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    How Expressing Yourself Can Improve Your Mental Health Right Now

    Imagine that all of life’s usual barriers have melted away—money, time, responsibilities, physical needs, self-doubt… you name it; if it’s something that worries you, indulge us in putting it out of your mind for a moment. Now, sit with this absolutely marvelous hypothetical and ask yourself: What would you do with your days? How would you tell your story? How would you want to express yourself? If you’re anything like us, you may find it is harder to narrow down the list than to find things to add to it. Painting, gardening, cooking, singing… gaming, filmmaking, swimming, tap dancing… glass blowing, cosplaying, stamp collecting, geocaching… this list could go on forever; there is truly no limit to self-expression methods one can explore. Whatever form you fancy, you deserve to pursue it. True, the barriers cannot be imagined away in reality, but neither can one’s essential need for self-expression. Everyone’s mental health benefits when they have an outlet—and we want to help you to find yours. Because there’s no better place to start than hearing from people who found theirs, we teamed up with the Society of Valued Minds (SoVM) to introduce you to 4 people who embody the power of self-expression. The Society of Valued Minds brings together creators and advocates to share their experiences in their own voice, and spread the idea that self-expression and community can improve mental health for all—by shattering stigma, creating awareness around mental health struggles, and making every mind feel less alone. It is a grassroots initiative launched by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. to help combat the youth mental health crisis facing the nation today. Here are a few unique stories from SoVM members, who share in their own words how finding their means of self-expression change their entire world for the better: Meet Sravyaa An artist who expresses herself through talents across many disciplines, Sravyaa considers herself an “artivist,” combining her artistic skills with activism on issues important to her. How she expresses herself: “My favorite artistic mediums are painting and illustration, but I trained in many different fine art mediums and feel it is more useful to let emotion and narrative decide what medium to use. Sometimes the medium needs to change depending on the message.”   View this post on Instagram  A post shared by Sravyaa (@sravyaa) How Sravyaa discovered her outlet: “ Art has been a vital resource to me during some of life’s hardest points, including experiencing grief at 15 and depression at 19. I used to paint as a way to communicate my feelings to others, and in doing so, I was able to process those emotions. I still use creativity on a daily basis to cope with anxiety, depression and the general challenges of living.” How art has impacted her mental health: “Painting allowed me to express myself better; it helped me communicate visually how I was feeling, which was particularly helpful when I couldn’t find the words to articulate my emotions verbally. It became a way for people to understand what I was going through, and it showed them that I needed help when I didn’t necessarily know how to ask. My art was a vehicle for healing. It helped me process the stages of grief, depression, and other mental challenges.”   View this post on Instagram  A post shared by Sravyaa (@sravyaa) Other creative expressions Sravyaa has tried for her mental health: “I’m constantly practicing new creative activities to help my mental health. I make collages, keep a journal, knit, and do lots of upcycling projects. I like to attend new creative workshops, such as live drawing in my area as it’s a good way to meet new people, challenge myself, and try something new. Having a variety of activities that I can turn to is like having a toolkit of coping skills that help me deal with stress and anxiety.” Advice for finding an artistic form of expression: “Explore different artistic mediums, as each can help you learn something new about yourself, your values, and your emotions. Don’t worry about the end result; simply enjoy the process of creating art.” *** Meet Stephanie A standup comic and the creator of a comedy tour with a gift for making people laugh, Stephanie created the Without Rhyme Nor Reason comedy tour, which visits sorority houses across the U.S. to address mental health and suicide prevention among young women. How she expresses herself: “Comedy has been my way of telling the truth—showing how I really feel, but am too scared to say out loud because I don’t want to ruffle feathers. I am the definition of a people pleaser in my personal life. But for some reason, on stage I’m the woman I wish I was in the world. Confident, not afraid of anyone’s reactions, just honest. It’s kind of hard to tell a lie night after night into a mic for a crowd to hear, so beyond anything else, it really helped me get honest with myself. It helped me be honest about my own struggles with suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia, and an eating disorder. It helped me get sober. And all of that packaged together, helped me be confident enough to just be.” How Stephanie discovered her outlet: “If I make a joke about something, that’s how everyone around me knows I’m OK. It’s how I know I’m OK, and that I’m bigger than whatever I’m facing. This especially rang true when I lost one of my best friends to suicide during the pandemic. Being able to confront really difficult topics with a spoon full of sugar helped me face them head on. It still wasn’t easy, but I got to go through it my way.”   View this post on Instagram  A post shared by Stephanie Foster (@slufoster) How comedy has impacted her mental health: “Creativity and self-expression are the two things that make my mental health manageable. To be able to articulate a feeling, or something as abstract as anxiety and depression, just seems to help. To put words to it, to label it, and sometimes to resonate with others is a remedy I haven’t found a replacement for.” Stephanie’s advice for improved mental health: “I have a morning routine that I am committed to. That way, no matter where I’m traveling in the world for comedy, I wake up the same way. My morning routine includes: wash face and brush teeth (obvi), write three pages of whatever is in my head first thing in the morning, write daily affirmations, answer journal prompts, AND squeeze in some yoga and meditation. It’s a lot, but I didn’t start with everything at once. I started with one thing at a time, and when I regularly did that for two weeks, I’d add in something new. It’s all about tiny bits of progress and not flipping an entire routine.” *** Meet Blake Proof that there cannot be too many ways to express oneself, digital creator Blake combines numerous passions—photography, graphic design, faith, Disney, pop culture, and of course, his pup, Simba—through his art. How he discovered his outlet: “During the beginning of lockdown in 2020, I embraced the time at home by diving into creative self-portraiture. Forcing myself into isolated creativity did wonders for my expression and I actually flourished. It was something I was able to really focus on and pour into when there weren’t a lot of options for that outside of the home.” How self-expression improves Blake’s mental health: “It is vital for nurturing my mental health because it provides me an escape. It sounds cliche, but it truly is an outlet. I believe in paying attention to how you feel, and struggling with anxiety it’s important for me to clear my head and embrace alone time; and I experiment with photography most when alone.”   View this post on Instagram  A post shared by blake a. silva (@blakeasilva) Other forms of self-expression he has tried: I am a lover of Disney and pop culture so I started diving into the world of collectibles. I found a community of people who love Funko Pops, Disneyland, and reconnecting with their inner child, and I have actually built audiences on TikTok and Instagram  that have completely rebuilt and repaired my sense of self on social media. True authenticity comes when you abandon the need to fit in. That comes when you are presenting your true self to the world. I also am a singer and am a person of faith, so singing every Sunday at my church is extremely restorative.” Blake’s advice for approaching your creative outlet: “This is the only space I say tunnel vision is good—focus on you and your craft. Mental health is severely impacted by comparison, because it truly is the thief of joy. It is way easier said than done but not focusing on what other people are doing will help you when it comes to original ideas and having FUN.” *** Meet Ari Writer. Author. Poet. All titles apply to Ari, who has shared her open, honest, and authentic words about mental health with audiences far and wide, from social media to multiple published books. How she expresses herself: “I was a freshman in college, unsure about my science-related major and really struggling with my mental health. This was at the height of the Button Poetry era, and spoken word poets went viral on YouTube every other day. When I watched these poets unashamedly perform about topics like suicide, self-harm, sexual assault, race, and so much more, it was like the proverbial switch in my brain. I realized that, at the time, reading and writing poetry was the one thing that really made me feel good. I ended up changing my major to writing and incorporating it into my daily life. Now, whenever I have any big feelings I’m unsure how to process, I’ll journal or write a poem. The realization was a full-body change, as cliché as it sounds. Once I knew that writing helps my general well-being, my healing journey made a huge turn.”   View this post on Instagram  A post shared by ari b. cofer | poetry + mental health (@ari.b.cofer) How Ari found her outlet through writing: “Embarrassingly enough, I started using writing as a means of self-expression when I was still in high school, writing One Direction fanfiction on Tumblr. I was deeply depressed, but it was so much fun to write those silly little stories and even more fun to have a community of equally-obsessed 1D fans who loved them. It was strangely therapeutic for me to write them every week. Once I got to college, I ditched the fanfic for poetry, which helped me process some of the tough things I was going through at the time — oftentimes, feelings I didn’t yet feel safe saying out loud. It really was my saving grace.” How writing has impacted her mental health: “ Struggling with mental health and being a creative who feels better when they create is a double-edged sword. When I’m low, writing is, without a doubt, the best way for me to process an event or explore my emotions around something. Because a poem or a prose piece doesn’t have to be 100% accurate, sometimes I allow myself to travel outside of the confines of my real-life situation, which can help me get a better understanding of my mental state. On the flip side, there are times when I can find myself getting in a bit of a rut, where I am writing over and over about the same event, feeling, or emotion. Typically, that’s a sign that I need to talk with a therapist or someone about it. In a way, it’s a great way to manage my mental health because I can track these patterns and moods. But lately, I’m also trying to be intentional about writing outside of those intense feelings. I want to get better at acknowledging all of the emotions — not just the really good or really bad.”   View this post on Instagram  A post shared by ari b. cofer | poetry + mental health (@ari.b.cofer) Ari’s advice for anyone expressing themselves through writing: “Write what feels honest to you, not what you’ve seen other writers do. Early in my career, I read a lot of short-form poetry, which can be great, but I tried to mirror that format in my own work, which never felt quite right for me. And the writing process isn’t very healing if your work doesn’t feel genuine. That said, it takes time and trial and error, so be patient with yourself while writing. I went through a few different writing styles over the years before I found what I love best, which is a weird mesh of prose, poetry, and narrative nonfiction. It doesn’t have to make sense or look like anything else you’ve seen before — it just has to feel good.” Whether you have a form of self-expression you’re already spending hours on every day, or have something you’d love to learn how to do for minutes out of each day, there’s a space for everyone to find a way to live boldly within The Society of Valued Minds. Add your voice! Learn more, discover helpful resources, and find out how to get involved by visiting their website . Join the thousands of creative minds building a community around their shared passions and share your latest expressions on the SoVM Instagram page . This content is sponsored by Society of Valued Minds, a community using self-expression to live boldly with mental health conditions. Bringing together mental health advocates to share their lived experiences in their own unique ways, SoVM is on a mission to shatter stigma, create actionable awareness, and show the world the value of every mind. Join the movement on Instagram @societyofvaluedminds. Society of Valued Minds is brought to you by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.  

    Survive Together: Suicide Loss Survivor Study

    Why Are We Conducting This Study? In 2016, nearly 45,000 people died by suicide in the Unites States alone. For each suicide, somewhere between six and 20 family and friends are affected. Every year around one to three quarter million people are touched by suicide. Despite this growing need, there remains much to be learned about how people bereaved by suicide can grow and recover in the wake of a loss. During the acute stages of grief (i.e. less than six-months post loss) habits and tendencies relating to how a person thinks and feels about the loss develop. These mental habits can set the course for the rest of the grieving process. As a result, this represents a critical time period in which to develop a potential intervention. For this reason, the Survive Together research study at the New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University Department of Psychiatry seeks to understand the thoughts, feelings and brain-responses that occur during acute grieving which promote long-term growth and wellness. This knowledge will serve as the basis for a treatment strategy aimed at helping people grow and thrive in the wake of their loss. What Can You Do? The Survive Together study presents an opportunity for suicide loss survivors to contribute to our mission of helping people grieving suicide. We are looking for people who have lost a loved one to suicide within the past five months. You can participate even if you do not live near NYC. If interested, please contact schneck@nyspi.columbia.edu for further details. How Does This Work? The human brain is equipped with resilience tools that help a person grow and thrive after painful events. However, not all people are able to respond to painful events in this way, and sometimes the pain is too overwhelming. Survive Together aims to identify the resilience tools that help people adapt and grow in the wake of a suicide loss, using a brain imaging technique called functional magnetic resonance brain imaging (fMRI). By identifying the brain’s resilience tools for dealing with suicide-loss, we will be able to develop treatment techniques to help people use their brain more effectively to find wellness, meaning and growth after losing a loved one to suicide. Please note: This study is recruiting until 2023, however participation is only possible within five months after loss.

    Content sponsored by
    Carlos J.
    Carlos J. @carlos-j
    contributor

    How a Digital Tool is Helping Me During My Mental Health Journey

    Carlos is a participant in a patient ambassador program at Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., made up of people dedicated to sharing their stories about their journey with serious mental illness and treatment. Contact us to learn more about this opportunity. Call 1-844-815-0984. Email jade@mypatientstory.com I’m 44 years old and live with major depressive disorder (MDD), and it always feels somewhat risky to open up about it. I never know how people will react or if they will look at me differently. I started noticing symptoms of MDD after being promoted to my dream job in my early thirties. I was the perfect candidate for the role! I worked in the banking industry and was good at protecting people’s money and their security. However, after working in my new role for some time, I started to lose interest in a position I worked so hard for and dreamt about. I was losing focus at work and lacking motivation to perform well. I was fixating too much on one or two negative aspects about my life at a time and had difficulty shifting my attention to certain tasks, including the work I love doing. My friends didn’t really understand what was truly going on, and many thought the symptoms I was dealing with—changes in my mood, sleep schedule, and energy—were due to burnout and that I only needed some rest. Thankfully I was able to find a psychiatrist, who was able to notice the signs and diagnose me with MDD. However, when I reflect back on my journey with depression, it really started much earlier, back when I was a teenager. Sometimes it can take years to properly pinpoint MDD as the root cause. After eleven years of working together, my psychiatrist let me know that he was retiring, which was devastating to me. He had played a key role in helping me identify triggers and discover different coping mechanisms over the years. We tried so many different medications, and we had finally gotten me to a good place where we felt like my medications were working. It took a long time to establish that trust, and now I needed to start all over. I began to shut down after the news, unable to keep up with my daily routines. There is a stigma attached to talking about mental health, which made reaching out for help really difficult for me. The concept of starting over with a new doctor was scary to me, I didn’t know if I could do it. It was actually my dog, Wynter, that noticed my lack of energy and absence of routine and gave me a nudge (literally) to find that new psychiatrist. I knew I had to do something when I started to see how it was impacting his life too. I didn’t have the energy to play with him, which often left him scratching at the door in frustration — that wasn’t OK with either of us. I remember reading the profile of one doctor, who marketed his approach as cutting edge and patient-centered. After I started working with him, I quickly realized he was the best fit for my needs. He recommended adding the ABILIFY MYCITE ® System, to my current antidepressant. ABILIFY MYCITE ® (aripriprazole tablets with sensor) is a prescription medicine of an aripiprazole tablet with an Ingestible Event Marker (IEM) sensor inside it used in adults for the treatment of schizophrenia; treatment of bipolar I disorder alone or when used with the medicine lithium or valproate for acute (short-term) treatment of manic or mixed episodes, or maintenance treatment; and the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) along with other antidepressant medicines. The ABILIFY MYCITE System ® is meant to track if you have taken your ABILIFY MYCITE ®. It is not known if ABILIFY MYCITE ® can improve how well you take your aripiprazole (patient compliance) or for changing your dose of aripiprazole. Please read full INDICATIONS and IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION below, including BOXED WARNING for Increased Risk of Death in Elderly People with Dementia-Related Psychosis and Increased Risk of Suicidal Thoughts or Actions. He said using the system would empower us with ingestion data and provide visibility into my activity level and my assessment of sleep quality and moods. I decided to give it a shot, and I’m happy to say that I still use it today. I record my daily data, which helps me to have a more productive conversation with my psychiatrist during appointments. It also helped me build that client-therapist relationship and trust. Viewing the data in the system makes it easier for me to remember important points and to share more about my experience with MDD. I feel like I play a more active role in my own treatment with the information and insights I get from the app. In addition to confirming my medication ingestion, another aspect that I have found particularly helpful reflecting on seeing how my moods fluctuate during the month. Reviewing this data with my psychiatrist helped us identify exercise as an important part of my journey. Only functions related to tracking drug ingestion have been evaluated or approved by FDA. MDD can be a challenging journey, but with the support of my psychiatrist and treatment like the ABILIFY MYCITE ® System, it has been a manageable one, and I’m grateful for that! Everyone’s treatment journey is different, what works for me may not work for someone else. It’s important to have these discussions with your psychiatrist to find what works best for you. INDICATIONS and IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION for ABILIFY MYCITE ® (aripiprazole tablets with sensor) 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 mg INDICATIONS: ABILIFY MYCITE is a prescription medicine of an aripiprazole tablet with an Ingestible Event Marker (IEM) sensor inside it used in adults for the: Treatment of schizophrenia Treatment of bipolar I disorder alone or when used with the medicine lithium or valproate for: acute (short-term) treatment of manic or mixed episodes maintenance treatment Treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) along with other antidepressant medicines The ABILIFY MYCITE System is intended to track if you have taken your ABILIFY MYCITE. There may be a delay in the detection of the ABILIFY MYCITE tablet and sometimes the detection of the tablet might not happen at all. If the MYCITE APP does not indicate that you have taken your medicine, do not repeat the dose. It is not known if ABILIFY MYCITE can improve how well you take your aripiprazole (patient compliance) or for changing your dose of aripiprazole. ABILIFY MYCITE is not for use as real-time or emergency monitoring. IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: Increased risk of death in elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis: Medicines like ABILIFY MYCITE can raise the risk of death in elderly people who have lost touch with reality (psychosis) due to confusion and memory loss (dementia). ABILIFY MYCITE is not approved to treat patients with dementia-related psychosis. Increased risk of suicidal thoughts or actions in children and young adults: Antidepressant medicines may increase suicidal thoughts or actions in some children and young adults within the first few months of treatment and when the dose is changed. Pay close attention to any changes, especially new and sudden changes, in mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings and report them to the healthcare provider. It is not known if ABILIFY MYCITE is safe and effective for use in children. Do not take ABILIFY MYCITE if you are allergic to aripiprazole or any of the ingredients in ABILIFY MYCITE. Allergic reactions may include: rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue. ABILIFY MYCITE may cause serious side effects, including: Stroke (cerebrovascular problems) in elderly people with dementia-related psychosis that can lead to death. Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS), a rare and serious condition that can lead to death. Call your healthcare provider or go to the nearest hospital emergency room right away if you have some or all of the following signs and symptoms of NMS: high fever, stiff muscles, confusion, sweating, changes in pulse, heart rate, and blood pressure. Uncontrolled body movements (tardive dyskinesia or TD). ABILIFY MYCITE may cause movements that you cannot control in your face, tongue, or other body parts. TD may not go away, even if you stop taking ABILIFY MYCITE. TD may also start after you stop taking ABILIFY MYCITE. Problems with your metabolism such as: high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and diabetes. Increases in blood sugar can happen in some people who take ABILIFY MYCITE. Extremely high blood sugar can lead to coma or death. If you have diabetes or risk factors for diabetes (such as being overweight or a family history of diabetes), your healthcare provider should check your blood sugar before starting ABILIFY MYCITE and during your treatment. Call your healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms of high blood sugar while receiving ABILIFY MYCITE: feel very thirsty need to urinate more than usual feel very hungry feel weak or tired feel sick to your stomach feel confused, or your breath smells fruity increased fat levels (cholesterol and triglycerides) in your blood. weight gain. You and your healthcare provider should check your weight regularly. Unusual urges. Some people taking aripiprazole have had unusual urges, such as gambling, binge eating or eating that you cannot control (compulsive), compulsive shopping and sexual urges. If you or your family members notice that you are having unusual urges or behaviors, talk to your healthcare provider. Decreased blood pressure (orthostatic hypotension). You may feel lightheaded or faint when you rise too quickly from a sitting or lying position. Falls Low white blood cell count. Your healthcare provider may do blood tests during the first few months of treatment with ABILIFY MYCITE. Seizures (convulsions) Problems with control of your body temperature so that you feel too warm. Do not become too hot or dehydrated during treatment with ABILIFY MYCITE. Avoid getting over-heated or dehydrated. Do not exercise too much. In hot weather, stay inside in a cool place if possible. Stay out of the sun, and do not wear too much or heavy clothing. Drink plenty of water. Difficulty swallowing ABILIFY MYCITE may make you drowsy. Do not drive, operate heavy machinery, or do other dangerous activities until you know how ABILIFY MYCITE affects you. Before taking ABILIFY MYCITE, tell your healthcare provider if you: have or had diabetes or high blood sugar in you or your family; your healthcare provider should check your blood sugar before starting and during therapy with ABILIFY MYCITE have or had seizures (convulsions) have or had low or high blood pressure have or had heart problems or stroke have or had low white blood cell count are pregnant or have plans to become pregnant. It is not known if ABILIFY MYCITE will harm your unborn baby. There is a pregnancy exposure registry that monitors pregnancy outcomes in women exposed to ABILIFY MYCITE during pregnancy. For more information contact the National Pregnancy Registry for Atypical Antipsychotics at 1-866-961-2388 or visit http://womensmentalhealth.org/clinical-and-research-programs/pregnancyregistry/ are breast-feeding or have plans to breast-feed. ABILIFY MYCITE can pass into your breast milk and may harm your baby. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby if you receive ABILIFY MYCITE have or had any other medical conditions Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines that you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. ABILIFY MYCITE and other medicines may affect each other causing possible serious side effects. ABILIFY MYCITE may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect how ABILIFY MYCITE works. Do not start or stop any medicines while taking ABILIFY MYCITE without talking to your healthcare provider first. The most common side effects of ABILIFY MYCITE in adults include: restlessness or need to move (akathisia); dizziness; nausea; insomnia; shaking (tremor); anxiety; constipation; sedation These are not all the possible side effects of ABILIFY MYCITE. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You are encouraged to report side effects to Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. at 1-800-438-9927 or FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch. Please read FULL PRESCRIBING INFORMATION , including BOXED WARNING , and MEDICATION GUIDE . © 2022 Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. All rights reserved. JANUARY 2022 12US22EB0003

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