The Blount County Chapter of
The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
April 25, 2008 - Volume 1 - Number 5
The past month has seen a lot of activity for Hopeworks. We have had two Tuesday night
meetings that it seemed like everyone got a lot out of.
Dr. Brent Coyle, the medical director at the Blount Memorial Hospital Emotional Wellness Unit,
spoke about suicide. He talked about warning signs and what people could do if they thought
someone close to them was at risk. He also talked a lot about some of the things the
hospital was trying to put into place to help people deal with suicidal issues. Finally he
talked about the relationship of emotional illness to suicide. The best part of his
presentation though I thought was his interaction with people in the question and answer
session. A lot of people talked about how they had struggled with the issue. One new
member who talked about how she was struggling with suicidal thought right now described it later
as "…exactly what I needed when I needed it."
Chaplain Cecil Cook of Ft. Sanders Hospital and Barry Clanton, pastor of Blount Christian Church,
talked about the subject of "finding hope in hurting times." Again it was a
superb presentation. There is no way to summarize it in a few words. Both speakers
I liked the story of Floyd that Cecil shared. Floyd was the victim of an accident at a
sawmill. He lost both his arms and both his legs. He told Cecil, "I'm
okay. I am more than my legs and more than my arms…."
I think that is one key to hope. Always remember you are more than your
circumstances. Your disorder need not define you.
We continue to add to the website - hopeworkscommunity.com and more and more people seem to be
visiting it. In the last week alone we have had more than 30 new people visit it.
Keep spreading the word.
We need your help though. 3 pages of the website offer chances for your participation.
"About you" gives you a chance to tell your story and share it with others.
I think we gain as much from sharing stories as any single thing we do. You have a chance
to reach and help a lot of people. Please share your story.
"Stigma" gives you a chance to tell others how you have had to deal with the
stigma attached to your disorder and how you have managed to cope with the myths and assumptions
that so many people seem to have about you. So many people struggle so much with
this. Again please share.
Finally "the hope page" has just been added. I would like to share with
others your list of how you have found hope in your life and made it work for you. I can't
think of a neater treasure to share. Please contribute. I look forward to hearing
from you. You can contribute to all three pages, or any one you feel like you have
something worth saying on.
Tenncare has become a major issue. It looks very much like as many as 150,000 are in risk
of losing their Tenncare this year. You are especially at risk if you got on Tenncare
because you had SSI and you have for any reason lost your SSI. If you hear people talking
about the "Daniels class", these are the people being referred to. If you are not
affected there is a good chance you know someone who is. People with mental health
diagnosis make up a healthy portion of the Daniels Class. Linda is one of them.
We attended a public forum in Knoxville dealing with this issue attended by several state
legislators. Both Linda and I had a chance to speak. I urge you to contact your
legislator and share your feelings on this issue with him.
On Monday April 28 Linda and I are traveling to Nashville. We have been asked to testify at
hearings being held by the TennCare Oversight Committee of the State Senate that hopefully is
trying to find a solution to this mess before countless people are hurt needlessly. By the
way, Senator Raymond Finney, the State Senator from Blount County who is speaking at Hopeworks in
a month, is the chairman of that committee. Please keep us in your prayers.
There is another conference that you need to know about and that is worth thinking about
attending. It is put on by an organization called the Mental Illness Awareness
Coalition. The program is called "Breaking the Silence" and it is Friday
May 2. Many of us have had the experience of feeling like we were looked down on in church
because of our disorder and this conference looks at ways to help the church to become an active
and effective force in the recovery of anyone trying to deal with any kind of mental
illness. If you would like more information please let me know.
After one false start we are finally ready to start Saturday meetings. Obviously there will
be many people who Saturday meetings will not be possible for, but we have also heard many people
say they are really looking forward to this. May 10 is the first meeting. It is
scheduled at 11:30 at Blount Christian. Please pass the word.
A special thanks to Pastor Barry Clanton whose support has made it possible
for us to use the church on Saturdays.
Plans right now are to meet on the first and third Saturdays of the month. To take
advantage of the good weather, occasional meetings will be held at Springbrook Park, but we will
give advance notice of that. If weather interferes with a planned meeting in the park, the
church will be the backup.
One member has shared with us an idea that she had to further add to Hopeworks. Her idea is
that people could volunteer to be what she called "care partners." A care partner
would assume responsibility to call 3 or 4 people from the group between meetings just to check
and see how things are and if we can do anything to help. I really like the idea.
Every person who comes to Hopeworks should get the message that we are vitally interested in
their health and welfare and will do anything we can do to help. Please think about
this. I want to discuss it at the next meeting. If enough people are interested I
would like to see what we could do to make it a reality. All of us have been in the
position where a call from someone who cares is literally a lifesaver.
If you have any ideas I would love to hear them. This is everybody's group.
We are making an effort to network with as many other organizations as possible, both to spread
the word about Hopeworks and to find out what other resources are out there that may add to the
lives of people in Hopeworks. Recently we have had contacts with NAMI and the Tennessee
Mental Health Consumers Association. Both seem very supportive of Hopeworks and I hope as
time goes on we will discover that they have resources that will help you in your life.
Again thank each of you. Please continue to spread the word. More people are starting
to bring family members or neighbors to meetings. Everyone is welcome. Thank each of
us for the effort that you have shown to be part of Hopeworks. If hope really does work it
is because all of us together are making it work.
God bless each of you.
Until next time.
Larry and Linda Drain