Lacee a Mental Health Advocate

When I was struggling to get better mentally after a life altering experience one of the things that helped to heal me was listening to other people talk about their past struggles and how they overcame their situation or what they learned from it. Often after hearing someone else’s story I was able to apply the same lessons that they learned to my own life. Sometimes just hearing that other people had experienced the same thing as I did was healing in itself and it helped create hope that things could get better for me.

I am going to start adding blogs posts about people who have a story that I feel others can benefit or learn from. This first story is a lady I met on Twitter by the name of Lacee. Read below to learn about what Lacee is doing for Mental Health advocacy, she can be found on Twitter at: @nyberglacee

Tell us about yourself, a little back ground on yourself.

I grew up in a small, conservative, farm town in Kansas from birth to 18. The only thing that put us on the map was the community college in our town. I graduated at semester (December 2015) and moved to Omaha/ Council Bluffs area at the end of January 2016. I went back home for me senior prom and to walk with my graduating class. I am married, have a 9 year old daughter and I’m going to school full time studying Psychology with an emphasis on mental health and trauma healing.

Tell us why you are interested in Mental Health. Was there something in your past that now makes you passionate about mental health?

I’m interested in mental health for a variety of reasons. Growing up and even now, my friends always come to me for advice because I am honest but still gentle. It wasn’t until I went through an emotionally, mentally and physically abusive relationship did I really realize what I wanted to do with my life. I always knew my purpose in life was to help others and help others feel good about themselves but it wasn’t until that relationship did I know how. I didn’t and still don’t want anyone to ever endure the pain I did, let alone bringing a child into that. My daughter gave me the strength to leave for the final time and not go back. I didn’t want her growing up thinking that we a normal relationship and that was how men treated women.

Catholic charities is a wonderful organization that helps women get back on their feet and provide support in a safe place. I can’t thank them enough for what they did to help me, for free during one of the worst times of my life. There’s also WCA (Women’s Center for Advancement). They help with domestic violence, security assault, stalking and human trafficking.

What are some goals you would like to accomplish in regards to mental health. This can be anything like you are going to school for mental health, what do you plan to do in the future.

One goal is to try to help break the silence domestic violence. Domestic violence is all around us and it starts with awareness as children. They teach about teen pregnancy, the effects of drugs and alcohol and bullying, but why not domestic violence?

My second goal is to break the stigma on mental health. Mental health is important to all of us even those “tough man’s man” guys that were taught that being emotional is weakness. It’s not. People need to feel these emotions and eventually be able to open up to someone whether it be a friend, spouse or professional.

I want to thank Lacee for taking the time to share her story with me. If you or someone you know would like to be featured on the blog email me at henry68157@gmail.com. I would love to share more stories of hope.

Scare tactics won’t work

Social media is a very powerful tool. It can be used to sway people in a positive manner and it can be used to convey negative messages.

If you are someone trying to promote agriculture the number one thing you can do to turn away consumers is to bully them or to use scare tactics. Saying things like if the city folks don’t start respecting the agriculture community the city kids will end up starving to death because the farmers are going to disappear.

So this led me to think about some of the things the city folks use that the rural folks use as well. The biggest thing that came to my mind is grocery stores. I would bet you would be hard pressed to find one farmer who produces 100% of all the products they use or need in their day to day life.

Here are a few items I thought about off the top of my head. Toothpaste, toilet paper, clothes from cotton, fruits, veggies, meats, cereal, milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, wheat flour, bread, peanut butter, jelly, beer, whiskey, wine, makeup, laundry soap, pillows, blankets, shoes and the list goes on.

These are all products that without the farmers none of us would have access too. Whether you are a vegan or a meat eater, or if you live in the city or you live on a farm a majority of us use a lot of these products every day.

Now of course some farmers do raise their own meat or dairy products just as some city folks grow many of their own vegetables or produce their own eggs. But the point is that if the city folks are to starve because all the farmers disappear it’s likely that many of the rural communities will also suffer along with the city folks.

So again instead of shaming the city folk, let’s work together as one, without consumers you don’t need producers, without producers you won’t have consumers. The two groups go hand in hand a lot more than some people like to give credit too, and yes I am talking about both sides of the aisle.

Maybe if you have a large social media following you can use your presence to help consumers and agriculture producers realize that both sides have a lot in common and help drive the understanding that we need each other and that not one group is more important than the other group. Using your large social media presence in a positive way will go so much further than shaming a particular group. Just like the old saying, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

And for the consumers, it’s okay to thank a farmer, most do work very hard to raise the food and products we all need to sustain our city lifestyle. And you can always ask a farmer questions about what it is they do and why, a majority of them will be thrilled to talk to you. You will find farmers are not all that different than us non farmers.

Farming and Anxiety from a Non Farmer perspective

With harvest in full swing for a lot of farmers I love seeing the deluge of videos and pictures on social media of farmers harvesting their crops. With everything I have learned over the past couple of years and now having some friends that are farmers I am sure I could be a farmer, and I am sure I would love it, driving the big equipment, working the land, producing a product, helping to feed the world, working for yourself, it all sounds so romantically wholesome and downright patriotic, right?

BUT what about that anxiety, all the unknowns, all of the things out of your control, the weather, the input costs, the market prices, the pure thought of the anxiety that can come along with so many unknowns is scary enough to make a person not want to farm…..let’s not even discuss the anxiety that obviously comes from being the poor soul who has to drive the grain cart, that’s entirely a whole different level of anxiety right there…..

Anxiety is something that affects many people, it truly is a mental health condition. Anxiety can come in many different shapes and sizes, I wanted to take a quick minute to list some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety and offer a few tips to help you, a loved one, or a friend deal with anxiety.

Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:
Feeling nervous, restless or tense
Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
Having an increased heart rate
Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
Sweating
Trembling
Feeling weak or tired
Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
Having trouble sleeping
Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
Having difficulty controlling worry
Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety

You should see your doctor if:
You feel like you’re worrying too much and it’s interfering with your work, relationships or other parts of your life
Your fear, worry or anxiety is upsetting to you and difficult to control
You feel depressed, have trouble with alcohol or drug use, or have other mental health concerns along with anxiety
You think your anxiety could be linked to a physical health problem
You have suicidal thoughts or behaviors — if this is the case, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Yes I know harvest season is extremely busy and it is not a good time to go see a doctor, but if the anxiety gets to be to much not getting help for anxiety issues can lead to:
Depression (which often occurs with an anxiety disorder) or other mental health disorders
Substance misuse
Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
Digestive or bowel problems
Headaches and chronic pain
Social isolation
Problems functioning at school or work
Poor quality of life
Suicide

Remember you are the most valuable asset on your farm…your life matters, if you need take a break to refocus yourself, then take that break…you deserve it…and you have definitely earned it!

Source of reference used for this post: www.mayoclinic.org

211.org

If you experience a life threatening medical emergency or fear for your safety remember to call 911. But did you know that you can dial 211 to get help for non 911 types of crisis or emergencies?

211 is a service that can connect you to many different resources such as mental health, domestic abuse, and even human trafficking hotlines.

211 offers support for many other things such as gambling and addiction support, they can help you with local domestic abuse shelters and also finding you help for sexual assault victim services.

211 offers help and guidance if you need help with disaster assistance, or even if you are struggling to find help for just the everyday essential needs, 211 can help you.

You can find more information about the help they offer on their webpage at http://www.211.org

Here are some numbers on how many times 211 helped people in 2019:
211s in the U.S. reported handling:
900,000 requests for help related to mental health and substance use including:
275,000 requests for help related to suicide or emotional distress
285,000 requests for help with substance use
140,000 calls for help with domestic violence or human trafficking

If you would rather call a hotline directly instead of using the 211 service here are a few numbers provided by the 211.org webpage.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 to speak to someone if you or a loved one is considering harming themselves or experiencing emotional distress.

National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888 if you or someone you care about has been brought to the United States against their will or is being held against their will.

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 if you or someone you care about has experienced sexual assault or harassment and needs support, assistance, and advice.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 if you or someone you care about has or is experiencing domestic or relationship-based violence and needs support, advice, and connections to a safe place.

QPR: What is it for?

This week I had the opportunity to take a class on QPR. QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer. QPR is an emergency mental health intervention for suicidal persons which was created by Paul Quinnett back in 1995, the intent is to identify and interrupt the crisis and direct that person to the proper care. Here is a link to their website that explains the process in more detail https://qprinstitute.com/about-qpr

The easiest way for me to explain QPR is to think of it like this, in firefighting, when we get dispatched to a fire often we have no idea how big the fire will be, it could be a small trash can fire burning in the kitchen or it could be the entire house is on fire. Regardless of the size of fire we always give our best effort to save lives and preserve property as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The sooner a fire is reported the better the chances are of stopping that fire before it destroys the entire house. If the fire goes unnoticed for too long it will be harder to control and most likely the damage will be so great that the structure and all of its contents will be a total loss, not to mention should someone be trapped by the fire, their chances of survival drastically decrease as more time passes in the event. This same theory applies to mental health. The longer a mental health condition lingers the harder it can be to fix that condition or the harder it may be to prevent a person dying from suicide.  

One way to help prevent people from dying from suicide is having people trained in early intervention, people that are taught to recognize the early signs of a suicidal behavior and also trained on how to refer someone to the help they need. We have to stop being afraid of approaching someone who you suspect is in need of help, QPR training provides you with the tools to do just that, it teaches you to not just listen but to respond.

Many companies over the years have provided their employees with CPR training, and now with advancement in medical equipment many companies also have employees trained in how to use an automated external defibrillator, or also known as an AED. Also another thing some companies provide for their employees are lactation rooms for mothers who need some privacy during the day to handle their lactation needs. All of these things are meant to help save a life or help improve the work environment for the employees.

So my hope is that with mental health becoming a more talked about subject, maybe more companies will provide their employees with QPR training, and also provide a designated area or room that employees can utilize should the need arise to intervene with someone experiencing a mental health emergency. It’s really no different than giving employees training and tools to save someone’s life during a heart attack, the same needs to be done to help someone in a mental health crisis.

Lastly I know that we cannot save everyone no matter how hard we try, and just like fighting fires, you will save some and you will lose some, but if we do nothing or don’t respond, then we won’t save any.

Co-occurring disorders

I had an outreach specialist reach out to me and ask me if I would like to add their services to my mental health resources page. I checked into the links he provided and I tell you both of the websites really hit close to home for me. The webpages offer a lot of valuable information about mental health, but they go a step further in talking about dealing with co-occurring disorders.

When our oldest daughter went to drug and alcohol rehab for the first time all the treatment facility did was address the addiction part of her disorders, and for the most part they did a good job at teaching her how to address her addiction. However no one really examined why she became to be dependent on drugs and alcohol, and at the time my wife and I were also just as clueless as to why she was going down the path she was traveling.

Eventually our daughter had a relapse and needed to go back to treatment. Both my wife and I agreed that we needed a different rehab facility for our daughter. Luckily someone made a recommendation for a treatment facility down in Florida. Instantly my wife started working the phones and seeing what we needed to do to get our daughter the help she needed. Through this research we discovered that our daughter needed someone who could address not only the addiction problems but her mental health conditions as well.

The facility we sent her to told us that it was most important to first learn why she is making the decisions she is making then from there structure a treatment plan that will address all of her issues, not just the drug and alcohol addiction. When our daughter came home from the second rehab we could tell a difference in that treating her mental health and the addiction problems, she seemed more prepared to reenter life and try again.

Sadly she did experience a 2nd relapse after being home just a few weeks, this however was not due to the lack of skills the treatment center had to offer, this was due to our daughter coming home to early and not being fully prepared to reenter society. She returned to the treatment facility in Florida until she was stronger and more equipped to come back home. Luckily with more time and training she seems to be on the right path now.

So two valuable lessons, one, if you or a loved one needs to seek rehab treatment for addiction make sure the facility is equipped to address all of your issues, make sure they can get to the root of the problem and not teach you how to just avoid using drugs and alcohol, but instead teach you how to avoid or handle the situations that will lead you to wanting to use drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. Secondly it takes time to heal, make sure you are ready to reenter society when you feel you are strong enough and that you have received the proper help and tools that will allow you to navigate day to day life. Don’t get in a rush, each person rebuilds their life at a different pace, and always remember your life is worth it, take the time to heal yourself, you deserve it and the people who love you deserve it.

Here are a few links you can check out for a facility that addresses co-occurring disorders. Both of these links offer a lot of good information on addiction and mental health awareness.

https://www.ridgefieldrecovery.com/treatments/co-occurring-disorders/

https://www.drugrehab.com/co-occurring-disorder

Free Online Course Helps Farmers, Ranchers Cope with Stress

“When we’ve done our surveys, we found was a tremendous amount of mental health problems out in rural America – two out of five farmers didn’t really know whether or not they could find help or where to go to get help.” Zippy Duvall

Click on the below link to check out the free Online Course Helps Farmers, Ranchers Cope with Stress

https://www.dairyherd.com/article/free-online-course-helps-farmers-ranchers-cope-stress

The principles of firefighting can be used in maintaining mental health

In the fire department that I grew up in my father was an Assistant Chief, one night after fighting a fire we were back at the fire station and I overheard someone ask my father about why he asked for more resources before arriving on scene. My father explained that as we were approaching the scene, but still a few minutes away, he had observed an orange glow over the hill and if there was a big fire it was important to get more resources started our way. Out in the rural areas sometimes the next fire department that can provide support may be a long ways away and the sooner you get them started your way the sooner you will have help. Upon arrival of the fire it was discovered that the fire was just a fully involved outbuilding with no threat to any surrounding structures or surrounding vegetation. It was determined at that point that the additional units would not be needed and they could cancel their response and this fire could be worked with the units on scene. My dad summed up his decision to ask for help early instead of waiting longer was that it’s better to say “aw shit”, instead of “oh! Shit”…….(his words, not mine)

When you watch the news in the summer time I am sure you have seen all of the wild fires in the western part of the U.S. Those fires are fought with multiple resources from multiple agencies. The number one resource is of course is the firefighters. Supporting those firefighters are heavy equipment operators, numerous types of aircraft, medical staff, logistical services providing meals, first aid, places to take showers, communications, planning and strategy teams, the list goes on of who and what resources are involved with fighting that fire.

When it comes to firefighting the more resources you have at your disposal the more efficient you can be at fighting that fire. Same goes for a car wreck, having enough personnel and the right tools for the job improves the chances of saving someone’s life. Often in the fire service minutes can be crucial, they may mean the difference in saving a life vs losing a life.

Not every situation will you have the correct resources you need to get the job done as efficiently as you may like. If your tractor breaks down on the farm you may not have the right tool on hand to fix it. So what do you do? Your next option is to figure out if you have a different tool or resource that you can use that will work, maybe it won’t work as well but in a pinch it will get you by to get the job done. If you don’t have any tools that will fix your problem then it’s time to call someone who can help you.

The same principles that are used in firefighting can be applied to maintaining your mental health. Especially for those in the rural setting where the resources for mental health are already slim pickings. If you are a firefighter don’t put off asking for help only from someone who understands a firefighter, if you are a farmer, same thing applies, yes I agree it’s more helpful to ask for help from someone who understands farming, but again, if there are not any resources available that understand farming then by all means don’t give up, it’s okay to reach out to someone who is not educated in your line of work. If you are to the point where you feel you need help it’s more important to get help from someone that can help you regardless of their understanding of your current or past career.  

The resources and tools that available to help you maintain your mental health may come in several different forms, shapes and sizes. The most important part is asking for help if you are struggling, I have had times where I feel a bit down and the person who lifts me up the most really has nothing in common with my life other than they are understanding and always willing to listen and help me any way they can, he may not have all the answers but he sure gives it his best effort.

If you feel that you or a loved one may be at risk of needing some help maintaining your mental health I urge you to do your homework ahead of time, try not to wait till the last minute when all of a sudden you are now in an emergency situation and you are scrambling to find out what resources are available to you, also try to find a couple of sources of help, your first choice that best fits your needs may not be available at the time you need them the most.

100 years ago women got the right to vote

Most of us are probably not old enough to remember all the way back to August 18th 1920. If you are old enough to remember that far back then I would love to pick your brain about what you have seen over the past 100 years, maybe you can pass along some of your secrets to successful canning and food preservation. So for the rest of us August 18th 1920 was the day the 19th amendment was ratified, and if you are anything like me and didn’t pay much attention in high school the 19th amendment gave all American women the right to vote.

I took some time to research how women have progressed from not having the right to vote to women entering the workforce and increasingly becoming leaders in the agriculture industry. Along the way women have had to endure many struggles to get to where they are today. Women are often not treated the same as their male counterparts, however as women continue to fight their way to equality we continue to see more and more fruits of their labor while also paving a path for their daughters to hopefully not have to face the same struggles as the women before them did.

  • In 2017 nine percent of farms in the United States are run entirely by women.
  • In 2017 the United States had 1.2 million female producers, which accounts for 36 percent of the country’s 3.4 million producers.
  • In 2017 female operated farms accounted for 38 percent of U.S. agriculture sales and 43 percent of U.S. farmland.
  • From 2012 to 2017 there was a 27 percent increase of female producers in the U.S. Also in that same time frame there was a 23 percent increase if female operated farms.
  • In Canada by 2016, 77,830 females accounted for 28.7% of the countries farm operators.

While the proportion of women to men in agriculture continues to rise in Canada and the U.S. many women are considered new to their role in politics as well as farming. I would take to turn the typewriter over to my good friend, Bridgette Readel to hear her thoughts about women’s rights and women’s roles over the past 100 years.

My great-great grandmothers immigrated to the USA between 1883-1885.  They had no idea that women would ever have the right to vote or be would be involved in politics in this country; It was never on their radar!  My grandmother was born in 1919 not knowing that she would ever have the right to vote.  But by 1920, these women did and I’ll be damned if I let them down but not participating and giving my voice to decisions.

The great & great-great grandmothers of that era hosted coffee meetings, wrote letters, walked in parades and did their best to convince their husbands, sons and brothers that they were ready, willing and able to soundly participate in the American political process.  The last necessary state to ratify the 19th amendment was Tennessee.  The last deciding vote was made because that legislators mother wrote him a letter suggesting he vote on behalf of the ladies……and her!

What did their work do for me? I vote.  Every election. Every year.

In my agricultural work life, being a woman with the same rights and responsibilities as anyone else, I have found a few advantages:

-Being able to deliver less than ideal news to a customer in a manner that’s like hearing it from a professional mother type.

-Being seen as a coach and teacher in situations that could have been confrontational.

-Being able to hold my ground and be a role model for other women to be professionals.  Similar to what the suffragists did when campaigning for the right to vote; many strove to be seen as professional and respectable.  Aren’t those attributes we should all strive to emulate?

-Is every day easy at work? No, and it’s not easy regardless of your gender or the industry in which you work. 

-We vote.  Everyone of us.  Are you exercising your right? Think of all the little battles your grandmothers and great grandmothers had to fight for that to happen? Don’t let them down.

Sources:

http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=63
http://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Highlights/2019/2017Census_Female_Producers.pdf
www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/96-325-x/2017001/article/54925-eng