Find Help, Find Hope!



Newsletter funded by Skagit County Public Health Services

Contacts:  Marti Wall 360.770.5666 or Dayna Telidetzki 360.708.8452



September 17 through October 25,

each Monday and Thursday, 6:30 – 9pm

in Mount Vernon

This is a course for family members, partners and supportive friends of an adult (17 and over) living with a mental illness.  It is designed to help all family members understand and support their loved one living with mental illness, while maintaining their own well-being.  It includes information on the illnesses such as bi-polar, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety disorders, ADD/ADHD, borderline personality disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and other mental health conditions.  Also covered are treatment options, medications, empathy, communication, advocacy, self-care, and more. Thousands of families describe the course as “life changing”, and it is taught by trained family members who themselves know what it is like.


The course is FREE, but pre-registration is required as class size is limited.  

Please register by September 12th by calling

Reed Eckstrom at 360.927.6381 or Julie Bell at 360.420.7422


With the Peer to Peer Course,

You are not alone! . . . . And never have to be.

NAMI’s Peer-to-Peer Program is a 5 week interactive course on recovery for any person with a mental illness.  Teams of two trained “mentors” who are themselves experienced with living with mental illness, teach the course.  The course uses a combination of lecture, interactive exercises, and structured group processes to promote awareness, provide information, and offer opportunities to reflect on the impact of mental illness.  Topics include empowerment, disorders, stigma, story-telling, addictions, medications, spirituality, coping skills, relapse prevention, and advance directives.

The Course starts Monday, Sept. 10th, from 6 – 8pm

And meets each Monday evening through Mon. Oct 29th

UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, 1607 E Division St, Mt. Vernon WA. 98274

(SKAT Bus Route 206 Stop Division St and Clairmont)

Pre-registration is required, with room for 15 participants and a minimum of 7 to start the class.

For more information and to register, please contact: Mark Dodds at (360)424-8224


NAMI Skagit Support Groups

OPEN SUPPORT GROUP has moved and is back at the Skagit Valley Hospital in the Sauk Conference room (just south of the cafeteria on the same hallway).  It meets each 4th Tuesday of every month (next is Sept 25) from 7 – 8:30pm.  We welcome family members, partners, and supportive friends as well as those living with mental illness.  Just come. Questions? Call Marti Wall 360.770.5666

PEER SUPPORT GROUP meets on the 4th Thursday of each month from 7 – 8:30pm (Sept 27th) in the Library of the Anacortes United Methodist Church, 2201 H Ave.  (Park in back and enter through the downstairs doors) This group is primarily for those who have a mental illness.  No need to sign up; just come. Questions? Call Diana Dodds at 360.424.8224

FAMILY SUPPORT GROUP of Stanwood/Camano Island meets the 1st Monday each month from 7 – 8:30pm (Oct 1st).  This group is only for the family members/partners of those who live with a mental illness.  No registration required; call for current location. Julie Melville at 360.941.0996 or Julie Bell at 360.426.7422.


Are You Signed Up yet for “Mental Health at the Intersections”?


Registration is open for the Annual NAMI WASHINGTON Conference, this year at the Yakima Convention Center in Yakima.  It starts at 1pm on Sept 28th and ends at 6pm on Sept 29th.  You may go online to under “programs” and find Annual Conference 2018 to register.  You will also find the information about reserving a hotel room, and info about the topics and speakers.  Early bird prices are through Aug. 26th.


NAMI Skagit has one scholarship now available to go to a NAMI Skagit member living with a mental illness who has not attended a NAMI Conference in the past two years.  Registration, hotel for Thursday and Friday nights, and transportation are covered.  Deadline to apply is Sept 20th. Contact Marti Wall at 360.770.5666



Sapped by Social Media

By Susan Reinhardt (“Esperanza”)


Diving into a delicious humor novel is one of my go-to escapes for fighting depression.  Recently, I downloaded Sophie Kinsella’s “My (not so) Perfect Life”. The book paints a spot-on picture of the love-hate relationship we have with social media and the increasingly significant role it pays in our lives—whether we’re 16 or 96.


Kinsella’s heroine, Katie Brenner, views everyone else as having a fabulous and oh-so-much-better life than her own, as seen via the narrow porthole of Instagram.  When she’s bombarded with daily posts and photos from her friends’ seemingly superior lives, pictures of their sculpted bodies and of food fit for Manhattan’s Eleven Madison Park, she decides to up her own online game.  She begins to create fabricated postings that give her life a gloriously posh pedicure.


When I check Facebook or Pinterest and read about the uber-fab activities of others, it’s easy for me to slide into a flirtation with depression, an ever-so-slowly-growing melancholy one idealized post at a time.  I’m like the proverbial frog boiled alive before realizing what’s happened.


With the myriad filters and ways to alter images to utter flawlessness, we’re setting ourselves up to believe real life isn’t good enough.


It can be just as damaging from the other side, too.  I have one friend who is a bona fide social media addict—she can’t get up in the night to tinkle without plugging into her Apple watch to catch up with every ping and ding.  She counts her “likes” as if she were Scrooge counting money. If a post isn’t garnering the recognition she thinks it deserves, she will eventually become so despondent she shuts down her accounts for a day or so to recover.


(Social Media con’t)


And therein lies a cure.  If social media is causing anxiety or depression the answer is simple:  Unplug. Be it for a day a week, a month—or forever. If you want to keep up with the news look for online (or even off-line) sources outside of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and all the other social media platforms.


For me, that’s another ensnaring trap lurking on social media:  the constant push of horrific news stories and the never ending missives from those seeking prayer at every turn.  Who wouldn’t want to crawl under the sofa when reading a daily diet of death,

Illness and tragedy?


That friend of mine with the unhealthy attachment to her Apple watch has a habit of posting every shooting every abused child or animal on her Facebook page.  She calls this her “ministry.” I love the woman dearly, but told her I needed to stay off her newsfeed. For my emotional balance, I choose not to follow the Debbie Downers—or the Patty Perfects.


The posts that bruise my soul the most are those from others struck by the bragging bug.  I am the supportive mom of an adult son who struggles with crippling anxiety depression and addiction.  He is public in his testimony about recovery, but seeing the items from friends about their kids’ fantastic new jobs, prestigious college admissions, and other successes always sends me spiraling.


During one particularly rough phase, I shut down my entire Facebook account for several weeks.  Instead of burning up spare time scrolling and wincing I began walking around a beautiful lake with a good friend on sunny days.  I also upped my yoga sessions.


I felt antsy for the first few days of my Facebook fast, as if I were missing out on something.  But gradually that feeling faded and the time I spent in “analog” reality either alone or with friends, mended my mind and eased the thrumming heartbeats signaling a bout of anxiety.


And while I did reactivate my account I vowed to check it only twice a day and only for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.


Another method I’ve used to minimize my exposure is purposely not linking my email or my two (yes, only two) social media accounts to my phone.  When I’m at work or out with friends having real conversations I find myself fully present, even teetering on the brink of pure joy.


A tete-a-tete over an al fresco meal, with the warm evening sun on my face, lights up my dopamine and provides a true connection to the world and people around me.  And that’s something I can’t get by logging on to an electronic device.




Two states now mandate mental health education

Amid growing public concern over rising rates of teen depression, anxiety and self-harm, two states have brought in laws that for the first time require public schools to include mental health education in their basic curriculum, per “Stateline” out of Washington DC.


New York will add mental health education from kindergarten through Grade 12, while Virginia’s legislation requires it in the ninth and tenth grades.


“We teach students how to detect the signs of cancer and how to avoid accidents, but we don’t teach them how to recognize the symptoms of mental illness,” said Dustin Verga, a high school health teacher in Clifton New York, who was an early advocate for the state’s new law.  “It’s a shame because like cancer mental health treatment is much more effective if the disease is caught early.”


Does your school teach mental health in its health classes?  NAMI has a program called “Ending the Silence” for just such a purpose.


Be Kind to Yourself

Bestselling author, Elizabeth Gilbert advises that you need to do this one thing every day:  treat yourself like a friend! And, the easiest route to that is ensuring you are being kind to yourself.  Her words to the wise:

–Take time each day to do something just for you.

–Give yourself kudos…acknowledge even the smallest of your achievements.

–Show compassion:  forgive, respect and accept who you are.

–Really take good care of yourself; making physical and mental health a priority.



PO Box 546       U.S. POSTAGE PAID

Mount Vernon WA 98273        Mount Vernon, WA




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