St. James' Episcopal Church - Potomac 301-762-8040 office@stjamespotomac.org
When It’s All About You

When It’s All About You

Hello friends,

I love when our Stronger Together discussions take us down a different path than we planned, or open up new topics in unexpected ways. In last week’s conversation on apologizing and gratitude, we briefly considered an interesting exception: what about narcissists?

To be clear, there are narcissistic behaviors we all have exhibited from time to time, as well as people who are pretty narcissistic in general. Then there’s narcissism to a degree that is a form of mental illness: Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD. Our conversation this week will focus on NPD–how we can understand it better and empathize better with people affected by it. We’ll watch a video that describes the diagnostic criteria for NPD as well as some of what the symptoms “hide” in the person experiencing this form of mental illness.

Remember…we all have a bit of narcissistic tendencies. That’s normal and part of what makes us human!

Our warm-up question for this week:

Tell us about a truly great vacation or trip you took. What made it so special to you?

See you soon,
Alex

Apologies and Gratitude

Apologies and Gratitude

Hello friends,

If only it were easier to say “I’m sorry.” If we could just be better at apologizing — truly apologizing — think of how much easier it would be to move past conflict, maintain loving relationships, and build trust. Probably there’s a good reason why saying “I’m sorry” is inherently difficult.

If it’s difficult to apologize, does that mean we can get better at it? That’s one of the things I’m hoping to figure out in this week’s conversation! We’ll watch a brief video titled, “A perfect apology in three steps” (it’s only three steps, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy). In it, the speaker talks about how to craft an effective apology, and how this turns us toward a place of gratitude. If you don’t have time to watch the video beforehand, no apology is necessary. 😉

Our warm-up question for this week:

What’s your favorite summer Olympics sport to watch?

See you soon,
Alex

The Diversity of Mental Illness Experiences

The Diversity of Mental Illness Experiences

Hello friends,

It’s tempting to think of mental illness in terms of diagnoses, and to some extent it makes sense to do so. After all, by necessity there are commonalities in how people experience clinical depression or any other named health outcome. The problem is that there are wide ranges of experiences “within” a diagnosis; how one person experiences and recovers from clinical depression can be dramatically different from the next person.

This is yet another reason why it’s so important to anchor our understanding of mental illness on the perspectives of those whose lives are touched by it. Through this lens we can begin to appreciate how much diversity there is in mental illness experiences and outcomes. We’ll get a chance to do just this as we watch and respond to a video titled, “Mental Health: In Our Own Words” during our conversation this week. I hope to see you there!

Our warm-up question for this week:

Imagine you were going to take a cross-country road trip anywhere in the world…where would you go, and what kind of vehicle would you want to travel in?

See you soon,
Alex

I Wasn’t Ready to Forgive Myself

I Wasn’t Ready to Forgive Myself

Hello friends,

We’ve talked about forgiveness on multiple occasions, and each time it proves to be a tricky but interesting topic. Maybe that’s because we realize how important forgiveness is, but also how challenging it can be. This week we’re going to explore an important dimension of forgiveness in mental health: forgiving ourselves.

For inspiration, we’re going to watch a brief video on a rather stunning act of forgiveness…though not on mental health per se. As you watch the video try not to focus just on whether or not you would forgive the same way the woman in the video eventually does. Instead, put yourself in the perspective of the young man who admits he wasn’t ready to forgive himself. Can you relate to him in this way?

Our warm-up question for this week:

Tell us about a time when you felt overcome by something so beautiful or wonderous that it stopped you in your tracks.

See you soon,
Alex

Your Inner Voice is Telling You…

Your Inner Voice is Telling You…

Hello friends,

Are you one of those people with a robust inner monologue? Or maybe you hear an inner voice only occasionally, but when you do it can be particularly helpful (or hurtful). I think we all have an inner voice, but maybe some of us hear it more often or more easily than others.

In our conversation tomorrow we’re going to talk about the conversations we have inside our own heads. We’ll watch a helpful video on overcoming bad inner voices and share our own experiences navigating our inner dialogue. Invite your Jiminy Cricket for what is sure to be an engaging discussion!

Our warm-up question for this week:

If you could record a 10-second audio clip for your 20 year-old self knowing that they would only be able to hear it one time, what would you say?

See you soon,
Alex

The Stigma of Mental Illness

The Stigma of Mental Illness

Hello friends,

Oxford Languages defines stigma as, “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.” It defines stigmatization as, “the action of describing or regarding someone or something as worthy of disgrace or great disapproval.” Even the definitions make me cringe.

This week we’re going to watch a quick video about the stigmatization of mental illness: Ending the Stigma of Mental Illness (youtube.com). We can discuss personal or witnessed stigmatization of people with fragilities, especially mental illness, and even the stigmatization of families and loved ones of people with mental illness. This video is made by an organization co-founded by Glenn Close, “Bring Change to Mind” which is working to destigmatize mental illness.

Here is a link to an article that discusses mental health stigma

Mental Health Stigma and The Pandemic | Newport Academy

Our warm-up question for this week:

Tell us about a time when you felt stigmatized or witnessed it, for anything, i.e. age, gender, personality quirks… . 

Alex asked me to fill in for him this week, and we all know those are big shoes to fill. Here is the link, and it is the long kind as I don’t know how to make it short like Alex does. Please be patient with mistakes and hiccups. Hope to see you Thursday.

Deatley