Mentors are a support system like no other, and I am wondering if they could be more powerful than any other resource being used today, when it comes to supporting people with mental issues, and their family and friends who are involved in their lives? Anyone can step up to the plate and be a mentor. No educational degree is needed, just a willingness to reach out, listen or share personal experiences and stories, and be supportive. I think co-mentoring and group mentoring could be useful as well. Society may have an untapped resource at their fingertips.
I have a history of being a mentor and having one. I think “First hand knowledge” sharing from someone living with a mental illness is a more powerful message than reading secondhand accounts. When a dialog is on going, questions, ideas, and options can be explored in real-time or during scheduled hook-ups. Blogging on the internet could help in countering depression and loneliness for all ages, including seniors. By using my computer to touch base with my mentor and friends I have the sense that they are sitting in the next room. This is a comforting element that I consider priceless.
l am going to explore my thoughts here on using Bloggers and their followers to reach out to develop a mentoring model. If a Blogger writes something about mental illness the information they share can reach people world-wide. Some people suffering may read it, some family members and friends trying to understand this monumental problem may read the contents as well, and the learning and sharing curve begins. What if the Blogger welcomes and encourages a discussion in his or her Blog by asking those wanting to share to leave a comment in the comment section, and assures them that a response will follow? Walla, a possible seed for a mentoring situation has been planted. And if the comment sections fills with helpful and informative information those comments generated can benefit all who read them.
I have gained much knowledge and insight reading people’ stories who suffer from depression and from others who are bipolar. I think some have benefited from some of my shared stories as well. I know I have felt encouraged by many comments I have read attached to some of my Blogs. I think many have tried things that worked, and some things have been tried that have failed. Sharing true experiences in the comment sections of Blogs could facilitate questions and answers for more in-depth discussions.
The model I have covered could even expand. I have found Skype, and Skype messaging to be far superior to what Facebook offers, and it is free. It is possible to have multiple people connected at the same time or only a one on one message thread. One of my mentors and I Skype message by beginning our comment with the time stamp provided by Skype messaging, so each of us know exactly what we are responding to, so there are no misunderstanding on what we are referring to, in case we are not messaging in real-time.
I bet others interested in trying to connect within the realm of mentorship and mental issues can and will come up with other ideas. I welcome anyone commenting on any of my blogs, including others outside the areas of mental illness. I have written about parenting and other subjects. Mentors cover all kinds of subjects. I focused on mental illness here because I don’t think that area has been explored as completely as other subjects.
Here is a little sliver about me. You can read my story on my “About” page and my “Marty’s Bipolar Trek”, on my home page. I am past the middle of seven decades old. With my doctors support I am unmedicated. I also see another professional with his blessing. I am part of a small mentoring group, have a personal mentor, and have 3 people who I have promised to call if I get thoughts of harming myself. Last week I had a significant down, and in 90 minutes of messaging with my mentor, I leveled out. I have had a SERIOUS reactions to using Rogaine in the past, which I wrote a blog about. And recently I had to stop water walking at a local water park because of my reaction to the high levels of chlorine present. All kinds of minute information, like my two examples, are ripe for coming out in a mentoring session, where problem solving occurs, when exploring events that might lead up to an episode. So I feel strongly that mentoring has helped me in significant ways. That is why I decided to write this blog and introduce blogging as a gate-way to mentoring.
I end by saying, I hope that writing about the idea of mentoring, using the tools available as bloggers and followers, stirs up some interest. I hope anyone wanting to develop this kind of exchange will consider the ideas I have thrown out as a challenge to get a mentoring frame of mind started when writing about the many forms of mental illness, depression and even loneliness. I am open to discuss or share anything I have personally experienced in my journey of being bipolar. I am also interested in hearing about other people’s journey. I think mentoring can out weight some effects the medical profession and the pharmaceutical companies can provide. At least that has been my experience. Years ago when I was heavily medicated, and saw a medical professional, little was done to help me, except to hand me a prescription, and show me the door. I have come a long way from that place, and am managing my disorder in different ways. Mentoring is helping me stay grounded, and I am having fewer ups and downs. No one understands mental illness more than those who suffer and their families and friends who are aware of their struggles. I think banning together can have some astonishing results. At least I hope so.