teens and their families throughout the Madison Area YMCA’s service area. The program was made possible through the collaboration of community leaders and the municipalities and school districts of the Chathams, Florham Park and Madison.”

Paths to Wellness: Mann further pointed out, “The Madison Area YMCA offers enriching community wellness and health-enhancing programs, including ‘Livestrong at the YMCA,’ a cancer survivors’ program; the Diabetes Prevention Program; ‘One Step,’ a multiple sclerosis program; ‘Delay the Disease,’ a Parkinson’s disease wellness program; ‘Enhance Fitness,’ an arthritis wellness program; and ‘Healthy Hearts,’ a post-cardiac rehabilitation program.” She added, “The YMCA also has a range of youth sports, youth leadership programs, enrichment classes and adult fitness classes.”

Mann summed up, “As a cause-driven charitable organization, the Madison Area YMCA is dedicated to nurturing the potential of every child and teen, and improving the community’s health and well-being and giving back by providing support to our neighbors.”

For information, contact Associate Development Director Melissa DeSalvo at (973) 822-9622, ext. 2248, or email mdesalvo@madisonymca.org.

Help offered for people with depression, bipolar illness

From the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance:

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance will meet at 7:45 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 25, at the Madison Community House, 25 Cook Ave., Madison.

Dr. Howard Rudominer will speak about the use of psychiatric medications.

The meeting feature a panel of people living with mood disorders who will tell of their struggles and their successes.

A nominal donation is requested from non-members, when possible. Free literature is available and there is a free library of educational audiotapes, CD’s and videotapes.

In addition to the lecture series, peer group support sessions led by experienced facilitators are held at 7:30 p.m., Tuesdays. Separate groups for young adults are held at 7:30 p.m., Tuesdays.

For more information about the support alliance, visit http://dbsanewjersey.org/morristownarea or call (973) 994-1143.

2019 Alan Lunt Consumer Advocate Award – Scholarship Applications Being Accepted

From the New Jersey Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association:

Alan Lunt was a staunch advocate of services for himself and others in varying phases of their recovery. NJPRA celebrates Alan’s years of dedication to the field of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and working in advocacy with this annual award.

The Alan Lunt Consumer Advocate Award is given to a person in recovery who shows outstanding advocacy efforts in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation for people in recovery, families and/or services for people in recovery. All recipients should be individual/advocate members, or part of an NJPRA member organization.

Learn more about the Alan Hunt Consumer Advocate Award.

NJPRA is also pleased to announce the availability of twenty-five (25) consumer scholarships for the 2019 Fall Conference at Pines Manor in Edison. We thank our partners at DMHAS for their continuing support and funding of this opportunity for persons in recovery. Learn more about the 2019 Consumer Scholarship.

Butterfly Release Marks Overdose Awareness Day

Register to Add Your Loved One’s Name to the Dedication List

From CARES: In Observance of International Overdose Awareness Day we invite you to join us in honoring the memory of those we have lost, those still struggling and those in recovery from the disease of addiction.

Join the observance on Saturday, August 31 from 8-10 a.m.

Our celebration will begin with light refreshments at CARES, 25 West Main Street, Rockaway, before proceeding together to Donatoni Community Park at 231 West Main Street for a dedication ceremony and beautiful butterfly release.

CARES is committed to working together to raise awareness, end the stigma and prevent further tragedies associated with this disease.

This is a FREE community event. Please email bkauffman@mcpik.org to attend and have your loved one’s name placed on the dedication list.

National Council for Behavioral Health Report on Violence

From the National Council for Behavioral Health:

Mass Violence in America: Causes, Impacts and Solutions” provides important insights into the link between mental illness and mass violence. The National Council’s Medical Director Institute authored the report.

According to the report, “people with serious mental illness are responsible for less than 4 percent of all violence and less than one-third of mass violence.” Statistics bear out that most people who commit mass violence do not have a serious mental illness.

Read the full report, Mass Violence in America: Causes, Impacts and Solutions, or take a look at the executive summary.

NAMI Statement On Mass Shootings In Texas And Ohio

From NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred over the weekend in Texas and Ohio. These mass shootings are far too common and impact every corner of our nation. Every time we experience a tragedy like this, people with mental illness are drawn into the conversation. The truth is that the vast majority of violence is not perpetrated by people with mental illness. Statements to the contrary only serve to perpetuate stigma and distract from the real issues.

Read the full statement on NAMI’s website.