Presidents Message- August 2011
Welcome to the August edition of the Voice. We’re now well into summer, a season known for relaxation, but sometimes summer comes with its own pressures that can cause stress: Kids are out of school and need attention; relatives may be visiting; you might even be feeling pressured to take a vacation.
We usually think of stress as something we have when negative things are going on in our lives—like a heavy workload, financial concerns or family problems. But things don’t necessarily have to be “going wrong” for us to feel stress. Any change can be stressful, even going on vacation or having the kids home all day. We find comfort in our routines, and by its definition change throws those routines off.
There’s certainly a lot of change going on at MHS. Healthcare Reform is creating changes for us, as are potential cuts to our state and federal budgets. In the middle of these unknowns, as an agency we’ve committed to being a catalyst for positive change by acting as a voice for those we serve and doing all within our power to assure that they continue to have the opportunity to improve their lives.
Years ago when I worked at one of our mental health programs, I went with two of our clients to talk to legislators in Sacramento about the need for funding for mental health services. The two women I traveled with had both been diagnosed with serious mental illnesses. Yet they wanted to give back, to have a voice, and to create positive change. One of them had a great deal of fear and anxiety over takeoffs and landings in planes. She sat next to me, gritting her teeth, squeezing her eyes closed and gripping the arms of the airplane seat as the plane taxied for takeoff and then lifted off the ground. We’d hardly gotten in the air, when the second woman began making flight noises and piloting comments, while claiming she was Tom Cruise. She was swept up in a “Top Gun” delusion. Calmly, I reminded her who she was and that today she really needed stay in touch with this because she was going to the capital to talk about something that could make a change that would help a lot of people. She listened to me and the three of us made our visits at the State Capital that day. Each of the women spoke with openness and courage to the legislators.
I’ll never forget the flight home and the days that followed, they were both so proud. They had proven what we at MHS already knew—they were so much more than their diagnosis. They had a voice and they had used it to serve others; they had been a catalyst for positive change.
So, if you’re feeling the stress of summer, take charge of the change. Take time to nurture yourself and do those things that you find rejuvenating, while understanding that it’s normal to be thrown a little off balance. Find a way to be a catalyst for positive change in your own life!
It's choice — not chance — that determines your destiny.